The Swiss village was Lauterbrunnen. I had seen pictures and knew it was going to be a beautiful introduction to Switzerland. What I didn’t know was the profound and long lasting effect it would have on me.
It was still raining when I awoke at the hostel but the weather reports predicted a short break in the rain around 10 or 11AM. This would be the perfect time to head out. With my new iPhone app, I had my course plotted to Lauterbrunnen with ease. Buying the tickets was not as easy. I arrived at the train station with what I thought would be plenty of time. Unfortunately the automatic ticket machine wouldn’t allow me to buy tickets to Lauterbrunnen or even anywhere near it. No problem, I thought, I’d just ask the help desk for a ticket and be on my way. The wait at the help desk was over an hour long. Luckily they used a queue system so I grabbed a number and went back into the train station to have breakfast.
The tickets were expensive, especially compared to the cheap BlaBlaCar rides I had been taking, but the trains were extremely nice. Even in second class, my seats in the three trains I rode in to arrive in Lauterbrunnen were better than any I’d ever had on an airline in the past.
Most of the train ride to Switzerland was rainy but I didn’t care. I was happy to be heading to another country. Halfway on the ride, as I was switching trains, I met a couple from “the Hawaii of the east coast” as Mark put it. Mark and Susan were from New Jersey and were a very nice couple visiting Susan’s family in Switzerland. We talked for rest of the train ride. They even shared some food with me and were excited to hear about my trip. Once again, it was nice to be able to have a conversation with someone of the same language, and it made the time fly by. Just as soon as we crossed into Switzerland, someone came around to check our tickets. Not once did anyone ever check my tickets while I was in Italy. Then came a crew of police with what I imagine were drug sniffing dogs. I wasn’t in Italy anymore.
There was a long tunnel just before we arrived at Brig. We were all thrilled to see sunny skies on the other side. At Brig, Mark and Susan were taking a different train so we said our goodbyes. Susan was so nice she even hugged me goodbye; she said it was the mother in her.
This next train was a double decker and was just as nice as the others. I decided to sit on the top and luckily sat on the side with the best view. I stared out the window the entire time and couldn’t believe just how beautiful this country was. Somehow in Switzerland, the grass is greener, the clouds are whiter, and the skies are bluer. The water was a perfect greenish blue; it almost looked fake. Everything just seemed to be so much nicer here.
I was amazed at the scenery on the way to Lauterbrunnen, but when I arrived there, I can no longer accurately describe the experience. A heavy wave of emotions poured over me as a climbed out of the train and gazed at my surroundings. I was now standing in a small Swiss village sandwiched between two enormous cliffs. Scattered across the cliffs here waterfalls on both sides. The temperate could not have been a single degree nicer and there were just enough clouds to make the sky interesting. It was just so mindblowingly beautiful, and I walked to my hotel in complete awe.
I arrived at the hotel after short walk down the main village road. There was a large group of people sitting out front of the hotel drinking and hanging out. I must’ve picked a good spot. I walked inside and there were Swiss chocolates on the counter available for all the guests. A girl named Sonya helped get me checked in and showed me around. I was staying in a dormatory style building with 14 beds on the upper floor and a kitchen, washing machines, and showers on the first. Though the building had 14 beds, I was the only one staying in the entire building. I dropped off my stuff and went back out to have a couple beers with the group. I found out most of them were Australians, and all of them were part of a “Top Deck” tour of Europe. After a couple hours, the group left to go eat dinner. It was growing dark so I went back to my room to unwind.
I lay around for a while in disbelief that this entire floor was mine. I phoned home and talked with my mom about Lauterbrunnen and arranged having some things mailed to me. I searched online for things to do the next day. I played music and relaxed.
My excitement must have kept me awake because I was normally asleep by 11:30PM. This time I was awake and I was hungry. During my tour of the hotel, Sonya had mentioned that one place to grab a bite to eat late at night was the local pub. I decided to check it out. By then, the weather had changed to a light mist so I tossed on my jacket and headed in to town.
The pub was still open. When I walked in, a few locals sat at one end of the bar having a few beers while In Flames played on the jukebox in the background. Awesome. The bartender mentioned that at this point they were only serving snacks and slide a small menu down the bar towards me. I was happy to see a cheeseburger and fries on the snack menu. I ordered this with a beer and sat down at the bar.
The first sip of my beer reminded me I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. It was a Feldschosschen Amber beer on tap and was amazing. The cheeseburger came shortly after piled with tons of Swiss cheese: not too bad for the ‘snack’ menu. As I ate, the locals began to leave until it was just me and the bartender. I learned her name was Bernadette, an Irish woman with a husband who loved to base jump, which is what brought them here several years ago. We talked for quite awhile until I finished my beer. There was still half an hour before they closed, but I was ready to head back to the hotel.
That’s when in walked a group of travels from another tour group. This time, none of them were from the same country. Mexico, Canada, Turkey, Dubai, South Africa, and the one language they all spoke: English. They were a great group of folks and I decided to stick around with them to have another beer. They told me about their trip so far and how they all came to meet. One thing I realized is how close everyone on these guided tour groups seems to be. Both this group and the Top Deck group from earlier that day had only known each other for four days. If I didn’t know this, I would have guessed they were all old friends.
The pub closed and the group left. There were two girls from the Top Deck group at the pub that I walked back to the hotel with. When I got back, I checked the weather before finally going to bed. The rainy, misty weather was supposed to continue into the next day but I didn’t care. This place was amazing.