Saturday, 26 July 2014

Interlaken, Switzerland


Amongst the most breathtaking views in the world, there are a few things we learned about the Swiss while we were here:

1) There is a VERY specific way to do cheese fondue.  If you stray at all from the proper routine, sorry, it's just not Swiss.
2)  The stinkier the cheese, the better the cheese is.
3)  If you are at all OCD, this is the place to be.  The Swiss are all about order and routine.
4)  If you visit Interlaken or surrounding areas during July or August, you are most likely to be surrounded by South Koreans or Chinese.  This is their number one vacation hotspot.  We were the minority at our hostel.
5)  If it is raining the morning of your hike, it's best to just wait it out-- unless you have full rain gear. 

All these things we learned through personal experience.  I am writing this on the train, as we wind through green, luscious mountain towns.  Every turn we take, there is a new sight to take in.  There are log cabin like homes climbing up steep, narrow hills, goats and cows grazing in the fields, and snow capped mountains in the distance.  Switzerland has been beautiful.  

We actually began our time in Switzerland visiting some family friends we know from Church.  Our hosts, Claudia and Heiner live in Arisdorf, the cutest little town that includes a post office (where you can drink coffee!), multiple farm homes that sell daily eggs and milk,  and one restaurant (that she did not recommend we go to).  From their back porch we could see green hills with cows grazing, and the neighbours had goats in their backyard that were just the cutest.  We mainly just relaxed during our stay here, which is what our bodies needed.  Claudia and Heiner spoiled us with home cooked meals and desserts, and they invited a couple over around our age one night for an authentic cheese fondue.  The guests taught us every detail of how to do it the "Swiss" way.  For example, you must add a specific white whine to the cheese when melting on the stove and you must stir in a continuous figure eight motion, using only a wooden spoon with a hole in the middle (that's how you know when the cheese is ready... when it smoothly pours through the hole in the wooden spoon).  Also, when you eat the fondue, you MUST NOT drink water- only wine.  The wine must be in a small shot glass to avoid heating up.  This helps with digestion (important when you are consuming so much cheese, haha).  The cheese fondue was delicious!  We now own our very own wooden spoon with a hole in the middle, so when we come home we can do it up :)

After our couple days of relaxation, we took a short and beautiful train ride down to Interlaken.  We stayed in a small town just around the lake, called Iseltwald. We had a rough start to our first day.  We woke up to drizzling rain, but decided we would hit the trails anyways because we only had a couple days to enjoy the mountains.  Well, as soon as we started hiking it started to downpour.  We hiked up the mountain, not able to see a thing until I literally could not go on any further.  I was so chilled to the bone.  We cheated and took a tram up to the mountain town called Murren.  We found a restaurant while I nursed a peppermint tea, in attempt to warm back up.  Finally the sun came out (and my body temperature finally came back to normal) and we were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the mountains.  

On our second day in Interlaken, we checked out the other side of the mountain.  Again we did more hiking, and we were able to see many para gliders and hang gliders take off.  It's crazy to watch them soar off of the land and fly up so high into the clouds.  On the way down the mountain, we rented scooter bikes which turned out to be a blast.  They are literally the kind of scooters you see children pushing themselves around on, but these ones are adult-size and have breaks (thank goodness!).  We were able to take in some amazing views while zipping down the mountain on a range of different terrains.  Some parts of the path were rocky, and at one point we scootered ourselves through a small town.  This is definitely something worth trying out and doesn't cost a fortune like many of the other adventure excursions available in the area.           

Switzerland is breathtakingly beautiful.  As we hiked, we would come across small houses or even small villages and think, how in the world did these people find this place?  There would be cows grazing up high in the mountains and cute little goats perched up on the steepest hills.  Switzerland was quite a site to see and I would love to come back here if we ever get the chance.

We've learned to love soft boiled eggs since we've began our travels.  We find they are a great way to get some quick protein and it seems to be how the Europeans like their eggs!  The one in the photo above was a gift from Heiner :)

Above is the town of Iseltwald, where our hostel was.  Every night we'd eat dinner with THIS view.  Pretty amazing!

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