Last Christmas I was stumped on what to get Nick. I was in New Zealand and had to travel to start my life in the USA with 2 suitcases (which weren’t allowed to weigh more than 23kg a piece). The idea struck me – what about a bungee jump? I could get a voucher so I didn’t have to worry about anything heavy coming with me, or worry about space. I set about my research and found the perfect bungee – in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Fast forward several months, it was time to organise a trip to Switzerland so Nick could do the jump that he got many months prior. We settled on the start of September, hoping that the tail end of summer would bring about some decent weather. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Autumn had already arrived in the Swiss Alps.
We set off on a Friday afternoon when Nick got home from work. The GPS took us via France, which we were annoyed about, but thankfully we had enough money for the French tolls. We ended up crossing back over into Germany just prior to the border to Switzerland, and thankfully in time for us to fill up Bubbles the Subaru before we had to pay exorbitant petrol prices (read: New Zealand type prices).
It turns out Switzerland is expensive. We planned to eat frugally. On the way down we got as far as we could before our grumbling bellies could take it no more. McDonalds ended up being the only place in sight (like anywhere in the world it seems). Nick almost fell over when he saw the price. I explained that the Swiss still have their own currency, which he didn’t even realise. That made the price a little more bearable, but dinner came in at around $25. Sounds like New Zealand!
It was dark as we arrived in Interlaken, yet we could see the shadows of magnificent alps, and a beautiful lake. The moon shone so brightly on it as we travelled along, I have to admit, it was pretty majestic.
We stayed in Lauterbrunnen. It’s about 15km from Interlaken itself, but it’s nestled in amongst the alps. I booked in there because everything else was booked out, but it ended up being the best outcome. We checked into our (very ‘interesting’) hotel and sat out on the public balcony and had a cider. A waterfall was lit up and provided some light that hinted at the beauty that we’d see in the morning.
The church bells woke us up. It felt like we were at home. The hotel provided a large banquet breakfast made only of Swiss sourced food. It was delicious! The breakfast table looked out onto the same waterfall, which was just as beautiful during the daytime.
That morning we headed out on foot to the waterfall. We hiked up to it (signs were posted) and the outcome was pretty disappointing. There was no source of the waterfall, or pool. The path came to an abrupt end inside of the waterfall. It was pretty random and not what we expected, but I guess it was cool. We hiked back down and then walked along the beautiful alpine river that flowed by, and walked alongside farm houses. It really was stunning.
The ominous clouds began to roll in. It was decided we would head into Interlaken itself before the bungee jump. It started pissing down as soon as we got there, thankfully we came prepared with umbrellas, but many did not. We got McDonalds again for lunch. Yup. I was beginning to feel like a burger and could hardly look at one.
Interlaken itself was a little disappointing. I don’t even have any photos of it. It was completely touristy and expensive. I wanted to have some authentic fondue for lunch but it was going to be 30 francs each… umm no. I’d rather go to the Melting Pot in the USA and have a huge spread. We headed off to Thun – an ancient town on the other edge of the lake. It was much more impressive and reminded us of Strasbourg in France. The rain ended up coming down sideways, so we didn’t even get out of the car.
It was time for the bungee. We didn’t think it’d be able to still be on, but miraculously, it was. The company (Alpinraft) seemed to be run by a mixture of Swiss, Aussies and Kiwis. Most of them would come over and work for the Swiss summer and head back to NZ for the NZ summer. We all hopped into the minivan (we paid for me to be a spectator) and headed up into the alps in a different direction. Metal music pumped on the way up (ugh, joyous for me). Our group was made up of Canadians, Americans, myself and a bunch of Swiss that joined us at the gondola.
The gondola was long. Everyone was packed in like sardines and the nervous tension could have set a house on fire. At the top, everyone was weighed up and put into two groups depending on weight. Nick was in the first group to go. They headed out on another gondola out over an alpine lake. My only piece of advice was, ‘Don’t you dare go first’. He went second.
Apparently the bungee was good fun, but not as much of a rush as the sky dive that Nick did in Washington. It sounds like it’s best to go bungee first and then sky dive second, as the free fall rush will never compare.
It took about 1 ½ hours for everyone to jump, and it was extremely chilly by the end of it. The scene was crazy. Every 5 minutes or so, someone would jump out of the gondola screaming and yelping. For the other 5 minutes, the only sound was the cowbells. The cows were roaming freely, and they are found based on where the sound of the cowbells comes from. It was actually kind of eerie. I loved it.
By the time we got back in the minivan, back to Interlaken and finally back to Lauterbrunnen, it was about 9.30pm. Nothing was open. We hadn’t eaten since lunchtime, apart from some chocolate after a Swiss chocolate stop at a supermarket. Our only option was to eat at the local Irish pub (there’s one everywhere – seriously). We both ordered the item on the menu labeled ‘steak with salad’ and forked out a pretty penny for it. It arrives. We’re eating half in the dark. I bite into it and think ‘hmm… not very steak-y?’ Turns out it was a pork steak. I immediately lost my appetite. Nick got two meals that night, and I went back to the hotel and had half a block of chocolate for dinner. Boo.
The next morning we got up a little late. The weather seemed to be a little more stable than the day before so we decided to head back to Thun. We walked around Thun for a couple of hours – walking to the lake, up to a castle that was built in the 1200’s and around the village. There was a youth running race being held, so the whole town was out supporting their kids.
It was time to head back, so back we went. The drive back was easy going, apart for some random periods of torrential downpour that brought the autobahn to a crawl (thankfully). We ate at an autobahn restaurant which was actually pretty good. I asked for what I wanted in German – hurrah! (And no, it wasn’t a burger).
We arrived home around 6pm to the bad news that our landlords won’t let us get a dog, after us writing a letter to them pleading for them to reconsider. A good weekend ended on a sour note. We will, however, be back to the Swiss Alps and next time we will budget and do a bit more sight seeing and local eating!