Riiiiiicola

September 10, 2009 at 7:22 PM 11 comments

Last Labor Day weekend, we went to Baden Baden, Germany. This year, we didn’t have quite the same amount of funds due to a number of large expenses lately, so we were looking for a cheap getaway. What did we decided on?

Camping.

Yes, camping. The same activity that brought about second degree burns on my hand the only other time that I have participated. However, I think I learned my lesson and will never touch the top of a butane-fueled lantern ever again. Besides, we got an electric lantern this time around.

We also got to check another country off our list of places visited – we camped in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Switzerland is probably the most beautiful country I have ever seen, and the Lauterbrunnen/Interlaken/Grindelwald area is absolutely breathtaking.

John had Friday off, so he took the day to prepare for our trip and Saturday morning, we were able to head out around 9 AM. It was about a 4 hour drive, but we turned it into about a 5 hour trip due to stops. Once we got there, we ate some lunch at the little cantina. Yes, the campsite had a cantina. It wasn’t your typical campsite. Then again, I don’t know typical. I have only been camping once. Still, I think this campsite was atypical. There were SMALL cabins to stay in, especially if you visited in the winter. Also, the campsites were incredibly close together — think suburbia campsites.

Earlier in the day, a half marathon had taken place in and around the campsite, and later that evening, there was going to be a festival for the runners about a 10-15 minute walk away from our site. That later proved to be an annoying part of our trip, but it didn’t ruin our stay by any means.

Once we got checked in to our site, we set up and then went for a short walk. There were 2 waterfalls within eyesight of where we had set up. Cool, huh? After our walk, John cooked dinner (burgers), and then we got ready for bed. It was cold outside, and we were tired from the day, so we had no problem getting into bed a little before 8 PM. Unfortunately, the noise started shortly thereafter. The festival’s live music began and wasn’t scheduled to be over until 3 AM. Loud loud music blared through the valley and made it difficult to sleep. Making matters worse, we were near the entrance, which was bad because cars would drive into the site and shine their headlights directly at our tent and into my face. Ew.

Finally, I fell asleep, but it didn’t last long. I woke up in the middle of the night and was freezing. The temperatures were supposed to be around 35, and I have no doubt that’s accurate. I couldn’t get my sleeping bag zipped up right, so I figured it was broken and settled for trying to sleep with my hands grasping the edges and holding them closed. It was very very cold. Eventually, I figured out there was an outside zipper I could use, and even though the inner layer wouldn’t zip up, at least the outer layer would. I was much more comfortable after that! In the morning, when I told John about all this, he showed me that the zipper zips both from the top and the bottom, and I just messed everything up in the dark at night. The zipper did work after all. Oops.

Waking up in the morning was brutal because I was both tired and cold, which is a pretty undesirable combination. A hot shower plus yummy blueberry pancakes and hot coffee made by John helped make my morning much more enjoyable, though. Once we were ready to get going for the day, we decided to go on a hike. It was just before 10 AM, and we set off in the direction of several snow-capped mountains off in the distance. Two hours and several miles later, we still hadn’t reached them and decided we were better off turning back toward our campsite to get some lunch. Altogether, we hiked for 3 hours! (The hike back was much quicker – we didn’t stop to look at things nearly as much.)

We sure did stop for a lot on the way there…let’s see, there were cows, beautiful flowers we hadn’t seen before, gorgeous waterfalls, paragliders and base jumpers. In flight suits. Yes, you heard me right. I said base jumpers, as in those people who jump off cliffs and free fall dangerously low until they finally open their parachute. Luckily, I got photos and videos of this. The photos are posted below. I will prepare another post with the videos…

And as for the cows, we discovered that Béni either hates or is terrified by cows. He barked at them quite a bit and even ran away from them once after barking exceptionally loud. I couldn’t help but think he was “living dangerously” and thought he must have barked too loud and the cow would certainly chase him. He’s such a sweet dog!

So once we got back to our campsite after the hike, we were overjoyed to sit down. Both of us hand semi-numb legs. That’s sad, isn’t it? Oh well. We enjoyed our lunch and decided on our plans for the afternoon. We didn’t want to spend much – if any – money, so we decided to drive to Grindelwald, a town only about 15-20 minutes away. I’m really glad we decided on this for our afternoon; the city was gorgeous. Many of the buildings had red/pink flowers in their window boxes. There were so many windows like this that it was magical! Adding to the atmosphere, there were about 15 paragliders in the sky over the town (pun intended).

We headed back to our campsite with the intention of pan-frying some chicken for dinner; however, we ultimately gave up on cooking. Our propane-fueled stove wasn’t cutting it. We went to the campsite’s little cantina and had fondue and Rösti. The fondue was very tasty, but by the end, I was done with cheese. The Rösti was equally as delicious, but also pretty rich so we didn’t finish it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Rösti, it’s a traditional Swiss food – think hashbrown-type potatoes with various toppings. We got ours “Lauterbrunnen style,” and it came with onions, bacon, Swiss cheese and a fried egg on top. Yum!

