I woke up at 5am in Cinque Terre with a train to catch to get to Interlaken, Switzerland. If I missed one of the trains I wouldn’t be getting into Interlaken until really late at night and since the last bus to my hostel leaves at 8pm, I had to make this work!
I got to the train station and worked on getting my seat reservations reserved on a self serve kiosk since the employees were not working yet. I got one of them reserved and then an employee showed up and he helped me get the other one reserved as well.
As long as the trains were on time it looked like everything would work out just fine. I got on the first train and tried to go to sleep… but not very successfully since it wasn’t comfortable. I arrived in Milan, ate a panini, hung out for a bit, and then hopped on the next train to Spiez, Switzerland.
While on this train I ordered a cappucino because I thought it would be a good idea. I got a dixie cup worth of liquid and was charged 4.50. Welcome to Switzerland!
Later on in the train ride a police dog came by smelling everything around. That was the first time I saw that on a train! After the police walked by then the customs officers came by to check all of our passports.
After a couple of hours I arrived in Interlaken around 2pm. All of my trains were right on time so I had plenty of time during the day to hang out.
There were people paragliding above me. Companies were advertising white water rafting, hang gliding, paragliding, bungee jumping, sky diving, and canyoning all around me. I already knew I’d love this place.
I walked through the town and it seemed like every store sold watches. Since I wasn’t in a rush I decided to take the ferry across the lake to get to my hostel.
I arrived in my hostel in Iseltwald, checked in, and asked some questions about things to do in Interlaken. I went up to my room and immediately started laughing. All of the beds were separated only by a 2×4 piece of wood. There were 10 beds – 5 on the bottom and 5 on the top in a room about the size of what I used to have to myself.
Some people get frustrated by these types of experiences, but I just think they are funny.
I went downstairs and started talking to some people. Everyone I’d talked to about Interlaken previously and the people I met downstairs told me that one of the must do’s in Interlaken is something called ‘canyoning’. I decided that since it was recently my birthday that I could splurge on this canyoning adventure. I signed up to go first thing the next morning.
Then I left to go find some food, but everywhere I looked was super expensive so I then switched to trying to find a grocery store. It was about 8:30pm. The store was closed… and I was realllllly hungry.
I had to find something so I went back to the restaurants I looked at previously. The cheapest thing I could find was a hamburger for 9 francs, which didn’t include french fries or a drink. Switzerland was emptying my bank account faster than I though possible. I bought the burger and ate right next to the lake.
Then I went back to the hostel, played some games with the other guests, and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning excited for the adventure! I went to the local grocery store and bought some sandwich supplies and a couple of bananas and ate it all for breakfast. I convinced an Irish girl and American girl to go canyoning as well so we all hung out in the lobby waiting for pick up.
The van arrived at 9:30 and we hopped in and started talking to the other people going on the adventure with us. After a pit stop about halfway there we got to the top of one of the mountains about 45 minutes away from the hostel.
It was time to suit up.
- Super thick wetsuit with a hoodie: check.
- Wetsuit socks: check.
- Water shoes with extra grip: check.
- Helmet: check.
- Harness: check.
Lets rock n roll.
I felt invincible with all of that gear on! We hiked down the mountain for about 15 minutes before arriving at the water. I was super hot at this point. We all slid down a little rock slide dubbed the “cool down slide”. That water was icy! My hands instantly went numb. The rest of my body adjusted to the temperature as the wetsuit helped me cope with the frigid waters.
We had a quick briefing about how to help each other out and some safety tips and then it was time to start the adventure off with a bang!
First up: the biggest jump of the day. A 30 foot waterfall.
I was first up.
Stand here. Swing your arms and jump far out to the spot over there.
I bent my knees, swung my arms, and jumped off the waterfall landing 30 feet below in the pool of water. The current of the waterfall was pushing and pulling me in different directions. I swam towards the rock and grabbed it.
That was awesome.
I hung out at the rock and watched as others enjoyed the thrill.
Next up is a slide: the Corkscrew.
