Trip Start Oct 04, 2005
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Flag of Switzerland  ,
Sunday, October 23, 2005

We took a night train from Rome and arrived the next morning in Bern. We took a few hours to check out Bern before heading to Interlaken. In Interlaken we stayed at Funny Farm backpackers, a great hostel converted from a former 4 star hotel. It was a little quiet there in October and a little cold but we still some met some other travelers and had some nice sunny days. The owner had a huge St. Bernard dog named splif who came and went as she pleased, pushing open the heavy doors with her huge head. Our dorm room had a balcony with a view of the Alps, they had a bar and pool table downstairs and big screen with a projector. Definitely one of the best hostels I've ever stayed in, I would love to come back in the summer when there more going on and warmer weather.

While in Interlaken we rented bikes for a day and rode around the Brienzersee, which took about 5 1/2 hours even though I was pretty sick. I stuck it out and we finished the ride although at some points the hills never seemed to end and when we got off the road and onto a horse trail we ended up carrying our bikes over rough, rocky paths and even up some stairs. Someone had told us the ride was more or less FLAT. Yeah RIGHT. Oh well, we made it, had a great workout, and I got some of the best views of the trip so far. The next day we went to Grindelwald, the town wasn't all that impressive but once we got away from the touristy main street into a residential area it was beautiful and peaceful. The views of the mountain were amazing, we sat for over an hour just taking in the scenery.

The next day we left Interlaken to hike up to Gimmelwald, a small town way below the Schilthorn. The staff at Funny Farm was nice enough to let us leave our big bags there so we could hike with just the essentials in our daypacks. We took the train to Lauterbrunnen and hiked from there through the valley with half a dozen waterfalls streamiing down both sides of the valley. The hike was pretty flat and passed over streams, small farms and little cottages. We decided against taking the cable car and hiked all the way up, it took us about 5 hours. We felt very satisfied with ourselves for making it all the way even though we were both sick by this time. As we reached Gimmelwald the mountains surrounded us and felt so close. The pictures will never do this place justice. We stayed one night in the Mountain Hostel, and hiked back to Lauterbrunnen after the cable car down to Stechelburg. We picked up our packs in Interlaken and took the train to Zurich and then Munich our next destination.

What sticks in my memory the most about Switzerland is how clean, quiet and fairytale-esque it all is. It was almost hard to believe what we were seeing while biking through picture perfect lakeside towns and hiking up into the Alps. The air was fresh and clear and I always felt so safe. I'll also always remember the silly Swiss cows with their big musical bells. We passed so many fields dotted with cows and their bells were always sounding off and echoing across the countryside. Also the trains in Switzerland are on time, clean, and efficient, which seemed like quite a change coming from Italy.
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