Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Switzerland is like the Garden of Eden with Chocolate… and Psychos.

I’m not a nature girl; I don’t like dirt, grass, creatures, or water that’s not in a bottle. So when we arrived in the little region of Lauterbrunnen, tucked away in the picturesque Swiss Alps, my response was, “Yeah whatever. Can we go back to Paris?”

But I got over that fast. With it’s pointy roofed, Hansel and Gretel, houses, colorful tulips, and cows grazing around with bells around their necks like happy cows in California don’t know what they’re talking about, all set against a backdrop of massive snow capped alps, Switzerland was like stepping into a fairytale. I wanted to put on a white gown and go running through the fields of flowers singing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” Context be damned!

Somewhere, between watching my companions cool their beers in a creek, catching fresh spring water, and learning that no one in that town locked their doors, I realized that Lauterbrunnen was like the Garden of Eden with chocolate. My friends agreed and added that gypsies from Paris could take that town in a day.

I have to agree. The Swiss are too kind and trusting for their own good; For example, for all our excursions in Switzerland, they wanted us to pay AFTER the tour. And not immediately after either; whenever we got around with it, as long as it was before the offices closed at 7PM. There was zero accountability in that place! We took a train 3 hours up the Swiss Alps for about 100 Francs and completely forgot to pay once we got back into town. Instead, we loitered around a coffee shop eating Swiss brownies and siphoning off their Wifi for hours while the sun set and only realized, at the last minute, that we needed to bolt to the office to pay before… Well actually nothing. If you don’t pay, you just don’t.

And they don’t check your tickets (that they’ve extended to you for free- pay later) until after you’ve boarded the train either. Anyone can just walk on whenever.

But then, at two hours and miles above sea level in the frozen Alps, the Swiss totally flipped the script on us. They stopped the train, and a gentleman came around, informing us that now was the time for checking tickets. When we asked him what would happen if we didn’t have them, his face deadpanned and he told us he would have no choice but to kick us off the train right there. Mind you, that train stopped somewhere where there was no station, bathroom, gift shop or sign of life for miles and it was zero degrees outside. We laughed until we heard the announcer reiterate the man’s point and that’s when we realized that the Swiss are complete psychos.

Our time in Switzerland was arguably the most fun. On the top of the Swiss Alps, I saw snow for the first time, got into a snow fight with the Aussies and slipped on my rear more times than I’m going to fess up to.

I actually bonded with my other tour mates here. The Aussies woke up from their perpetual jetlag and were actually pretty hilarious. In turn, we Americans decided to pick up some of their slang.

Nighttime meant drinking and partying with my new mates; we went for drinks with some fellow campers and partied the night away in a bar that seemed Frozen in 2001. Seriously, they played a song from S-Club 7. And I must admit, there really AINT no party like an S-Club party.

I taught our Aussies how to “booty dance’ and, in exchange, they taught me how to “shuffle”. And we all did a terribly choreographed, drunken dance to “From Paris to Berlin”.

It was no Paris, but I’ll definitely never forget dancing and having a good time with my Aussies, my two Canadians, and eating Fondue with my awesome South Africans.

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