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Kate's European Adventures.

I want to become a hippy and live in the Swiss Alps.

SWITZERLAND | Monday, 27 July 2009 | Views [1431]

After our first successful attempt at packing up our tents and luggage on time, we headed towards the beautiful Swiss Alps. Today we also encountered our first border crossing, which coincided with our tour leader, Jonny’s  second prank and probably his best one for the trip. The Switzerland border was the reason that for the rest of the trip whenever Jonny told us to do something, we were all very sceptical.

Being dutiful and law-abiding travellers when told to have our passports ready for the border we all did. Jonny had spent a fair portion of the morning telling us how advanced Switzerland is with so many aspects of society, including their passport control. Just imagine this: a bus load of people, all on the right hand side of the bus, with the picture page of their passports pressed up against the windows waiting for the high tech border control machines to take a photo of the side of the bus and our passports. When Jonny asked us if anyone could see the flash, were when some people started to get suspicious, and the fact that we really didn’t slow down that much through the crossing. The laughter from Aaron our driver, Cam our cook and Jonny was the sound that made us all realise we had been duped in a big way!

After a massive driving day through some stunning scenery (these massive mountains like I have never seen before – Australia, we don’t have mountains, they are hills compared to these), and increasingly steady rain we got close to Lauterbrunnen, our next home. The positive aspect of the pouring rain was that we had the options of upgrading to cabins. So yes – on the third night of our trip we did pike on the tent business (except a few brave souls) and took to the luxury of bunk beds, pillows and a roof.

Lauterbrunnen lies in this little valley in the heart of the Swiss Alps and is incredible. Glorious mountains completely surrounded us in every direction, with these waterfalls cascading over the mountains everywhere you look. There was this rushing little river through the middle of the campsite, with a covered wooden bridge that lead to the chalet there. This was also where we were introduced to the bomb shelter and the concept that the 21 day campers really can’t go somewhere ‘just for a few drinks’. It had been a massive day and everyone had thought that we would just go to check out this funky bar built in the actual bomb shelter of the chalet for a drink or two. We knew that the next night there was a planned party, so a quiet night was what we thought we all needed. Yeah, right. Hours later, shots of Red Bull liqueur later and copious beers later, we stumbled into bed about 3am. So much for the few quiet drinks.

Another early morning took us up the highest mountain in Europe, Jungfrau, on a cog railway. The sky had cleared for us and there had been fresh snow up the mountain over night. The railway trip was slow, but lovely; you could see all these tiny little towns (well clusters of houses) positioned precariously up the mountains, and the greenness of the valleys. Arriving at the top of the mountain we were literally on top of Europe, above the clouds and surrounded by snow covered peaks. I could have sat there all day just looking out across Europe.

The second night at the bomb shelter had a gothic theme – so there we were all dolled up in our black, piles of black eyeliner (for girls and boys) and resulted in our second big night. Everyone dressed in black and rocking on all night and for the second night in a row, the campers were the last Contiki group left standing. Goes to say a lot about our durability, despite the fact we bailed on the tents at the first chance. The funniest part of my night was when we were heading to bed. All night I had my precious ‘I love Frankston’ stubby holder with me (the town in Melbourne where I grew up). The town had put out all this tacky memorabilia, including bumper stickers. Here I am in Switzerland, at about 3 in the morning, and for some strange reason I look up at the lamp post and here is this ‘I love Frankston’ sticker on the light! Needless to say there are some interesting photos of me with the lamp post and my stubby holder. No matter how far I travel, there is always something that reminds me of Frankston.

Breakfast the next morning was hilarious, lots of very weary and shabby people. I sat eating toasted sanga’s with Lucy from Perth, who told me all about how her boyfriend Cole, and Kent the New Zealander had not been ready to go to bed when the rest of us did, so they wondered on down into the town to the pub frequented by the base jumpers that call Lauterbrunnen their home. It was funny listening to the tales from the night before and the suspicious tent antics that someone had tried to hide, despite the fact that there were only about 5 tents up.

Despite the rain, Switzerland is the type of place I felt like I could spend a lot of time. Just hanging out really and looking at the mountains, maybe drinking a little more coffee than alcohol. Katarina and I decided that it would be cool to become hippies and live in the alps! We said farewell Switzerland half an hour late and slept our bus ride through to Antibes on the French Riviera, all in desperate need of some sunshine and recouperation.



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