Across Europe there are places known for wild nights and endless partying. A humble and tiny village nestled in the valley of the Swiss Alps called, Lauterbrunnan, I did not expect to make its way on to that list. However, if you take four or five Topdeck busloads of 18 – 25 year old Australians and New Zealanders and put them together on a campsite, Schutzenbach Backpacker & Camping, in the middle of nowhere with one fairly small and sweaty bar, what do you get? Shit faced. Plus a really good time.
Though it was unexpected, we had an incredible night of drinking and dancing – or in my case – jumping maniacally, in this adorable Swiss village. What made it even better? Spilling out of the bar when you were at the point of internal combustion and being instantly refreshed by the crisp mountain air. Tilt your head only slightly upwards and you’re treated to a glistening array of stars. They give you an invigorating feeling that this is a magical world and isn’t the universe great? Well, it was probably the stars and all those Jaeger and Vodka shots we did.
Fast forward to an 8am wake-up call as we were all heading up to the summit of Jungfrau that morning. This meant an hour long train ride twisting and turning through the gorgeous landscape that delivered a panoramic view of mountains. In theory, this should be pleasant. In theory, this should be an absolutely lovely experience. In theory, without an excruciating hangover that is. One of my top five humiliations of my entire European travel experience, would be what happened to me on that fateful train ride.
Most of our Topdeck group crammed together into one carriage, some seated, some standing. Fortunately, Jess was quick onto the train and managed to get us seats next to the window. I huddled over, cradling my bottles of Coke and Water like life support rafts as I could hear Jess’ exclamations of wonder at the beautiful mountains. Sipping my water, I suddenly had an icy sense of dread fall over me from head to toe. Nudging Jess, I whisper, “I’m going to be sick.” She replies, “No you’re not Kirsty, it’s just a state of mind thing. You’re fine.”
I’m not fine.
As we switch seats so I get some cooling mountain air on my face, I suddenly panic even further and announce to no one in particular, “Oh God, oh God, this is actually happening.”
I throw up out the side of the train.
Timing could not have been worse either. It all happens just as the train starts pulling out of a stop at a station and I can see so many people milling about. Furthering my embarrassment, it is only Day 4 out of our 28 day Topdeck tour. “Spew with a view” as one of the guys on tour, Marty, quipped at me.
It is even more embarrassing when a middle aged Swiss man on the train comes rushing to my aid in quite a panic as he fears I’ve developed altitude sickness. How do you explain to kind strangers that you’re unwell due to self-inflicted over intoxication? How do you explain this with a language barrier? I’m not sure. I left that to Jess as I hung my head in shame.
Making it to the top of the mountain, I purchased a Blue Powerade as a hangover cure, which cost me a bargain of NZ$ 10.00! This liquid is however, a legitimate magic wand and I could then enjoy the Winter Wonderland that is the top of Jungfrau.
Not only do you get to go out on a beautiful observation deck, but there is a way to get out onto the snow too where you can hire sleds, go on a flying fox or on a tiny ski run. Content to just wander around in the snow and then sit down to cool off as the sun was burning hot and bright, Josh, Jess and I lay back and absorbed the beauty and power of nature. Hangovers long forgotten. Finally healed by the majesty of what surrounded us.
The valley of Lauterbrunnan is an awesome pit stop on any European traveller’s itinerary. Though the village may be small, it is packed with activities as adrenalin junkies are able to go sky diving from a helicopter and there are treks abound through the valley, most leading to waterfalls. These hypnotise you as you focus on the water droplets and they both speed up and slow down and then start blurring into a psychedelic movement of refracted colour. This was one of the most memorable stops on our tour for most people because of how incredible it felt to get away from the city crowd and into nature, plus, who doesn’t love an unexpectedly fantastic night of partying with a big group of friends?