We woke up very early (around 6am) and started our journey to Interlaken Switzerland. We finally thought that the tape we bought to fix my suitcase wheel was fixed but it kinda crapped out on us by the time we made it to the train station. We actually arrived at the train station pretty early (like 2hours before our train) and got some breakfast and taped up my bag pretty good. Then 2 Italian men who were either police officers or some kind of security at the train station came over and asked us where we were going. Then they said that our train to Milano Centrale was cancelled but they very kindly helped us get on the regional train that took like double the amount of time and then we took the Milan Metro to get to the right train station. It was quite the adventure but at least we got to the train station in one piece. Were going to try to get a refund on our train tickets since it was cancelled which I think will work. The Milan metro was the nicest metro we have ever seen, complete with instructions in pretty much every language, flat screen TV's displaying the next stop/metro map, and really nice glass doors that opened up when you got to the stop. Although it wasn't ideal that we had to take multiple trains it could have been worse.
Then we were in the Milan train station for like a half an hour when our train to Spiez arrived at the platform.We got on this train, which was very nice, to start our journey to Spiez and then to Interlaken. About 90% of the way through the trip (which was supposed to take around 2 1/2 hours) the train stopped inside of a tunnel that went through the mountains. It was an Italian train so all of the overhead announcements were only in Italian, and we couldn't understand why we were stopped. A guy sitting across from us attempted to interpret the messages for us. Long and short of it the train was having "technical difficulties" so we had to back out of this long tunnel, and the train stopped at a stop before and kicked all of us off. We couldn't find any train employees that spoke English, so we thought we might be pretty screwed. But then we heard a couple speaking English so we went over to them on the train. From this we found out that they were staying at the same hostel (Balmer's) in Interlaken and needed to go to the same exact place as we did. They were from the UK and super friendly so the 4 of us teamed up to try to make it to Interlaken together. After looking at several train maps, schedules, etc we figured out that there was a train due to come 40 minutes later that would take us to Spiez which is where we needed to go to get our next train to Interlaken. Neither us nor them had eaten a meal yet that day, and they were very excited to see that there was a McDonald's within walking distance. I personally did not want McDonald's at all, but desperate times call for desperate measures so we had the most expensive McDonald's meals of our lives…for a cheeseburger/fries/water and chicken nuggets/fries/medium coke it cost 22 francs which the franc is pretty much equivalent with the dollar nowadays. They also charged extra for Ketchup which was quite upsetting and we only got one packet! After scarfing that down with our new friends Louisa and Allister (from the UK) we snuck onto the next train's first class section (the rest was overcrowded) and expected to soon get kicked off because we didn't' have tickets. We stood out like a sore thumb with our huge backpacks, dressed in sweats and t-shirts. But when the ticket woman came around she was super nice and even gave us directions/instructions to get our next train! As it turns out most people we were to encounter in Switzerland would be this nice!
We finally made it to Spiez, to connect with our train to Interlaken (which was only like a 20 minute ride). We exited the Interlaken Ost train station and saw the absolutely beautiful Alp's. We've never seen mountains like these before and they were breathtaking. Snow covered tips, mountains so high in the sky that you can not see the top because of the clouds. We walked with our new UK friends and 2 other's from L.A. that were headed to Balmer's. In route we had more of Kate's luggage drama, about 1/2 way through our 25 minute walk the wheel completely fell out, losing the axle, and we had to carry it the rest of the way. We arrived to Balmer's to find an awesome chalet full of people around our age, new bunk beds/mattresses in our room, a bier garden, a night club, kitchen, internet room, gift shop, activities planning center, and a ton of super nice staff. The woman that checked us in gave us a TON of information on things to do, etc. We were the first to arrive in our room which was a 6 bed female dorm, with 3 sets of bunk beds.Definitely clean and well kept. After settling in a bit we went on a walk to explore the town of Interlaken and went to the main road with all of the shops/restaurants. We found a chocolatier with some free samples so we hit them up pretty hard and bought a few chocolate bars to bring home. We also did some shopping and found some cool stuff. The town was super cute, surrounded by mountains and 2 lakes (hence the name" Interlaken"--"between two lakes") which were called Thun and Brienz. The town is surrounded by the lakes and the Alp's, and you're actuallyable to see the peaks of Jungfrau (the top of Europe), Monch, and Eiger mountains.
After exploring a bit we headed back to the hostel to find that in the bier garden you could get a cheeseburger, fries, salad and a huge local beer called Rugenbrau for 10 euro each. This was a steal so that's what we had for dinner :) It was delicious. We met back up with Allister and Louisa and met some other friends from Germany (Jeremy and Derek ) and a guy named Tom from the Netherlands to have a few beers. After the bier garden closed the 7 of us went down to the "disco" at the hostel and had a few more drinks. It was really cool to talk to them and hear about where all of them had been. People in Europe have it right-they travel for month's at a time and have seen so many places. It made us feel like we were just on a mini trip (even though 12 days for an American is pretty long). Tom offered us some duct tape (because we told him about Kate's suitcase saga) that he had because he rode a motorcycle in his travels and said that duct tape and tie wraps were essential. This made us laugh and reminded us of Dad and Pop-pop because Dad always uses tie wraps and Pop-pop is the firmest believer in the art of duct taping just about anything! We headed to bed around 1ish.