Monday, December 8, 2014

Waterfalls, goats, and ramen, oh my!

The next morning I awoke on the floor of the attic.

Just kidding. I was, however, dangerously close to the edge of the sharply slanted bed. I sat up, nearly missing the sloped attic ceiling with my head. That's when I heard the pounding on my window. No, an intruder had not scaled the building to the attic to climb into my tiny sauna room. It was rain. A lot of rain.

It was my first full day in Interlaken and I was bummed that it looked like rain for the foreseeable future. What could I do in one of the most outdoorsy places I've ever the rain?! Only choice I saw for an immediate suggestion would be to pop downstairs and consult the moody lady that had checked me in the day before.

Three flights later and out of the stale attic air, I was ready to play twenty questions. Check in lady was, unfortunately, not.

She narrowed her eyes as if she could sense that I wanted to pull information out of her and gave me a half assed nod. "Good morning!" I chirped in a overly cheery tone with clearly no volume control, in hopes that it would rub off on her. She just stared at me. I took this as my cue to launch into twenty questions and rattled off as many as I could before she could stop me. 

"If I take the cog train up to..."
"Could I hike from there to..."
"How much would it cost if I..."
"Would it be possible to go..."
"Which bus do I take to get..."

I wondered how many questions I had left before her eyeballs popped out of her head.

She was in turn, incredibly unhelpful. She scowled at my ideas and told me I shall not see anything with the rain and the clouds. Well, Negative Nancy, I'll show you! I thanked her kindly for her time and went back up to the attic to prepare myself for what I hoped would be a day of some sort of adventure. 

With my backpack chock full of store bought Swiss granola bars and my raincoat zipped up to my chin, I hopped on the train to Lauterbrunnen. Could I say Lauterbrunnen? No. But I was going to go there. My plan from there was extremely undetermined and it worried me only a little. I was getting the hang of this adventure thing...I hoped. 

I exited the train in Lauterbrunnen, which means 'many fountains,' making perfect sense because it is the land of 72 waterfalls. Not just measely little waterfalls either. Giant, thundering, exquisite waterfalls. 72 of them! I knew it would be a tad overzealous to try to see all 72 of those bad boys in one day so I decided I'd seek out at least one. 

I wandered up the one main street that Lauterbrunnen has, and found a gem of a tourist office that happened to have a map for me. I took advantage of the English speaking map guy at the office and accosted him with many of the same questions I had asked check in lady. He was much more compliant, answering all of my inquiries with a smile, even showing me on the map where to go! Many thanks, kind sir!

I was a woman with a plan, and now to find this waterfall. Luckily it was pretty much right there, couldn't miss it. 

Staubbach Falls stood regally before me. I wanted to immediately climb up there and go behind it...

So I did.

The way up was slippery but the views behind the waterfall were awesome, and wet.

I also took a waterfall selfie, but it was supremely hideous so I'll spare your eyes by not including it here. Thank me later. It was getting pretty misty and before I turned into a Swiss popsicle I decided to head back down and embark on part two of the day's adventure.

Part two: hike from Lauterbrunnen to another town just above, called Wengen, Switzerland. I had high hopes of a goat encounter. 

I consulted my map and tried to recall the directions the guy from the tourist office gave me to start my hike up to Wengen. Where was I supposed to take that left? Oh well, I'd just head upwards since I knew that Wengen was above Lauterbrunnen. I started my ascent on the trail, as the rain let up. I willed the clouds to lift so that I'd have the chance to take in the amazing views I was sure were there and to prove check in lady wrong, of course.

Oh, good, a sign. I was headed in the right direction. Since most of the hikes I had done thus far were downhill, I was glad for the switch to an uphill hike. My legs might not agree afterwards, but we'd see. 

I stopped several times on my skyward journey, naturally, because I was out of breath. But also to take in the awe inspiring view of the valley below. The scene before me was that of one that would grace the pages of a timeless and whimsical fairy tale. 

I was just behind that waterfall!
Despite the chill in the air, I was sweating my balls off. (If I had any that is.) I saw the cogtrain go by, and knew that I'd be taking that back down, due to leg jello-itis (a common ailment when using your legs for loads of physical activity.) And yes, I made that up.

Along the way, I decided a few things. I would like to live here- in this house:

With this goat:

Whom I'd name Derek.

I just KNEW I'd encounter a goat! But where were his buddies? I caught this guy mid snack. I pictured us skipping up to Wengen together, hand in hoof.. and when I was done fantasizing, I left him to his green treat as I kept on trucking on.