And just to clarify, when I say slide, I mean a giant rock. The water has worn away any sharp edges of the huge boulders over the year and created a fun slide. They call this one the corkscrew because right at the end there is a sharp turn, with a rock directly above your head.
“Cover your face with your hands” the guide says. I do so. He pushes my hands right into my face. You arms need to be firmer than that or else the rock is going to hit you in the face. I stiffen my arms and he pushes again. This time my arms didn’t budge.
I start sliding down this rock face faster and faster and then wham! My elbow hits the rock that I was protecting my face from. I ignore the pain and continue on.
Next up was a smaller waterfall. “Can you do a back flip?” the guide asked me. “No, but I can do a front flip” I said. “Lets see it” he responded.
I front flip off a 10 foot waterfall into the water below.
We kept going. More slides. More waterfalls.
Then we reach a point of the canyon where there is a waterfall and from the point I’m standing I can’t see how far it goes down. There is no way we are sliding down this one. The guide takes out his rope. One by one we are hooked up to this rope and slide right off the face of this waterfall and are lowered down to the bottom while the water is falling on us from above.
We keep moving.
Another waterfall. One of the guides said he wanted to try a gainer off a cliff below. A gainer is when you run forward and do a back flip. He hadn’t done one off this section before, but the other guide told him to go for it and he did. These guys are awesome.
This time I went for the back flip.
I stand backwards against the rock and jump backwards flipping into the water below. Nice! Now my adrenaline is really pumping.
We keep moving down the canyon. We reach a huge rock face and rappel down.
Then, the Matrix run: run as fast as you can against a slanted rock leaning out over the water below, and then jump into the water when you can’t run any further. Oh by the way, make sure you miss the shallow rocks over below. Sounds good to me.
I was one of the first to go, but the rock kept getting more and more slippery as people were running on it and getting it wet. By the end people’s legs were just slipping out form underneath them as they tried to run on the rock. It was pretty funny.
After four hours of sliding, jumping, rappelling, and trekking down this canyon we arrived at the van below and had a much needed lunch.
We all hopped in the van and headed back to the hostel.
I was starving so I went to the store and bought spaghetti and some Swiss chocolate. I ate until I was stuffed! Then I worked on getting some photos uploaded onto my computer since my hard drive was full.
I woke up the next morning ready for a glorious day of hiking around the Swiss Alps. However, I couldn’t breathe out my nose at all… my allergies were horrible and I was really stuffed up. I looked around… everyone in my tiny room was getting ready. I laid in bed waiting for some space to get my stuff together.
Finally some of the people left and I could get out of my bed. I got ready, took some allergy medicine, went downstairs, and figured some stuff out for the day. Then I bought some food from the grocery store, got on a bus into town, and then arrived at the train station.
I was about to get on the train when I saw a sign that said “Eurail not valid”. What?! I need this train to get to my hostel…
So I had to wait in line to buy a ticket. The train I was going to take left without me. I purchased the ticket and waited for the next train.
Finally it arrived, I got on, and headed to Grindelwald where my next hostel was.
It was 1pm when I finally arrived.
I was planning on leaving my bags at my hostel so I could go on a hike. I looked in the hostel and there was a sign that said reception opens at 4pm.
I was already not in a very good mood since my allergies were horrible, I was extremely hungry, and I had to buy a train ticket that I didn’t think I’d have to buy.
I thought for a second and realized that the train station might have a locker that I can keep my stuff in. Good news! I found a locker. But before I locked my stuff up I wanted to see if the hike I planned on doing was still an option.
I talked to the lady at the train station. It would cost me 54 francs to pay for the trains to do the hike. Ugh… This frustrated me even more since the whole reason I booked another day at this hostel in the mountains was to do this incredible hike I had heard so much about.
I asked her if there was any other hikes around that I could do for free. She said yes, showed me the map, and told me it would be about three and a half hours round trip.
