Switzerland

Switzerland is easily one of the most beautiful and expensive places I have ever been. I debated back and forth about going to Switzerland because I have heard horror stories of how expensive a weekend trip can be. This is one of the few times in life that I am glad I caved to peer pressure. I went with my roommates Erika, Renee, and Lauren. Surprisingly this week we didn’t have any issues or bad luck so hopefully our bad luck streak is over. We stayed at the Funny Farm Hotel/Hostel, which I would recommend to anyone because it was clean and a center point to the city and mountains. Our room was a sizeable hostel with four beds and an attached bathroom. It advertised that it had a free breakfast but it didn’t tell you that “free breakfast” meant they only served bread and jelly. Not toast. Bread. I think I turned into a carb in a matter of three days with how much bread I consumed at breakfast to get full.

We left late Thursday night so we would arrive early on Friday morning and have a full weekend in Interlaken. Interlaken offers many extreme sports from sky diving to skiing, so my roommates signed up to go paragliding. I like to keep my feet on the ground so I did a hard pass on that one. Switzerland is also extremely expensive and I didn’t want to spend too much money on the weekend when I still hadn’t been in Europe for a full month yet. Their paragliding appointment wasn’t until 3 p.m. so Erika and I decided to go up into the mountains to do a little hiking. Lauren and Renee downloaded an audio tour guide of the city onto their phones and went exploring the city. We had to take a few different modes of transportation to get up the mountain but it was all very easy to figure out. Our hostel provided us with a city bus card that allowed us to ride for free for our entire stay in Interlaken and they had a bus stop right outside. We had to take the bus three stops over to the train station. I don’t really know if it could be considered a train station because it wasn’t the typical ones you normally see. It had two train tracks and no formal area to buy a ticket that we could see. We weren’t really sure how we were supposed to buy a ticket so we decided to be rebels and get on without paying. Our rebellious side was very short lived because right once the train took off a worker asked to see our tickets so we had to buy them right on the spot. They cost 12 CHF and it was about a 20-minute ride along the lower portion of the mountain so it was definitely worth the cost. Once we got off at our stop we still had to take a gondola even higher up the mountain. It was an 18 CHF round-trip ticket that I was a little bitter about at the time because I didn’t want to spend that much money just getting up a mountain. We were told that it would have took hours if we didn’t take all these different modes of transportation and we didn’t have a ton of time to waste.

It was cool riding the gondola up the mountain because it had all glass windows so you got a really good view of the mountains but it also scared the crap out of me. I looked out the window for maybe a minute before I just closed my eyes. Once we got off the gondola we took a trolley (I swear this is the last form of transportation we had to take) up the mountain. We finally got off at Murren, which turns out its an entirely different city in Switzerland. It was a quiet city that had several skiers walking around. It was so peaceful and everyone looked so happy. We had to use the bathroom so we stopped an bought a latte and talked to the owner of the coffee shop for a bit about where we should go and life up on the mountain. They seem like they live such a relaxed life that I have no idea how they could ever be stressed! We started walking on random paths and eventually saw a snowy covered field and decided to run through the snow to get a better view of the mountains. What was really weird was that it was a foot or more of snow but it wasn’t wet or cold. We stomped some snow down and sat on the rode for a while and enjoyed the view. I think I could have stayed in that spot for the entire day and never get sick of it. It was absolutely incredible. It felt so nice to be out of a big city and be surround by nature. Erika was on a bit of a time crunch so we decided to get up and do some more walking around before we had to go back down for her paragliding appointment.

After we got down the mountain Erika, Lauren, and Renee left to go paragliding together while I went for a walk by myself around the city. It wasn’t a super touristy city so there wasn’t really much to look at but it was nice to be outside in the fresh air instead of getting rained on in Italy. It’s rained nearly every day that I’ve been in Florence. If you’re not afraid of heights then you should definitely do the extreme sports because I haven’t heard a single person say they regret it. My roommates pictures of them paragliding looked unreal. We met up at the hostel after they were down paragliding and went to a chocolate tasting at a local business. The owner was super nice and explained the differences of all the types of chocolates and how to tell the quality of it. It was extremely good chocolate but no chocolate is worth 15 CHF to me so instead I loaded up on the free samples. Renee was adamant that she could not leave Switzerland until she tried cheese fondue so we roamed the city trying to find the best deals but didn’t have much luck. We gave up and decided to go home and rest up for the next day.

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Saturday we carb loaded once again and took a bus to Bern, which is one of the two capital cities of Switzerland. They have a judicial and executive capital for the country. It was only an hour ride from Interlaken to Bern but it felt like a lot less because I stared out the window at all the beautiful scenery. Bern got it’s name because when people settled the land the first animal they found in the area was a bear so the name the city after the animal. They even had these bear pits that live bears stayed in and currently do stay in. However, we didn’t get to see the bears because they are in hibernation. We did look at the old bear pits that were basically a giant hole in the ground with a stone wall around it. The new bear pit is a much more humane exhibit that is more spacious for them. Our next stop was the Bern Minster, which is the tallest cathedral in all of Switzerland. We took a look around the inside and I was pretty disappointed with it’s interior. It lacked the detail that other cathedrals I have seen have and there was construction on many of the stain glass windows. A few blocks over were the Zytglogge clock tower that has an astronomical display at noon. We heard that the display was overrated but it was 11:55 so ended up waiting the 5 minutes to see what would happen. Don’t plan your day around trying to see this display. A little bear popped out of the tower and spun in a circle for about 30 seconds then went back inside and that was the end of the display. Erika had withdrawn some CHF on Friday morning and needed to spend them before the weekend was up so we stopped at Starbucks. All the coffees were 6-9 CHF, which wasn’t really in any of our budgets. Since Switzerland is pretty expensive we did a lot of wandering around the city to avoid paying ridiculous prices. We stopped at a food truck and got some of the best food I have had while in Europe to date. It was a sandwich with ham, Mexican sauce, melted cheese, tomato, and salsa verde on it. After we ate, we walked around the city and did a little shopping. And by shopping I mean window-shopping because many of the stores were oddly expensive for cheap looking clothes. We left Bern and went back to Interlaken to decide what to do with the rest of our night. We still had a little bit of CHF’s left and Renee NEED cheese fondue so we went to the restaurant in our hotel and decided to get dinner. Her fondue was 23 CHF and my burger and fries cost me 19 CHF. We had been keeping our eyes open for drink prices because we wanted to go out but all the drinks looked like they were 8-12 CHF. All of us agreed that we would rather save our money so we sat outside and stayed up late talking until it was time for bed.

Our bus didn’t leave on Sunday until 2 p.m so we did some more exploring outside of the city and found an awesome lake. I couldn’t even tell you the name of it but it’s just outside of the city. The water leading up to the mouth of the lake was the craziest color of water I have ever seen. The way that the mountains reflect off the water turns it into the water into the craziest shade of blue/green. We spent our afternoon hanging around the lake and taking pictures then walked back to the city to grab some coffee and snacks before boarding our bus. Switzerland is an expensive to stay but there are many ways to make it cheap. I would bring plenty of snacks because food is what will kill you the most. There are plenty of free things to do if you don’t want to spend money. Don’t let the high prices of Switzerland deter you from taking a trip there!

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