I’ve been living in Galway, Ireland for a little over a month now and so far it’s treated me rather well. I’ve adjusted to life here – even though I desperately miss my friends, New York pizza and Costco (there is no such thing as buying in bulk here. I’d kill to buy massive quantities of Seltzer or Ramen.) However, I’ve also gotten to travel a lot the past couple of weekends. So far I’ve been to Cork, Ireland, London, England and, more recently – Interlaken, Switzerland.
On Friday Feb. 8, my trip to Interlaken began with almost missing our flight for Burger King. At around 5 a.m., I watched as two Burger King workers tried to fend off twenty students leaving for a trip with an angry chaperone while getting everyone’s orders in and prepared. Luckily, we were able to make our flight to Zurich just in time.
We landed in Zurich around 8 a.m., and my first impressions of Switzerland were absolutely breathtaking. The airport in Zurich is surrounded by mountains you only think to see in a Ricola commercial. It was amazing and it would only get more beautiful the moment we got on the train. Going through Zurich and getting to witness the Swiss scenery is unbelievable. Oddly enough, the train is a must-do here, even though it absolutely dented my bank account because everything here is terrifyingly pricey. By the end of this trip my wallet was begging me to put it out of its misery.
Around 10 a.m., we finally arrived to Interlaken which was the epitome of a vacation town right smack in the middle of the Swiss Alps. I was so taken aback by the fact I was in the heart of the Alps. It truly felt like a green screen. The snow capped mountains and sparkling blue lake didn’t even feel real.
Since we were tired from our flight, our first day was spent exploring Interlaken as a whole. It’s a pretty quaint city with a lot of shops, hotels and restaurants. However, like I was saying, it’s super expensive. Trying to find somewhere to eat was kind of hard and it’s also what prompted us to eat at McDonalds three days in a row. Not my finest moments, but a girl needs to save money somehow.
After sleeping for about 12 hours, the next day was spent doing all the major things we wanted to do in Switzerland. First, starting at 8 a.m., would be the main reason why many of us came to Interlaken in the first place. Paragliding.
It’s always been on my bucket list to do some sort of crazy air recreational sport like skydiving. We knew a lot of Fairfield University students that also studied abroad went paragliding and it seemed like a ton of fun. So, without telling my family, but kind of hinting to my mom I was about to do something stupid, I headed with the others to the top of a mountain that was about 2,000 feet above ground and paraglided.
When we got to where we’d be taking off, I was more scared of the incline then the actual paragliding itself due to the fact it was covered in snow and ice, and, knowing my clumsy self, I’d tumble straight down the incline. To paraglide, you have to run down an incline and get enough momentum to take off. So, basically, you’re running off a mountain.
After they strap you in to the harness, you run with the instructor and keep running until you’re up in the air. To be honest though, there wasn’t really much explaining going on about how the whole thing worked. My instructor just told me to run on the count of three so I ran until I couldn’t feel the parachute pulling up back anymore. It was really weird running head first down an incline and then suddenly finding yourself suspended in the air.
To be honest, I didn’t even feel like I was up in the air. It felt so much like a simulation that, as I got to view the entire city of Interlaken, I didn’t notice it was real until we dropped a bit and I was like “Oh…I could fall and die.” However, as we landed on the ground I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. I ran off a mountain and to paraphrase Seal’s cover from the hit 1996 movie “Space Jam”– I “flew like an eagle.” 10/10 would recommend and would run off a mountain again.
However, after I posted the photos on Instagram and broke the news to my family, you can imagine I got a lot of responses. But, to be fair, I was only continuing on the family tradition after my cousin went skydiving without telling anyone.
After paragliding, we ventured around Switzerland some more. We found a chocolate shop, called “Funky Chocolate,” which has the best chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. The hot chocolate was to die for. After that, we ended up in the small ski town of Grindelwald. Unfortunately sharing the same name as that awful character played by Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them,” Grindelwald is a beautiful town located about thirty minutes outside of Interlaken. We headed there to do some sightseeing and check out some more local shops before heading to our final excursion– night sledding.
I hated night sledding, which is awful because I was so excited for it because I love sledding and crazy adventures. Night sledding was more terrifying than paragliding. You are essentially brought up onto a mountain in the Alps with the use of a gondola. Once there, you’re given a dinky little light to be your guide and a toboggan sled you control with the use of your feet. There are no lights whatsoever. Also, my boots did not let me steer properly and I was terrified of the edge because if you hit the edge you’d go tumbling off the mountain. I ended up crashing into multiple snow banks and someone else also crashed into me. At one point I lost my friends so I was just hanging out there…In the middle of the Swiss Alps…At night…Without a clue as to where I was…0/10. I would not do this again. However, I do have to say it was fun at the end when I finally gained some control and just gave up and zoomed down a straight passageway.
Overall, my adventure to Switzerland was nothing but entertaining. For me, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad I did it. If you’re ever in Europe, I suggest going at least once. I really hope to go back to Switzerland, just next time I do it I hope I’m a billionaire with tons of money.