Are the Alps one of the 7 natural wonders of the world? Probably not. But they should be!
Switzerland was hands down the most beautiful, snowy place I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. From the mountains, to the ice blue rivers, to the small little towns, this was a perfect weekend getaway and a place I NEED to go back to.
You may be asking- why the heck did this girl want to go to a small town in Switzerland? Well, I saw a ton of people from the grade above me do it when they went abroad last year, so that really sparked my interest. Also, I knew I would get sick of just touring around cities every weekend and I wanted to experience the natural beauty of Europe, just as I did less than a year ago in Germany. Yes, cities are nice- but have you ever just stood on the edge of an ancient castle in a small town and looked at the landscape? Probably not. Ever since I did that at Colditz and Wartburg Castle in Germany, I wanted to experience more breathtaking views like those. Here are some pictures below to further prove my point!
Now, getting to Interlaken from Rome is next to impossible if you try to do it on your own. You’d have to fly to Geneva and then find either a bus or train to take you 2 hours away to reach Interlaken. Since I only had Thursday- Sunday I was not looking to do that, so my friends and I booked our trip through a travel company in Rome called Bus2Alps, which many students from Stonehill had done before me.
And that is where our journey began….
My friends and I boarded a bus from Termini train station in Rome at 8 pm on Thursday night, not knowing what we were in for. I half slept through the 12-hour bus ride and woke up surrounded by breathtaking mountains that seemed to reach the sky.
We chose to stay at Youth Hostel, which was great. Obviously the first thing I did was go get some breakfast and wow. They may have only had bread and some other tiny things, but if you know me, you know I FEASTED. It was actually the best bread I have ever consumed. Okay enough about the delicious bread and onto what I did besides eat (which I did a lot of, naturally).
It was about 11 am that day and I was just violently awoken from a nap by my loud alarm, only to remind me that I was about to JUMP OUT OF A PLANE in an hour. I was freaking out in my hostel room to my friends and eventually made it down to the lobby to wait for my transportation. Luckily, I met a ton of guys from UMass that were going to be doing this with me. We boarded the shuttle and were off to the airfield…..
When I stepped out of the shuttle and saw this tiny airplane hangar and a tiny field I was thinking “what did I get myself into”. I think everyone else was too. We met our instructors and suited up into this little jumpsuit. I’m an idiot and thought the jumpsuit would be warmer, so I ended up jumping out of the plane in 30 degree weather in a long-sleeve and leggings, but when you’re free falling towards the ground, you don’t exactly think about how cold you are.
Anyways, my instructor was named Dan and he was shorter than me and definitely weighed less which made me question how that would work if I’m jumping out of a plane attached to him?? He took me out to the runway and turned on the Go Pro and then our journey up above the Alps began.
The plane we got into had no seats and fit 12 of us. It was about a 15 minute ride up to the altitude we needed to get to, so during that time I just looked out the window and saw this:
I don’t think words could even describe the beauty of it, nor do the pictures do it justice. It was crazy to look outside the window and see all of the mountains covered in snow. It also definitely made me forget I was about to throw myself out of a plane in just a few minutes.
We finally reached our needed altitude and it was time. The first kid to jump out didn’t stop screaming and probably screamed the entire way down. Then, two free jumpers dove out of the plane. Up next, my turn. At that point I wasn’t even scared, which I was surprised about. We flew out of that plane and for the first 5 seconds, the terror hit me. Once I realized I could breathe, I was fine. After I got some air in my lungs, I just looked around and enjoyed the view. The free fall was about 45 seconds long but seemed like maybe 10. It’s an indescribable feeling and does not at all feel like a rollercoaster.
The parachute flew open and we began to just casually float around. Dan even let me control it for a minute and we spun around so much I was dizzy after. I loved looking down at the sky-blue rivers and seeing all of the green grass and mountains. We looped around and BOOM my feet were on the ground again! It’s funny because that whole time, I never once even thought about the parachute opening (I probably should have been a little concerned but it’s fine I am alive and writing this).
