Trip Start Jan 06, 2009
Trip End May 05, 2009

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Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Sunday, January 25, 2009

On Friday we left for Switzerland!!! We went to this adorable little town named Lauterbrunnen. It's about 30 minutes by train from Interlaken (where a lot of people go when going to Switzerland). It's a pretty long train ride... it took about 8 hours there and 7 hours going back. When going there our train got really behind in France, so we missed our connecting train. By the time we got the next train and got to Interlaken, there weren't any more trains going to Lauterbrunnen, so we had to get a taxi. You always negotiate a price BEFORE you get in a taxi here, so we came up with a price of 70 Swiss Franks from the first driver. This seemed steep, so we asked another driver, who gave us a price of 30 Swiss Franks for us to split amongst us 5!! Lesson learned there. Glad we asked a second driver. We stayed at a hostel called Schutzenbach Backpacker. Our taxi driver didn't know where it was, so he got on his cell phone. He had a really loud, gruff voice, so he pretty much yelled everything he said. Schutzenbach is apparently pronounced "Shitsenback". Anyway, he kept yelling that over and over again into the phone (probably about 20 times), unawares that he was swearing in our language. Perhaps a little immature, but it was really, really funny, and we were really, really tired. And he was driving us through the snowy (probably icy), winding alp roads at terrifying speeds, with the mountain dropping off beside our car. Yikes!

We hit the sack as soon as we got to our hostel (about midnight), and when we woke up after a very restless night of sleep and could see outside we were pleasantly astounded by our surroundings!! When we stepped out of our hostel it was stunning. We were surrounded by the swiss alps and frozen waterfalls. Absolutely stunning.

Lauterbrunnen is in the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps and is at 2,600 ft above sea level. There are 70-some waterfalls and includes the highest elevation point in Europe. This is, of course, a recipe for amazing! See pictures. There was actually a huge annual international ski race going on in Lauterbrunnen on Saturday, so that was cool as well, although we couldn't really see the race very much, and there were people there from all over the world for that.

After getting some breakfast from a local cafe, we went to the travel office and got info on how/where to go tobogganing. It was really pretty cheap to rent them from a local shop + transportation up the mountain, which is amazing cause everyone says Switzerland is so expensive so we found a goldmine with tobogganing, and it was SO fun!!!

We first took a bus up the mountain to Isenfluh. This was also a terrifying ride. It was a 1 lane road that handles 2 way traffic, with terrifying dropoffs down the mountain and no guardrails for the majority of the trip! SO GLAD we didn't meet any oppossing traffic. Marissa and I are both afraid of heights, so we were definitely clutching our seats/each other the whole time (and I'm afraid of driving too... so that was a double whammy). We got up there, and it seemed so cool as we looked out across the Jungfrau region Swiss Alps from a much higher elevation. Little did we know how much cooler it was about to get!!

We took a cable car from there even higher up the mountain, to a secluded area more than 5,000 ft above. We climbed into this little cable car box, barely big enough for the 5 of us, and the guy instructed us on how to open the door when we get the top. He attached our toboggans onto the outside of the cable car, and we started up the mountain. It was very cool, but a little scary. We kept climbing higher and higher, and I could hardly believe how high we were going!! Between my cold (I'm sick) and the elevation messing with my ears, I was more or less deaf, so everyone had to practically yell to talk to me! :-)

When we got to the top, it was INCREDIBLE. This is the main sad part of the story... I was afraid to take my camera up here because we were going to be tobogganing and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep it safe. This was a huge mistake because I probably saw some of the most incredible sites I will ever see in my life, and I didn't have a camera to chronicle it. Big bummer. But this was by far the best part of the weekend. We found the toboggan run, which was essentially a snowy path about 10 feet wide the snaked down the mountain. We just got on our toboggans, steering with a little rope and our feet, and began to glide several miles down the mountain. We were having so much fun, laughing and zipping down the mountain, and we would stop occassionally when we would come across a particularly stunnign view, or come across waterfalls bursting from the ice. Absolutely incredible. I really wish I had pictures to justify this. I have a few pictures from other people's little cameras, but they don't do justice to the day and the scenery like I could have gotten with mine. :-(

We were getting closer to Lauterbrunnen when the toboggan run ended, so we walked the rest of the way (about 50 minutes). We were all really sore and tired after all this. It ended up taking about 4 hours from the bottom of the mountain, to the top, and back down again.

As previously mentioned, I'm sick, and I started to really feel horrible when we got to the bottom of the mountain. We did some shopping and went to a fondue place, because that's something they're famous for in Switzerland, but I really could barely even eat anything by this point. I rapidly got sicker. I ended up going back to the hostel to lie down because I could barely even sit up by this point in time. I slept really well that night though, and did feel a little better in the morning. Wish I wouldn't have missed the evening (from about 5 pm onward), but I was glad to have made it through such an incredible day.

Sunday we basically just walked around a little in Lauterbrunnen before heading to Interlaken for lunch (I had cornflakes, fresh milk, and croissants... perfect in the moment). Interlaken isn't NEARLY as cool as Lauterbrunnen, so I'm glad we didn't end up going there. I can see how we would have loved it, but never known what we missed. Thanks for the recommendation Amanda Timmel!!  :-) Then, we got back on the train, and headed back to Luxembourg. I had some delicious Swiss Chocolate I bought for a snack on the train... AMAZING! Actually, I ate about half the bar... so it was a little more than a snack, haha.

Felt pretty miserable last night and still do today, so hopefully this cold will go away before we head off to LONDON next weekend!!

Hope you enjoyed reading about my travels to the Swiss Alps, and I'll write again early next week!

Lots of love to everyone back in the States. I miss you all a lot.
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