swiss mis[adventures]

7/10/10   –   0:17

I got to Interlaken this morning at around 11 and checked into the hostel. In all honesty, you really have to see the Swiss Alps to believe them. It’s nature at its best. The snowcapped mountains loom enormously in the background while rolling hills abound with picturesque little mountain huts and livestock.

Today, I set out to explore the eastern side of the Lauterbrunnen valley which contains the town of Wengen and my ultimate destination of the Jungfraujoch, home of the highest train station in Europe. All I could do on the train ride up to Wengen was stare at the landscape passing by. Waterfalls, sheer rock faces, lakes, and greenery as far as the eye can see. I changed from a train to a lift, and only when I was halfway up did I realize that I am indeed afraid of heights and the whole experience was in actuality very scary. I could deifnitely have fallen into a valley, but ADVENTURE CALLS. Yeah.

.

Rick Steves suggested hiking from the lift station at Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg where I was to catch the train to the Jungfraujoch and I am glad he did because it was great, and not too tough a trek. I got magnificent views of Interlaken’s “big three”, the Eiger, the Mönch, and the Jungfrau. I think I understand now what people mean when they say something is invigorating. Taking that trail with that scenery was definitely just that.

I arrived about an hour later inKleine Scheidegg where I bought my ticket for the train. It was pretty ridiculously expensive [82 francs with a discount? What?] But despite the staggering cost, it was totally worth it, in retrospect.

The Jungfraubahn railway runs up the mountains and actually through the Eiger. The Swiss actually blasted holes in this mountain so they could run a railway through it. Once you get to the station, which is 11,333 feet above sea level, you are completely removed fom the 86 degree weather back on the valley floor. The temperature actually drops to below freezing.

The whole station up there is a museum of sorts with lots of look-out points, an astronomical observatory, an Ice Palace, restaurants, and areas for “Snow Fun”. The lookout points were pretty shweet as we got great views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley below and also one of the longest glaciers here, stretching 11 miles to the south. There was also tons of snow. Not any kind of slush shit, for real snow. For a person who’s never seen snow before, this was sort of a big deal. I rented a snow tube and zigzagged down hills with near-zero friction. It was awesome. There were also stations for zip-lining and skiing/snowboarding but I’m running dangerously low on funds and I need to conserve. I was fine with my little tube. Oh my God. And if any of you remember that picture that Mr. Zeller showed us in AP Lit where he was posing next to a bust of some guy named Zeller? Yeah. That’s here. A Guyer-Zeller was the mastermind behind the Jungfraubahn. Bahahah I took a picture with the bust too. :P

The Ice Palace was actually rather cool. The walls, floor, and ceiling are all made completely of ice and there are ice sculptures in alcoves throughout. It’s more a series of caves than an actual palace, but it was impressive nonetheless. And very cold, needless to say.

On a final note, I read this little pamphlet they had out and I thought it was interesting to see that this is statistically the cleanest [particle-free] air I have ever inhaled.

Keeping with my conserving money mindset, I chose to hike back down to Wengen instead of  taking the train. It was pleasant and all until the signs stopped being posted. And then I realized that I was lost. On a hill. In the Swiss Alps. Yeah. I wandered about with the logic that if I kept going down hill, I’d reach a city sometime, but that didn’t really work. I kept running across cottages and getting excited, but they were all empty. Fail. One part of me said “why are you so stupid for not bringing the emergency numbers with you?” The other part of me  said, “ADVENTUREEEEE!” Admittedly, the latter part wasn’t very sizeable. I spotted some cyclists on the trail at the bottom of the hill and yelled out to them. In my frenzy to reach the bottom of the hill before they left, I tripped on myself and fell down. Great. I eventually got down there and explained to them that I was very lost and needed to get to Wengen. Luckily, they were on the trail to Wengen and if I followed it, I’d get back to the train station. Relieved, they went on their way and I took the scenic route through trails that smelled like nature and pine sap. Exhausted, I made it back to Wengen and half an hour later I was back in Interlaken.

Extremely hungry, I stopped by the Coop grocery and grabbed some easy stuff for dinner. One note on Swiss groceries. Everything is priced per 100 grams so nothing is ever going to cost what it says because nothing is packaged in 100 gram portions. This way, everything looks deceivingly cheap, but when you check the actual price, it’s 3 times as much. This made it a little annoying to shop.

I made pasta in tomato sauce and also something called Spatzli, because I decided my dinner wasn’t culturally Swiss enough. Spatzli is made of eggs and potatoes [I think] and you fry them. They taste like pasta with the texture of chicken nuggets. Over dinner, I met Iván from Madrid, who is also traveling alone, and Andy and Mike from Ohio University, who are traveling in a group of eight. Their other friends were off bungee jumping.

You see, I would have done some extreme sports [I really wanted to go canyoning] but I just lack funds at this point. Oh well. I love Switzerland, but I just wish it weren’t so expensive.

I showered and attempted to go to bed, but was prevented from doing so by two things. First, somebody was in my assigned bed. So I had to try and find an empty one [which was somebody’s. He came back at 2 AM and woke me up to tell me so]. The other obstacle was less annoying and more amusing. Oh Amy. Please don’t come in piss drunk at 1 AM screaming for us to “take [you] to ow!” and that “we’re all Americans and we’re loud and at this point, who cares?”

Don’t worry, Amy. I’ve been there. Probably in deeper and more embarrassing crap than you. I learned my lesson in Barcelona.

~

In any case. It’s actually today [the 11th] now, so I should figure out what I’m doing today. I was going to go to Gimmelwald [as per Rick Steves’ suggestion], but I think I’m going to go around the lakes in Interlaken [because the boats are free with my Eurail pass]. We’ll see what ends up happening.

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