Interlaken, Switzerland and Canyoning
Interlaken Travel Blog› entry 3 of 5 › view all entries
This segment is a personal treat, at least I feel that way. After Lucerne, I hit the train to Interlaken (In-Ter-La-Ken). For those of you not familiar with Interlaken, you should know it is a mecca for extreme sports. It is in the central part of Switzerland, nestled in the valley's between massive mountains.
I had never heard of the place before my trip, but as soon as I found out it was the place for adventure sports, I quickly signed up. For those of you who know me, wouldn't be so surprised after hearing that. I feel to be quite a paradox though. I'm one of the most cautious persons living. But I love those dangerous activities. I don't buy into the whole horoscope thing, but I definately feel like a gemini.
On the train ride in I met some Israelis (or Israelites, I'm not sure which is more proper). It was a great experience. On all my travels, I have never met any one from Israel. But on this trip I met at least 4 (that I can remember off the top of my head).
We spent a couple of hours talking about our travels. I enjoyed hearing about his trips, and I can only hope he felt the same way about mine. It was a cloudy day, so there wasn't much to see out the window. I was thankful for the company.
It is always interesting to talk to foreigners. Often our point of views are so different that the conversations serve as a wake up call. I asked if he had ever been to Germany, and he said he hadn't. I proceeded to talk about how its at the top of my list (I left out the fact that I'm a WWII buff, thankfully).
After the train ride, we parted ways, and I headed off to find my hostel. The city was nice. Small and quiet. But nice. I only wish the clouds would have lifted so I could see the mountain tops. You can spin in circles and everywhere you look you are surrounded by mountain walls.
The buildings had some age to them, and, like Lucerne, I'd consider them "Swiss" as opposed to German or French.
As you travel through Interlaken, don't be surprised to see skydivers circling the skies and landing in neighboring farming fields. Its a common thing that happens throughout the day.
The shops were definately geared towards tourists.
Canyoning... how can I describe this... you get a wet suit, a helmet, and a lifejacket... and then you jump, climb, and slide down a river canyon. Its quite difficult to explain, so I hope these photos will give you a better idea.
First they take you up a mountain side. At the top, you gear up and prepare for a walk through the woods to the river canyon. Once at the river canyon, we all jumped in and got our crash course in safety. Basically, do what the guides tell you too or else you'll break something, drown, or get washed down stream and over a waterfall.
We waited for over a half and hour at the top while the guides checked the water conditions. It rained over night, and the water level was reaching the safety limit. Normally the water would be crystal clear, but since it rained, the water was now a brown color. After the long wait, we got the ok to go. The water was about an inch below the limit. I was quite thankful because I had been looking forward to this, and didn't feel like hiking back out of the canyon to drive home.
During the trip down we did a variety of "stunts". This included jumps of up to 9 meters (thats about 30 feet) into small pools of water.
On some areas where the rocks were smooth, we would slide down into the pool of water. The plastic butt pads and wetsuits were just enough to protect us from any abrasion.
In places where the water wasn't deep enough, we would repel down the canyon. While this is cool, its not as fun jumping or sliding. In this photo, we were lowered half way down the waterfall, and then we let go.
In one spot, we would run down the rock surface, and then run up the side (horizontally) of the canyon wall to see how far we could make it before crashing into the pool of water below us.
As we got further down the canyon, the drops became bigger, and the water stronger. In this photo we had to jump into this cauldron. The water would swirl, so as soon as you surfaced you had to reach out and grab the guide's hand so he could pull you out or else you would get sucked back to the waterfall.
Canyoning was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done.
I would recommend it to those of you who like a taste of adventure.