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A Birthday Travel

Interlaken, Switzerland

The Alps: 11 people, 10 beds, 9 bottles of wine, 8 partridges in a pear tree, 7 times Chris fell, 6 people returning to Brig, 5 pocket coffees stolen from Jenal, 4 blacks (diamonds) on Grindelwald, 3 people left behind, 2 runs on the half pipe, 1 Birthday.

These were by far the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. I would constantly catch myself looking up and completely forget what I was doing. The most noticeable difference was the amount of rock showing. This wasn’t like Park City, in that the sheerness of the cliffs made it impossible to completely cover an entire mountain in snow. Out of nowhere there would be huge chunks of rock. The snow was also very different.

It was much dryer, and since the runs weren’t groomed as often, some parts tended to be very icey. The last thing is that it was completely above the tree line. Approximately 7000ft. This is much lower than Utah and I didn’t really find myself ever gasping for air or having to rest my legs. There were only a few black diamonds, and these really weren’t difficult, I’d compare them to most double blues. And I was completely unable to find any moguls. That being said the experience of just skiing in the Alps was amazing.

When we got to Interlaken Chris, Dan, Colleen and I immediately went to rent our equipment. Colleen and I both rented skis and Chris and Dan rented snowboards. We went to a pretty authentic Swiss restaurant about 10 minutes away, since it was Jessica’s Birthday.

The Swiss aren’t on the euro which made things a little more difficult as only some of us had any Francs. I think 1 franc is about 80-90 American cents (not that it matters because I’ve completely converted my thinking to Euros). The four of us went back to the Hostel (Hostel Funny Farm) after dinner, maybe 2130-2200 and tried to get some sleep, while everyone else went out to what I guess was the worst club in all of Interlaken, or at least the worst attended. Our day started early at 645 and we hurried to get our gear on and catch the 730 bus that will take us to the tram that takes us the 40 minutes to the town where we need to walk 20 minutes to the lift which takes us up the mountain for 30 minutes…. We finally get to the mountain a little before 9. After a few bunny hills we move on to a bit tougher terrain. Colleen, having not skied in years caught on very quickly. We explore nearly every run, and even take one of those old fashioned T lifts, Colleen had trouble with her dismount (twice) and nearly killed Dan.
Lunch was at 1230, I'm pretty sure I ordered Italian. After, we get separated from Colleen and I try to convince Dan and Chris to try some difficult runs. They also convince me to try the half pipe. It was hard. I was way more out of breath by the bottom than I had been going down any of the runs all day. I end up trying it once more after. I wasn't able (didn't try) to catch any air, but it was definitely a start for next year. We miraculously find Colleen at the bottom of a lift and we give her the keycard so she can heads back. We go up again and I try hitting the Jump Park. My first jump was fairly successive but my second jump I landed way to hard and spiraled down the back, but didn't lose my skis. Luckily there was only one person on the chairlift to laugh at me. It was about 1530 by now and Chris, Dan and I headed to the other side of the mountain where we were going to take the longest run home. Bad idea. The first kilometer of the run was either flat or uphill. We walked. And it was getting dark. Once we made it to ski-able terrain it turned into a great intermediate run with a beautiful tour of the valley. We reach the bottom and spend the next 90 minutes taking the transport home. I return the equipment and found out that the ski pass I had could track where I went, although I haven’t yet checked.

My information is: www.jungfrauwinnercard.ch
Ticket #:*29-1250-63-201141

It was Jessica’s Birthday. I don’t think I will ever forget what day she was born. The girls had bought wine, champagne and a cake for her. We sing her happy birthday and proceed to drink in the room. We were all ordered to take shots of whiskey; it was Jessica’s Birthday.

