Welcome to the Cabaret
Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
15Trip End Dec 06, 2010
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When we decided to go to Rome, we had no idea if we'd even be able to get a train from Rome to Switzerland, or how much would it be. Would it rival the ridiculous $130 reservation fee in Barcelona? Would the train be full and we'd have to stay longer in Rome? Would we have to take a flight instead? Neither Parkes or I really cared, because if the first leg of our trip was any indication, everything happens for a reason.
So I almost fell over when the ticket agent said that we could travel on the day that we wanted, to the destination that we wanted, and for 20 Euro each! Amazing, it only took us a month and a half to hear those words.
Our plan was to head to Zurich, Switzerland to check out the Swiss Alps by train, find a hostel once we got there, check out the city for two nights, then head over to Budapest and meet up with Parkes' brother Andrew and his girlfriend Caitlin. Pretty straightforward plan I thought. Well it was until after we trained through some of the most amazing views of mountains and rivers I've ever seen, got to Zurich, found a McDonalds so we could eat and use the free wifi to book a hostel, that's when we realized we'd need to modify our plan a bit.
A Big Mac meal cost us 14 Swiss Francs, if your unfamiliar with the conversion, that's about $16 Canadian once you factor in the fees the bank charges you. After some investigation, we figured out that the cheapest hostel was 70 Euro each a night, so about $100 Cdn for a bunk in a room with 8 other people. Now most people would probably start sweating and perhaps a
little bit of panic, I know I would of about a month ago, but we looked at the map and decided we could check out Interlaken, so we jumped a train to Bern and transferred to another one destined for Interlaken.
Next thing we knew, we arrived to the nicest village I've ever seen, nestled in a valley in the Swiss Alps, with not a care in the world, or a hostel booked. The air was crisp and clean, the views of the mountains were spectacular, and it reminded me of back home minus the snow covered mountains in the background. I actually missed the cool climate after walking around
in the stifling heat of Portugal, Spain and Italy for the past few weeks.
We wondered around aimlessly for a bit trying to find a hostel, and finally we landed at the Happy Inn Lodge. We were greeted warmly by the Swiss bartender, and soon we were relaxing in our room from our long day of traveling, going through pamphlets advertising various extreme sports that we could do the following day. Since Interlaken is considered the extreme sport
capital of the world, we figured “when in Rome!”. We decided on Canyoning, since it was the cheapest thing we could do, and agreed we'd book it first thing in the morning.
One problem... Our “take it easy night” turned into a beer infested adventure around the town,
including a very quickly drank 18 Swiss Franc beer in an... interesting Cabaret bar, and a few games of pool at a local watering hole, which ended around 5 or 6 in the morning. Our 7am wake up to book the canyoning came and went, and by 8:30 we stumbled out of bed
and down the stairs unsure if we were even fit to do such a thing. Like true warriors we came through on our promise, and set up a 12 noon pickup time. Perfect...
I've read somewhere that they say bacon is the best hangover cure, however I disagree. Jumping and rappelling off rock cliffs into rocks covered only by 5 feet of water so cold that it makes the spring fed Trout Lake in North Bay feel like a warm bath, will certainly do the trick.
Canyoning consists of traveling down rapids in the Alps by either walking, rappelling down or jumping off cliffs, and by sliding down between stone cuts while water pushes you through. The first crazy thing was rappelling down a cliff of roughly 30 feet in height. My “holy shit” moment was quickly upgraded to “holy f***” when I foolishly looked down. At the bottom of this cliff was roughly a foot of water, and rocks underneath. So it's easy to imagine our apprehension when our guide tells us to simply walk to the edge, turn our around, lean back and trust the rope. After some ugly rappelling techniques and a point where I thought for sure I was going to crash into the rocks below, we reached the bottom safely, but with our hearts pumping and ready
for the next challenge.
After some intense jumps into shallow water came the most intense moment of the afternoon. Our guides assembles the english speaking group together and the first thing he says is “Alright, if you don't do this jump correctly, you'll break your legs”, and he wasn't joking around. “You can either take the jump, or the rope and swing across to that ladder down, or we can
setup a zip line to bring you down”. After a few seconds of thought, we agreed to do the jump including the rest of the group that we were in. Perfect, I'll be able to watch other people do it
Not quite. Somehow I end up being the first one at the edge of this cliff, staring down at the hand of the guide below indicating where I have to land to avoid the large rock to the right, while the others looked on. The guide above tells me that I have to land on my back, in a “sitting in a lounge chair” position to avoid injury. Fantastic! I have to admit, heights and I don't get a long all that great, but being 25 feet in the air wasn't even in my mind at this point. All I wanted to do was make sure I landed in this so called chair position so my trip wouldn't end with me breaking some bones in rapids in the Swiss Alps.
3...2...1... No going back now, so I take the plunge, and apparently just missed banging my head on the rocks above because we were told not to jump out too far either because there were rocks there as well. Splash! The maybe 4 feet of water is somehow able to break my fall, however I do land on some rocks but the largest force of my fall is broken by then already. I
pop out of the water, tap my head to let them know I'm ok, looked up and told the other jumpers that they should do it, and then sat back and enjoy the next jumper because it's Parkes.
We continued on, a few more jumps, and some sliding in the rapids through some rock cuts, and the adventure was over. The hangover was gone and my adrenaline was through the roof, and for about half an hour I contemplated staying in Interlaken and becoming a canyoning guide for the rest of my life, but nah, way too many adventures ahead for this cowboy to stay in one place.
Let's see what Budapest has in store...