Can you guess where I was last weekend? If you said Switzerland, you’d be correct! I know this post is a week behind but I’m trying to catch you all up on my adventures. But the adventuring really does get in the way! And the school…but no one likes that part.
Switzerland is GORGEOUS! But, as we found out the hard way, beauty is expensive. Switzerland, is the land of the banks, so the quality of life is higher and for poor, college students like us, that’s not helpful. The only way to get around Switzerland is through the trains. And we paid a lot for a four day, all-inclusive train pass. Which was well worth it, it turned out, but it definitely threw us off guard. Therefore, we learned two valuable lessons that I would like to share with you all: 1) when travelling to a foreign country, do your research! Not just on the attractions, but on the transportation system. 2) When you are studying abroad, plan for one country/thing/occasion that you will splurge for and plan all of your other trips accordingly!
On our first day there, we hit the ground running. We immediately got off the plane, took the shuttle train one stop to Geneva and got lunch. After lunch, we went to our hostel, which unfortunately was a real hostel. Our other trips spoiled us into thinking that all hostels were clean and came with free breakfast. Not this one. This one was disgusting. DO NOT STAY IN GENEVA HOUSING. After we checked in to our room and got settled, we were off. We bought our train tickets [with heavy hearts and shortly thereafter, empty wallets] and travelled to Laussane. When we got to Laussane, we went to one of the coolest interactive museums ever, the Olympic Museum. And it was very appropriate as Sochi 2014 was occurring. I have never been prouder to be an American than when I walked into that museum. The museum started with the history and virtual story boards to explore the Greek society and continued with present day. Then there was the spirit and games section and we were all shocked when we saw the Olympic torches. It was unreal. There are no words to describe how amazing it was and feeling that surge of national pride but also worldly pride to see the torches of the Olympics that unites the world in competition. Also in that section were signed uniforms of former Olympic champions from different years, events and nationalities. I had a bit of a homesickness moment when I saw the signed leotard of the Magnificent 7 from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. This is not because I am a gymnast but because for my entire life, my parents have joked “You Can Do It, Keri” in the Russian accent whenever my brothers and I were competing in a sport or just needed encouragement. And also, but less importantly, because my favorite summer Olympic event is gymnastics. I could have spent hours in there, soaking up the glory and exhaustion and pride because I love the Olympics and I wish that they were more readily available to watch in Spain. After the museum, we trolled around Lausanne and went to the harbor at dusk and eventually got back to the hostel.
Saturday we spent a lot of time on the trains but it was so worth it! We left Geneva and travelled to the Callier Chocolate Factory. And it was AWESOME! Switzerland is on point for interactive and engaging museums. The tour of the factory was very much like interactive attractions at Disney World, where you experience whatever is in that room and then a door opens and you pass through to the next one. It started off with the history of chocolate and cocoa beans and introduced the birth of the Callier-Nestle partnership. As awesome as it was, NOTHING can compare to what happened next. At the end of the interactive tour, you are brought around to see the machines of how they actually process and blend the chocolate. Once we turned the corner, we entered most people’s interpretation of Heaven: a room full of Callier SAMPLES. Every type of chocolate that Callier sells was out on the table for the tour group to try. Well, without even a second thought, Audrey and I sampled everything. We were moving too quick in the line to even consider breathing — we literally inhaled the chocolate. And it was all so rich. And so amazing. And after sampling all of the chocolate, we ended up in the gift shop with a wall full of all the chocolate we just sampled. What a GREAT marketing strategy! I was thoroughly impressed with their attention to innovation and customer preference. And it resulted in me buying so much chocolate! [Some of it is for my family and friends, don’t worry. But a lot of it is for me!]
Day 3 was a day spent in the Swiss Alps. I know, my life is so hard. Warning: we did not get to go skiing. It just wasn’t in the cards or budget. But we travelled from Geneva to Interlaken and took the local train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. This was a long trip for sure — a little more than 3 hours, but SO WORTH IT. When we got to Lauterbrunnen, we rode a cable car up the mountain and arrived in a ski town called Mürren. The ride in the cable car reminded me of the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island and it was like an adventure! I loved it! When we got to Mürren, we arrived in a little Winter Wonderland! The mountains were breathtaking and the houses and shops were all wooden, like the village was taken out of a snow globe and tucked away into the mountains. We found a restaurant and ordered traditional Swiss food with authentic Swiss cheese! I ordered the Rösti and it was delicious and we watched the Women’s Curling Match versus Japan. After lunch, we trolled around and played in the snow. And I even got to practice my German [which came back to me in bits and pieces when I needed it to].
Switzerland was a great adventure and we loved everything about it. Monday morning at O Dark Thirty rolled around and we got up to travel to the airport back to Madrid. We cleared security and were waiting for our flight when over the intercom, a lady said that the airport had been closed due to an emergency landing and flights were going to be delayed. And they were by almost 2 hours. Fun times. What ended up happening was the co-pilot from a flight on Ethopian Air travelling to Rome hijacked the plane and needed to emergency land in Switzerland where he sought asylum. Absolutely crazy! You can read more about the hijacking here.
But overall, Switzerland was beautiful! There are two more posts coming soon so be on the look out for those! You know you love me — xoxo Meg