Adventures in Interlaken: Culture Tours, Mountain Climbing, Ropes Courses, and an Unfortunate Incident Involving Hives
I usually visit a destination, really like it, and hope to come back someday. Sometimes I visit a destination, fall in love with it, and hope to move there someday. Interlaken, Switzerland can join Iceland, Oxford, the Scottish Highlands, Majorca, and Ireland in the "hope to move there" category. As in, I was already asking locals about living costs and researching how to obtain a visa (it's apparently quite hard to get one as an American) before I had even left.
I am very much a creature of mountains didn't realize how much I missed the mountains in Colorado until I was surrounded by the Alps. The photo above features one of lakes in Interlaken. Interlaken itself means "between the lakes."
On my first day in Interlaken, I took the culture tour with Interlaken Free Walking Tours. We started at an adorable little farm which featured adorable baby cows as young as one week and three weeks old. I tried to emulate my selfie with an Icelandic pony with one of the baby cows. Of course, the cows were a whole lot cuter before I broke out in hives, but more on that later.
Then, it was time to sample raw, fresh milk and visit the cheese cellar. The farm was brilliant.
Immediately after drinking my sample of milk, a bunch of red spots appeared on my arm, but I thought it was just bug bits. But again, more on that later.
Next, we visited a wood carver. She was amazing! The store was full of a wide selection of wooden toys, cuckoo clocks, and Christmas ornaments.
Oh, the store also had this adorable little hedgehog. Which was too cute not to come on the rest of my adventures with me (hopefully it has not been crushed by the weight of my luggage yet).
Next stop was a Swiss chocolate shop, which was adorable as well. Hot chocolates with little Swiss flags in them were waiting for us upon our arrival.
The last stop was a cheese tasting stop, which of course was adorable as well.
After one day of full immersion to Swiss culture, I went to bed rather early. I woke up the next morning with hives all over my body. No longer were they just on my arm, but they had spread to my face, neck, legs, feet, and other arm. I spent a rather unexciting moment at a pharmacy where they told me it was bed bugs and gave me a prescription that was in German and I couldn't read. The hostel did an extensive bed bug search and found none. So I went back to the pharmacy and they said it was scabies, which is possibly even grosser. But, alas, it turned out not to be either, but more on that later.
A group of us from Bus2Alps hiked up Harder Klum. It took about an hour and a half and I once again was reminded of how out of shape I am! The summit is 4,337 feet, which is lower than Colorado Springs by about 2,000 feet. It is 10,000 feet lower than Pike's Peak. I don't know how I ever exercised in altitude or how people can do Fourteeners! The view was definitely worth the hike though!
I was excited to see the following on the map of my iPhone.
As if I hadn't exercised enough, I went to the Seilpark ropes course afterwards, complete with ziplines and obstacles. It was a lot of fun, but next time, I will definitely not climb up a mountain right beforehand.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a British telephone booth in Interlaken!
And of course, what is a trip to Switzerland without overpriced fondue?
But, seriously, look at how gorgeous my future home is. Now I need to work on that visa...
When I arrived back in Florence, the hives were getting worse instead of better. I nipped into a pharmacy where they said it looked like an allergic reaction and gave me tablets that were in Italian. So with two medications: one in German and one in Italian and hives all over my body, I wasn't all that thrilled. Fortunately, there was an American school group visiting, which included their nurse. She gave me American medication written in English, lots of advice, and said it was most likely an allergic reaction to something at the farm like the unpasteurized milk, something on the cows, or the hay. I've never had hives before so it has been a bit freaky, but hopefully it goes away soon. In the mean time, I'm not drinking any more milk or letting baby cows lick me, no matter how cute they are!
My next post will be about some more explorations of Italian cities. Thanks for reading!
"Florence: the heart of the Renaissance" or so I learned in virtually every history class I ever took (with the exception of exclusively American history classes of course). I left Rome on the 6:50 AM high speed train and hit the ground running when I arrived in Florence at 8:20. I quickly dropped off my luggage at the hostel and headed over to Galleria 'del Accademia. Even though it was only 9 AM, there was already a queue to get in, fortunately only about fifteen minutes.
There was so much in the gallery, but I'm not the most knowledgable person about Renaissance and Medieval artwork so I'll just show a photo of a 700-year-old viola and the mass crowd of tourists around Michelangelo's "David."
After that, it was off to Mercato Centrale. Outside they sold every sort of scarf and leather handbag/jacket/accessory ever. Inside, they had all sort of Italian food and also my favourite dried fruit, which I've previously only seen in Barcelona and Majorca.
After that, I climbed the 463 steps to the top of the duomo, the cathedral in Florence. Halfway up, there is a little ledge to peer up at the ceiling. It was only inches above my head so getting a photo was a bit challenging.
After some more winding and tiny staircases and hallways, I suddenly emerged to the most amazing view of Florence and the Tuscan countryside!
Getting back down was nearly as hard as getting down because the steps were so steep!
The ticket also included entry to to other sites in the duomo so I visited those next. Below in the ceiling in the Baptistry.
In the afternoon, I finally got to do laundry! I have never been so excited to do laundry before. I also finally made some progress on one of my essays, whe sitting in my hostel's gorgeous garden, complete with Italian fountains. And then it was off for exploring and dinner at the place (Zaza's) a friend recommended. Solo dining isn't so bad...
I fell asleep while my hostel mates (two lovely girls from Hong Kong) were still getting ready with the light on (which never happens) and I slept through the night without waking up until morning (which rarely happens).
I thought that if I got to the Uffizi Gallery early enough, there wouldn't be much of a queue. I was wrong.
An hour and a half later (I had my Kindle so it wasn't that bad), I got inside. It was so neat to see the paintings learned about in school in person. I tried to take some photos, but realized they were rubbish and Google had better photos so I gave up rather quickly.
I was all Renaissance arted out so I explored the river.
Then, I headed to Museo Galileo. There was a bevy of interesting astronomy history, as well as some really neat globes.
There was also a 650 year old map, which wa a gorgeous, if highly inaccurate. I spent ages looking at it. It shows Ireland, England, and Scotland as separate isles on the easternmost edge of the world. Norway is to the southwest. On the main continent, Asia, India, and Russia are all one mass, but out of order. I tried to get a better picture, but it was too large.
I had energy for one more museum, so I went to the Leonardo da Vinci museum, where all of his drawings for machines were actually made. It is crazy how technologically advanced they were.
Since I've been at the train station in Rome, at least seven people have come up to me speaking Italian. I think they were asking for directions. I guess it is flattering to blend in as a local, but I hate staring back blankly and stuttering out, "I, uh, don't speak Italian!" I have found that I blend in better when it's just me, wearing a black leather (well, fake leather, Primark leather) jacket and black boots. Speaking of my boots, the zipper on the right boot is stuck halfway up and after getting caught in a rainstorm, I discovered that they are not as waterproof as I hoped! I always have bad luck when I only take on pair of shoes (a la Iceland) but I hope they hold up!
After 36 hours in Florence, I am all Renaissanced out! It's off to Switzerland now on another night bus; "only" eight hours this time!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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