Today is my last day in Wilmington, NC, until next ...
Interlaken translates to in-between lakes. It's in the German speaking part of Switzerland, but everyone there is tri-lingual (French and English being the other two). We met a guy named Ian on the train through Germany who was from D.C. Small world. He is studying in Friedburg, Germany, where the sun is always shining. Almost all the houses are powered by solar panels. Also we learned a funny German word - 'ausfahrt', it means 'departure'. There were ausfahrts all over the train station.
Back to Interlaken - we stayed at the Happy Inn Lodge a hostel/restaurant/bar where all the staff are constantly smiling and happy to help. Everyone in Switzerland is generally happy and friendly, unlike the French. The first day we just walked around town and bought some groceries, taking in the view of the mountains all around us. It's funny to see people walking around in t-shirts, carrying skis. The slopes are still open because they are at such a high altitude.
At the hostel we met two canadians - Andrew and Kate, who are teaching in London, where apparently the six year olds are already saying "bloody hell." They taught us a cool card game called 'euchre.' It's similar to bridge but you only play with the cards 9-A. I love learning new card games, and this is definitely a good one.
We went on a hike with them around the lake but it was very hazy. You couldn't see anything. Interlaken has been nicknamed 'heaven' by some, but today it looked like purgatory.
On our way back we met an old couple with two gigantic St. Bernard's and one tiny dachsund. There were St. Bernard postcards and statuettes all around town at the gift shops, I guess it's their national dog.
There were so many awesome activities to do in Interlaken but they are all out of our price range. You could go zorbing for $95 a person, paragliding for $160 a person, or hang gliding for $225 a person. They also have the tallest peak in Europe, called Jungfrau, but just to get taken up there cost $132 a person. We spent all of our money on pitchers of cava sangria in Barcelona.
Instead we paid $6 a person for a bus ride up the Beatenberg mountain, which was still massive. We prepped with a hearty meal of McDonald's, which is outrageously expensive, ($11-$14 for a meal, the happy meal was $7). Side note - Interlaken had the worst, most expensive food out of our whole trip, minus the Swiss Chocolate.
So we got on the bus. When we got to the last stop, we got out and started a hike to the peak, that was aptly named 'Niederhorn'. It was the most intense hike I've ever done. If it was any steeper, it would have been considered rock climbing. It ranged from a 45 to 75 degree incline. At one point Danielle asked, "What's this stuff that keeps falling." It was snow. Eventually we got to a point where there were too many pockets of snow to see the trail, so we reluctantly turned around and then followed the road up to a restaurant that was closed. But the 3 hours of trudging up a mountainside paid off:
*note = The mountain is actually pronounce "Bee-ought-enberg" not "Beaten".
The way down was really tough on our knees. We followed these two swiss people who seemed like professional hikers. It was hard to keep up. I was wearing basketball kicks from the 'above the rim' collection, and their boots looked more like the 'up the mountain' collection. We discussed Dubya, Obama, the myth of global warming, and the like. The man was in international business and had some fascinating economic insight.
Interlaken was a fresh break from the huge cities. I enjoyed being out in nature, breathing the fresh air, and taking in the views. Next time I'll come back when I'm rich so I can get the full experience. Hopefully by then I'll still be excited by the notion of flying through the air on a piece of fabric.