Written by Kristen
We got up around 8 am and headed downstairs to the activities desk to figure out what we were going to do for the day. We decided to go paragliding and booked it for 9:30 AM. We also got some maps/information on hiking and things to do that afternoon. After having breakfast at the hostel (which consisted of 2 options-a plate of bread with butter or some type of granola like cereal and a piece of fruit) we were picked up by Paragliding Interlaken to head out.
We went into Interlaken (the town area) and met the two guys who would be flying tandem with us. Then we were driving about 25 minutes up the mountains to our take off spot. The name of the take off that we were going to do was called Big Blue. It was at a height of 1350 meters which is 4400 feet. They explained to us how we were going to get off in the air and what to expect. Kate's pilots name was Dominik and Kristen's was Dani. They were both super nice. Basically the pilot set everything up, we got all harnessed in, and were instructed to jog at a certain pace until they said to run and then you had to sprint until the chute pulled you up in the air. It was a bit intimidating to take off because we were the one in the front setting the pace. After running down a hill all of a sudden you felt a huge jerk and the chute pulled you up in the air. It was incredible. We flew over the mountains, could see forever far away (all the snow covered mountains in the distance). We flew over Interlaken, over the two lakes, and super close to one of the mountains (you felt like you were going to touch a tree). Our pilots did spins and tricks (which made us a bit dizzy but were fun). Kate's pilot Dominik even let her control the paraglide for a while. After flying for about 20 minutes we landed in a park called Hohematte. It was an incredible experience and we would definitely do it again if given the opportunity. We bought a SD card with digital photos from our flight and both also took photos/video on our camera while we were flying.
Next we decided to walk to t the train station and head out for the rest of the day. We left from Interlaken West train station and got off the train at Lauterbrunnen (about 20 minutes away). The train system in Switzerland is super impressive, with trains running up and down the mountains in every possible direction.One of the people that worked at our hostel gave us a hiking map and told us we could walk down to these really cool waterfalls and to a cable car that goes to the top of the mountains. We started our walk, but quickly discovered that we were going the wrong way. We were walking up a super steep incline that we thought was the correct direction but then saw a sign that said ti would take 2.5 hours to walk to Murren and she had told us it was only a 40 minute walk to the falls. She also described it as "flat" and this was more like mountain climbing on concrete. So we turned around, and eventually found our way down the street we were supposed to be on. We were so happy that we did because everyone else was in full hiking gear, with backpacks full of supplies/food and we were in our regular clothes, sneakers, and had our purses and sweatshirts. After walking by multiple natural waterfalls that come off the side of the mountain, we reached our first destination called Trummelbach Falls. Basically they are 10 glacier waterfalls inside of a mountain that was accessible by tunnel lift and tunnels. Apparently these falls drain huge glaciers on the tops of the mountains and 20,000 liters of water rush down them per second. We also learned that they were the only glacier-waterfalls in Europe that were still accessible for people to see inside. We got tickets and headed up. You take a lift that goes inside the mountain (was sort of like a mini cable car) and get off at the 6th level and then walk the rest. I'd describe it as a cross between Niagara falls and the caverns in the Shenandoah Valley. After getting off the lift you climbed different sets of stairs, and walked through tunnels to see all of the falls. It was pretty awesome.
From here we continued on our journey towards Stechelberg which was another 2 km down the road. We bought tickets to the Schiltorn cable car. We had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Basically as it turns out this cable car is absolutely huge, and to get to the top (which is called Schilthorn)you have to switch cable cars 3 different times (taking a total of 4 cars). The stops were: Stechelberg (910 meters, where we started), then Gimmelwald (1363 meters up), then Murren (1638 meters up -where we were originally going to hike over the mountain to catch the cable car), Birg (2677 meters up) and then the top Schiltorn (2970 meters up). Every level it gets increasingly colder (it was around 20 degrees Celsius where we started and at the top it was 2 degrees Celsius).A lot of the mountain is not accessible by car so people actually use this cable car as their transportation up/down the mountain. It was crazy to see how many villages/houses, etc were in such an un accessible location.The ride was incredible. You felt like you could see forever. On our way up we realized that we were going to be in big trouble when we reached the top to go look on the observation deck as it was snowing up there, covered in ice/snow. We looked around to see that everyone else appeared to be prepared for the middle of winter weather that we were about to experience with winter coats, ski pants, hats, gloves, etc. And there we stood, the 2 American's with long pants (jeans/khakis), a short sleeved shirt, and a sweatshirt. We ventured out into the freezing cold to check out the view. Since it was snowing and was pretty cloudy we couldn't see the tops of all of the mountains, but we were able to look at the map and point out where the certain peaks, etc were. There was the coldest strongest wind up there that almost took us out. We climbed down these ice covered stairs that you could easily fall off of and plummet down the mountain to take some more pictures. We were laughing so hard the whole time because it was absolutely freezing and we were still exploring.When feeling like our fingers were going to fall off from the cold we went inside and "tried on" some of the gloves that they were selling in the gift shop to warm up. Apparently 007 was taped at this exact site (it will be interesting to go back and look at the movie to see it). From what we heard it's the highest point in the Alp's in Switzerland that you can reach by cable car. The only higher point is by one train which goes toJungfrau. And to think that we just ended up in this well-known place by accident! We kept thinking that earlier that day we were sweating in pants and a t-shirt, that that at home it was over 100 degrees and we were standing in snow freezing our butts off. On the way back to the bottom we stopped in Murren to get some food (we were starving) and ordered delicious cheese fondue at a small restaurant called Stagerstubli. It was delicious. We headed back home which required the cable car, one bus and one train and a walk to our hostel. By the time we got back it was like 8 PM! The rest of the night we just hung around the hostel, used the internet/skyped mom/dad and Steve, repacked up our bags and just relaxed.