I reached the edge of Wengen and was excited to walk into town. 

Scenes from Wengen, Switzerland

Scenes from Wengen, Switzerland 
Changed my mind! I want to live HERE!
I'm not sure what I expected would happen..a troupe of goats doing a welcome dance? Swiss chocolate fountains everywhere? As fantastic as that would have been, it was obviously unrealistic. What I found instead (as I felt ashamed at myself for being slightly disappointed) was a tiny Swiss town high up in the Alps on a rainy day, and not much going on. 

Unless Derek wanted to trot up to Wengen and challenge me in a game of giant chess, there wasn't much else for me to do here. I wandered the street for a bit longer wishing I had someone to share a pot of cheese fondue with, (although let's be real, I could probably house the entire thing myself) and found my way to the cog train.

cog train selfie!
I was like a kid on the cog train, marveling at the scenery once again and sticking my head out of the window to take another Swiss selfie. It never got old. 

I was back in Lauterbrunnen in mere minutes via cog train, after my effort of hiking upwards for over and hour and a half. All that work! Oh well. My stock of Swiss granola bars was diminished and I was frigid. I jumped on the next train back to Interlaken in pursuit of food and warmth. 

I found food and warmth in one form. Ramen noodle soup. It was cheap and delicious. Upon my return to the hotel/hostel I made sure to inform Negative Nancy, aka check in lady of my adventures. I had made the best of the crappy weather, and now I had bigger fish to fry. Tomorrow was extreme sport day. But which should I choose?! I had to decide before the night's end...

Friday, November 21, 2014

sleepless in the attic

Despite aimlessly wandering down the streets of Interlaken, I somehow came across a sign that spelled out the name of my hotel/hostel. It pointed to Hotel de la Paix, and I magically found it. I am calling it a hotel/hostel, because it was advertised as a bit of both. I opted for the cheapest room since funds were dwindling, and fast. I had booked, last minute of course, a single room in the "backpackers" section with a shared bathroom and shower. It wasn't so bad in Zermatt, so I was hoping for the same kind of luck here in Interlaken. 

Hoping this gnome I passed by in Interlaken would be good luck!
Upon first approach, the building was an older looking but very cute Victorian style house, with a bed and breakfast feel. The check in area was charming enough, the check in lady a little less so. I could see her dwindling patience as I peppered her with questions about Interlaken and things to do in the surrounding area. This was my least researched stop on the trip, as I didn't know I'd even be able to make it here. She showed me to my "room".. a term I use loosely. 

Let's back up a tiny bit. We took a small elevator with Bertha to the third floor where we exited. Check in lady pointed to the left, "there's your shower" she said. 
Oh, then my room must be right over--
"Let's go up one more floor to your room."
We climbed the set of stairs to the fourth floor, since the elevator didn't go all the way up to the annex corner where us filthy "backpackers" are sequestered. 

We entered the backpacker's section through a rickety door marked with a fancy computer print out that said, "backpacker's corner." Quaint. We were in the attic.

There were four doors. The suspense was killing me as I wondered what was behind each one. She unlocked my "room" and the open door revealed what you might expect from a tiny attic room built in 1774. It was pretty cold in Interlaken, but lucky for me I'd be sleeping in a sauna. Check in lady left me to it, happy to escape my questions..for now.

I cracked the window, and sat on the bed, almost immediately rolling off of it due to the intense slant. Well this should be comfy. 

I figured I'd at least look up a place to eat, and start planning my adventures in Interlaken for the next three days. The wifi however had other ideas. Apparently the wifi signal was not strong enough to reach the "backpacker's corner," despite the advertising. So I trudged downstairs to the sitting room and set up shop.

I found an Irish pub that boasted grand reviews and looked like walking distance as far as I could tell. It also seemed reasonably priced, for Switzerland anyways. I was browsing some extreme sports and getting ideas of what I might want to try when my stomach growled audibly. So as to not disturb other lodgers, it seemed best to venture out for some food. I'd figure out extreme sports later.

Since I didn't have a warm coat, I was super excited when I saw that it was raining. I accepted that I would be freezing and wet and thus ventured forth to the pub. On the plus side, at least I had a trusty mini umbrella fit for a child. 

The pub was not as close as it had appeared on google maps, but alas I made it to the 3 Tells Irish Pub, and I was famished. Mama needs some chicken fingers and beer!

I ordered some food and noticed an entire library of extreme sports pamphlets next to my table. Perfect! I started browsing them, to see if any spoke to me, and they were jam packed with adventure. They actually all looked terrifying. 