Overall, this was a crazy experience and I highly recommend that everyone does it. If you ask my parents or friends, they never even thought I would go abroad, never mind jump out of a plane! Here are some pictures for you:
After my feet hit the ground, I went back to the Hostel to meet some friends. They took me out around the tiny town and also took me to this amazing chocolate place, Funky Chocolate Club. Here’s a picture of the strawberries I got.
Later in the night, we all had a group dinner and went to a place called Des Alps. My friend Katie and I decided to get fondue since that’s a big thing in Switzerland. It was pretty good so I can’t complain. However, be aware that Switzerland is INSANELY EXPENSIVE. However, don’t let that stop you from going because when else will you get to go to Interlaken?
The next day, Dana, Katie, and I woke up at the crack of dawn for breakfast and kayaking on Lake Brienz. Once again, no words or pictures can do it justice. During kayaking, we floated, took pictures, and saw some pretty cool things. Our guide Maria took us over to the cliffs of the lake and the water was so clear that you could actually see the cliffs continue down into the water. Here is a picture of me next to the cliffs.
We continued on from the cliffs to a castle right on the edge of the water. This required a lot of steep hills and stairs, but once again the view was worth it. On one side, was the huge lake. On the other was a small Swiss town. Up at the top we enjoyed some Swiss chocolate and tea.
After coming down from the castle, we paddled the width of the lake and eventually made it back to shore. We checked our phones when we got to shore and saw that we had been out there for 3 hours! My arms could certainly feel the burn after that.
Overall, kayaking on the lake was amazing. It was great to go do something that was fun and a challenging workout at the same time. Fun fact, you can actually drink the lake water, that’s how good the water quality is. Here are some pictures Maria took during our time on the lake!
After kayaking, we had the afternoon to ourselves. We OBVIOUSLY went back to the chocolate place to reward ourselves after that workout. Then, we went ice skating in the middle of the town. This wasn’t just any ice rink. It had about 10 different paths and rinks to skate on and it was really cool to skate during sunset with the mountains behind us.
We did a ton of physical activity that day, so once again we got some good food for dinner. We went to Balmer’s hostel where some of my friends got fondue, but Dana and I split a HUGE burger. The thing was dripping in cheese and I was in heaven.
The next morning, it was sadly time to leave this beautiful place, but not before a nice stroll on a path next to the lake. We saw some tiny Swiss houses and ended up at the edge of Lake Brienz.
So that was my trip in 1500 words or less.
I will leave you with some final thoughts:
Abroad is a time to go to places you’ve only seen in books or online and to live in the “now”. I think this is especially true for myself in Interlaken.
I had obviously seen Switzerland before on Instagram, but I never expected to ever actually go there. Yes, you obviously want to hit all the major cities like London and Paris, but you should also try to go to some hidden gems. I think Interlaken may go down as my favorite trip. It was not like Madrid or Florence where you see old buildings or piazzas, you see natural beauty. I absolutely love history (it’s my minor!!), but I think you need to see natural beauty in Europe too. I’ve only been here for 5 weeks and seeing ancient buildings every day is getting a little old. SHOW ME THE GRASS & MOUNTAINS!! This trip was a great chance to be outside and do crazy activities that you simply can’t do in Rome or Madrid.
Interlaken definitely showed me to just go for it. If you even for a second want to do something, go do it. I’m not scared of heights but c’mon, jumping out of a plane is a tad scary. However, it is something that seemed cool, so I did it.
There comes a point in abroad where money doesn’t matter. You’re going to be broke after abroad no matter what, so spend the money and have these crazy experiences. You may think that you’re going to go back- but how do you ever really know? Go jump out of a plane while you know you can.
I hope you enjoyed this post, even if it was a tad long. Shoutout to anyone that actually read this whole thing, you’re the reason why I write!
Up next….. Madrid, Spain! Adios!