Tuesday, June 25, 2013

{European Travels} Switzerland

Just to review the trip so far...
We spent four days in London: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4
And four days in Paris: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4

Buckle up, this is a long one. Two days in one post!

We arrived in Interlaken late in the evening on Saturday, May 11. We checked into our hotel, grabbed some food and beer at a pub down the street, and called it a night. We woke up the next morning to beautiful Switzerland.

Interlaken is located in the southern/central part of Switzerland, population 5280, and is a mecca for thrill seekers. Straddled by Lake Thun and Lake Brienze, the scenery here is mind-blowing: crystal blue lakes, green pastures, and snow peaked mountains. It is at the base of the glacier-encrusted monoliths Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. These "big three" peaks are part of mountaineering legend, especially 3970m Eiger, whose north wall claimed many lives and remained unconquered until 1938.  This, my friends, is the starting point for all the adventures you could imagine: rafting, canyoning, climbing, mountain biking, sky diving, hiking...You want it, they got it. 

We stayed at Hotel Hirschen, a B&B built in the 1700s with a restaurant on the ground floor. It was quiet and comfy, with a huge Swiss breakfast included.
View from our balcony

Our first day was rainy and cold, but that didn't stop us from exploring the Jungfrau region. We rented mountain bikes and road uphill for two hours to Lauterbrunnen, caught a bus to Stechelberg, and then took the lift up to Grimmelwald to see the stunning (yet cloudy) views of the Alps.
 Waiting for the gondola- Swiss snacks out of the vending machine!
Up, up we go!
 In Gimmelwald: we've died and gone to Heidi Heaven.
Of course Josh made friends with the local wildlife.

We hiked around Gimmelwald for a little, but it was quite cloudy and could only see glimpses of the high mountains around us. We caught the lift down to Stechelberg, but weren't paying attention and missed the bus that was to take us to our bikes. There wasn't another bus for an hour but we needed to get back quickly because we didn't want to be riding on the trails after dark. So, we did what any sane person would do: we hitchhiked.
Walking down the road, trying to flag someone down.
 Cow Crossing

We caught a ride safety back to Lauterbrunnen, and biked down to Interlaken without a hitch. As it was all downhill, we made excellent time and arrived at our hotel muddy and exhausted from the day.

On day two, the first thing on the agenda was souvineer shopping. The only thing Josh wanted from this entire trip was a watch, so a Swiss watch he got! I bought some amazing Swiss chocolate. No I won't share.

The weather wasn't quite as bad as the day before, so we decided to go back to Gimmelwald, via train, bus and gondola, to hike. Along the way, we stopped in Lauterbrunnen to see the Trummelbachfalls.
Train rides: we were getting quite use to them by now.

Trummelbachfalls is a cascade of ten waterfalls that corkscrew inside a mountain. 20,000 liters of water fall per second from Alpine glaciers and snow deposits. It was quite impressive, and loud. 
Lift up into the mountain.

 We loved the beer at the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald!
 Eating snacks along the hike.
 And making friends with the locals
Josh frolicking in the Alps

We hiked for several hours before heading home, and we made sure not to miss the bus this time. We got two take-away pizzas for dinner and packed our bags for the early morning train to Italy. We hated saying goodbye to Switzerland so soon, as the weather was to be crystal clear the day we were leaving. Such luck. But we promised each other we would come back again and stay for much longer.

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