Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Switzerland. Can words really describe how deeply I fell in love with this place? Again, never anywhere I'd considered going but again just like Venice, it stole my heart.
Switzerland was my second favorite place on tour.
We arrived after a full day of travelling on the coach from France, passing through the wine producing regions of Burgundy and Chablis at a little place called Liebe Wintergaste in Lauterbrunnen. It was absolutely breath-taking.
We were told that if we wanted to go up the Jungfrau Mountain we had to be prepared for disappointment as it was really misty and they weren't sure if it would be possible to see anything from up at the top. The tour guide told us it was a risk that we would have to take... and a pricey one at that. To go up costs: 120 Euro (if you are with Contiki that is.) Bec, the tour guide, also warned us that some of us could experience altitude sickness as you do go up 11'333 feet.
I didn't care if I was the only one going up, I was going! I wanted to go and snowboard and explore and make the most of every opportunity in this beautiful, waterfall adorned place.
My heart sank when I heard that we needed to get about twelve peole rallied up to go up the UNESCO World-Heritage-listed site on the cog rail to Europe's highest railway station.
Everyone was extremely hungover from a crazy night out at a local pub (the only pub....) in Lauterbrunnen called: Honner Pub.
We stayed out until all hours of the morning. Some of us even scaled the fence and hiked up a seriously slippery hill at about 3AM and got as close to the above waterfall as possible. It was so liberating and exhilarating... we got absolutely soaked! Gorgeous.
Somehow, I don't know how.... Nicole and I managed to round up just enough to take us up the mountain! It entailed some hammering on doors, dragging people out of bed and running around the campsite, limbs flying around in utter panic.
I am SO glad that people decided to come up the mountain. I was beyond worth the 120Euros. Even though it was misty and we couldn't admire or appreciate the views.
I was really nervous that the altitude sickness would affect me because I suffer from sea-sickness really badly. My body can't handle strange things like that. I can't even swing on a swing or bob around on my surfboard for too long without feeling terrible.
You could definitely feel the oxygen levels decrease as you escalated up the mountain, which was to be expected.
None of us really suffered from altitude sickness but after some hilarious snow fights that had us panting and frozen through, we did get pretty dizzy. You can honestly ignore the dizziness and slight nausea you MAY or MAY NOT experience though for the amazing memories and fun you'll have up there!
You can touch the Switzerland flag... this was a pretty painful excursion for me I must admit!!! The wind was so aggressive it honestly brought a whole new meaning to 'blow me away!!' I was holding on for dear life! Because of the wind, the snow was whipping us all in the face which stung like hell and also made us drenched! (but as I've said before, at least I can say I have DONE it now. Totally worth the pain. Live a little!!!)
Inside you can see the most beautiful ice sculptures in their ice-palace wonderland. I had such fun skidding along the ice floors.
Outside, have snowball fights!! Why not!? It is such fun.
Warm up in the cafes afterwards and get yourself a nice warm coffee. We were advised to pack our own lunches to take up with us as the prices are pretty steep up there (pun intended).
Damian, one of the guys on tour with us, had promised to teach me to snowboard but when we got up there we found out that the snowboarding is only available from May onwards and we were in the end of April so it was really, really disappointing as that was the main reason I was so excited but we still made the most of our day up Jungfrau. SO... if it is snowboarding you want, wait till May. Sadly my snowboarding dream is still on hold for a while.
Back down the mountain we showered and got ready for a CRAZY night at The Bomb-Shelter... the campsites very own club in, yes, you guessed it.. a converted bomb-shelter.
The theme was Red and White, the flag colours. So we all dressed in red and white and had an absolutely insane party. The campsite is pretty strict though and while we were hanging out on a bridge that leads you to the club at about 3am (again...) the security guard literally told us it was bed time. I felt like a scolded child!
Switzerland was just such a happy, memorable, B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L place in Europe for me and I would gladly go back to Lauterbrunnen again one day.
Next, Ana, our awesome Portugease coach driver, took us to Nice, The French Riviera.