by ninaeliseh | Oct 5, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, life, Lifestyle, Switzerland
Let me start off by saying that I am afraid of a lot of things. However, heights are the # 1 thing I am scared of. So of course, I wanted to go Bungee Jumping. Makes sense, right? Knowing me, it makes perfect sense. I have a strong belief that whatever you are scared of, you must face it. It releases attachment to fears, and makes them appear smaller. It makes you a stronger person, and it helps you grow. By facing fears, we face our thoughts, and we can break them down into nothing. It changes your perspective, and it changes you as a person.
With that being said, I chose Interlaken as my last stop in Switzerland, solely for the fact that it is known for having a lot of adventure activities. So if I ended up not going bungee jumping, I could go canyoning, white water rafting, etc, all while being surrounded by the amazing mountains.
Below is a summary of my trip to Interlaken – new friends, endless amounts of chocolate, and jumping 450 feet from a cable car!
Thursday, September 17, 2015
6 am: wake up and catch 6:45 am train to Interlaken from Lausanne, Switzerland
9 am: arrive at Interlaken Ost Train station
Upon arriving at the Interlaken train station, the first thing I noticed was mountains. mountains. mountains. The train ride was basically like taking a train ride to Hogwarts – just absolutely breathtaking.
I walked about 20 minutes to my hostel – there was almost no one out, and I enjoyed my stroll around the streets. Interlaken is this little town nestled in between all these mountains, and I could not stop staring at how GREEN everything was!
**Note – everywhere I went in Switzerland, it was so CLEAN – they are amazing at keeping their cities tidy and trash free.
After getting to my hostel, I immediately put down a deposit for bungee jumping – that way I couldn’t wimp out later. Since it was too early to check in, I threw my backpack in the back room and headed out to town. The only thing I had planned to do in the city was the jump, so I had the entire day free to explore.
I walked into town, exploring the little shops, and of course, found a nice little chocolate shop to buy a lot of chocolate from. Did I mention that chocolate is super expensive in Switzerland?! As is everything else! Anyways, I ended up getting a little lost, but I wouldn’t call it lost since I didn’t have anywhere to go. I ended up strolling next to the mountains and amazing blue waters in a park – and along my walk, I could not stop staring at how beautiful everything was. Just extreme gratitude for being able to experience Switzerland, and feeling such joy. This was the moment that I realized I enjoy being alone. Which is completely paradoxal to my underlying fear/belief of ending up alone, but in that moment – it was perfect. Walking alone and just being, without having anyone else there, was perfect. I fell in love with being alone, and with every single Solo second of my time in Europe. I was free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. If I wanted to be around people, I would just strike up a conversation with people around me, meeting other travelers on their own quest for adventure.
After walking around a bit, I was hungry and stopped at a local cafe for a pastry & hot chocolate. Since it was raining, and I was freezing, I needed as much warmth as possible!
Once I finished up my brunch, I decided to head back and check in to the hostel. I ended up meeting a few of my roommates, who told me about an amazing hot chocolate place in town. I don’t know how I missed it the first time around, so I ended up walking back into town for round 2 – you can never have too much hot chocolate, especially when it is cold and rainy!
The store we went to is called The Funky Chocolate Club – founded by 2 chocolate lovers who just had to open a shop. I’m pretty sure we are best friends, even though we’ve never met. Anyways, we ordered hot chocolate – steamed milk and chocolate disks – you can get dark, milk, or white – or a mix – and it was amazing, thick, sugary, and perfect. Melted chocolate and milk = best idea ever.
It’s like they know my deepest wish
After downing our drinks, we headed to a local restaurant and shared some sort of macaroni/bacon dish with onion straws. Lets just say I was not on a diet on this trip – I honestly don’t know how people are skinny in Europe!
On our walk back, it was cold and rainy – so I got changed and tried to warm up a bit at the hostel a little bit before going to Bungee jump. Around 4, I headed to the area behind the hostel to meet the group. I grabbed a beer and met up with the other 11 crazy individuals that would jumping along with me – married couples, people traveling for work, college students. We were all terrified, and it was great to have so many people there to chat with and distract each other.
It was about a 45 minute drive to Stockhorn, where we would all jump. Once we arrived, we took a cable car up to the area where we would be prepped and suited up.
After all getting suited up, we loaded into the gondola – the one where we would all be jumping out of. The gondola stopped over the middle of the lake – at this point, there was no backing out.
