Switzerland: Land of Chocolate and Watches…and some awesome skiing.
So, its been over two weeks since I’ve posted on here, and I’m sure you’ve missed me, BUT, I have good reason. The past two weeks have been completely full of trips, work, and other things and I hadn’t found the time to sit down and write a proper post. But that is all about to change now.
Let’s start from the beginning of my blog hiatus. Two weekends ago, (Feb. 2-5) a group of 7 of us traveled to Interlaken, Switzerland for a ski trip in the Swiss Alps. We left Thursday afternoon, flew into Geneva, and got a bus from Geneva to Interlaken, where we spent the weekend in Balmer’s Hostel. The trip was organized by a group called Bus2Alps, who coordinated our transportation to and from the airport, our accommodations at the hostel, our ski rentals, our bus/train passes, and our lift tickets. Normally I wouldn’t have gotten pulled into one of these “all-inclusive” packages since I’m more of a DIY’er, but with all of the logistics of this trip, we definitely saved time and money booking though them.
After a short night’s sleep at the hostel on Thursday, we awoke early to a breakfast of toast, cereal, Swiss cheese, and plenty of coffee at the hostel. From there we left for the rental store to gear up for the day. We caught a bus before 10:00 and made our way up the mountain. The entire trip from Interlaken to the top of the mountain took about an hour and a half, and consisted of a bus ride, a train ride, a cog-wheel ride, and a gondola ride. The train ride up the mountain was cool and the scenery was beautiful, but the most amazing part of the trip up was riding the gondola through the cloud level to arrive at the top of a sunny mountain above the clouds. Even though the temperature hovered around the 0 deg. F mark, the sun and plenty of layers kept us warm throughout the day. I snowboarded until about 3:00 both days, which was more than enough time to wear out my legs, but it was well worth it.
One of the interesting things about Switzerland is the mixture of cultures from city to city. Many of the cities adopt the language/culture of the nearest border country which makes for an interesting mix of experiences with the locals. Interlaken is a primarily German influenced city, expressed though the language, cuisine, and much of the architecture of the city. While it still maintained a Swiss identity, the German culture was still very prevalent. For lunch on Friday, we enjoyed a lunch of freshly cooked bratwurst, rosti (a potato pancake-like dish), and sauerkraut, and for dinner on Saturday, I ordered a plate of schnitzel with fries. While I plan on traveling to Germany later in the semester, it was interesting to get a taste (literally) of the German culture.
After 2 days of skiing, we left Interlaken Sunday afternoon. Our group was leaving early Monday morning, so we spent the night in Geneva in a hostel much nicer than our accommodations in Interlaken. While the Swiss Franc (CHF) is only slightly more valuable than the USD, the prices in Switzerland are significantly higher than those in the US (or in Rome, for that matter). This prompted us to buy our own food to cook for dinner in the hostel kitchen. A bag of frozen shrimp, a bottle of sweet and sour sauce, and a kilogram of spaghetti later, I had just eaten one of the most…interesting meals I’d ever had. After a brief walk around the neighborhood in subzero winds, we turned in early before our early morning flight.
I have a lot more to catch up one, but I’ll keep the posts separate as to not overwhelm my captive audience. Stay tuned for another post in a few hours!