Published: January 18th 2010January 17th 2010 Interlaken, Switzerland
The view from Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken is a small town tucked away between two huge alpine lakes in the Swiss Alps. When the weather is warm it is an outdoor enthusiasts dream - with everything from skydiving to zoorbing (going down a hill inside of an inflated ball). I spent just under a week here [Switzerland] after my adventures in Spain and France (and it was COLD!). I had previously spent almost two weeks here during my last trip to Europe, and had an absolute blast! I was eager to see what it would be like in the winter. Skiing
One of the main things that I wanted to do in Interlaken was ski. It has been a while since I had a chance to ski on some real mountains, so I was pretty excited about the opportunity. I didn’t bring any ski gear so I had to rent everything (ski pants, jacket, goggles, gloves, skies, boots) so this kind of limited the number of days that I could ski, but never the less, I got out there. The morning on the mountain was beautiful, the top of the ski area was just above the cloud line so I had an opportunity
The view from Grindelwald, Switzerland
to witness one of those scenes that have only seen photos of - a white soupy layer of clouds blanketing the earth with just the peaks of the mountains poking through….really impressive. That was the good news, the bad news was that Brian (one of the professors) and I decided to do a little out of bounds skiing just moments before that cloud cover moved up the mountain. The area of the mountain that we were skiing in was basically a huge bowl, with small cliffs, rock outcroppings, but not much else in terms of viewable structures (trees, etc). So when the clouds rolled in, it was a total whiteout. Since we were off the slopes we didn’t dare risk skiing in those conditions so we waited, and waited, and waited... Finally after about 45 minutes of sitting in the snow, waiting for the clouds to pass, we decided to try to slowly find our way back to a ski trail.
In the end it all ended up working out…though it took us another hour to find our way back to a chairlift, we ended up getting into a situation where everything was up hill….the snow was waist deep
which made it impossible to take the skis off. It was actually a little bit scary - it was honestly one of those situations where one or two bad moves could have had serious repercussions. The mountain that we were skiing on had a lot of natural unmanaged areas if we would have ended up too far into one of those in a white out…well lets just say I’m glad things worked out.
The rest of the time in Interlaken was pretty tame. I had a huge fondue dinner one night, but ended up spending a lot time studying and hanging out around town. One interesting thing to mention is the cost of things in Switzerland….food is very expensive. It was difficult to find ANYTHING for under 30 dollars (20 Euro). Even a plain bratwurst and fries cost $23! However, the good news is that the chocolate was cheap…and boy did I have a bunch of that!
I would like to mention that we had two pretty incredible business visits while in Switzerland, both were in Geneva, where I got the chance to tour and receive a lecture in the United Nations (UN) facility and also the World
Another shot of the indoor/outdoor shopping area in Milan called Milan Galleria
Trade Organization (WTO). A high ranking official at the WTO conducted the lecture and it was really amazing to visit and ask questions at organizations such as the UN and WTO. These are places that I have studied so much in school and hear so much about in everyday life. Milan, Italy
So, next my group headed to Milan, Italy. The last two stops on the Forum-Nexus study abroad program tour were to places that I had not yet been (Milan and Venice), so besides Brugge these were the stops that I was most excited about. We spent 2 nights in Milan, and I feel like all I did was eat. Italian food is incredible as we all know (especially after living off of chocolate and cheese fondue!). I saw a few sites (Duomo di Milano), but not much else happened - I had a huge paper due, so I ended up spending most of my time working on it so I could have free time in Venice (which is next), though there is one funny story worth telling...
My friend Sumayya went to a candy store to order some marizpan (basically candy) for her dad. She
this is a shot during the whiteout....can you see anything?
tried to say, “I would like some marizpan” but the person behind counter could not understand what she was saying (Sumayya can’t speak Italian)…so this went on for a few minutes before another guy in my program stepped in (Jon). Jon doesn’t speak any Italian either, but with the worst fake Italian accent you could ever imagine he just said, “she’da like’a some’a mariz-i-pan-aaa” basically just being silly - but then the guy behind the counter was like, “ohh mariz-i-pan-aaa - no problem’a” - and we all just about died laughing!
So, that was my extremely quick visit to Milan. Up next? Venice.
There are more photos below