Switzerland was kind of a taste of home this weekend, much colder than Florence with beautiful snowy mountains, rivers, and lakes.
I skied the Jungfrau region of the Swiss alps which included Grindelwald and Murren.
Fun Fact: This is where the ski scene from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed… if you don’t remember the scene here it is:
(no mom I didn’t do any backflips off of cliffs)
Even though it wasn’t snowing when we were skiing there, the weather was incredible and the views were unbelievable; you truly cannot imagine how expansive the ranges are in the Alps by looking at pictures. Although I love Montana and its beautiful mountains, they cannot compare to the Alps.
After getting back from a full day of skiing, I went chocolate tasting and sampled a huge array of different chocolates! I tried everything from 99% cocoa chocolate, to spicy chocolate with hot peppers in it, to chocolates that are filled with 1/4 of a shot of cognac along with the traditional flavors.
While I was in Interlaken I stayed in a hostel with 7 other guys from Gonzaga; all of us slept in bunkbeds. The room was pretty simple but it had a beautiful view off of the balcony of the Alps.
Interlaken is a small town of approximately 5,000 people. Most of the town is tourists. It is in a beautiful area between two extremely blue lakes (hence the name Inter-laken) and about 45 minutes from Switzerland’s capital–Bern.
The next day I was there we took a bus to Bern and went sight-seeing in the city. Bern is the capital of the entire country of Switzerland and is also the capital of the region that is also named Bern. In this picture I am holding the flag for the region of Bern, that fittingly “bears” the image of a bear. Bears are a huge theme in the city, seeing bear trinkets all over the place is common. Another unique thing in the city is the bear pit, which holds three bears all year. Unfortunately we didn’t see the bears because they are hibernating. The bear pit had a terrifyingly short guard rail (reminded me a lot of anchorman for those of you who have seen it.)
The last day I spent in Switzerland I walked around the town along the river and to one of the lakes where I took some cool pictures and skipped some rocks. After that I spent my time looking around the countless watch, chocolate and knife shops and enjoying my last few hours in this beautiful country.
During my time in Switzerland I really fell in love with it. It is just reminiscent enough of home with the colder weather, beautiful mountains, lakes, and rivers, but still different enough that it is new and exciting. Not to say anything bad about Italians, because i have met many amazing Florentines, but the Swiss citizens were extremely hospitable and polite. We had several people who helped us get around town and up to the ski mountain, and there were many people who would stop to talk or just give a smile when passing them on the street.
I really liked the punctual culture in Switzerland as well. If there was a train that was scheduled to depart at 12:37, it wouldn’t be a second late. When I talked to the street vendors, they would offer a price that was fair and a good offer, there was no deception or a drawn-out bartering process. I guess it makes sense that the Swiss are known for their watches and banks–they are straight forward and concise, and they were still really polite!
Another “funny” side note about the trip was the event that was happening at the “Funny Farm” which was the name of my hostel for the weekend. The entire weekend we would see people of all ages walking around the hostel wearing extremely elaborate home-made costumes with team colors and painted faces. They were all friendly (partly because of the amount of alcohol they consumed I’m sure) but I guess there was a festival in Interlaken where there are around five teams that make elaborate costumes and play music and have a competition to see who plays the best songs. It was quite the party, here’s a picture with one of our buddies.
This is one place that I will put on my bucket list to visit again, without a doubt.