That sounded interesting so I went outside and looked at the map a bit more and thought about what I wanted to do. Next thing I know, the lady came outside and told me to look up into the mountains. “Can you see the building up there?” she asked. I looked and could barely make out an outline of a building. “Thats where the hike ends” she said.
Sold. I’m going for it.
I grabbed everything I needed for the hike. Put my stuff in the locker and paid 3 francs to lock it up for 24 hours. Then I realized I didn’t have my map…
I open the locker. Apparently you can’t lock it again without paying. I paid 3 more francs and walked off a bit more frustrated with how the day was going.
I started walking quickly, arriving at the base of the mountain, and I briskly hiked upwards climbing up the rock steps until I was out of breath. I stopped for a second and took a deep breath. I smiled. The hike was exactly what I needed. I forgot about all of the stuff that was making me frustrated and just simply enjoyed being out in nature. I’m in freaking Switzerland! I can’t be in a bad mood!
I was in a good mood again and I smiled and said hi to the other people hiking down the mountain as I was going up. The hike was actually quite challenging. There was a significant incline the entire way up. I was pushing myself and sweating a lot as I kept moving forward.
I heard there was a ride you could take to the top. I arrived at this sign. 10 minutes until I can ride a lift to the top… or an hour and ten minutes and I have to walk?
Take the easy way? No thanks. I turned right and kept moving.
The scenery was beautiful on the way up.
I was getting thirsty so I was happy when I found this little waterfall along the way. I filled up my water filtering water bottle and enjoyed the fresh cool mountain water. Mmmm refreshing.
I kept hiking upwards.
To my left: huge cliffs towering over me.
To my right: a massive gorge carved out by a glacier that I couldn’t see the bottom of.
In front of me: huge mountains and a glacier.
Behind me: the valley.
It was incredible.
I found a rock overlooking the valley, sat down, made a salami sandwich and ate it, while appreciate the beautiful landscape in front of me.
I kept on moving and eventually arrived at a gate. There were sheep everywhere.
I arrived at the Barreg restaurant at the top. I looked at the menu… it was expensive (just like everything in Switzerland). So I made myself another sandwich instead of buying anything at the restaurant. I sat on a bench up there for about 30-45 minutes.
While I sat there I hard a loud cracking sound. I looked at the glacier before me and saw ice starting to plummet down the face of the glacier. I pulled out my phone and took a video of it. It was awesome!
I got a couple of selfies at the top as well!
I felt a rain drop. It was time to leave. I started down the path, but the sheep were laying in my way so I had to go around them.
I started jogging down the path until the rain started coming down really hard making the path slippery. If I slipped.. lets just say it wouldn’t have ended well. So I put my rain jacket on and hiked carefully down the mountain.
I came across an overhang where a Swiss guy was hanging out waiting for the rain to pass. We chatted for a bit until the sun came out and we continued in opposite directions. I made it safely down the rest of the mountain.
There was a LandArt festival going on while I was there so I took some pictures of my favorite pieces of art. It was really cool seeing all of the various creations that artists thought up.
After an hour and a half or so I arrived back at the hostel. I was very hungry. I took a bus into the part of town with the grocery store and restaurants. All I could find was a microwave meal since the hostel didn’t have a kitchen where I could make an actual meal.
I was still hungry, but I knew I could eat a large breakfast the following morning so I was okay with it. I talked to a couple from South Africa for awhile as well and learned about some of the issues facing that country as well as how awesome it is to live there.
I then showered and went to bed. I thought the beds at my last hostel were close together… but this one was like I was sleeping in the same bed with a stranger. There were two twin mattresses pushed up against each other on a double bunk bed. At the beginning of the trip I may have found this weird, but at this point it didn’t even bother me.
I woke up the next morning, packed my stuff, ate a delicious breakfast, and then headed to the train station.
I bought my ticket, thanked the lady who recommended the hiking trail to me the previous day, and I headed in to Interlaken. I found a coffee shop and bought a coffee and a croissant. I was trying to get rid of all of my coins since money exchange places don’t accept coins. I did some work on my blog and then hopped on the train and headed to France!