Days earlier, we had been prohibited from swimming in a certain lake in Emmetten. The owner of the property even threatened to sue us if we attempted to, but that wasn’t enough to stop us. With yet another successful swim under our belt, we decided to embark on our final journey to Interlaken. Interlaken is a small resort town in central Switzerland surrounded by giant snowy peaks and two bright turquoise lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. This would be an excellent way to end the trip in style.
One of the things Interlaken was famous for was extreme sports. Eager to take our adventure to the next level, we make a call to “Birdman” Bernie. On a given day, this aerial maestro could be found running off of cliffs with various contraptions strapped to his back. He offered tandem gliding, which we were interested in at the time. We gave the birdman a call and were greeted with a thick Australian accent. We found out that he did not offer paragliding, only the far more dangerous hang gliding. “Do you offer paragliding, Bern” We involuntarily started calling him “Bern” which just felt right. “Paragliding?” he said “I think my grandmother does that”. It was clear he was making fun of us at this point. “You can find her up there in the pink parachute” he said, laughing. “That’s the one we wanted!” my brother said. The two of us laughed and he said “You’re crazy, mate!” Bernie was a good salesman and started talking us more into the idea. We decided we would do it if the weather cleared up, but unfortunately a huge bank of fog rolled in and the weather began to look a little stormy.
If you can believe it, this fog actually made the lakes even more beautiful. The mountains began to fade into the background and as the sun began to set, the lake was shrouded in mist, making the mountains appear mysterious and elusive. It would seem that the hang gliding wasn’t going to happen, but with views like this, we were exactly where we wanted to be.
We had a long way to go to get to Interlaken. This part of the journey seemed more like a ski trip. It began to get very cold out, we were driving through the mountains at night and occasionally we’d see a tiny little town glowing in the distance. We had our windows up, the heat on and we were playing some great music. It was nice to have a cozy car to sit in, especially when it was so cold up in the mountains. The peugot, or “puge wagon” had seen us through some times. We had driven it through 3 countries, some of the windiest, narrowest roads on earth and after about a dozen lake swims, it was beginning to smell a little bit like a locker room. The car was about to hit 2,000 kilometers, and once it did, we would have to start paying like 20 cents per kilometer. That means getting home from Interlaken would cost about as much as taking a cab. But we would have to return the car eventually, and besides you can’t put a price on a once and a lifetime trip like this.
We pulled up to a very fancy ski lodge in Interlaken, and although it was the middle of the summer, this place was nearly booked. We felt a little out of place at a lodge this fancy. After all, we had basically been living out of a car for the past week. It was worth all the stares in the world for the breakfast buffet we would later enjoy.
After taking one look at the town of Interlaken, we decided to push back the return date for the puge wagon, we were having way too much fun and we wanted to keep the party going. We ended up swimming in both lake Brienz and lake Thun and I have to say it was some of the coldest water I had ever experienced. Something about it was so refreshing, I kept diving deeper and deeper and allowed the cold water to just wash over me. I loved this feeling so much, and it is why to this day I still swim in as many cold rivers and oceans as I can.
Unfortunately, all good trips must come to an end, and we decided we had been putting off the return journey for long enough. We started the long trip home, stopping in a few lakes and rivers on the way home to keep us fresh. Every kilometer was another 20 cents we would have to pay, and the total journey ended up being about as expensive as the rental car itself with all the extra mileage.
When we got home, my friends were throwing a house party, and I my brother got to meet a lot of the amazing people I had spent the past few months with. Everyone was eager to hear about our adventures and we loved telling our story.
So that was the end of what was most likely the greatest week of my life. I constantly replay this trip in my mind and I cannot believe that it was only a week. Showing my brother around Konstanz, running to catch a boat to Friedrichshafen, the train to Stuttgart, the train to Heidelberg, spending the night in Heidelberg, driving through the lakes and mountains in Switzerland, staying in Lugano with our amazing host, driving through beautiful Italian towns on the Mediterranean, spending the night in a vineyard, driving through Emmetten and finally our trip through Interlaken. We really packed a lot in. Each day was enough of an adventure to be its own trip, and we had 7 days back to back. All of it was scheduled on the go, and we rarely had anything planned more than 36 hours in advanced. This amazing trip would be the template for all future trips. Pack light, don’t plan too far ahead and enjoy every moment, even the ones that you think are a total disaster.