Excuse the grammatical errors, as I am typing from a strange keyboard in an internet cafe.
I feel I should address Switzerland before moving on to Venice, where I am now. Truly, no offense to the Switzerland lovers out there- but I would have to say it is my least favorite place I have traveled to so far. While it is a GORGEOUS place, it is a little…TOO gorgeous. To the point that is almost looks fake. The water is TOO blue. Seriously, it scares me a little. The sun sets are TOO beautiful. I just feel like Interlaken is a total Switzerland cliche. Maybe this was how it was set up to be because it seems to be an incredibly touristy place, but it all just looked too fake to me.
Also, the expense. Easily the most expensive place I have ever been to in my life. This place even beats LONDON. Thirteen dollars for the cheapest meal. Twenty five dollars a night for the cheapest hostel that has water leakage. I took a train to Laussane and it was FIFTY dollars- one way.
It also doesnt help that on the train, my iPod was stolen. Yes, friends. I have traveled throughout SouthEast Asia for an entire year, through the most rural areas in Thailand, India, even Turkey… and not once was my iPod stolen. Now, in SWITZERLAND of all places, in probably the most expensive and safest place in the world, suddenly, it has dissapeared.
Once my iPod went missing, I completely panicked, and it became apparent to me within about five minutes how that is the most essential tool for me while traveling. For example, I spent about 12 hours traveling yesterday- on trains, on taxis, on foot- and if I dont have a song to listen to, then it is going to feel eight times as long. So, I bought a new one in Switzerland. Oh, guess what? It is almost 100 dollars more in Switzerland than it is the United States. Nice.
Even the people in Switzerland are not really my scene. When I travel, its fun to meet people, chat, hang out, get to know one another. But everyone I met in Interlaken were the generic US/Canadian backpackers that only care about going to bars or clubs, getting trashed every single night, and then reminiscing all day about how they spent the entire morning with the worlds worst hangover. That and boasting about how much money theyve spent in Europe and how theyre -real- travelers because theyve been to Germany and toured a beer factory.
Okay sorry, I am sounding super cynical here. Basically what Im trying to say is, for all the reasons above, Switzerland was the least potent experience out of all the amazing ones I have had. I suppose Ive also been feeling a bit burned out from traveling and I kind of wanted to lay around and do nothing for a few days. Which is exactly what I ended up doing. Besides the day trip to Laussane (which ended up being pretty fruitless anyway), I just hung out in my room surfing the internet, working on my Peace Corp application, and watching season 3 of Dexter on Surf the Channel. It was a nice respite, because now I am in Venice and I am alive and ready to roll again! Venice is BEAUTIFUL! I want to live here for 3 months and just spend every day wandering through all of the back alleys. I love it here. It sort of reminds me of what Varanasi could look like in maybe 200 years. I can tell I am going to love Italy.
The problem with Europe trips, in my opinion, is that they are just too short. Maybe I would love Switzerland if I was staying there for two months, just like I have in Turkey, Thailand, India, and Taiwan. I certainly know if I had only spent a few days in India…I probably never would have gone back there again. It is hard to make assumptions about a country when you are only there for a few days and only in one area. So I do not give Switzerland a complete FAIL. Rather, a maybe we will meet again in another time and another place if I have much more money in my wallet.
I see my family in TWO DAYS!
Filed under: Switzerland
When I was about twelve years old, I wrote this list of ’25 things I want to do before I die.’ On that list was skydiving.
Today I fulfilled that dream.
Filed under: Switzerland
Let’s talk about 5 dollars for 30 minutes of internet.
Let’s talk about minimum of 13-21 dollars for a meal.
Let’s talk about 35 dollars a night for the cheapest hostel.
Let’s talk about how the Lonely Planet ‘Europe on a Shoestring’ is a lying liar.
Let’s talk about how laughable it is to go to an Indian restaurant in Switzerland and see Chicken Tikka Masala for THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS, when it is two in India.
Well, I think I’ve complained enough. It’s hard to feel miserable when you look outside and marvel at how gorgeous the mountains in Interlaken are- or ponder how the rivers could be SO blue- or why ‘Egg Ice Cream’ actually tastes pretty heavenly- or feel your stomach knot in apprehension and excitement because tomorrow you will free-falling from 15,000 feet above the ground.
The problem with Europe is that there are SO many amazing things to do, so much food to taste (fish and chips in England, macaroons in France, fondue in Switzerland), so many sights to see (The Tower in London, the Eiffel Tower in France), so many adventures to try out (sky diving, bungy jumping, paragliding, ZORBING), so many cool shops- my wallet is literally aching to jump out of my pocket and empty its contents in five minutes. And then you always have the thought ‘I’m in SWITZERLAND right now. I may never be in Switzerland again. I should enjoy myself to the fullest extent, shouldn’t I?’
But I still find myself walking half an hour to my hostel instead of taking the bus, fruitlessly trying to argue down prices for hostel rooms and train tickets with an apparently useless student I.D. card (thanks a lot, ICE), and that general feeling of unpleasantness every time I go out for a meal and end up paying way more than I had hoped for. We are definitely not in SouthEast Asia anymore, friends. We are not even in the states. We are in Europe.
I feel that I am seeing now, more than ever, what a luxury it is to travel. I suppose that it hasn’t hit me as hard until now, because my school tuition covers my room and board, all of my excursions, and I get stipend money on top of it. And living in SouthEast Asia is fairly dirt cheap compared to the USA. But now that I’m out of school… I see how much it really costs to live and travel- and especially in the most expensive places in the world. But at the same time, I’m really happy to be getting this experience. I feel that I’m getting this kind of reverse awareness- now I have some small semblence of understanding for how it must feel like for people from Asia who come to visit or live in the US- to think ‘1 dollar for water?? I could buy that for 25 cents in India.’ Or the indignancy of the price of a hostel in Boston. I feel that it is good to get both of these experiences, rather than always having the pleasure of only having to spend two dollars for a meal- instead having to pay twenty. It teaches me patience, good humor, perspective, awareness, humility, and most importantly, how to travel better and more cheaply. Traveling in Europe is as much of a learning experience as it is traveling through Asia.
…..but I am much happier now to be going back there in a few weeks. BRING ON THE BUCKET BATHS, BANGLADESH!
Switzerland is gorgeous, of course. I have absolutely no reason to whine about anything at all in my life. Just being here is enough.