Interlaken, Switzerland

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I’m OBSESSED with Switzerland

There is really nothing else to say about Switzerland other than it is perfection. It was the only place I have ever been outside in the snow, totally underdressed, and in pure bliss. Everything was so beautiful and quaint, and there is nothing prettier than seeing the Swiss Alps everywhere you turn! I actually teared when I left Sunday afternoon, but I’ll get to that in a little…

Thursday night me, Bre and Hannah headed to the train station at 6:30 for our 8 hour bus ride! Surprisingly the ride didn’t feel too long, we watched a couple movies and made multiple stops for dinner/bathroom breaks. I slept a little, but by the time we were in Switzerland it was pretty hard to get any shut eye because the roads are so windy and constantly turning. We arrived at the Funny Farm hostel at 4 a.m. and had to trek up 4 flights of stairs before falling sound asleep.

We had nothing planned on Friday, so we got to sleep in and have time to relax and explore. We were starving by the time we woke up and excited to finally see Interlaken in the sunlight! Our hostel lobby was basically filled with just study abroad students and it was a great atmosphere with a pool table, fire place and bar. Everyone was talking about this Irish pub across the street so we went there for some breakfast. The place was so cute, just like what you would think of a typical pub, and packed! After a little bit of waiting, we somehow got a table that had it’s own draft lines in it! It was so cool, you had to like put in a coin and pour your own beer – we didn’t use it though because we had already gotten drinks. Me and Hannah both ordered bacon & eggs and were shocked with how much bacon they gave us! I had at least 15 pieces on my plate. That’s not normal. As I was almost done, I realized that I’d probably die if I ate all that bacon so I left a few pieces. After breakfast it was snowing pretty hard so we went back to the hotel and sat by the fire and read! We were perfect snow/lodge-bunnies. I brought a Sarah Dessen book with me that was in our Italian apartment when we moved im and I’m still reading it now its so good! At 5 we met for a private chocolate tasting! YUM. The place was about a 15 minute walk through the snow but I didn’t mind at all because it’s not like I was in Massachusetts – I was in SWITZERLAND! At the tasting we got soooo many (dare I say almost too many) samples of milk, dark and white chocolates, chocolate with nuts & liquors & mints, chocolate galore! By the end of it I didn’t even want to look at chocolate anymore (did I just say that?!) and couldn’t think about buying any. PLUS I forgot to mention everything in Switz. is like 10x the price in America. And the exchange rate is just about equal to the dollar. The smallest/cheapest piece of chocolate was around 30 francs and that was something I couldn’t afford. Luckily, I kept some samples! Hopefully they’ll last until May, but who knows. That night we ate at the hotel restaurant because the snowstorm got pretty bad!

So much chocolate!

So much chocolate!

Saturday morning was the big day! We had scheduled canyon jumping! Apparently, Interlaken and New Zealand are the only two places in the world that you can make a jump so high from an actual canyon. Pretty crazy. The jump wasn’t until 2:30, so we got up early and walked into town to explore more and find the lakes. The stores and shops were all tiny and close together and I just kept thinking about how incredible Interlaken would be at Christmastime. If only! We went into a souvenir shop (where everything was still insanely expensive) and I bought some gloves that say Switzerland on them. The old guy who owned the shop was really cute and pointed us in the direction of the lakes. We just had to follow the river for about 30-40 minutes before it opened up. The walk was very cold, but very worth it, and VERY beautiful! The water there is crystal clear and teal – like in the Caribbean. So crazy! We had a little photoshoot (of course) in front of the lakes then had to rush back to the hotel to get picked up for canyon jumping!

Beautiful!!

Beautiful!!

I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into with this jump. The guy at the hotel was telling us about how scary it is and felt bad for us so he gave us some free shots of jager to loosen the nerves. That was greatly appreciated. We got picked up by the crazy looking guy with very few teeth, a long pony tail and a hat covered in skulls. Great. The bus had other future jumpers in it and we made some friends and all talked about our nerves. It was about a 30 minute drive to the canyon and I was sweating the whole time. When we got there the guy took us up a road covered in snow that was really steep and like a 25 minute climb. Luckily I was wearing sneakers with two pairs of socks so I wasn’t too cold in the snow. I think my adrenaline also kept me warm because I didn’t feel cold the whole time. We got up to the top and I could only think “this is insane” but reminded myself it was a once in a lifetime opportunity! A few girls went before me and my friends and they were absolutely insane – jumping HEAD FIRST off the platform, like diving. Ya right was I doing THAT. But seeing people jump so quickly made me feel a little better, thinking it wouldn’t be that scary once I was face-to-face with the edge. When it was my turn I don’t even know what I was thinking, it’s all a blur. The guy hooked me up to the cord, and I just remember doing the sign of the cross and jumping. Then I was free falling for a LOT longer than I thought I was going to, before swinging to safety at the bottom. The jump was over 300 ft and the guy told us we were falling over 70 mph. OMG. I wish I could post the video on here, but I don’t think I can. If you want to see it email me! Or I’m sure I’ll show everyone when I’m home! It was truly the funnest, most insane & crazy thing I’ve ever done! Something that I will never forget.