What I really wanted to do was Zorbing. In fact I had been determined to do it. Zorbing is an odd venture where you enter a giant inflatable ball of sorts and roll down a humongous hill. It's the closest thing you can do to actually becoming a hamster. 

But, I. Couldn't. Find. It. Anywhere. I frantically searched the adventure literature looking for a place that offered giant ball rolling and came up with nothing. It couldn't be!

Just then a guy approached my table. A Swiss hippie guy. He had hair that challenged mine in length, sported a beanie hat, and introduced himself as Matty. He had seen me perusing the pamphlets and wondered what I was interested in doing. Oh, and he worked for one of the companies. But I was only interested in finding out why Zorbing didn't seem to exist anymore. So I asked.

"Because it's boring" was Matty's easy reply. But I didn't buy it. There had to be more to the story! He pointed to the brochures. 

"What are you thinking of getting into?" Matty asked.

"Well since there's no Zorbing...I was thinking maybe paragliding or something, except the small issue that I'm afraid of heights."

"You know what you should do?" Swiss hippie re-directed my attention to a photo. "Canyoning."

"And what, pre tell is canyoning?" (Okay so I didn't use pre tell but I've always wanted to in a conversation, so let's pretend.)

"Well you start by rappelling 150 meters down into the canyon-" my Swiss hippie friend started.

My narrowed eyes gave me away. 

I opened my mouth to object to his reckless idea of me rappelling anywhere, but he kept on, "There's different canyons based on levels of difficulty. You do jumps, slides, and zip lines to get through the canyon. But don't worry, we give you a wetsuit."

Well now I feel better. 

I pictured myself as a penguin, harnessed in, scaling a rock cliff. It didn't help.

Matty continued to explain the logistics of canyoning and how there was a group going on Saturday morning, since tomorrow it was supposed to rain. He said he wasn't scheduled to work, but that if I was looking for a fun, challenging adventure while I was here, I should go for the intermediate level canyon. Right. I said I'd consider it, and thanked Swiss Hippie. Who it turns out, isn't Swiss at all. He hailed from Canada, which explained his perfect English. But he was Swiss hippie to me regardless at this point. 

I had a lot to mull over and plenty of time to think about it since the forecast called for rain the following day. 

Paragliding or Canyoning? That was the question. Either way I'd be shitting my pants.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

advice from Santa

I was feeling the aftermath of my shots with the band from the previous night, but it was time to pack up my box-sized room that had suffered a slight clothes explosion during my 3 day stay in Zermatt. I might have strewn articles of clothing all over the room in a speedy attempt to find a particular sweater the day before. But first, breakfast.

It was my last included breakfast at the Hotel Alfa and I was determined to pack it in again since I had the journey to Interlaken via several trains to endure shortly. For the third morning in a row, I took a seat at a table next to the old lady’s table. She was there every morning, like clockwork, alone like me, and at the same time that I was. I took comfort in sitting nearby.  Just two ladies eating separately and alone, nothing to see here.

View from breakfast
As I watched her sip her coffee I wondered about her backstory. I didn’t know what it was, but I was sad for her because she was alone. Were people also sad for me because I was there alone? Or was it because she was old? I feared that that would be me when I got older. Old and alone. She must’ve known I was thinking about her because she turned and looked at me on her way out..and in return I gave her the biggest salami and cheese filled mouth smile I could muster up.

It was time to check out of my hotel and leave Zermatt. Although the common shower and bathroom situation wasn’t my favorite, I had come to love Hotel Alfa, my giant borrowed sweatshirt, the old lady at breakfast, the cheery Santa like reception guy, and Zermatt in general. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye..but I was excited to see what adventuring I could get myself into in of the extreme sport mecca’s of the world. I had challenged myself to participate in one of these adventures, I just had to pick one.

I approached the reception desk and returned the giant borrowed sweatshirt that had been a blessing to the cheery dude who was a cross between a gnome and Santa himself. He had rosy cherub cheeks, stark white hair, and a jolly grin. As I checked out, he took the liberty to play 20 questions about my life.

“You have a husband?” he asked cheerily.
“No…” was my reply.
“Don’t worry, you are a great sportive lady. You will have no problem. Just don’t choose the first one that comes along.” Was reception Santa’s solid advice.

