Before heading off to Switzerland we spent the weekend in Cambridge attending Andrew and Lila’s wedding celebration (one year after they married – Lila is from Taiwan and they married quickly last year due to visa issues) and it was a cracking party with a proper ceilidh band calling the Scottish dances. The kind of thing I would’ve completely detested as a teenager but now love. Luke and I even got in some time on the dance floor to do some rock and roll steps. Everyone had a brilliant time and I’m very glad we were there for it. Thanks, Andrew and Lila, for putting us up!
We also had a chance to play with Jeffrey, Andrew’s parents’ new puppy. He likes biting everyone and everything but was delightful nonetheless.
I also used the time in Cambridge to buy several kilos of fruit and vegetables to undo the effects of all the pizza, pasta and cheese in Italy, then made us a tub of fruit and some salad rolls to take on the plane. We have been warned by everyone that Switzerland is expensive, particularly for eating out, so I filled all the camping-equipment space in my bag with muesli, rice, pasta, tins and sauces so we can cook most of our meals in the hostels. Obviously we’ll be going out for fondue and schnitzel etc at some point though!
On the Monday we caught the train from Cambridge to Liverpool Street then the Dockland Light Rail to London City Airport, which we’d not used before. Many airports around the world seem to be moving towards holding people in a large central area then telling them the gate only minutes before boarding starts, which means you have to fight for a seat or sit on the floor in an overcrowded area then hustle if your gate is miles away. London City Airport is not like that. Plenty of seats at the gates, all the flights are smaller aircraft and it is a walk of only a few metres from the train station into the airport, through security and to the bar for a quick drink. So civilised ;-).
We decided to buy some duty free gin and vodka to take to Switzerland and the fellow manning the duty free drinks told us his brother lived in Switzerland and he’d been to visit and we were making the right decision if we wanted to save money.
We flew with Skyworks, an airline we’d not heard of previously but which has been around for decades, apparently. They only have six aircraft and each seat 50 people so it was quite a different experience to our usual flights.
The view was lovely when we flew into Bern airport and customs took all of five seconds, with a cursory stamp and a queue of four people in front of us.
We caught a bus from the airport to Belp, then a train to Thun, following the advice of a friendly Swiss family and a girl from Hong Kong who had been before.
In Thun we changed trains to get to Interlaken and it was an incredibly scenic journey around a lake where the sun was shining on turquoise waters, people out swimming and sailing, and mountains rising dramatically in every direction.
Interlaken (as the name suggests) sits between two lakes. The city is almost completely flat but ringed by mountains, the furthest of which are snow-capped.
We walked from the train station to our hostel in about 20 minutes and admired all the beautiful wooden houses along the way that had that distinctive Swiss look. We also saw dozens of people paragliding and could hear faint ‘yippeeees!’ Coming from the sky.
We are staying at the Balmer’s Hostel, the oldest private hostel in Switzerland (or so they say) and our first hostel together for this trip. While I have seen people here who are older than me it’s definitely more of a 20-something party-place with a nightclub on the premises and a bar that is busy all evening. We shared a giant burger and sweet potato fries on our first night. They weren’t cheap but they were good.
We’d hardly been in Switzerland a few hours before Luke remarked that it was my spirit animal (or, you know, country). Clean, well-organised, a recycling bin on every corner, friendly, vegetable gardens in every front yard, fruit trees everywhere and one of my favourite things – natural springs where you can fill your bottle with cold, clear water… it’s heaven.
We’ve only been here a day and we’re wondering when and how we can come back to see it in Winter. One day!