Tuesday, 6 November 2007

CHeese & CHocolate in Confederation Helvetica

Spent 12 days in Switzerland basing myself in Lauterbrunnen, Lucerne, Bern and Lausanne. Thinking the Cinque Terre in Italy was amazing, i must admit i have gone from spectacular scenery to mind blowing scenery! The Swiss Alps in Autumn, touching on Winter, with red, orange, yellow, brown and green trees with so many shades of colour all over the base of the enormous mountains with snow on top and clouds swirling around the peaks. This is what it has been like with pretty much every day being sunny weather but so cold as soon as the sun goes down. Besides just staring in a daze at the gigantic chunks of rock, i met up with a high school friend Katie where we went ice skating, strolled around towns on Lake Geneva, stumbled on an annual running race around the town of Vevey with kids and adults dressed in their Halloween costumes and saw the 'Fork of Vevey' which was so weird (pic). I've also been paragliding (pic), had snow fights (pic), I watched 'The Alps' at IMAX on a rainy day, somehow got into a club with 4 Swiss Military friends where i had no ID on Halloween night, played mega chess in the park and watched numerous base jumpers throw themselves off cliffs. I ate as many traditional Swiss dishes as i could where pretty much all of them include a bucket load of cheese (cheese fondo, Raclette, Roesti etc.) and ate a heap of Toblarone and Lindt chocolate.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I haven't actually seen this 007 movie, but i plan to when i get back and say "I was there". The Shilthorn, the world's highest revolving restaurant (built for the movie) at an icy 3000m above sea level. Meeting up with Lauren and Bronwyn, we travelled to the top catching numerous trains and cable cars while eyeing each other off on who would receive the first snowball. With all of us not having seen snow since we were little kids, we knew it was going to be an exciting day. With my new jacket, beanie, gloves and scarf, i was set as we stepped out into the freezing -5C to -10C cold and getting our 007 photos captured (pic). The view from the top was awesome and something a camera could never capture. We all had a satisfying pork schnitzel through 1.5 clockwise rotations in the restaurant before heading outside again, throwing snowballs, all copping it in the face (pic) and down the back. Cold, wet, tired and after writing my initials in the snow, we headed back down after taking in the view reminiscing on what a fun day it had been.

Paragliding in the Alps
I was looking forward to this day for over a month now and the day had finally arrived. Paragliding around the mountains and town of Interlaken. The shuttle bus took me 1km up a mountain and that's where my pilot James explained what the procedure was. It was a great view already and we hadn't even taken off. Sunny weather, green grass, above the clouds and mountains in the background (pic). It was time to take off. Down the hill we ran with James strapped behind me. As we were running so fast, i slipped over. I remembered this bit as it was in slow motion. I was thinking "Oh my god, we're going to go crashing and rolling down the hill" but as i fell forward, the chute lifted us both off the ground and we were away. What an adrenalin rush. James had 21 years experience paragliding and he knew exactly what to do as we glided for 25 minutes up and down and through the clouds (pic) before a really smooth landing at the end.

From here i will be spending 2 weeks in France, 3 weeks in Spain and then a further 2 weeks in France. I would also like to say a special thank-you to my high school friend Katie who gave up her weekend to show me around and the many random activities we did and stumbled upon. I had a really memorable time experiencing Switzerland from someone who knew the best places to visit and best foods to eat.