"I won't." I agreed.
Well, I did have to say, I had never been called “sportive” before. With those parting words sinking in, and a twinkle in his eye, I parted ways from Santa, and Zermatt.
Hotel Alfa
Scenes from Zermatt

Scenes from Zermatt
I boarded the train with trusty Bertha in tow. Trusty in that she was still grossly overweight. The train ride out was just as impressive as the way in.

A few trains and hours later, I arrived in Interlaken. I had no clue (again) where my last minute booked hostel was, nor which direction to walk in to find it. Luckily there was a map of Interlaken Hotels right at the station. Unluckily, mine was not on said map. 

A fellow solo traveler in plaid was looking just as lost. I pointed to the map, and guessing that he spoke English, told him it was a map of area hotels. He thanked me (in English!) and easily found his hostel. Walking away he asked if I'd be okay finding mine. 
"Oh, yeah, no problem I think it's probably just down this way.." as I picked a street to head down. As I wandered hopefully towards my hotel in the brisk late afternoon, paragliders rained down from the sky. 

Hmmm, should paragliding be my extreme sport adventure of choice here in Interlaken? Maybe it was a sign...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

creepy cardiologist

I defrosted for a couple of hours, resting after my adventure with the sheep, and found myself heading back to the Brown Cow for my last night in Zermatt. I was solo now, since the two j's had left and I planned to do some research for my next stop. Oh, and eat another large burger, obviously.

There was a whole cast of characters that made for some good people watching whilst enjoying my beer. After downing another large portion of meat in burger form, I moved to an empty bar stool to finish my drink.

I was interrupted mid sip when I heard, “I saw you on the bridge before.”
I turned to the left to see who the messenger of this creepy opening line was. I was surprised when I saw a handsome, well dressed, German dude who took residence on the adjacent stool.

While figuring out what to say, I must’ve looked slightly taken aback, because he continued on. “I saw you this afternoon, I was at a cafĂ© across the street, and you were eating, something, a pretzel maybe?”

Oddly specific. So not only did this guy spot me, but he spotted me stuffing myself with a giant pretzel. Fantastic. How do you respond to that?

“Um yeah, that was me, just an afternoon snack..”

He introduced himself, sharing that he was a cardiologist from Germany, and works all the time. He had a few vacation days and was using them to bike in the Alps on vacation. I filled him in on my teaching stint in Italy and we chatted for a few. Despite the initial creepiness, maybe he wasn't so bad..

Then he asked where I was staying. I told him Hotel Alfa, and what a coincidence, he was staying there too.

"I have to go back soon," he said. "I must get up very early to meet my guide on the trail."

I chose this as my opportunity to exit, and was prepared to go across the street to hear my new favorite band at Gee's when creepy cardiologist asked to tag along for a drink. Guess he didn't have to get up that early. 

We ventured across the street to Gee's and I headed straight to the bar where I was greeted with a smile of recognition from the hot bartender, Alex, from the night before. Then I saw his gaze go from me to creepy cardiologist, and back to me with a bemused expression on his face. Ah yes, he must think I'm some sort of hussy bringing different guys in here every night. Last night the two j's, tonight creepy cardiologist! 

We grabbed our drinks and headed over to a bar table right in front of the band. They were just as good as the previous night, the only difference being that creepy cardiologist didn't know how to whisper. Every time he tried to chat with me, his voice was about five levels too loud and we were right smack in front of the band. Maybe if I modeled whispering, he'd follow suit? But no, still just as loud. 

He told me (and the rest of the bar patrons) that he wished he didn't have to get up early so he could hang out longer, but I was glad it was creepy cardiologist's bedtime. We said goodbye, he planted a brief kiss on my cheek, and I headed back to the bar, parking myself on a stool right by hot bartender Alex. 

The band finished up, and I was ready to call it a night. But first, I thought I should tell the band how great they were. And that's how I ended up doing shots with the band...


Thursday, October 2, 2014

from NYC to herding sheep in Switzerland

I hurriedly made my way to the hotel meeting point in my high top rental hiking boots from the 80's to make the sheep hike. I was aware that I looked much like a homeless bag lady about to hike with my mismatched outfit comprised of borrowed oversized sweatshirt from the hotel, my flimsy raincoat, the sporty high top hikers, running capris and my exposed calves sandwiched between them. But I was beyond excited at the prospect of seeing many, many sheep. 

I entered the lobby of the Hotel Julien and checked in at desk in a hurry. Although the hike came with an optional lunch afterwards at one of the restaurants owned by the hotel, I opted for just the 10 Franc hike since funds were tight. I also had to purchase a lift ticket up to the top where the hike would start. After taking care of this I turned around to survey the fellow hikers, waiting in the lobby, presumably for me, and the sheep herder himself. They were all appropriately dressed for the cold and rain. They regarded me with curiosity. I looked ridiculous, yes, but I was going to herd those damn sheep nonetheless. 

