Catching up on Friday on SundayFriday we were in Interlaken. We had to be out of our rooms for the day by 9:30, so we got going pretty early. A group of us went to where we were supposed to be picking up our tickets for the main event of the weekend, night sledding. Justin and I had to make a second trip, though, because we didn't have the whole group we had made reservations with. After we got our tickets, Justin and I decided to explore this great place nearby with trains, buses, cable cars, and hiking to get to the top, where there is a fantastic view. It ended up that we weren't going to have time to do it all before heading off with the group for sledding, so we just took the train partway and walked for a while.
The place was called Lauterbrunnen. It was a long, thin valley with Alps on either side and beyond the ends. The valley is famous for its waterfalls, but they were frozen and so there were places along the cliffs where there was lots of ice, but no big waterfalls. We walked a long time. It was very quiet, and the mountains just rose up out of the ground in cliffs, and beyond the cliffs were actual mountain-shaped mountains. Everything was covered in snow. It was beautiful. We had time for hot chocolate at a cute hotel restaurant before heading back to Interlaken to meet the group for sledding.
We headed off on a tour bus with them, winding through breathtaking (no kidding--at the top where it was more level, it wasn't even cleared fully!!) roads with no shoulders up a mountain. Then we rode gondolas (enclosed hanging ski lift cars) up to the tippy top of an Alp. You guys, it was cold. I mean, cold. Then we were all herded into a big long room with a ton of other people and were fed fondue. I was really pumped about the fondue. I like it. But it felt like we were being processed, and then I got sick of the winy smell/taste of the fondue. Plus, nobody seemed like they planned to give us any directions on what to do. I mean, we're about to sled in the dark and extreme cold down an Alp! You'd think they could at least talk to us about what to do! Anyway, we headed out and started to sled. It wasn't that bad. The path wasn't too too steep, and there were lanterns to show the way. You wouldn't believe how fast we went at times, though. WOO! Anyway, it was very memorable. And fun. And I didn't freeze to death, and nobody got hurt, though one guy did temporarily lose a sled over an edge (it was recovered by a German dude). Then we went back to Interlaken and I went to bed promptly (veerrryy tired).
What I learned... academically: more about the Swiss mentality, I guess. Observing their homes and towns and culture in a different area of Switzerland was interesting. We saw many homes with writing along over the windows, below the roof. Couldn't read it, of course, but wondered what it said. The Swiss are very precise. Their trains leave ON THE SECOND of the appropriate minute. Very nice and predictable. Personally... I learned that God is good. I was pretty concerned about the sledding deal, especially as I saw how it was turning out, but everything turned out fine. No problems, and had a lot of fun.