Two weekends ago I traveled to Interlaken, Switzerland. We left Florence on bus Thursday night around 7 and got to Interlaken about 3am. It was a long bus ride, but well worth it. I actually did this trip through an organized trip booker for students studying abroad. They did an excellent job with the weekend. Upon arriving in Switzerland Friday morning, we were all shocked to see how amazing our hostel was. It didn't seem like the stereotypical hostel, more like a 3 star hotel. When we got into our room at 3am, we were a bit disappointed that we didn't have a few of the mountains. Well in the morning when we woke up, we discovered that there were indeed mountains very viewable from the porch balcony of our hostel room. Nothing like waking up to the sight of Swiss Alps in the morning.
Friday morning we woke up relatively early and got a start to our day. We were treated to awesome toast and jam every morning while we were there. We usually made the most of it and tried to stuff ourselves seeing as how it was fantastic and free. In the hostel lobby, there is a huge St. Bernard dog named "Spliff". This thing was absolutely enormous. I just wondered how many small children it had eaten till I actually watched it for a while and realized there was no way this dog had done anything worse than slobber on a hands and pant legs. One of the hostel workers told us that Spliff could take us for a hike so we decided take them up on that. Spliff decided to call it off early, but the rest of us hiked around a decent sized hill that gave us breathtaking views of Interlaken and the Alps. The rest of the afternoon we decided to walk around Interlaken and check it out. It was a very tourist-oriented city, yet there weren't that many tourists to speak of, which was ideal. Interlaken was exactly what I pictured a Swiss city to look and feel like. Everyone is very laid back and in tune with the outdoors and their surroundings. Not to mention everyone there could speak at least three languages since Switzerland really doesn't have a language of its own. We finished out the evening by going night sledding. Now I really didn't know what to expect when it came to "night sledding", I mean I like sledding just as much as any other person who doesn't know how to grow up but I was a bit skeptical about paying 65 euro for it. In the end, it was a blast. They took us to a train in a small village just outside of Interlaken where we rode the train up to the top of the mountain. We were each given our own sled to go down the hill on and there were three different courses for us to do, each with its own difficulty level. Those sleds can flat out fly and that made turning interesting or in my case, useless. It was a lot easier to stay warm with a few beers and a bit of Jägermeister. Made the sledding interesting too. We ended the night by grabbing a beer or irish coffee at the ski house and headed back to the hostel.
The next morning I decided to go paragliding with a couple other friends. They took us straight up the mountain in a van to this really tiny village that litterally sat right on the side of the mountain. It was so beautiful. My paragliding pilot was a good guy and quite easy to talk to. He informed me that Interlaken actually means between two lakes, which of course Interlaken sits between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The paragliding itself was so relaxed and just mesmerizing. Once you have that initial rush of running of the side of the mountain and the wind catches you, it is just super chill with amazing views and fresh air. My pilot let me take the reigns over for a few minutes and eventually landed us in the middle of some park right in the middle of the city. The suburban landing took me for surprise a bit. The rest of the day we took trains and checked out a few more of the nearby swiss villages and grabbed some hot chocolate with baileys at a local joint. That night we all went out to a club and I experienced what I like to call a "Swisspter" aka swiss hipster. The swisspters were out and about that Saturday night and were all ages. Literally saw swisspters that were 16 and swisspters who were probably mid-40s. Whatever, they were all pretty cool for the most part. I find that a swisspter is basically the local ski bum who may or may not know how to ski or snowboard, but regardless wear their neon colored boarding gear with wayfarers at the night clubs. Probably experienced the worst DJ I have heard while I have been over in Europe on this night as well. That was probably the worst part of this trip, so I was able to deal with it especially seeing as how the Italian discotecas know what's up.
Sunday morning, I went canyon jumping. If you want to get a serious rush, go canyon jumping. Wow. We walked up the side of this mountain till we reached a crevice that was of course the canyon we would be jumping into. Right before we were getting ready to jump, one of the workers told us about a girl that literally shit herself while jumping off the ledge. So this was of course very reassuring to hear right before I took the plunge. Canyon jumping was different than bungee jumping in that you free fall for about 5 or 6 seconds and then the harness eventually catches your weight and you begin swinging through the canyon until you eventually come to a stop. As for the free fall, it seriously felt like you were just jumping and really had nothing there supporting you. It freaked my shit, but it was great. It was especially interesting doing this head first. I would do it again in a heart beat.
We returned for Florence around 4pm and eventually made it back. Again it was a long ride, but it was a lot easier to stand when you have the beauty of the Swiss Alps to gaze upon during the ride. Switzerland is possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been to. The natural beauty of the country is astonishing. It was different than anywhere I had been in Europe up to this point. What an amazing trip.