The door swung open and in walked a large man, and by large I mean very tall. In an even larger rain slicker. The sheep herder, I presumed. 

I presumed correctly, and after he was finished addressing my fellow hikers in German, he took one look at me and said, "Don't you want to put on some real clothes?"

Touche, sheep man. I laughed, and informed him that yes, I would love to put on something warmer, but poor old me had only these things and it was going to have to do. He warned me that I would be cold, but I told him confidently that I could deal with it. Although now I wasn't so sure.

"Well then, are we ready?" Sheep man said to me and then in German to the rest of the crew.

We went outside with the sky spitting down on us, and sheep man informed us that he would be speaking in German, and then translate to English for me, since apparently I was the only English speaker in the group. I was about to herd sheep with a small group of Germans. Let's do it. We were still standing there though.

"We just have to wait for my son, he'll be along in a minute." Sheep man said.

I secretly hoped sheep man's son would be tall, good looking, and around my age. Although in this get up, he'd probably go running for the hills. No pun intended.

"There he is! This is my son, Ryan" Sheep man announced. Well. He was much shorter than I had hoped, by about 4 feet. But he was super cute. And four years old. Oh well.

We walked along the wet streets, the Germans and I. It was cold and windy, but I knew that this would be nothing compared to what it was going to be like at the top of the mountain. Yikes.

We reached the lift, and all squeezed into one car. It was cozy. Two days in a row on this lift. Good thing I wasn't afraid of heights.

What I didn't realize is that we were going far above where I had gotten on the lift in Furi with the Holland couple the day before. Far, far, FAR above. We passed Furi, and just kept going and going and going up. Sheep man told us facts about Zermatt, and the sheep we were going to visit. The wind blew, and howled. The lift car swung back and forth. I swallowed loudly. 

Sheep man received a call on his phone (how he had reception up there is beyond me). After hanging up he casually informed us that we were the last group to go up to the top on the lift. I stupidly asked, "why?"

"Because of the wind," Sheep man replied. Then we stopped. We were just a lift car full of Germans and me, dangling from a wire in the Swiss Alps, with the wind to play with us how it wanted. The fear was written all over my face and the nice German couple across the way tried to assure me it would be ok. The older man next to them pulled out a snack. Sheep man said it was normal and we'd be along our way shortly. We swung back and forth and the rained pounded against the windows. 

We sat there for about fifteen minutes or so and then moved about three inches. Ten more minutes later we moved forward again, for a few minutes. I could see the top. "You could jump from here!" Sheep man laughed. I managed a weak smile. Finally we made it to the top and I just about threw myself out of the lift. We made it to the start of our hike to the sheep, Schwarzsee.

A ginormous gust of wind whipped at us. The rain pelted through my raincoat. I put both my hoods up and silently thanked my hotel for the giant sweatshirt. Sheep man and his son led the way. 

Despite the weather, and limited visibility at times from the clouds that we were literally walking through, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Zermatt down below..WAY down below

The wind was relentless. There was no mistake about homeless bag lady get up was not cutting it. I don't suppose there's a North Face store up here anywhere so I could score something warmer I thought to myself in the the middle of the Swiss mountains. I was FREEZING. Sheep man looked back at me, asking, "are you too cold?" I looked at his four year old son, Ryan who was shielding himself with an umbrella, but still plugging along. 

mini sheep herder
Hell, if he could do it, so could I. "Nope! I'm fine!" And we kept on. I was going to herd these GD sheep if it was the last thing I did.

Trail to the sheep
I stumbled along the trail, my legs like jello from the previous day's hike, in search of the sheep and their likely very warm wool. My nose ran from the cold. I was all around very attractive at the moment. Then the clouds started to rise and move around us. It was surreal. The rain was slowing to a drizzle and the wind had eased. The sheep gods were on our side.

This made the hike a little more enjoyable, giving my eyes a break from tearing up in response to the cold wind. 

Fuzzy alpine flower

I chatted with Sheep man and his adorable sheep herding son as we made our way to the sheep themselves. Ryan knew a bit of English and he was a charmer. I told him I was very excited to see the sheep. He smiled and probably thought I was nuts.

There's the homeless bag lady hiking in the high top hiking boots I told you about...

After about an hour or so, I could hear bells. Sheep man pointed up yonder and I knew that we were about to be amongst the sheep. And then we were..

