One Month in Europe Celebrated in Switzerland

This weekend was truly the best time that I have had in Europe so far. I traveled to Switzerland for the weekend, which happened to be the one month celebration of me being in Europe! A month has flown by so quickly; I’m baffled by how fast this semester will go by, but I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it as much as possible.

Traveling with PJ (left), Oliver and Elena (right). All of us are studying abroad in Madrid and go to UCSB!

We finished our second week of classes and headed straight to the airport to fly to Zürich, Switzerland. It was my first time flying out of the Madrid Airport, so we had to figure out how to take public transit there by ourselves and with the help of Google Maps, of course. We boarded our plane to Switzerland and landed two hours later. We checked into our first hostel and went to the city center. We bar hopped for a few hours, but found out that Zürich doesn’t have as much night life when compared to Madrid, or even IV. We were out on a Thursday night and most bars and store fronts were closed, but we made do and went out anyways. I knew that Switzerland was more on the expensive side, but I didn’t know that a decent beer would be 8CHF (Swiss Franks)! I figured out very quickly how expensive this weekend was going to be.

Ecclectic bar in Zürich

The next morning we got breakfast provided by the hostel and made ourselves some sandwiches to go, then made our way to the train station. We paid for tickets to Lucerne, Switzerland (expensive, yes) and took the hour train south. Once in Lucerne, we walked a light two miles to our hostel with all of our baggage, but we did get to check in early and this hostel was much nicer than the first. We dropped our stuff and made the trek to the top of Mt. Pilatus.

The peak of Pilatus and Ollie
Views of the valley from 7,000 ft

Mt. Pilatus was absolutely incredible and my favorite thing that we did this past weekend. We took a gondola up to the first stop called Fräkmüntegg. At this stop, we saw cows with real cowbells and a lot of goats too. We spent a few hours wandering around and ended with a toboggan ride down the hills. I couldn’t get a picture of the track because it was a 100CHF charge of they saw you with your phone! We got back onto a cable car and made the anxiety-inducing climb to the top, which reaches 6,995 feet at Tomlishorn. The views from Mt. Pilatus were breath-taking. We adventured all around the peaks climbing up steep stairs, walking through carved out caves in the side of the mountain, and even seeing mountain goats! There were paragliders taking off from from Pilatus and floating through the valley. Mt. Pilatus was so incredible and I think it was because my adrenaline was pumping the entire time purely because of how high up we were. This feeling of uneasiness didn’t subside until we got back down to Fräkmüntegg, but I think that it made that experience so unforgettable because of the trepidation that I felt.

Me with a free sausage at Fräkmüntegg

Post-Pilatus we took a very well-deserved rest and shower. We then took the bus into downtown Lucerne later that night, but found it difficult to find a place for us to eat and hang out, so we ended up getting a few bottles of wine and drank them on this gorgeous bridge over a river running through the city. Also, in Switzerland, it is completely legal to drink alcohol on the streets; a very foreign concept to us Americans.

Me and Elena at the top! And always repping my UCSB Gauchos

The next morning, we ate breakfast at our hostel. They served us one scoop of friend rice for breakfast and some average machine-made coffee. We left feeling extremely unsatisfied, but we boarded the train and made our way to our last stop: Interlaken. Everyone that I have talked to about Switzerland told me that I had to go to Interlaken, even my housemate Hailey. We dropped our stuff at the hostel, which is rated #1 among Switzerland hostels and #8 in the world; I can attest to this rating. We got a quick lunch at a very American pizza place, then headed over to a bike shop. We took these bikes trough the city center all the way to a gorgeous lake called Lake Thun.

Bike path to Lake Thun

On this bike ride, we noticed how incredibly blue the water is in Switzerland. It is too difficult to explain to you what it looked like, so I’ll just attach a photo below, but it looks otherworldly. The water gets this color and milky look because of the glacial runoff coming from the Swiss Alps, which is something I had never seen before. We made it to Lake Thun and of course had to go for a swim! The water was really cold, but so refreshing after the bike ride. We finally went to a traditional Swiss restaurant and got a three course meal with a discount code from our lovely hostel! We had tomato cream soup, a vegetable raclette dish and a Toblerone mousse. After a filling dinner, we turned in for an early wake up the next morning.

Post bike ride and swim at Lake Thun

The next day, we woke up at 7am for Lauterbrunnen (a small Swiss town, 30 minutes south of Interlaken). In Lauterbrunnen we only had a few hours, so we took a long walk around the valley. We climbed through some caves and took pictures from behind a waterfall. Along the road, there was a cheese vending machine, so obviously we had to buy a small cheese wheel. The cheese type is unknown, but it was so creamy and deliciously Swiss. This was the last stop on our Switzerland adventure before heading to Zürich for our flight.

View from behind Staubbachfall in Lauterbrunnen

I woke up the next morning in Spain and I was really sad to be back initially. It was so fun to be immersed in the outdoors for three whole days because, in Madrid, there is such a lack of nature to go explore. I knew I would be sad to leave Switzerland, but it was this weird feeling of knowing that I won’t be going back for a while, even though I would go back in a heartbeat. It was just such an expensive trip that I would have to save up again to go back. If I could recommend a place for all of the nature-lovers out there, it would again and again be Suiza. It is a place I would love to work in after college or even retire. I miss is and that trip will always have a special place in my heart.

Swiss Lager chilled by the Lauterbrunnen river

I’m happy now to be back in Madrid, but it was nice to have a quick change of pace.

Contact me if you want to see more pictures or have questions about Switzerland 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Alexa,

    You may remember hearing about the cottage we had on a lake in Michigan. We spent many summers there and all four of us have happy memories of those days. We were on a lake directly across from Interlochen Music Camp. One evening, from across the lake, we listened to Van Cliburn playing at the Camp. Years later, while visiting Switzerland, Grandpa and I went to Interlaken. We saw some Interlaken sweat shirts in a shop window and wanted so badly to bring one back to Brad and Pam. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday and all shops were closed.

    And I remember the REAL cowbells!



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