09 – Interlaken, Torino

26 Septembre 2008 – Interlaken, Switzerland

Switzerland……wow, Iterlaken…wow, Canyoning……I still have all my fingers and nothing is broken……wow! I think Switzerland might be one of my new favorite places in the world. Not only is the scenery unbeleivable (the Alps are insanely big, the lakes glow a fluorescent turquoise, and I think they spary paint everything to be perfect evergreen in color) but we noticed two major trends. Swizterland is the land of numerous sketchy financial institutions and extreme sports. You were constantly baraged by advertisements for these events in this backpacker’s paradise; of which I decided we are the most extreme of all backpackers.

We left Castiglion around 8:30 PM and arrived (after taking my first experience in a couchette cabin on the train – 6 people deep, 3 tall each side) in Interlaken around 6:05 AM. Walked 15 minutes to our hostel, noted as one of Europe’s top 10 hostels, Balmers Herbtage, to try and check into rooms. Rooms we got; but we could not have them until 10 AM. So we dropped our luggage storage and napped in the lobby (actually I was a superdork and finished a paper I had been working on). Outdoor-Interlaken, our guides for our insane adventures through the silt canyons of Switz., picked us up at 9:00 AM. We drove an hour and half through the more great scenery and arrived to our destination, just in time to change toweless outdoor before the clouds burnt off and god could see us naked. After dawning all of our gear and walking another half hour through the woods we arrived at the “canyon.”

Canyoning is illegal in the United States for many reasons; so many in fact I won’t even go into it! I’ll describe the events and you can make your own assumptions. First, instruction was all of 75 seconds, most of which you couldn’t even here; and followed with the keyphrase of the day – If you didn’t hear, ask the person in front of you! Its almost hard to sum up, but imagine being in a gorge with 300 ft. vertical walls, a channel about 20 feet wide with a raging river staging multiple water falls encompassing hundereds of pools at 10 to 100 foot drop intervals. Now picture us, human fishing buoy’s floating down this river dropping down water-carved smooth silt slides, jumping off ledges into abysses, and belaying down the crevasses that were to high to survive. Absolutely wild. It took about 4 hours to navigate our adenture; in 55 degree water, so cold when you jumped into the water the portions not covered by your wetsuit (neck and hands) felt like they had been chopped clean off by a sword. Suprisingly you did adjust to it. Our instructors were insane; giving notes like “jump to the right off where the waterfall empties or you’ll land on a rock, but not to far or to be a pancake on the canyon wall”. We all felt very confident the whole time, yah right; but that was the exilarating part. You had to put the atmost trust in your guide (who you just sawed aways an responsibility or legal rights; allowing him to run free if misguiding you) and go. That was the thrill. Almost equal to sky diving. One jump we were told; now there is water below; you can’t see it but just go! Down there another guide will fetch you out of the pool before you fall over the next waterfall 100 feet below! Insane. I’m so glad I did it. I can’t describe the feelings; amazing bonding; and again the scenery and landscape were drop dead. I reccomend this for anyone who like the edge! No one in our group go hurt. The photos are unstoppable; and of course………………..a few flips and twists were accomplished….even with a wetsuit.

After our thrill came complete exaustion. It was a quiet ride back to town and for the hour upon arrival to our hostel and rooms. A couple of guys and I were supposed to go to Munich for Oktoberfest but after botched plans with lodging everyone sadly backed out. Of course I was totally up for sleeping in the train station; but for some strange reason no one was with me. The hostel was actually quite fun and had a huge disco in the basement. By chance, this is crazy, we ran into one of my old Auburn’s roommates (from Australia) teammates from the 2008 Olympics; Eamon Sullivan the current world record holder in the 50 and 100 Meter Freestyle. What are the chances of this, he was on vacation post-Olympics with some other Aussie Olympians; so even abroad I ran into friends, or at least friends by association. Nonetheless a great night. We left mid-day the next morning after hitting up the local market for some swiss famous “roclette” cheese, meats, and bread. Food for our train ride to Torino; our alternate destination back home from Interlaken.

PS; if you still can’t fathom what in the world canyoning is – here is an outstanding rendition of the experience – this video is amazing and really exemplifies the entire experience. Furthermore, the instructors in this video are the same one’s that we had on our trip. However, I definitely out-did them on the tricks!

29 & 30 Septembre 2008 – Torino, Italia

We arrived at Torino and disaster finally hit. All this freeboarding and waiting upon arrival to cities to book rooms crashed. Man what as streak we had run. The few places I had written were a bust and it turned into a scramble. We couldn’t find internet anywhere; but luckily one coffee shop out of pity offered their secure line. We found a room; went there and found it false (they just sold it), they reccommended another and we were finally in. By the time this all happneded it was nearly 9 PM and the group was dying for food. Instead of walking to the center of town and hitting up “happy hour” as planned for Apertizi (a great way to save food in North Italy; you buy a drink, they hope you buy more but they place out huge and great tasting apertizers). We ditched for a loca pizza place. I thought i would get bored of Italian pizza after a bit; but its freak’n amazing. Anways it was a strange visit; especially in comparison to my last trip to Torino. There was this wildly huge book fair that went almost 8 blocks down Via Roma (the shopping ave); people we everywhere around the city but nothing was open. No disco, no bar, no pub. Apparently we looked in all the wrong places becuase we walked almost four miles of streets, people around the whole time, and nothing but closed designer clothing stores. What can you do. So still exausted we went home and hit the bed.

The next morning we visited the House of the Savoys and a castle that was bult over 1700 years (began as Roman gates and finished with a Baroque 18 century facade). Torino is a gorgeous city. I was sure to wake up early and walk around myself (the guys always sleep till 10) and would not miss my favorite coffee bar on the planet. Al Bicerin named after its infamous drink Il Bicern. Torino invented modern day candy style chocolate and this drink is a cafe latte concoation brewed with chocolate. There’s a beautiful church outside in the Palazzo and has a phenomenal envrionment. It was bliss; and nice break after the intesity of canyoning and rough week on our project. We left for Castiglion around 2PM and arrived near 8 PM. Sadly this second trip to Torino (home of FIAT) was not as memorable and unique as the first; but this is still a city I really enjoy. There’s water, huge montains, a river, and great arhcitecture. Nestled into the corner of Italy with Swiss, German, and French influences on top of Italian; its rich in culture. Great food, great friendly people (only speak Italian, no English, lol!) and all the buildings are archaded in pastel colors. Art is king here and festivals are daily. The day we left the book fair turned into a Romanian culture fair (some intersting music too). This was the original capital of Italy and the Savoy Family had more power than the better known Medici (Medici’s are only known because their massive Art collections and line of Popes, which the Savoy family could have cared less for I read). Maybe next time will be better; I just missed my new penpal I met online from Torino but I think I will come back in winter for Torino’s great light festival (they spend millions on it yearly) and skiing. Ti vedero’ di nuovo Torino, buon auguri! I will see you again Torino, best wishes!

Responses

  1. Ciao Steven,
    I haven’t heard you!

    How are you?

    Ho visto il tuo blog, è molto bello.
    Mi spiace che non ci siamo incontrati quando sei venuto qui, ti avrei semplificato il soggiorno.

    Hai ricevuto il mio messaggio sul tuo telefonino?

    Non vuoi più che ci scriviamo?

    Ciao,
    Paola


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