I started planning my next trip to Interlaken basically the moment we got there. Dr. P had alerted us to pay attention to the scenery, but nothing I could have imagined compared to the view outside the window when the train emerged from the dark tunnel onto the shining lake next to the town at the base of the Swiss mountains. There is no way I can only spend 3 days in such a special place.
You can’t find activities like Interlaken has anywhere else. Obviously you can go hang gliding and skydiving in the US, but when else will you be able to do it with these views hundreds of feet below us? So that’s why we all decided to either jump off of cliffs or out of airplanes with complete strangers strapped to our backs. Hang gliding was such a surreal experience. Getting up at 7am was hard enough, but the hike up the hill with at least 30 pound backpacks on was a STRUGGLE. Me and Gabby watched Chloe and Kynnedi take off without any issue (surprisingly) (just kidding they’re pros), but once they had left it started pouring. We then proceeded to wait at the top of the cliff for about an hour under the shelter of the gliders. That was okay though, because we got to get to know our instructors a little better, including learning that each of them had completed a 6 hour hang gliding flight. That made us feel more reassured in their skills as the people our lives depended on.
When it finally came to time to take our running start into the sky, I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. I think any rational human being would be a little but scared to try something new, especially something that has such a high risk. But once the wind had caught us and lifted us off the ground, all my feelings of uneasiness vanished. The expanse in front of and below us was incredible. I was flying over blue sparkling lakes, lush fields, winding grey roads, and the red roofs of little cottages. Not to mention the snowy peaks of mountains that seemed to be at eye level from our vantage point in the sky. Tobi (my instructor) then proceeded to whip us around in the sky, making my stomach drop like it does on a roller coaster for about 10 minutes. We all got down safely and it will definitely be a day I will never forget.
As if falling through the sky wasn’t enough for our group, we later that day decided to go canyoning. If you have no idea what that is, you’d be in the same boat as us when we first signed up. Basically, it is hiking/swimming/swinging/jumping down a mountain. But wait- the whole time you’re packed like a sausage in a wetsuit doing these activities down an ice cold river. Some parts were hard, some parts were cold, and some parts were scary, but we again made it safely to the bottom with only minor bumps and scratches. Along the way we made some friends from Belgium who were able to confirm that yes, the waffles there are as good as they say.
Hang gliding, paragliding, skydiving, canyoning, or whatever extreme sport you do is fun, but it can also teach you a lot if you think about it. Strapping yourself to a complete stranger who is supposed to keep you alive in the next 15 minutes as you fall from the sky does not sound like the most practical way to learn, but when has our group ever been that much into practicality? For one thing, I learned a lot about trust. It sounds cheesy ands obvious, but trusting these people with your life is not an easy task when you’re face to face with it. I’ve been learning a lot about trust just on CR in general also. I love knowing what’s coming next and what time were doing this or that, not because I’m a planner or anything (I mean, we all knew that already), I’m just a very curious person. Having to give up that control of always knowing what’s ahead has definitely been a challenge, but I have enjoyed trusting that Dr. P will continue to surprise us with new and exciting adventures every day.
Another outstanding Switzerland moment has been our journey up to Trümmelbach Falls and up further to the peak of a mountain where we at lunch at the Piz Gloria where many Jame Bond scenes from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” were filmed as well as the walk back down. It was pretty hard to top the James Bond bathroom experience, but still, I have never experienced such serenity than walking through that green valley dotted with wildflowers, cottages, and cows wearing bells with mountains and waterfalls surrounding us on both sides as we returned from lunch. Up at the top after several gondola rides, we would have been able to see the view from a mountain peak, but it was covered in cloud. This was alright with me though, because ever since I was a kid I have wanted to walk on a cloud, so this mission was accomplished. One thing I noticed being that high up, was a strange warmth on the top of my head, despite being surrounded by snow and cloud. The clouds also dampened the noise around us so the viewing deck was unusually quiet. This and the odd warmth, that we figured is most likely a product of the sun, created a calm and mysterious environment that was both warm and confusing so I have concluded that today we got as close to heaven on Earth as one can get. Walking back down, we took the long way and ended up in a field of flowers for a while. We took pictures, maybe fell a few times, and picked flowers for a long time against the background of the powerful mountains. I have never felt so at home or as close to the people around me as today. I have finally answered the beach versus mountains question for myself. Mountains ALL the way.
Interlaken not only has been a place for fun and beauty, it has also been a good place to reflect on what we’ve seen and CR as a whole. Arriving in Switzerland and seeing its mountains for the first time got me thinking about how beautiful it is that were all here and what a rare opportunity we get through this experience. When else am I going to get to spend almost a month in Europe with some of the kindest, most loving, smartest, and most thoughtful people I have ever met? They love me for who I am and challenge me to be better. I have already seen so much growth in all of us. Being here has taught me to cherish that idea that it doesn’t matter why we’re here. That’s for Dr. P to know. It matters that we fully take advantage of the life that we are experiencing together for this time that feels far too short.
Tomorrow we travel to Cinque Terre which will be another incredible place to take in the views and continue to live this experience up to its fullest potential. We are officially halfway through and these new friendships look completely flipped. It’s hard to imagine that some of these people were complete strangers to me only a couple of weeks ago, and now I feel like I would do anything for any of them. I can’t imagine what this group of people will look like at the end of the month. Ciao Switzerland! See you very soon, I suspect.