Friday, October 12 to Monday, October 15, was a magnificent weekend. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so perhaps I should begin with a photo. Or two. Is three pushing it?
Our flight left for Geneva at 8:30 pm Friday night. I sat next to an adorable elderly couple from Valencia who were headed to a concert in Geneva. We spoke in Spanish about our families, my career goals, etc, and at the end of the flight I was touched as the woman told me I would make a great teacher some day. Aer Lingus is luxary compared to the cheap Vueling and Ryanair flights I’m used to taking. The flight was less than two hours, but they served us a pizza-type pastry, drinks, and SWISS CHOCOLATE. What a great start to a beautiful adventure.
We were originally planning on taking an overnight train from Geneva to Grindelwald and sleeping on the train. However, once arriving at the train station in Geneva around 11:00 on Friday night, we realized the next available train didn’t leave until the morning. Which meant the five of us had the lucky opportunity to snuggle up and spend the night on the cold linoleum airport floor. What fun.
I got maybe an hour of sleep. In the morning, we were exhausted but anxious to get on with our journey. We waited two hours for the customer service desk to open, bought our train tickets, boarded the train, and arrived in Grindelwald by 1:30pm. The views of the Swiss countryside on the train were incredible. We looked out onto the green rolling hills, providing a beautiful contrast with the deep blue sky.
We arrived in Grindelwald around 1:30. It’s a quaint little ski town, with a few tourist shops and adorable houses that on green hills. We found a great CO-OP where we loaded up on snacks (nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, bread). After locating a map, we headed up the 5250 feet of ascent, 14 miles long. The first part was the hardest because it was straight up hill. I was having a hard time, but we were determined to make it up to the Berghotel Faulhorn, our destination at the top of the mountain.
We climbed and climbed, stopping frequently to capture pictures of the beautiful scenery. Although the mountains were right in front of me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was right there, yet it didn’t seem real. The higher up we got, the colder it became. Eventually I wearing almost every article of clothing I had brought, and wrapped my scarf around my head like a Babushka. The last stretch was tough. It was dark, freezing cold, and we had no idea how much longer we needed to go. We were so high up we had reached snow, and I could see clouds BELOW me. When we saw the lights of the lodge, my adrenaline kicked in and I hurried up the mountain, desperate to get inside.
We made it to the tip-top of the mountain and walked through the door of the lodge into a cozy dining room. People gave us weird looks. Who is crazy enough to arrive at the top of a mountain in the dark? We sat down at a table they had reserved for us, and enjoyed hot soup and delicious bread. After dinner we put on multiple pairs of socks and climbed into bed under wool blankets. I slept well and it was cozy next to Rachel and Denise. In the morning, we woke up before 8:00 to watch the sunrise. It was magical.
After we ate breakfast and packed up, we headed down the mountain. We took a different route on the hike down, which was much shorter and included paths in the woods. My whole body was sore from the day before, and walking down was hard on our knees. But I was satisfied and proud. Not to mention I was still trying to take in the incredible scenery, and process it all. We came across a pretty waterfall and took pictures. We also stopped for hot chocolate at a cute restaurant near the bottom. Overall, it was a weekend I’ll remember forever. Not just a crazy adventure, but a pure, inspirational experience spent with great people.