Tuesday, May 4, 2010

European trip, 2010: Interlaken, Switzerland April 20th to 22nd

Interlaken, Switzerland: April 20th to 22th, 2010

We arose at a not too early hour (about 7:00 am) to catch a train from Mainz that took us to Mannheim, and from there to Interlaken. The walk from the train station to our hostel was relatively short…although it would have been quicker if we hadn’t turned down the wrong street first. We stayed at the Backpackers Villa, which although slightly prison-like in its dorm interior, was otherwise quite comfortable. We choose to go to Interlaken for one reason: paragliding. I went on a tandem paragliding flight there three years ago when I last visited Switzerland, and I wanted Andrew to have the chance to experience it as well. So, one of the first things we did upon arriving in the town was book our flight. Tuesday was cloudy with a little bit of rain and so no one was flying when we arrived, but we were told Wednesday was expected to be perfect.

Once we set our flight time, we headed off to explore the town. It’s quite a picturesque little place, with mountains surrounding it in every direction. It also has lots of shops to look in. Perhaps not surprisingly, there were a number of places that sold watches and Swiss army knives. Watches can range from 70/80 CHF to several thousand CHF. On our first day we didn’t purchase anything, but enjoyed browsing through the available wares. That night we decided to go back to one of the fancier restaurants and enjoy traditional Swiss cheese fondue. It was quite tasty and very filling…but not so filling that we couldn’t fit in chocolate fondue afterward. We spent close to two hours at dinner, so by the time we were done, we simply headed back to our room and relaxed.
One of the huge hotels in Interlaken, with a few mountains in the background.
Me, enjoying cheese fondue.
Wednesday was indeed the glorious day promised. Having slept well, we awoke a little earlier than planned and headed out for a run. We weren’t really sure where we should go on our run as there was no convenient river to follow (like the Rhine in Germany) so we wound up going up part of a hill (small mountain?) then out of Interlaken and into one of the neighbouring towns. I probably could have run on for longer, but since I knew there was still a lot of walking ahead in our day we turned back after 20 minutes, for a 40 minute run altogether.

After breakfast we headed into Interlaken, not too sure what we would do with our time before our paragliding flight, which wasn’t set until 2:00 that afternoon. We brought along one of the tourist maps provided in our room and decided to visit the Interlaken Castle, which is probably really more of a big manor house. We didn’t go into the Castle itself as it’s used for local government offices, but did visit two churches (situated right beside each other). One was a much older church, although I don’t recall when it was built, and the other much newer. No one was around when we went into either church so we just wandered about the pews and sanctuary. The both had lovely stained glass windows. Afterward we continued into a lovely Japanese garden (only a block or two away), where giant fish inhabitant the pond. Then we walked. I think we must have walked for over two hours, up the side of the mountain a little ways (not too far up as we didn’t have extra food or hiking shoes with us) then when we got back down to the town level, along the river and through the country side. It was lovely.
The country side around Interlaken.
Before heading out to our paragliding flight we stopped by our room to get rid of all unnecessary baggage (backpacks, etc), then off we went. The company we flew with took us up the side of one of the mountains where a number of people were already lining up to take off. We somehow managed to jump the cue and be the first to take off. How does one take off, you might ask? Well, by walking off the side of the mountain--truly. You stand on the side of the mountain with your pilot strapped to you from behind, then you take a couple of steps and before you know it the canopy is filled with air and you’re soaring in the sky. Wednesday was a good day to fly. It was clear, and we were able to see all around the valley. Altitude is gained by catching thermals, which we were easily able to do that day. We did some tricks while we were in the air, slaloms, and spirals, which are just as good as any rollercoaster before we landed. I think the flight was half an hour total. Sometime I need to learn how to fly a paraglider myself.
Andrew and I before heading out on our paragliding flights.
Me, coming in for a landing (I think...it could also be a random person we don't know.)
We took it easy for the remainder of the day, resting in our hostel, writing postcards and drinking local beer. We also did some laundry, which was getting to the crucial state given we were about a week into our trip. I also decided to purchase a watch--a proper Swiss made watch. It’s a Balmain watch, and in my opinion both pretty (with some neat scrolling things on the face) and shiny. It is not, should I have to mention, one of the multi-thousand dollar watches. We went to bed at a reasonably early hour since we needed to by on the train by 8:30 the next morning.

1 comment:

Fondue Recipes said...

One thing's for sure, you guys did look like you had a great time there! Wow, I wish I could travel that far, too! I love adventure and food tripping as well. I love fondue, and I can't help but gasp at the size of your cheese fondue pot, lol! I can have fondue 5 times a week and won't complain about it. You see I'm not choosy, just give me my fondue and I'd live happily !