For some bizarre reason, 2016 has (unofficially) been dedicated to the mountains. While my summers are usually filled with salty hair & sand beneath my toes, this entire year has been all about the view. While I usually travel to Switzerland to ski each year, (read: 50 shades of blue: Zermatt) it wasn't able to make the agenda for whatever reason.
During a lazy weekend at home in Düsseldorf, I found a great deal on a rental car with no where to go. Later that week I found myself messaging a few friends (Henry, in the photo above & Anty, a friend who recently moved from London to Geneva) asking if they wanted to escape to the mountains somewhere in Switzerland for a weekend. Fast forward a couple of days, it is now Thursday (note: we are leaving Friday night) in which Henry found this insane slide that Matador Network claims everyone dreamed of as a kid - Boom, within an hour everyone had a way of meeting there, and I had booked three beds at Guest house Kanderhütte somewhere in town.
meet the crew:
Fast forward (again) - 7 hours, a long playlist, a couple of Ted talks and a pit stop or two later, I arrived in Bern to pick up Anty & Henry. With 1 more hour left to drive, we ventured to Kandersteg located West of the Jungfrau Massif. We arrived to our hostel a few minutes past midnight and sat on the floor catching up over Champagne & our latest travel stories until dawn... just like summer camp. Passing out in our separate bunk beds, we woke up to a view like no other. Clouds caressed the mountains like a soothing massage and we were all like little kids in a candy store.
day 1: i think we made a wrong turn
Dancing around our room, we packed up our hiking gear (read: 1 bottle of water and my camera), got in the car in search of hot cappuccinos & a grocery store. After picking up a baguette, chèvre, meats and swiss chocolate we headed over to the cable car in search of Lake Oeschinensee. Which is one of those crazy places you see on Instagram that you have absolutely no idea how it even exists.
A cable car will cost around 25 Euros, round trip, which is definitely worth saving both the time and energy for hiking at the top rather than a vertical hike to the mid station. After a quick breakfast in the cable car, we walked 30 minutes through stunning rolling hills with the sounds of clinging cowbells in the background. Welcome to Switzerland.
As soon as we turned the corner, Lake Oeschinensee finally appeared -- which did not compare to any photo I had ever seen, in the best way ever. Its colors were naturally saturated, and reflections of the clouds mirrored effortlessly. Was this place even real?
"Where to hike?" we thought aloud. For once, I decided to plan ahead and had looked up a few trails a couple days before and was convinced that I wanted to go to Frundenhütte, located immediately under the Frunden Glacier. Somewhere between taking photos, chasing waterfalls and being in total awe of what was around us, we missed a vital turn that would have taken us up to the hut at the top of a mountain (though, we did not know this at the time).
Things started getting a little sketchy and steep (to say the least) and decided it was a good idea to sit on a rock in the middle of a waterfall for lunch and a mental therapy session. Win.
After engulfing freshly baked bread, swiss cheese and chocolate Henry convinced me to "go around the next corner" which immediately proceeded with me saying "I am not doing it" and then kept going because of my curious mind. That scenario happened 10 more times by the way.
"Let's see what is around the corner" Part I
"I think i'll wait here"
Let's see what's around this corner: part II & III
Old men and children trotted past me like this was a walk in the park - Y'all THIS WAS NO WALK IN THE PARK. The only thing that kept me falling down what looked like a one thousand foot cliff into Lake Oeschinensee was a dainty cable to the right side of me. Talk about emotional support.
Anyways, we persevered under waterfalls, caves and open fields of flowers to the other side of the lake. The sun started shining right when it should have, and nothing in the world could have swept the smile off of my face.
Another chocolate square and a quick break later, we decided to go down on the other side of the lake back to where we started. 10 miles later, we made it back to find Anty sipping tea in the coziest spot ever.
We drove back to the hostel to get ready for dinner, which obviously included fondue (more bread and cheese) and swiss wine at a quaint and cozy Chalet kind of place. We found an 'after party' at what seems like the only bar of Kandersteg (same place we had cappuccinos in the morning) - Les Alps. Day 1 was a success -- Goodnight.
day 2: we will go down that slide
I was the first to wake up (as per usual) Sunday morning to the sun peaking through the windows - there was not a cloud in the sky and I felt like a little kid on Christmas. Tickling Henry's feet from the bottom bunk and jumping on Anty in the other, I finally convinced them to get up. We packed up our things, and did the same food x coffee routine as the day before. As we approached the cable car, we noticed there was a line of around 100 people to get up there. On a sunny day like that, I could certainly see why (traveler tip: get there early or do what we did next, keep reading).
We drove to the opposite side of town to a very old little red gondola that would take us to another mountain range opposite of the lake. A group of paragliders jumped off the mountain side in unison into the fresh crisp air. This place is seriously magical.
At the top, we found a cozy rock next to mountain llamas, yes, mountain llamas for the perfect Sunday brunch which consisted of you guessed it -- more cheese & softly baked bread.
A little hike later, time was flying by faster than anticipated (I needed to be back on the road at 3... which ended up being 6, oh well).
We got back into the car, raced to the other side of town to find NO line at the bottom of the lake, score! We changed into our scandalous RacySuits and bought tickets for the most exhilarating mountain coaster I have ever seen (at 4 euros a ride, this thing is a bargain).
Built for adults and children alike, this slide brings out the best in everyone. Zipping and whipping around every corner, sunshine all up in my face, I think my smile was bigger than the day before.
A few runs later, we wanted to dip into the glacial water of the lake before departing back to the flatlands of Germany, so that is what we did - did I mention there was a soft serve ice cream stand which made everything worth it?
Feeling rather anxious during our little excursion knowing I had a 8 hour drive ahead of me on a Sunday night before work, I knew I would look back and be happy I stayed the extra hour or two. Looking back now, I was not wrong. The things I would do to wander around those mountains again. I guess it'll have to wait for another spontaneous trip with amazing friends that I have had the opportunity of meeting during my prior travels.
Kandersteg, until next time.