Sheep man inhaled deeply with a satisfied grin. "Do you smell that?" he asked me. If he meant the sheep shit that filled my nostrils, then yes, yes I did. 

I nodded, and he replied "It's the best smell!"
We both loved sheep..but I had to draw the line there. Sheep poo would most likely never be my scent of choice.

Sheep man then wrangled one of the little devils to show us the cool characteristics of these black nosed sheep.

Then, I took loads of pictures...(and named each and every sheep, naturally)...

Sheep close up!

Sheep in the mist

There was even a black sheep of the family!

Before the herding began, Sheep man explained that once a week it was important to give the sheep their treat of dried, salted bread and lead them out to pasture. This would be how we kept them on track on the way out too. I tried my hand at giving one of the sheep a little taste before we started herding.

And then we were off!

I felt like one of the herd, following along in the middle of the pack, hopping over streams with the sheep, and navigating the terrain. The sheep were surprisingly quite nimble. I, with my jello legs, was not. Then I realized I was supposed to be helping direct these guys. Sheep man and one of the Germans were calling out something to them that sounded like a cross between an auctioneer and a yodel call.
So I tried my own version:
"Come on buddy, this way" I directed, and they listened! I was rounding these bitches up! 

And then this happened:


Eventually, I pulled myself together and kept on.

Hold onto your hooves..we're going downhill!

We arrived at the pasture location apparently, and the clouds were engulfing us. I peered through the mist at all the sheep. It was unbelievable! Just as I wondered if they'd accept me as one of their own, or if I could at least snuggle into their warm wool, Sheep man said to me, "From New York City to herding sheep in the mountains of Switzerland!" That just about summed it up! It was amazing and unbelievable and undoubtedly one of the coolest things I have ever done. 

We milled around, socializing with the sheep as they chewed their grass and hopped around on rocks. I took an obligatory sheep selfie, obviously.

One thing I was sure of..I was super glad I had opted to rent these hiking boots, if anything just for the fact of the sheer amount of sheep poop I was stepping on.

I had the chance to feed some of the sheep the remaining tidbits. I could feel their hot breath on my hands as they crunched loudly on their snack!

One of them attempted to inspect my backpack, and I decided that might be a good time to introduce Heinrich (whom I had nestled in my bag) to his family, for the book I was making for my niece, of course. 

The Germans were definitely going to think I was crazy when I pulled Heinrich out and started snapping photos of him with the sheep. I explained my project to Sheep man and kindly asked that he translate to them what I was doing. He did, and they all smiled and nodded, exclaiming in German that it was such a cute idea. At least I think that's what they were exclaiming.

Heinrich, meet your sheep family..

They were none too impressed

Even Ryan joined in the fun, as he was curious about Heinrich. I convinced him to take a picture with us..

Then Sheep man set up a little picnic of sorts for us, and whipped out a huge chunk of meat on a bone. He announced that we'd be having a little snack of cheese and this meat he held up in the air. How lovely..except then he announced that the meat was from a very prominent aged sheep and would be delicious. I couldn't cover the sheeps' ears fast enough! I looked around in disbelief. How could we eat the sheep meat in front of THE SHEEP. 

It was probably one of their great uncles
So I took the wine they cracked open, cheers-ed to the sheep, and tasted the cheese. It was good cheese. But the meat..I just couldn't do it. Not with them all...standing there. 

We took a group and the Germans on our herding expedition (and Ryan, whose cheeks were full of the sheep meat).

Then it was time to head back. We left the sheep to their grazing, and I bid a sad farewell to my new wooly buddies. I really loved them. But, I was wiped. Between the hiking the day before, the drinking the night before, and the hiking in the cold rain that day, I needed some rest. Luckily there was a jeep waiting for us to take us to the departure spot and restaurant for the lunch portion. I had opted out of lunch, but Sheep man offered me a hot tea, and I explored the surroundings, making another a new friend.

 Sheep man said I could either hike back down to Zermatt for a couple of hours, or take the lift. I was clearly going to take the lift. I thanked him and realized I hadn't yet paid for the actual hike, just the lift ticket. I told him this, pulling out the 10 Franc, and he waved me off.."don't worry about it, glad you could make it!" So nice.

"Thank you!" I yelled as I waved goodbye. I would surely miss Sheep man and his mini sheep herder.

I was so glad that I had decided to do the sheep hike. It was the perfect way to spend my last day in Zermatt. Now I felt ready for about a 3603498503845 hour nap.