Friday, February 27, 2009

Snowboarding in the Swiss Alps!

Last weekend was the best weekend that I have had in Europe thus far! Thursday night my roommates and I headed to the train station to meet the Bus2Alps crew to head to Interlaken, Switzerland. It was a 12 hour bus ride from Rome to Interlaken and we stopped in Florence to pick people up on the way. All of our guy friends in Rome and our friends in Florence were all on the bus too. The bus ride was quite miserable but so worth it once we pulled up to our ski lodge-like hostel. The hostel was called Balmers. We arrived around 7am so we took naps and then headed out for some Swiss lunch. Molly and Raf met us at the hostel coming from Seville! Friday during the day we walked down the streets in Interlaken we saw the most magnificent views of the Alps. We had hot chocolate at the top of a hotel overlooking the city and then rented all of our ski/snowboarding gear for the next day. Friday night we went on a night sledding adventure. We were driven up the mountain only to take a 15 minute gondola ride straight up the mountains to sled down. It was pitch black and we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into. Once we were at the top of the mountain, we were given plastic sleds to sit on and glow sticks to put around our necks. After a five minute lesson on steering and safety we were off to sled down the Alps. It was such a great experience. We were basically going down the mountain in a big spiral and it was amazing. We also saw a frozen waterfall when we stopped midway down the mountain. At the end of our sledding, which was about an hour total, we had a traditional Swiss dinner. It consisted of cheese fondue with bread, hashbrowns, and a fried egg. All I have to say about that is good thing I am not studying abroad in Switzerland, because I would definatly come back 50 pounds heavier since hashbrowns are the national dish. Not to mention after that dinner we tried some Swiss chocolate, it was amazing!

Never fear, the next day we worked all of that off learning how to snowboard. Courtney was lucky enough to teach Molly, Michele, Raf, Solley, and Erica all how to snowboard. She was one lucky instructor. When we got to the top of the Alps, we were literally above the clouds confident that we would never learn to snowboard. The easy runs were cliffs that people just skied right over. It was really nice to see the toddlers zipping past us on their skis as we were just trying to walk in our snowboarding boots. After checking out the maps and looking down the mountains in fright, we came across the bunny hills! This is where we learned to board. For the first two hours the six of us learning looked like animals flopping around on the snow with a board attached to our feet. We were honestly dragging ourselves across the mountain dying in laughter for hours. (That's me!!) Snowboarding was tougher to pick up than I had imagined. However after Courtney taught us the basics most of us were able to snowboard, stop, and try to turn. Our lunch in the ski lodge consisted of some more carbs, a plate of fries and a small salad. It was either that or wiener schnitzel. We also got hot chocolate and sat outside just taking in the beauty of the mountains. We then headed back to our hill to continue boarding. I had so much fun learning to snowboard, I can't wait to try it again next winter. The day flew by and the next thing we knew we were at a Swiss restaurant eating another plate of hashbrowns for dinner. We spent the whole night dancing in the bar in the basement of our hostel. We ended up changing into t-shirts and sweatpants and there were about 15 of us girls from U of I just having a blast together.

The bus ride home was depressing; no one wanted to leave Switzerland. It was snowing and so we had to take a few detours and it took us 14 hours to get back to Rome. Overall it was such a great weekend and it was so much fun to hang out with people from home studying in other cities. I will for sure continue snowboarding, and hopefully I will make it back to Interlaken again some day.

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