Trip Start Jan 08, 2013
Trip End May 05, 2013

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Flag of Switzerland  , Canton of Bern,
Saturday, February 23, 2013

I already wish I took more pictures. The views from Interlaken were absurdly beautiful that it was too hard to even take it in. It's even hard to beleive today that we just spent two amazing days up in the mountains. We referred to it as Narnia often because it was like an unattainable universe.

Thursday night we got on a bus with hundreds other abroad students coming from Florence. We decided that the easiest way to get to any Swiss mountains was to go through a company called Bus2Alps that provided our transportation, housing, and 24/7 advice and assistance. Thursday night after dinner we got on an extremely nice tour bus at the Florence train station. They put on a movie, and suddenly I woke up and we were outside the Backpacker's Villa in Interlaken, Switzerland. I have gotten extremely good at sleeping on buses since I've been over here. We arrived at the hostel at 4am, got our keys, set our alarms for three hours later, and zzzzzzzzzz.

Sooner that I thought, our alarms were going off and we were up and at breakfast with no idea of what was ahead of us. They served bread and cereal, pretty much identical to the breakfast in Paris, but they had a great coffee machine. Two coffees later were were on our way to the Outdoor shop to rent gear and get lift tickets. All of the workers there had different types of accents and were all really nice and friendly. I got a pair of Salomon skis that were very similar to my skis at home and it seemed like they would do the trick. They gave us "pokey sticks" which is their slang for poles I guess. They were sold out of helmets thought, which was a bummer but we just decided we would be careful. That also meant that my forehead and my ears were going to take a rough beating, but it was irrelevant once we saw the mountain.

Interlaken is set up so that the mountains are reached by train. We took a five minute bus to the train stop. I would call them trams, and the stations were completely what I would imagine to be in Switzerland. I wish I had taken a picture, but I felt like I was riding on the Polar Express. Pretty cool. We took the train up to the top center of the mountain, and about an hour later we had finally arrived and had our skis on snow. On our first run I realized that the mountain was much different from the resorts I am used to going to. They didn't have mapped our runs, trail names, or trees dividing the two. As you can see in the pictures, we were above the clouds for the majority of the time, so trees were very rare. You could ski really far to the right and then cross back over to the left and take a cruiser for a while and then dip back int the powder and not get lost or off course. It honestly felt like just a huge playground with endless places to go. A lot of times I would follow along a ridge and not know where it would lead, and I would just come across a whole different bowl that I could also ski, usually with fresh powder. The views never got old, and I frequently had to stop to just take it in as much as possible. The pictures just don't do it justice. The skiing was so great that we didn't make time for lunch, and I pulled a Frank Burnette and ate a peanut butter sandwich and an apple on one of the lifts. They had a lot of lifts where there was a second layer that you could bring down over the safety bar, and it was a plastic shield that kept the wind and cold away. It wasn't really even that's cold, but it was really cool to see this and honestly an amazing invention that we need to bring to America. On that lift we met this extremely friendly and well-spoken 14 year girl who lives in Interlaken. She was telling us how they were practicing for a race they had on Sunday, and also that she spoke three languages. She started English in the "seventh class" and had private lessons. She was so precious and polite and proper and cute. Just a really good show of the Swiss culture and how different it is from America.

For dinner we obviously had to get fondue, so we went to this place in Interlaken Ost that was a very local place. We were the only Americans in the restaurant. Switzerland is the first place where I have not been able to understand one bit of the language at all. I wouldn't even recognize hi. When we walked in, there was a large table of guys of all ages that were sort of talking to us, but I just had absolutely no idea what any of the words meant that they were saying, so that was awkward. I've adopted the strategy that when in doubt, just smile and move on. This seems to work pretty well. I think that they older men were trying to get the you get ones to talk to us girls, but the language barrier just made the situation quite awkward. The restaurant looked like grandmas cottage before Christmas. There were decorations everywhere. Random dolls, Santas, white fluff and sparkles, a lot of fake branches, and just a lot of clutter. It had the same feel as the Swiss Chalet restaurant that I went to a few years ago in Vail on my dads birthday with the Gurtners and the Linaburgs. Vail and Aspen seem to be a more modern model of the authentic Swiss ski towns like Interlaken.

The next day we were able to get on the mountain much faster because we had already rented out equipment. We decided to take the gondola to the middle of the mountain. The line took FOREVER, but it was definitely worth it when we got to the top. The views were spectacular as usual, and it brought us to a great location with lots of powder and places to make the first tracks. After a few runs, I did a hike above the chair lift onto this mound that was only powder for the first 100 yards down. There was an incredible view from this spot, and we could see a drop all the way down into the valley. I realized how high we really were, but it just made it that much more exciting. Behind me was a hugeeeee drop pretty much all the way down, in front of me was fresh I'm touched power, to my left the same, and to my right two huge mountain peaks. Pretty much perfect. The run was so smooth and beautiful we had to do it again, and this time we convinced Allison and Amanda to come with us.

The town of Interlaken was really small, but still had a lot of Swiss character. Most of the shops were closed on Sunday so we went to see the lake. There was an adorable hotel right on the dock at the lake with a bunch of sailboats put away for the winter, but I can only imagine how pretty it would be in the summer. The locals were very friendly by smiling and trying to help is figure out where we need to go. A lot of them had dogs, and they were all very healthy and in shape looking.
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Dad on

I just read the blog.....absolutely fabulous what a great experience.

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