I almost forgot to mention – it seems like everyone who worked at the campsite was Australian. I loved their accents! Another thing to love? The US dollar (USD) to Swiss Franc (CHF) exchange rate. It’s nearly equal, but the dollar is slightly stronger. It made things seem a bit cheaper than when we’re in Germany. Hurray!

After dinner, I went in search of the perfect marshmallow skewer sticks while John set up our stove, and then we made s’mores. I thought I would maybe lose a little weight while camping, but the way we were eating, I was lucky to stay even on the scale!

Once the s’mores were put away, we were planning on getting ready for bed and playing some multi-player solitaire. I learned this way of playing the game from John’s grandmother, and I’m hooked! Unfortunately, we never got to play a game…

John suddenly worried that we had not turned off our air conditioner. That’s not typically a problem if you have central air, but we don’t. We just have a portable AC unit, which drains water into a little container. We have to empty it a couple times a day. We started worrying that our apartment was covered in water, ruining our floors and furniture, so we tore down our site and packed up the car in 30 minutes (aka crazy fast) and drove straight home. We got back right at midnight and were relieved to discovered the AC was, in fact, off.

Sidenote: When we were driving by the Thuner See, just west of Interlaken, we saw the most gorgeous sunset either of us has ever seen. The sun was setting behind the mountains on the opposite side of the lake, and so the mountains were backlit, everything was reflected in the water, and the colors in the sky were gorgeous. I wish I had a picture!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So, there you have it. Our Labor Day weekend travel extravaganza!

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A Rough Couple of Months Sweet Home Alabama

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mom in High Heels  |  September 10, 2009 at 7:36 PM

    You’re more of a woman than I am. I. Do. Not. Camp. Ever. The sights are beautiful, but if there’s not a bed, electricity and an en suite bathroom, I’m out. If someone mentions something about camping, he says “Um, my mom, she doesn’t sleep outside.” That’s my boy.

    Reply
    • 2. osarah  |  September 11, 2009 at 9:20 AM

      Too funny!!

      At first, when I thought camping meant no showers at all and using the wilderness as a toilet, I didn’t want to camp. Once I discovered there were bathrooms and showers on site, I was a little more comfortable with it. However, the site we stayed at in Texas was infested with Daddy Long Legs. Yuck! I don’t like spiders!

      Reply
  • 3. Cat  |  September 10, 2009 at 7:45 PM

    Our golden retriever barked at cattle as a puppy until one of the cows mooed at her and started following her. For the rest of her life, every time she saw cattle, she would run and leap into the car (which she really didn’t like). So glad it’s a retriever thing. 🙂

    Reply
    • 4. osarah  |  September 11, 2009 at 9:21 AM

      Haha glad to know Beni’s not the only one!

      Reply
  • 5. purejoy  |  September 10, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    i’m happy to say my camping days are behind me. i do love the being out with nothing to really do/relax at the campsite. not so much the packing and the repacking and emptying out my house contents that are all dirty and skanky.
    but then i’ve never had the chance to go and camp in such a beautiful place!! wow the pictures are amazing!! and béni looked happy as a clam!

    Reply
    • 6. osarah  |  September 11, 2009 at 9:22 AM

      Great use of the word skanky! It’s true! And I have to admit, some of our camping gear is still in the back of our Xterra. I really don’t like unpacking. Hopefully I’ll get around to removing the gear this weekend.

      Reply
    • 7. osarah  |  September 11, 2009 at 9:23 AM

      Oh, and you’re right — Béni was very happy. He pouted the whole way home!

      Reply
  • 8. Jacoline  |  September 10, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    Very Cool! Switzerland is indeed very beautiful! Really cool that you guys went camping! By the way the second flower ‘thing’ is called Physalis peruviana, commonly known as physalis or cape gooseberry.It’s common in the fall! We put those next to the pumpkins! The first flower might be a Dahlia.

    Beni is so BIG!!! 🙂

    Love, Jacoline

    Reply
    • 9. osarah  |  September 11, 2009 at 9:23 AM

      Thanks for the flower info, Jac!

      Béni really is getting big. I can’t beleive how much he’s grown since you guys saw him in May!

      Reply
  • 10. thedailychelle  |  September 10, 2009 at 11:17 PM

    Awwww!!!! Interlaken and Grindelwald!! My heart is breaking just a little bit because I LOVED it there! Ahhh!! I need to come back to Europe!

    Reply
    • 11. osarah  |  September 11, 2009 at 9:25 AM

      Yes, I have to admit, our excursion to Grindelwald was inspired by your trip there last fall. We wanted to go on the Rodelbahn, but we didn’t want to fork over the 40 CHF for the trip up there plus 1 trip on the slide for each of us. I want to go back before we leave Europe, though, so if we do, we’ll try to make it to the “slide!”

      And you should definitely come back! I can’t believe how much there is ot do over here!

      Reply

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