Becca and I took a night train from Berlin to Bern so we could get straight to the Alps considering we had already seen a lot of the stuff on the way (Munich, Vienna, Prague, etc.)
We checked into our hostel in Bern after a pretty good night's sleep (for me anyway, Becca spent most of it trying to sleep on her stomach...and failed) and immediately discovered that Switzerland is expensive as shit. Well, I think gilded unicorn shit is actually a better description. We bought some crepes that cost 11 dollars each and did nothing to fill us up. Oh well. We went to a nearby grocery store, stocked up on relatively cheap provisions (aka, every peanut product the store had) and set out to see the town.
Bern was pretty cool. The city is set up on a ride overlooking a river so parts of it are very scenic. The medeival city is neat and has lots of bizzare statues (including a giant eating babies) and another glockenspiel (unimpressive). We wandered around for a bit and had some fun looking at how much everything cost. Internet? 18 Swiss franc per hour (about 16 dollars). A sandwich? 15 Swiss Franc.
I think after three weeks in Europe we were both getting sort of tired of the "Ye Olde Towne" bullshit so we decided to take advantage of the one free thing in Bern and rented some bikes from the train station. After riding through town a bit, we headed downhill to the river and rode along the banks for an hour or so until we came to a giant clearing near a small airport with awesome views of the mountains. The river itself looked like Putt-Putt water. It was mint-green and COLD. Definitely worth it. We rode back along the same river path and pushed our bikes back up the hill into town. We dropped them off at the station before getting cheap dinner (only 12 Swiss Franc each!) at a crappy pizza place
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Swiss are obsessed with bears. Not just any bears, but fire-breathing hellspawn bears that they plaster on any available flat surface. We haven't really figured that one out yet.
The next morning we took a train to Interlaken. We arrived at the train station and stared at a map for a while, trying to find our hostel, before a nice bearded man in a van came up to us and offered us a ride.
An instinct deep inside of me kicked into high gear. I was always told as a kid to run far away from nice bearded men in old vans so I was pretty apprehensive but we took our chances and accepted. Turns out the guy was from Charlotte. Weird. He also didn't rape us, which was nice of him.
We get to our hostel, eat some peanut products, and set out on a hike recommended to us by the non-rapist in the van. And by "hike" I mean three hour climb STRAIGHT UP a mountain. Becca was convinced that Sherman Klump was in better shape than the two of us and we both agreed that Maria must have been in badass shape after running her fine ass up from the nunnery to the hills every day. Becca claims it's the only way Capt. Von Trapp would have tapped that.
We got to the top and the views were definitely worth the work, though it was a little cloudy and I was sort of jealous of the fat German tourists who got to the same place by taking a cable car.
We headed back to the hostel (via downhill cable car) and ate some crappy hostel food while I waged a one man war on Switzerland's overpriced bullshit by taking advantage of our hostel's 2 for 1 happy hour special on half liters of Rugen Brau. I'm pretty sure I won but I can't really remember...
The next day we left Interlaken and went to Grundlewald...I mean Grindlewald, sorry. The town is a lot closer to the highest peaks than Interlaken was so we got some incredible views from our hostel, which was perched high above the town directly across from the Eiger, a 13,000 foot peak that rises straight up from the valley floor (elevation 3,000). We then set out on a hike. It was also pretty strenuous but at least it had consistent views of the scenery. The weather was better, too, so we got to see the more distant peaks as well. Absolutely amazing scenery. After about six hours on the hike, we headed back to the hostel. We picked up more peanut products at the grocery store and a few beers on the way. We then sat out on our hostel balcony and admired the views while eating "dinner."
Before we left the next day, we talked to one of our roommates about interesting hikes in the area (flat, easy, hikes preferably). He recommended going to Gimmelwald, a little village on a ridge that's only accessible by cable car. He said Rick Steves knows all 100 villagers by name.
"Do you know who Rick Steves is," he asked.
"Oh, we know Rick VERY well," Becca quickly replied.
There was an awkward moment with Becca smiling dumbly while this poor guy tried to figure out whether we actually knew Rick Steves or if this insane blond girl was just having another episode.
After that little gem of a moment, we checked out of our hostel and took an easy hike through a neighboring valley. It offered different scenery than we had seen the previous two days and the weather was finally perfect. Mid-60's, sunny, slight breeze. We had incredible views of all the mountains and waterfalls and took some great pictures.
After a picnic of more peanut products, we headed back to Grindelwald so we could get to Geneva in time to catch our night train to Barcelona. More on that later.....
Jay and Becca