Kristina had bought the worst smelling stinky cheese and had completely destroyed the ability to breathe normally in our fairly large room. By now the shameless Jessica had finally come out, and had one of the best quotes of the trip: “You don’t need to get me drunk to take advantage of me.” Somewhere around this time Alex “smelt something really bad” and rushed out of the room… rumors abound, but we don’t think it was the cheese. After We head down to the train station and head into a Chinese restaurant at 2220, and it was clear from the start that we were not wanted. They reluctantly sit us down and we open the menu… Duck was 42 Francs, Rice was 7.50. Yes 7.5 francs. That was how much my lunch for the past 2 days had cost. Probably more. Janel very tactfully informed them that we could not finish eating by the 2300 deadline they had told us.
A few people have a fit about how rude we were. I feel we were doing them a favor; they don’t earn tip and the last thing they want to deal with in an empty restaurant is 11 drunk kids who are all trying to order the cheapest thing on the menu. Besides, after spending over 60 Euro (refer to the Brig fiasco) just to get to Interlaken, and over 115 Francs to rent skis and a lift ticket, the last thing I want is Switzerland’s most expensive rice. I am attempting to budget . So we go to the next best place, Hooters. It was Jessica’s Birthday after all. This had to be the worst Hooters in the History of Hooters.
They might as well have called it Surfboards or, Ugly European Waitresses in Skimpy Orange Spankies. Johnny put it very nicely, “usually I am too distracted to look at the menu, no, not here.”

Since everyone was finally getting along we decide to have a conversation about sex and religion at the dinner table. I wasn’t too hungry, and I decide to get my plate of invisible burger (good one Chris). I feel as poor as my really poor roommate. Also I didn’t have any Francs and didn’t want to go to a bank. After dinner we head back to the hostel, Masha fell asleep with her clothes on and the rest of us head down to the “club” (read, “basement”). The DJ was pushing 70 and the ratio of guys to girls was also about 30:1. I head up a little early from a long day and everyone else calls it a night by 3ish. We woke up at 745 to catch our 910 train. Jessica missed it. It was not her Birthday anymore. Luckily we had a layover in Brig and there was a fairytale ending.

I am on the train home now, it’s amazing to think that while I write this I have passed under the Swiss Alps back in Italia.

Reflections on the trips:
It’s amazing how quickly the people change from place to place. From Brig to Interlaken, Milano to Firenze. Even 50km away people have taken up completely different looks, attitudes, language and mannerisms. Europe is much more diverse than America culture wise.

Growing up so close to the beach I often take for granted just how beautiful it really is. Looking up at the mountains I saw a close parallel. The people here get up every morning to see one the most awesome sights in the entire world. I’m sure that they have become very desensitized to it. It is so unfortunate, but yet that is human nature, to take for granted that which has become commonplace.

I got very jealous walking through Interlaken and Brig. I longed for the simplicity of the life that many of them lead. Working just enough to have the necessities and then the rest of the time spending on something they love. Most of them never had to worry about what college to get into. But what comes with that is also the loss of things we do enjoy worrying about. Most of them are completely and utterly passionate about the mountain. I wanted that.

permalink written by  acgerson on February 6, 2009 from Interlaken, Switzerland
from the travel blog: acgerson's Travel Blog
tagged Alps, Interlaken and SkiTrip

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Christmas Market Tours 2013 across Austria, Italy, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia

Helen, United States

I am taking Americans and Aussies on an adventure throughout Europe to visit some beloved Christmas Markets. For 17 years I have visited thousands of villages, towns and cities across Europe drinking lots of Glühwein and being spellbound by the Christmas Markets. Looking forward to this year!

permalink written by  vipalpinetours on November 5, 2013 from Helen, United States
from the travel blog: vipalpinetours's Travel Blog
tagged Christmas, Alps, Germany, Snow, Tours, Vienna, Hamburg, Austria, Berlin, Innsbruck, Holidays, Slovenia, Hungary, Tirol, ChristmasMarket, Weihnachtsmarkt, Christkindlmarkt, Wien, Graz, Tourismus and Christmastime

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