After spending a day in Paris then visiting the south of France, we hopped on a train (or three) to Switzerland.
Our time in Switzerland was filled with the most magical cheese of all time, a few not so cheap thrills (canyoning, white water rafting and paragliding), and a
little bit a lot of rain.
Warning: Here comes a lot of words followed by a lot of pictures.
The train ride into Interlaken was one of the most memorable rides of our lives. We rode alongside the beautiful deep turquoise Lake Thun, tucked up against the Swiss Alps. I was initially sad that it was raining during our arrival, but as we pulled into town the rain stopped and a rainbow appeared over the lake.
This basically set the tone for our time in switzerland.
We couldn't get discouraged by rain and cloudiness, because they would ultimately bring about some really great experiences.
One afternoon, we biked through the rain to the lake, among some bright green, foggy pastures, alongside the most blue river we've ever seen. The mystic rain seemed to emphasize the colors and the sounds.
I can still hear the cow's bells ringing through the pastures.
Cows with real cowbells.
It was very unexpected, but those cowbells made me SO happy.
I would literally smile every time we passed a cow in a field with a cowbell slowly, loudly ringing.
It was the most swiss thing of all time.
Aside from the fondue.
That cheese. That cheese. That cheese.
Following our experience canyoning down the ice cold glacier water of the Alps (recap here & GoPro video here), we ate one of the greatest cheese sandwiches of our lives. We still talk about that plain gruyere cheese sandwich to this day. Once we changed out of our wetsuits into dry warm clothes (the best feeling ever) our guide Stan, with Outdoor Interlaken (who we actually had as a guide again the very next day for white water rafting) sliced up some fresh bread, cheese, and tomatoes and cracked open some local beer for everyone. We were beyond exhausted from the combination of adrenaline + shivering, and I swear to you, that cheese sandwich and beer quenched a thirst like nothing has ever done before.
We spent a total of three nights and four days in Interlaken. The city itself was incredibly charming, and the people were so kind. Every home had bright flowers overflowing in their window sill flower boxes. We didn't get all the gorgeous mountain views we were hoping for because it was quite hazy and rainy most of the time we were there, (darn you, expectations) but the rain made for some really great canyoning and rafting. When the sun decided to come out on our third day, we were able to go paragliding through Paragliding Interlaken. Running down the side of a mountain and jumping off the edge strapped to a friendly stranger (who speaks broken English) is fun! …terrifying and exhilarating and more terrifying. Once the pre-jump jitters wore off, the "driver" let each of us take the reigns and "steer" which was also
terrifying fun. My driver decided to do a u-turn 360 degree loopedy-loop thing which dropped my stomach and freaked me the hell out (the GoPro footage is still too disturbing to watch) BUT THE VIEW WERE INSANE. Empty your wallets, trust the stranger with your life and strap in. It's worth it.
We stayed at Balmer's Hostel (along with 2394083209483209 other Americans).
The hostel was great and cheap and clean (we got the only room with a balcony!), and they even had a beer garden and special hammock room. Interlaken is very proud of their spring water. There are many pure water fountains around the city where they encourage you to fill up your water bottles (and because the city is quite pricey, it'll save you a penny or two to drink the free water so you might as well #gogreen).
Interlaken is mighty touristy (there's a Hooters on the main street), but it's a great central hub for all outdoor adventures. Some call it the adventure capital of Europe. We felt very safe during our time there, and we were able to walk (and bike) our way through all of the city.
Our time in Interlaken was the highlight of our trip through Europe, and we can't wait to return one day to see more of the Alps.
It wouldn't be a true vacation without a few additions to Josh's Cats of the World series . . .