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...

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