… with the sound of 8 Duke students romping around. But actually.
This past weekend our group split with some of us going to Switzerland to see the Alps and some of us going to Paris. I went to Switzerland and it was absolutely amazing!! Our train left at 6:30 am to take us to Zürich, so we were up super early. Especially since the busses don’t run that early and we are too cheap to pay for a cab… so we left our apartments around 5:30 am to hike all the way down to the train station. Gotta burn off all that cheese, ya know. A few hours later we arrived in Zürich. The city is located on Lake Zürich (inventive name) which is in a valley. So looking around there is beautiful architecture but there is also incredible scenery. We walked down to a main part of town and rented a paddle boat for an hour. Unfortunately paddle boating is a little slow so we weren’t able to catch any swans, but we were able to go see some really pretty areas of town and paddle up to a really large fountain.
The atmosphere in Zürich was great. It seemed like half of the city was out relaxing by the lake and enjoying the nice weather. We walked through a park and made our way to some docks where a lot of people were relaxing and laying out in the sun. Of course we all had to join and we immediately all fell asleep. Travel is exhausting. By the time we woke up we had to walk very quickly to catch our train. We managed to catch it and then made our journey to Grindelwald. By the time we made it to Grindelwald it was dark out and none of us had the foresight to figure out exactly where our hostel was located. We couldn’t even remember the name. Oops. Luckily, Grindelwald is a very small town and there were signs pointing us toward the only youth hostel in town. We hiked down some very steep hills for quite some time (maybe a mile or so) before we finally got there.
The next morning when I woke up, I was finally able to see our surroundings. The mountains were beautiful! Some were even still snow-capped! There was a beautifully colored creek that ran right by our hostel too. I really felt like I had stepped out of reality and into a fairy tale. We all got up and ready early so we could begin our 8 hour hike (yikes!). We started in Grindelwald and started hiking up the tallest mountain in all of Europe. At the start, the scenery was all green. We were surrounded by trees and flowers… it was absolutely beautiful. As we kept going though, we went above the tree line and all that was left was rock, some grass, and moss. The temperature dropped really quickly too when we were in the shade. But, we kept going… mostly because that was really our only option at that point and the view was too good to pass up. We made it up high enough that we even encountered a patch of snow!! I was about to turn into an ice-cube at points, my legs were screaming in pain at the end, and there were multiple times that I thought I was going to fall off of cliff that was supposedly “our trail,” but I would do it all over again. Our hike ended about 4 or 5 towns over and after climbing up (and eventually back down) over 1500 vertical meters and a total of 12-15 miles, we were ready to take a train back to Grindelwald.
The next morning we got up and went to a small town called Brienz, which is located on Lake Brienz (I think there is a theme here..). Brienz is the woodworking capital of Europe and some of the wood carvings were extraordinary. The detail that was put into them made them come to life. However, the real feature of the town was the lake. The lake is a beautiful aqua color that made it seems as though the Swiss had put massive amounts of food die in it. I’m pretty sure they didn’t, but I’m not ruling anything out. There were tons of mountains all around the city and waterfalls coming down from almost all of them. We didn’t spend long there because we were all so exhausted, so it was time to head home to France.
Switzerland gets a huge thumbs-up from me. Sure it made me use muscles I didn’t even know existed in my legs, but I would love to go back and hike another mountain… I just need a month to recover from the last mountain I climbed.
The rest of my pictures can be found here! Enjoy!