We originally planned to stay another day in Gimmelwald and do some more hiking that we missed out on due to snow the previous day. But when we woke up, the rain was pounding on our window, the mountain across from us not even visible. Hoping to have better weather further down the mountain, we filled up on nutella and bread and began the trek to Interlaken.

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We stayed at Balmer’s Herberge, a hostel known for its outdoor excursions and living on the edge. It was raining still, which is kind of a big problem when you’re visiting a city just to spend time outside. With Plans A, B and C extinguished, we decided to go canyoning.

Canyoning is basically turning the side of a mountain into a water theme park; the rapids are slides the rocks are diving boards. We took a bus half way up the mountain, and with nine others, we set off on our first adventure in Interlaken.

We were given wetsuits to shimmy on ourselves. The boys were dressed in 5 minutes flat, must be nice to not have a curve on your body. Have you ever tried squeezing into something three times too small? We waddled downstairs, trying to keep up with the boys, to get our shoes (that still had water in it from the previous canyoners), jackets and helmets.

Since instructors can’t be expected to remember everyone, each helmet comes with a pre-determined name depending on the size. We both grabbed small helmets. Jordan was Sexy and Cori was Bru.

The water was clear and cold as could be. With no sign of the sun and rain still falling, canyoning seemed to be the best alternative considering we were already going to be soaked to the bone.

Cori had the bright idea of just storing her jewelry in her swimsuit, but when she tried to place them inside, they fell further into her wetsuit, down to her belly button. The guide asked for volunteers to reach in and grab around for them, as a joke. Great first impression, huh? Jordan had to reach into Cori’s wetsuit, shoulder-deep to fetch her rings, causing us to miss all the safety instructions (more reckless abandon).

To begin canyoning, we had to repel down a 50 foot wall into a pool of rushing, chilly mountain water. We floated down the rapids on our butts to our first jump about 20 feet high, landing on our backs.

Freezing water flowed into and out of every orifice in our faces and gap in our wetsuits.

Next, we slid down some more rapids and reached another jump where we were instructed to cannon ball as close to the rocky wall as possible. We did about 5 or 6 different jumps, each one colder than the previous jump.

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No one looks graceful canyoning. We emerge out of the water like we’d just escaped an icy hell, shocked and sucking for warm air and flailing for any near rock or person to latch on to so we don’t get swept into the current and back over a waterfall not safe for canyoning. It’s hard to see where you step, if (and when) we lost our footing, our heads would disappear under water until we had to repeat the entire process again.

One guy in our group looked like a newborn baby giraffe. His entire body was shaking in fear and his expression was a permanent “WTF, who thought this was a good idea?!” I’m not sure he still had his balance by the time we returned to solid ground.

When we returned to the station, we bolted for a hot shower—walking in on four busty, curvy women buck naked showering with the curtains wide open. Neither of us spoke each other’s language, so confusion was at an all-time high. They just stood there and stared at us, gracelessly lunging for clothes and screaming in embarrassment.

After a refreshing beer, we headed back to eat a dinner of Pringles, nutella and bread. And cheese. We’ve eaten a lot of cheese.

If you couldn’t tell, Switzerland is really expensive. A McDonald’s burger is 13 francs, just to eat a decent dinner cost 40 francs, a beer at a bar cost about 8 francs and coffee was bout 6 francs.

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We spent most of the night meeting other travelers staying in our hostel. A handful of guys from Florida, a backpacker from Texas and another from Malaysia.

After a bottle of wine, we took off for one of the few clubs in Interlaken that was conveniently located under our hostel. To no surprise, Jordan, Cori and the Texan were the only ones there. The DJ greeted us with a giant puff of fake smoke and some “hip” music. We watched people trickle in and out, all of us eventually escaping back up to the main floor where we could just sit around a table and drink the alcohol we bought at the store.

Most people at hostels in countries this expensive opt to just do some light grocery shopping for food and beer and cook their meals there. The kitchen was more “hopping” than the club.

In the morning, we got locked out of our room until 12:30 for cleaning. With all our hiking essentials lying on our beds, we had no choice but to wander down the street and do some light shopping. Feeling very Swiss, Jordan invested in 60 francs worth of chocolate. Trust us, it was worth it. To kill more time, we did a little grocery shopping for dinner later, buying beer, wine, cheese, bread, pasta and vegetables.

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Right when we returned back to our room, the sky cleared up and the sun paid a visit. We booked ourselves for paragliding, but the next available one wasn’t until 4:30, which didn’t give us any time to go on a hike. We had to stick around our hostel, watching the sky anxiously. It turned white, then gray then dark gray. Around 4:20, someone came out to tell us paragliding was cancelled. We’d just wasted an entire day waiting.

Feeling frustrated and in dire need of warmer clothes, we set off to find some cheap, warm clothes. Unfortunately, cheap doesn’t exist anywhere in Switzerland. Just to buy a regular crew sweatshirt would’ve cost us 60 or 70 francs. Bound and determined to find a second-hand store, we stumbled across what they call a “bazaar” run by little old ladies selling what was probably their husband’s clothes.

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They didn’t speak a lick of English—or anything we could fake— so we grabbed what we could and set it on the counter. Cori, armed with three sweaters, set her clothes down on the counter and the older woman held up 10 fingers. 10 francs for 3 sweaters!? It felt like paradise in the cramped basement of that cabin.

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Warmer and in a better mood, we set off for the hostel once again, cooking enough food to share with our friends from Florida. After dinner, we retreated to one of the common rooms and joined a brother and sister from Canada and a handful of other travelers to share a few drinks and laughs. Another Canadian played the piano in the background and a few drunkards sang along.

We know we didn’t get the most out of Interlaken. As hard as we tried, it’s next to impossible to enjoy an outdoor city with rain always on the horizon. Lustfully looking at the hiking maps and all the peaks and towns and hills we didn’t get to visit, Interlaken is somewhere we vow to return. But maybe in July when the sun burns up the clouds and the chance of rain is about as rare as finding a cheap meal.

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Always craving spontaneity (and no more nutella and bread),

C&J

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