Kif and Peter were successful with their meeting plan and met up at Platform 1 in Geneva. They went up to the Palais de Nations, the UN building in Geneva, and got a tour of the place. It´s pretty cool in their because you get to see a lot of rooms where big decisions were made throughout history. After leaving the building at 2pm, we realized that there would be no way that we could see both Lausanne and Chateau Chillon that day. So we scrapped Chateau Chillon and have saved it for another trip. We wandered around Geneva, where we saw the Jet d´eau and plenty of banks. At about 3pm, we realized that there would be no way we could even get to Lausanne, so it has also been saved for another trip. Which was sad, but now we have an excuse to get back to Switzerland!
We trained up to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, where we walked down the steepest hill on earth to get to our hostel. We checked in and then went out for a classy dinner, ie supermarket, with Jacquie (Aussie), Lindasy (Canadian) and Sarah (Canadian). We grabbed some food and the plan was to eat dinner down by the river, however, we wandered down randomly around Bern and found a square. In the middle of the square were 6 hot air baloons. Weird we thought, lets watch them they might take off or something. Music started playing, and a hotair baloon show (like no other) began. The baloon pilots started firing their baloons in time to the music. It was one of the funniest things that either of us had either seen. They were synchronized and kept firing for the duration of the multiple songs that were played. It was remarkably entertaining. We heard everything from techno, to 80's hair metal, to love songs! Randomly funny night.
We left the hostel the next morning with Sam (American) who had checked out just before us and was going to Interlaken. We walked up the second steepest hill in the world (we weren´t going to be suckers and take the steepest hill again), which was difficult for Sam because he thought that he had broken his foot running for the U-Bahn in Berlin. We caught the train and arrived at Interlaken. Interlaken itself is located between two lakes (hence the name Interlaken) and at the head of a valley that is surrounded by 3000-4000 metre high mountains. To say that the views were spectacular would be an understatement. I would like to apologize once again for the lack of posted photos and I will once again blame German computer for this.
We checked into the hostel and decided that we wanted to have some fun (surprise, surprise). Interlaken is number two in the world for outdoor adventure sports after Queenstown, New Zealand. we could choose from bungee jumping, sky diving, paragliding, canyoning, water rafting, etc. Paragliding won our hearts over, so we booked three pilots and headed into town. They started driving up the mountain across from Interlaken from where they take off. We drove, and drove, and drove until we reached the summit. They load you up in what can only be described as an oversized harness and diaper, and then the pilot attaches himself to you. The parachute goes up, you do your best impression of a lemming and run towards the edge of the cliff, and then you jump off. The rush is fantastic!!! You start soaring with the updrafts, getting higher and higher, with nothing above you but thin string and canvas, and nothing below you but the occasional bird. Sam, Kif and Peter were crusing along separately, each trying to find the best updraft. They all eventually caught it and were each cruising at an altitude of 5500 feet above the ground for a while. The views up there are awesome! We touched down in town, and decided that paragliding is awesome and eveyone should do it. We took it easy that night because we were planning on going up the Jungfraujoch the next morning. (again sorry for no pictures)
So we slept in the next morning, and caught the 7am (I know it sounds early, but it was more expensive than the earlier train) up to the Jungfraujoch. For those of you who don't know, the Jungfraujoch is the highest train station in Europe at 3454 metres. The train passes through gorgeous valleys and through both the Eiger and the Monch mountains until it reaches its destination. It even stops in the two aformentioned mountains to allow people to look at the views through holes blasted in the mountains. The peak was cold, at -7, but it still did not stop Peter from doing the obligatory shirtless photo infront of gorgeous mountains, snow and ice. He probably detracted from the picture though, as the view was spectactular. There are too many superlatives to describe being up there, you must really go there yourself to experience it. It is worth every penny. You can even ski up there. We asked a guy where people go and he told us anywhere. You just put your skis on, and head down a mountain to the valley below! We just chilled in the hostel for the rest of the day after our epic morning. We went out that night to a bar with our roomies Joel, Sam, Julia and Kate (all americans california, colorado, minesota, and chicago). The bar was awesome because they would look at you strangely when you tried to pay for a beer for some reason.
The next morning, we checked out with Sam and headed up to Zurich after parting ways with him in Bern. He could keep up really well for a guy with a broken foot. Our hostel was right downtown, and one of the nicest ones so far, but it´s Switzerland so it was pricey. Peter had already been to Zurich, so he led Kif around on a little tour of the town. Private tour guide!
The next morning, we woke up early and met with Peter´s friend Stefan who lives near Zurich. Stefan showed up promptly at 9am in his sporty little Seat (Spanish car), and we were off. We drove to Liechtenstein first. The country is small!!! We parked in the capital Vaduz (think the size of Horseshoe Bay, 5000 people), and then walked up to the castle where the prince lives. It´s an awesome castle with commanding views of the sliver of territory that is Liechtenstein, as well as Switzerland and Austria. We then went and got our passports stamped, sent off a couple of postcards and then drove to the other side of the country to take a good photo of the castle. After Vaduz, we drove to Luzern. The city is in Switzerland, about an hour or so away from Zurich. It is on a gorgeous lake, surrounded by mountains and has many old buildings with murals. There is also a large, covered wooden bridge across the ridiculously fast flowing river that exits the lake. After Luzern, we went to Rapperswill, where we saw the castle that is located on a penninsula in Lake Zurich. We grabbed some food for a bbq, and headed to Stefan´s 1200 sq. ft. 3 bedroom apartment that overlooks the lake! It was incredible. We had probably the best meal so far this trip, and we washed it down with some great wine from Liechtenstein that we had picked up in the morning. It was great seeing Stefan again. We could not have accomplished anything that we did that day if not for him. So thank you to Stefan!
The next morning, we got up early and caught the train back to Germany. This time, we were off to Munich.
Things we learned in Switzerland:
-It´s expensive. Double your budget and you should do alright.
-Dangling 5000 feet in the air with nothing below you is fun. Try it sometime.
-When you are in the bathroom shaving, and you look in the mirror, it´s nice having a 4100 metre high mountain reflecting back at you.
-Random adventures are fun
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