Scared before the jump

Scared before the jump

After the jump we got free beers and warmed up in a cute little cabin. When we got home we were starving and went back to the pub for dinner. I got the greatest club sandwich ever, it had grilled chicken, tomato, lettuce, bacon and eggs! And the french fries were just as amazing. I ate my whole plate in under 5 minutes. When we went out that night we met these really cool girls who are studying abroad in Prague. They were so nice and it was great to make new friends!

Unfortunately we had to leave early Sunday afternoon. We woke up that morning and went ice skating! I was so bad, I don’t even remember the last time I skated, and had to use a kiddy bar to push around in front of me haha. After a couple of minutes I could stand up on my own – barely. After that we went to a bagel shop that a woman from NYC owned. The bagels were delicious and I got this cinnamon raison cream cheese that was delish. We left Switzerland around 3 and got home just before midnight! The bus ride back was definitely long, and I actually cried watching the alps fade away.

This weekend was absolutely hands down the best weekend of my life (maybe after Countryfest last summer) and I continue to feel so lucky that I am here in Europe. I also was annoyed when people (my sister) talk all about how Europe is so amazing blah blah blah but It REALLY IS. Life is so simple and easy here & right now I can’t imagine ever leaving!

Beyond Italy

I AM TOO EXCITED TO SLEEP!!!! I just finished planning and booking trips for the majority of the semester! I know people who study abroad in Europe tend to travel a ton on the weekends because everything is so close and cheap, and I knew I wanted to, but the past two weeks me and my friends have kept saying, “oh we’ll do it tomorrow…” and then, “let’s plan trips this weekend…” and I was nervous I was never going to leave Italy (which wouldn’t be a bad thing, don’t get me wrong).

I have been constantly changing my mind for where I want to go on spring break and me and my friend Hannah finally decided we wanted to go EAST! We booked a trip with a program (they say that’s best to do for spring break so the planning is taken care of and you can just relax) to Budapest, Krakow, Prague and Ljubljana (I can’t even pronounce the last place is that bad?). All I know is that Budapest is the “Paris of the East” and Prague is somewhere everyone says you must see. The other two look amazing and I feel like my experience is going to be so unique! Activities during the trip include going to Auschwitz, the thermal baths in Budapest, pub crawls, cave diving and apparently the exchange rate is like 0.1 to the US dollar, or something insanely cheap like that. Ok I actually just googled it and got this:

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I’m sold. IS THAT EVEN REAL? All my other friends are going island hopping in Greece to Athens, Santorini (sisterhood of the traveling pants AH!) and Corfu which all look absolutely amazing. That is where I would have gone if I didn’t go east, but I figured I’d mine as well get in as much as I can! OH and did I mention we booked our trips for 50% off because there was some valentine’s day special WOOHOO!! So it was sooo cheap! I am like giddy writing this!

Then, because we were in such a good mood after getting amazing deals and finally making decisions on spring break, we decided to find the cheapest flights anywhere in Europe for the few free weekends we have. At first we were all set to do Paris but then we realized we’d have to miss class and since we’re such good students (cough) we decided on Barcelona since the flight ┬áis leaving on Friday (no classes!). So in two weekends from now we’ll be getting our tan on in BARCA! We all have friends that are studying abroad there too so it should be an unreal time.

Oh and did I mention I’m going to ROME this weekend?! I’ll be sure to post TONS of pictures and try to chill with the Pope before he retires.

My semester timeline of traveling:

Feb 15-17: Rome, Italy*

Feb 21-24: Interlaken, Switzerland (tentatively, but so necessary)

March 1-3: Barcelona, Spain

March 9-10: Venice, Italy*

March 16: Bologna, Italy

March 21-31: SPRING BREAK > Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Ljubljana

April 4-14: Jill & Justin are here!

April 6: Lucca, Italy*

April 13-14: Cinque Terre

April 20-21: “Under the Tuscan Sun” Trip*

April 26-28: Amalfi Coast

*= with my abroad program