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Adventure Time

We woke early on Sunday morning and set off on our grand journey. So 2 hour train to Zurich (spent half an hour there LOL just to say we'd been there) then 1.5h train to Locarno, 30min bus to Verzasca Dam (Diga Verzasca). All the way we kept fidgeting and worrying, because… we were going to the dam to bungee jump!!!!!!!!!!

Free Fall

We're all afraid of heights but this is something we all had to do. The 220m jump from the top of the dam was 'done' by 007 in Goldeneye. It's one of the highest bungee jumps in the world, probably 2nd or 3rd. How awesome is that?? 195CHF though, not cheap. But it was going to be SO MUCH FUN and I had to do it at least once in my life. Been on my list for a long long time.

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My strategy for coping was to not think about until I got there, and then when on the platform to also not think and Just Jump. Surprisingly, it worked. Not like I really tried hard not to think about the dizzying drop, it just happened so yay. I was accidentally the first to jump because somehow the staff just asked me to go over first haha. They stood me on the platform, counted from three, and I leaned forward and began to fall.

The moment my feet left solid ground and I was left staring into 220m of thin, non-solid air, I freaked out and seriously doubted my decision-making. I screamed as my innards rose and I hurtled towards my doom.

A mere 3s and half the drop later, though, it was okay already! I think I'd reached terminal velocity, so no acceleration and it was just free fall and I could appreciate the fact that I was bungee jumping for real. I reached the end of the rope and had about 4 bounces before I heard the staff yelling at me to pull the rope thing (I'd forgotten, in my attempt to keep my head from bursting with blood -- major rush of blood to the head). And then I just waited for the other rope to be lowered, so I could clip in and be towed back up.

A was next. They let me stand on the platform to watch! My knees were still trembling with adrenaline the whole time A hesitated on the platform haha. A is really really afraid of heights, so props to her for jumping! S too!

We all agreed that not thinking was the best thing to do, and that the first part was fun and scary but otherwise a little anticlimatic. Oh well haha. I would like to do it again next time! Maybe somewhere a little bit more natural. Eg. Australia in the summer with a water dip? Instead of in front of a huge dam haha.

When it was over we hung around ecstatically, watching others jump and taking more photos. We finally left at 4 plus, and realised we'd missed the bus down by 15min. Some fellow jumpers that we'd talked to offered us a ride down to the town, and we accepted gratefully.

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Wild West Wind

Train to Bellinzona, visited 2 of the 3 medieval castles. The first (lowest) was nice, we didn't stay that long. We hiked up about 15min to the next, and we spent probably one or two hours there on the grassy hill in the sun. The wind there was crazy, strong enough to blow our bags off the table, and to supply a continuous stream of ammo (ie. Leaves, etc). It actually hurt (a little) when the leaves hit the back of my bare neck! Sat and talked for quite a while, took photos. Then I rolled down the hill, convinced them it was fun, and then rolled down again with them hahahahaha. While I was left unscathed, A's felt-ish coat collected a bunch of dead grass and leaves, and S got grass stains on her jacket elbows.

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Had a good (expensive) dinner in Bellinzona.

2 pastas,
1 pizza,
a pitcher of white wine (Critone),
1 small portion of caramel panna cotta,
a basket of free bread.

Yumz. 31 francs per person! Spent so much because we realised we had a lot francs left and we didn’t really want to bring so much back.

Felt really good about ourselves, decided it had been a brilliant day.

Mooching Around
And then we got to the train station and realised with a shock that the last train to Bern left at 936, or 15 min ago. Sian. So we tried to get to Lugano airport, hoping we could spend the night there. Train to Lugano, then a bus to another smaller train station, then train. But at the end terminal of that second train we asked the conductors and found out we'd missed the airport stop, but also that the airport wasn't 24h. So from that stop we were at (Porte Tresa) we went back exactly the same way.

By the time we got back to Lugano, the waiting room was locked! We were very sad, and ended up huddled close on a stone bench, trying to sleep on each other. Then a bunch of night shift construction workers came over and I think they might have told the station master about us, because he came over and said we could stay in the waiting room! I thought he'd gone home already. So, blessed us got to spend the night in a warm room with a bench each to ourselves.

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Got up at 5am for the first train to Zurich, then to Berne. Stopped by the Coop for chocolates (gifts) and lunch. Had a shower, lunch, used the wifi. Back out for the 1pm train to Luzern.

The Hills are Alive

From Luzern we took a ferry to Viznau, and a small train up the steep Mount Rigi. Seriously, Switzerland is absolutely beautiful. Lakes and mountains at every turn. Got off at elevation 1750m! It was so cold up there, there was still snow on the ground. We hopped around like spastic bunnies, taking selfies of the breathtaking scenery while keeping hands in pockets as much as possible, then rushed 5min later back onto the same train. Got off halfway at Kaltbad. While waiting for the cable car back down, we recorded G's birthday video (since none of us will be in SG lol oops).

Ran for the ferry, missed it by 5min. Relaxed instead at a café. Had toast, fries, bread, goulash, an Erdinger and some sausages. Got onto the ferry, spent the entire hour or so outside on the front deck, singing random songs and trying not to freeze.

