On Friday afternoon (after I finished all my ironing), I hopped on a train to Interlaken—a little ski town that sits in the heart of the Swiss Alps. I had been there once before during a European backpacking trip two years prior for about 10 days and, needless to say, it was my visit to Interlaken that made me want to move to Switzerland in the first place, so I was quite ecstatic to return.
I hooked up with some accommodations through www.couchsurfing.com. Despite all the good praise I’d heard about couchsurfing, as a first-time user, I was still questioning its legitimacy until I received my first-hand experience. Now, I can say with certainty that it is a bona-fide, legit, trustworthy and, depending on your host, it could practically be a traveler’s 5-star dynasty.
My host, Toby, was/is a saint. When I arrived, he was out guiding a night sledding trip, but promptly answered his phone (with heaps of appropriate humor) to give me the 5-minute directions. Toby proceeds to tell me exactly where he stashes his vino, and if that isn’t saint enough, he had a pot of goulash boiling on the stove top with chunks of garlic, just simmering and begging me to inhale it.
From then on, Interlaken gleamed from the inside out, just like I remembered. The first night was calm and relaxed, besides my mouth, which felt the need to get as much English out as possible since I had felt stifled for over a week (thank you to the poor souls I unloaded upon that evening).
Day 1: A friend from college, Caitlin, trained up from Leysin. She is also a journalism Au Pair –check out her blog here. We hiked up to HardenKlum (about a 4-hour hike round trip, but if in good shape, 3-hours) to what we thought, due to Toby’s lack of clarification, was a castle. Turns out, it was just a physically intriguing restaurant…and it was closed. Regardless, if the feeling of accomplishment from the climb was not worth it enough, the view from the top of that mountain was spectacular—it was like staring down into the intestines of Mother Nature, completely exposed.
That night, Toby took us around to some bars I had never been before and it was nice to see that the Metro Bar at Balmers Hostel was not the only nightlife venue that existed in Interlaken (although, it would do a fine job all on its own). In the midst of spontaneous fun, I ran into an old buddy, or should I say, an old flame—let’s call it, the backpacker’s romance from my Euro trip two years prior. Toby kind of sandwiched us together, but after picking away those awkward crumbs, it was really nice to catch up with him—a bit nostalgic, amusingly comfortable and what I thought to be flirtatious…until I met his new girlfriend. Turns out, she is a stunningly, sweet chick. I know, anyone who is still reading probably wanted that story to end better—fyi. This isn’t a movie, it’s a blog.
I spent Sunday lazing around with the people I had met throughout the weekend, already feeling close to them and, although it was a bummer to leave, it felt good to have established a home base, my little getaway. It is just one of those places that no matter who you are or what you do, you are bound to fit in and feel good (shout out to my people of Jackson, WY because you mirror this vibe). Fun fact: the only American chain restaurant I have seen in Switzerland so far besides fast food is Hooters Interlaken. And yes, we ate there. But only because a girlfriend of a new friend worked there. Hooter connections, check √
On my way home, I bought a Half-Fare Swiss rail card for 150 francs (roughly $150)—meaning my rail tickets to anywhere I travel in Switzerland for the next year will be half price. The salvation of this ticket kicked in moments later as I only paid 32 francs instead of the usual 65 francs to go back to Geneva to begin my first real week as an Au Pair.