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Bern – Gimmelwald, Switzerland- Europe Day 23 – June 19

I woke up repacked and prepared for traveling in all manner of vehicle today. Marve, the Finnish girl I had met at the hostel, and I ate our breakfasts together in the common room and walked to the train station to go to Interlaken, for a Yodeling festival she had heard about and subsequently convinced me to go to. Arriving in Interlaken was like stepping back in time. There were people everywhere in traditional yodeling clothing eating sausage and drinking beer. When in Rome right? Marve and I fit right in eating sausage and drinking beer with the locals. After our hearty lunch her and I found a spot to watch the 50 section parade. This is the second longest parade I have ever been to, and the longest parade I have ever sat through. There were 50 sections to this parade, not 50 floats, but 50 groups of floats. The parade was pretty good. There were people yodeling, playing alp horns, twirling flags, throwing cheese and candy into the crowd and an occasional marching band. Two hours later the parade was over and Marve and I found our way back to the train station to go our separate ways. Me to Gimmelwald, and her to a Swiss city I cannot even begin to spell.

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This is the part where my journey really gets interesting. From Interlaken, I took a train to Lauterbrunnen, a bus to Schechtlburg, and a cable car up the mountain to Gimmelwald, a town of 120 inhabitants, perched 1363m up the mountainside. Taking the cable car up to Gimmelwald, we passed huge waterfalls hundreds of feet tall, cliff faces even taller, and mountainsides taller yet. The whole area had a certain epicness to it. Everything was breathtaking and enormous, almost beyond comprehension. I don’t know if I will ever find another place as beautiful as Gimmelwald as long as I live.

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Almost everyone on the cable car was staying in The Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald and we all quickly made friends. After checking in and dropping our stuff off, Alex, from Michigan, and Bryant, from Minnesota, and I went for a hike along the river and mountainside, passing streams and cattle, woods, and mountainside fountains.

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On our way back, we stopped in Gimmelwald’s only 24-hour store, the Honesty Store. No one works in the Honesty Store, you just walk in, pick out your groceries, add up the prices on them, and put your money in a little wooden box at the back of the store. I bought a giant can of Raviolis for 3CHF, quite a bargain in Switzerland. I really liked the idea behind the Honesty Store. I feel like people entrusted to follow the honor system are more likely to respond virtuously than people forced to obey laws and rules backed by the threat of punishment.

That night in the hostel, I met a tour group traveling from Tampa, about 20 minutes from my house. The tour guide had been their teacher in high school and was starting his own travel company. His former students were his guinea pigs on his first Europe tour. The group’s tour was to end in Rome, the same day I arrived, with the teach continuing on to Eastern Europe. The two of us made plans to meet up later in our trip after his students had left.

Several of the students were now Gators and I had a great time reminiscing with them. The group was leaving the next day and left me their food from the hostel kitchen. I was set for dinner the next night. We spent the night playing cards, with the group teaching me how to play shithead, a great game with a vulgar name. Around midnight I turned in.

About the author Austin G

Bicycling, photography, running

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