Despite it being pretty late already and with threatening clouds, we went to Thun by train and walked to the lake. Famous Thuner See, it was really big. It was indeed nice, but at 9pm and with dark clouds there was only so much enjoyment to be derived. We climbed some pillars though, that was fun.

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Back to Berne, we showered and I packed. Couldn't really sleep that night, but did manage to wake up at 4.45am. Extremely scared of missing my flight, in the end I was early for the 5.42 bus, early for the 6.04 train, early for my 9.00 flight! Yay! Used up more of my CHF on hamburger sweets and ricola haha. (Used the ricola to stay awake in my 12.30pm class later that day)

Der Schweiz

I think I spoke more German there than in Germany itself lol. They speak a bit less English than the Germans, so at least I can say I was helpful in keeping us from being completely helpless.

Switzerland is amazing, I love having the mountains always in a ring around me! I felt like I was on top of the world. I think next time I want to go back in summer, then grab a car and hike all around. Also go canyoning, white water rafting, etc. And since I'm assuming greater wealth, bungee jump again too :)

A note: getting stuck without a place to sleep is so bad. But it was much better because it was with old friends! Can't imagine having to do that with people I'd just met.

Posted by seaskimmer 03:08 Archived in Switzerland Tagged snow train beautiful switzerland hitchhike Comments (1)

Confessions


View SEP Pre-Trip on seaskimmer's travel map.

Dear Mum and Dad,

Please don't be mad.

Okay I've just WhatsApped you guys anyway but here's a full account of my couch surfing and hitchhiking activities so far:

Couch surfed in Brussels with this really nice guy called Nicolas. That's where we met a really cool fellow couch surfer from California who's been traveling eastern and western Europe on her own for the past year and two months. Nicolas' place was clean and nice, just that the hot water wasn't reliable.

Hitch hiked from Bruges to Ghent with a lovely couple, lady was called Ellen. They live in Ghent and were super nice, wrote down a list of local things that we can do, and best Belgian beers. (held up 'Ghent' written on the back of my bus ticket at the side of the road leading to the highway to Ghent for about half an hour, with thumbs stuck resolutely up) (most people will shrug shoulders apologetically if they can't take us. These three guys were funny idiots who all gave broad smiles and thumbs up as they passed us by)

Couch surfed in Ghent with an architecture student called Pavel. He lives next to his parents (Nicolas lives above his mum's shop, she's a dentist) in a place that used to house hobos. But they got chased out and he redid the whole place on his own. Our bed wasn't the cleanest but the shower was heavenly. There was another couch surfing couple there but we didn't have much chance to talk to them.

Hitch hiked from Ghent to Brussels with a Belgian Air Force engineer (wanted to be a pilot but hearing wasn't good enough). He was pretty cool. And he doesn't actually live in Brussels but a town further down, so he spent quite long detouring through the poor city traffic for us. (held up sign written on pie box for half an hour as well) (we accidentally almost attempted to hail a police car. They were amused.)

That was all with E. With S I attempted to couchsurf a night at Darrens place in Cork. At first he seemed okay, like the picnic at the water's edge was lovely, but when he brought us to his place we were disgusted. It's absolutely filthy and filled with stuff everywhere. There was a pile of half eaten bread on the table, and the kitchen was a mess of uncleaned dishes and random food. The toilet bowl itself was alright but the shower looked supremely dirty and S spotted a garden slug. That last piece of news didn't bother me because I'd already made up my mind not to shower that night. We slept on Darrens big bed with 2 Belgian and German girls who we'd spent the day with, while he slept downstairs in the living room. The bed wasn't clean, had a bunch of crumbs at the side, brushed most of it of but guess who slept there? Ugh. The four of us spent a while coming up with a plan to beat it the next morning (we'd initially planned on staying 2 or 3 nights) before going to sleep. At least it wasn't cold. The Belgian girl did a fantastic job the next morning of explaining why we were all leaving, and we walked away with a sigh of relief. The moment we got to our hostel, S and I took a shower. So relieved. Hope I can wash that set soon because it's one of only three sets I've brought.

Couch surfed with a guy called Owen and his roommates on our third night in Cork. At this time it was E, S and I. Slept in the living room on the couch and the sofa bed. Not the cleanest but understandable for college guy standards maybe? Hot shower also amazing here. If you read my other post I'll tell about the people there.

Conclusion: there are good and bad experiences to be had in couch surfing and hitchhiking. So far I've been blessed with fairly okay ones. I'm not going to do it all the time because it's not always safe to, like in Portugal and Spain (my next stop) but Belgium is known to be safe enough. I do think however that it's an amazing way to get to know locals, because a true couch surfing experience involves interaction and conversation with your host. It's always good to hear the slang and the culture and the ordinary lives of the country. As much as I would like to believe that I could roam around the countryside on my own like a lost waif and breathe in the essence of the land, I think that maybe half the experience of travel is the people.

That being said, I will be responsible and not romanticise it too much, so I'll just be friendly along the way, stay in hostels and talk to other travellers etc. And I also don't do any of this alone, if alone I'll pay for normal stuff.

Sooo yes that's an account of things so far, you know I don't like to keep things from you guys. Let me know when you've read this fully?

Love, Sophia

Posted by seaskimmer 11:31 Tagged people travel hitchhike couchsurf Comments (0)

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