So we stayed at Balmers, which everyone must know apparantly if you're in the backpacking loop at all. I've heard such things like it's the center of the backpacking world....and it seems to be true. It's literally a community of backpackers, and they have absolutely everything accesible to you there: an adventure company to book everything, a beer garden to celebrate your skydiving that day, a tent community if you really want to stay in a tent, and a club below where you can stupidly get sloshed and dance all night before your big canyoning adventure the next day (check). So we didn't really get into Interlaken until 9 or 10pm Wednesday night, this was after our big hike so we took some time in Gimmelwald before heading down
. I wouldn't have really realized this if I hadn't of stayed up the mountain the night before, but Interlaken is surrounded by the alps, but you're not really IN the alps. It's a beautiful little place in itself though, amazing view, and as the name describes literally between 2 lakes. The thing about Interlaken really, are the activites. An adventure seekers dream. Skydiving, rafting, paragliding, glacier trekking, canyoning, rock climbing, ropes course...shoot whatever you want! So I kind of decided my one adventure would be canyoning, since that's not something you can do everywhere. I had to convince Laura into this one, and even though she didn't have to do it, I decided to do the half day which would be better for both of us (and maybe more our level). The full day is just longer and full of more death defying jumps.
We booked our canyoning trip for thursday afternoon, so we spent the beggining of the day strolling around and renting bikes around Interlaken. A glorious time, although now I realize the thing to do is rent scooters here, and that would have trumped the bike. But it was nice, we went to the smaller but closer lake and rode around.
So we met with our canyoning group in the afternoon. We're all pumped up about it, have our swimsuits on. We get to the tent base where we put on our equipment, stinky wet suites, helmets, and all....and then comes the thunder
. It wasn't raining yet, but it didn't look good. Our guide assured us that the storm "seemed" to be headed the other way, and that he had a telephone which gave him up to the minute satelitte weather info. whew! Thank God, because I don't want to be like that group of 21 people 7 years ago who died in a flash flood in this canyon. So we head up to the canyon, and get out of the van, and that's right when I hear someone..."Hear it comes!" Torrential downpour. We all run back in the van. And when I say downpour it wasn't rain, it was golfball sized hail. People always talk about golfball size, but this is honestly the first time I've ever witnessed it. We attempted to drive back in the hail as it sounded like the roof of the van would suddenly cave in. When we got back, we had to run out with our helmets into the tent. It lasted about a half hour, but it was really shocking how incredibly awful this storm was. Afterward were broken lightposts outside, and some holes in the tent. I can't even imagine what would've happened if we had been IN the canyon. Apparantly this doesn't happen all the time there, as most of the staff were shocked just the same. ANYWAY, no canyoning Thursday. So we had a decision, since we were supposed to be on a train to Milan Friday morning, and we just decided not to catch that train. We re-booked out little adventure for Friday morning, because I wasn't leaving Switzerland without this. So our day consisted of bike riding, opposed to our new friends at Balmers, Kevin and Ryan, who went skydiving out of a helicopter in the morning, 4 hours of scooters in the mountains inbetween, and rafting that afternoon. I guess we were the lame ones:)
After our cancelled trip, we sat at the tent bar with our free drinks and met some boys from Decatur, Illinois; although 2 of them actually live in Switzerland now. We shared tales of the midwest, and ended up staying for a few drinks instead, where we caught up with Kevin and Ryan coming off there rafting trip
. We all eventually made it back to Balmers Herbege where it didn't take long for us to continue our little fest down at the metro bar. Thanks to Sam, Decatur guy, we all had plenty of rounds, which may have aided our move to the dance floor...which may have helped us stay up as late as we did, it was a blast! But no worries, all we had to do in the morning was rappel down into canyons and use extreme dexterity and caution jumping off rocks. No worries about that:) But
it all turned out ok. Kevin and Ryan opted for the full day canyon, which got them up at 7, while Laura and I had until 9:30 to meet for ours. So we went through the works again, wetsuites and all. And it was a fabulous day, so no problems.
We had a group of 12 people with 2 guides. We parked, walked up to the canyon, and there we were. I really didn't know what to expect, as I hadn't even heard of this anywhere else. But I soon got in the groove when we started walking down the rocks and hit our first jump. It was a very small one, comparitively. But the trick is, you really have to listen to what's going on. They'll tell you to jump into the space below, but you have to land on your back because the water is not deep, and you have to stay to the left because there's a rock on the right. So it becomes a little acrobatic. And yes, a little terrifying. But I loved it! I wish I could describe this whole canyon, but this entry is already crazy long, so I'll hit the high points
. About 10 minutes in we actually had to get into the canyon, so we all individually rappeled down the canyon wall. It's such a crazy crazy feeling to completely let go and trust the guide and the gear as you walk down the rocks. I actually volunteered to go first on this one, and did pretty well, up until the bottom when I ended up to far to the left and under the waterfall dangling from a rope. That would've been a good picture:) I made it out somehow though. Everyone in our group seemed on the same page, we were all completely new to this and completely freaked out. So we go about jumping into pools, off rocks, barely missing rocks, sliding backwards down rock slides. Every little jump we did took a little courage, but nothing as much as the huge jump we came to. I wish I knew how high it was, definitely comparable to the high dive at the pool, except
you have to jump of a ledge and hit the narrow pool below, don't mind the giant rocks on either side of the space we were supposed to land. So ironically, Laura was first up on this one, unfortunately it was where she was standing. He told her exactly what to do and then counted to 3. Except she was still on the rock with her legs shaking. I'll give it to her, this one was really terrifying. On the third count to 3, she finally jumped off. And when I saw her finally swim to the rock on the side, I knew I could do it to. I really felt like I was jumping to my death, really. Wow, I sound like such a weenie, but it's just SCARY. Anyway, the rest of the canyon was exhilerating, and it was just like a rollercoaster. When I'm on it I think "oh shit, I'm scarred", and when it's done I think "That was awesome!!!" and I want to do it all over again. Just like that.
So yeah, that was that. I bought the pictures, because they are just too priceless. Too me this was a very small warmup to Interlaken. My next trip here I'm somehow getting the courage to do the full day canyon, as well as everything else, which includes prostitution to pay for it all. (kidding mom) It's all so expensive! But so worth it.
Interlaken was a good place to go at the end of this trip because it reminds me of Denver. And although I'm not ready to come home, I'm so excited to move to the mountains.
So we ended up catching the the 5pm train to Milan, which meant I really wouldn't get to see Milan since I had to catch a plane out the next morning back to Dublin. But it's whatever. So I needed to catch Milan on my blog map (you know the drill now) so see the next incredibly small entry on Milan...
I love this place. Switzerland is so beautiful, and has SO much to do. And Interlaken is my PLAYGROUND! Granted, I could only really afford one guided adventure here, but if money were no thang I could have to most exciting time of my life.