Before I dive wholeheartedly into Switzerland, it’s worth noting we spent 2 days in Venice, where we ended our Dolomites drive. There are no cars or bikes allowed on Venice, instead replaced with hundreds of small boats navigating and lining narrow canals. Locals easily navigate tiny, twisted streets that look built on accident while outsiders battle the giant maze that is Venice. It certainly has a unique charm but given its touristy buzz, 2 days was plenty. We saw the main sights, toured Murano island (famous for its glass blowing), and found some quiet local spots to take it all in.
Rant: It’s no secret Venice is [not so slowly] sinking, and given how many people swarm the island each day, it’s no wonder. Recognizing there’s no easy solution, it seems like local government could really help extend the lifetime of the islands with a few key changes. Namely, limiting the number of cruise ships allowed to dock during a certain period and mandating a shift of boats to electric drivetrains, limiting water pollution. See Venice while you can, who knows how much longer it’ll be around. 😦
A few photos from our 2 days:
Exploring Murano Island:
And now for the main event…. Switzerland!! Man, how I love this country. The mountains, the happy cows and everything in between is so beautiful; even the air smells sweet!I have been dreaming of my return ever since my first visit in 2009 but my love for Switzerland started long ago, evidenced by my A+ 6th grade country project. 🙂 Ted and I even stayed in the same hostel Haley and I stayed in 7 years ago which was icing on the cake.
This was Ted’s first time in Switzerland, and we greatly looked forward to spending quality time in the outdoors. Switzerland is extremely expensive, so we spent wisely (hence hostel), but had such a blast.
Upon arrival, we took a free walking tour to get acquainted with the small town of Interlaken, population ~6,000. The walking tour took us to the start of a trailhead that leads to the top of the town, which we tackled the next day. While there is also the option of a funicular, we opted for the challenging hike, with over 2,700 feet in elevation in a short distance. By the time we got to the top, we were walking among paragliders and the views were spectacular. Plus, it felt great to get the heart rate up. Not to worry, we followed the hike with some cheese fondue that was extremely delicious.
Our next adventure included something on my bucket list: Alpine Sledding. We weren’t far from the legendary track in Kandersteg and gave it a go. We trained out to Kandersteg, and then took thegondola up to a small town called Oeschinensee for our adventures du jour. Basically, you sit atop a small plastic slide, gliding down the mountain on a metal tracked course (half a mile long in total). We each did the course 5 times and lucked out with the weather since the slide cannot safely operate under wet conditions.
It started raining within 15 minutes following our ride but we braved the rain after hearing about a deliciously gorgeous mountain lake. We were presented with beautiful views, and even witnessed (from afar) half a dozen small avalanches in the surrounding mountains. There was still some snow and ice on the ground and we learned people ice skate on this lake during winter. UGH Switzerland is not real life, I’m convinced.
The next day, the weather looked ominous so we stayed indoors and became “Swiss Chocolatiers” by making our own chocolate at Funky Chocolate Club. It’s a business run by 2 Czech women and their awesome friend, Vlady and it was SO MUCH FUN. We definitely got chocolate wasted and I’m #sorryimnotsorry. Finished product below.
On our last full day in Interlaken, we finally participated in the most thrilling of outdoor adventures–canyoning. Essentially, you navigate down a rushing canyon by either repelling, jumping, or holding your breath, crossing your fingers, and sliding through rapids. It can be highly dangerous, but is extremely fun. While the weather was nice during our stay, that meant snow was melting quickly, causing the water levels to rise substantially and flow quickly, to the tune of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when we arrived at the canyon, it was uncertain if we’d be able to go due to water conditions, but we had a small, able group, great guides, and at-the-limit water: all systems go! We had to hike a alternate path to the canyon’s head which provided additional excitement and it was a challenging, successful trip in the end. A few photos.
Importantly, now that we’re more than half way through our trip, we have made a purposeful shift in our mindset from “vacation mode” to “thought, reflection, and planning mode”. We certainly had our fair share of fun in Switzerland but truly took intentional time each day to write out and focus on various near and longterm goals. It’s an ongoing process but more on this personal development in later posts, I promise.
Though we were sad to leave Switzerland, we had a friendly face waiting for us in Barcelona, so hasta la vista, Interlaken!
Posted from: Seat 124 of TGV train 9702 en route from Barcelona, Spain to Nice, France.