Lucky for me, I was the lightest person of the group – which meant I was the last person to jump (being very sarcastic here). There were 3 separate cords that needed to be changed out for each person different weight class – so, I was able to watch all 11 people in front of me jump, counting down and cheering them on. Fortunately, the guys manning the jumps/cords were AWESOME – they had music playing, gave me a jacket to wear because I was so cold (or just shaking from nerves, who knows), and were calm the whole time. By the time it was my time to jump, they hooked me up, and I stepped over the line. I put my toes to the edge of the door, placed my hands on the outside of the gondola, and was given instructions to look at the camera man on the outside of the car after I jumped. The 2 guys counted down – 54321 (the countdown is basically 2 seconds long – they don’t give you any time to hesitate) – and I jumped, smiled at the camera…. then began the fall. I honestly don’t remember much about falling – just thinking – oh shit – and my brain kind of shut off. I mean, you kind of have to shut your brain off to jump 450 feet into empty space with nothing but cables attached to your ankles.
On the bounceback, I tweaked my knee – which wasn’t painful, it was just sore for a few weeks following the jump. No one else hurt themselves, so it might have just been the way I fell and how much I bounced back (I was pretty close to the lake).
After I stopped bouncing around so much, I just kinda hung upside down for a minute or so (or not, I was still in a daze at that point). A boat came by with a big pole, and I was able to grab onto it. I was pulled into the boat and unhooked, then brought back to land.
I’ve never been more happy to be done with anything in my entire life
As a group, we all headed back, drinking a celebratory beer – we had all survived the jump – basically just overall excited to be alive. I have been skydiving, but this was different. There is no one attached to your back, and you have to jump yourself. There is no parachute – just a cord attached to your feet. And the fall happens in a matter of seconds, depending on how high your starting place is (mine was about 450 feet). There is a sense of comfort you get when you skydive – maybe its the secure feeling of having someone go down with you – that you don’t have when you jump.
If anything, Bungeeing will change your thoughts. After jumping, I find myself questioning a lot of fears. I look at thoughts differently, and my actions and choices are a lot different. I believe in myself more, and rarely ever think I can’t do something. If you are ever looking to change your perspective, Bungee Jumping might be for you 😉
After arriving back at the hostel, I quickly showered and headed back out to town with a few people to grab dinner (and more beer! because LIFE!). We went to a place called Goldener Anker – Beer, Gnocchi, and Fondue. The perfect way to end the night, followed by a roadie beer from the corner store on our walk back.
I ended up heading to bed around midnight, as I had a 7 am train to catch to Munich. I wish I could have stayed another night, but Oktoberfest was waiting for me (You can read about that adventure here and here)! If anyone ever ends up in Interlaken, make sure you stay for more than just 1 day. The city is absolutely beautiful, and there are so many fun things to do there! And if you ever decide to jump – or do any fun adventure – I highly recommend Alpin Raft – the workers were absolutely amazing, and I could not have asked for a better experience!
Next up: Oktoberfest!
by ninaeliseh | Oct 1, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, life, Lifestyle, Switzerland, Yoga
One of the most gorgeous, gorgeous places I have EVER been to in my entire life. Besides Interlaken, but I will write about that another time.
After leaving Geneva, I took a 30 minute train ride to Lausanne, my first ever trip on a European train. So of course, I didn’t know that I had to get my ticket validated. Luckily, my Air bnb host in Geneva helped me out – he was getting off at a stop before me, and wanted to make sure I went to the correct place (do you see a recurring theme here of people helping me out because I get lost so easily?!). Anyways, we literally sprinted to the ticket office, cut in front of people in line, got my train ticket stamped, and sprinted up 2 flights of stairs to make the train on time. I honestly thought I was in shape, but I guess having a huge backpack on your back makes you rethink your true fitness level. Below is a recap, with pictures, of my time in Lausanne:
Day 3: September 16, 2015 – Lausanne, Switzerland
7:30 am: train from Geneva to Lausanne
8 am: Arrive at Lausanne train station
Luckily, I found a great hostel located right next to the train station, and I saw it as soon as the train pulled into the city. At this point, I was starting to get more comfortable with directions and making my way around – I only got lost 2 other times the rest of the trip, and only for about 10 minutes. So you could say I learned a lot in my travels haha.
After getting off the train, I walked over to my hostel and hung out a little bit. I couldn’t check in until the afternoon, so I decided to hang out and plan my day. There were a few places I wanted to visit, and I found an awesome guide for bus transit through out the entire city. Which, I only ended up using once because the city wasn’t all that big – but I did walk a LOT. So I planned my day, hitting every single one of the spots I wanted to see, with a plan B if I ran over time.
First Stop: Botanical Gardens
This was not in my initial plans, but since I loved the botanical garden in Geneva so much, I decided to stop here. And I am SO glad I did… beautiful. Everything was amazing, and the view at the top… worth the walk! Pictures don’t even do justice. The view of the city, the houses, the mountains across lake Geneva… just stunning
I also found an awesome mural at the top of the gardens and decided to do a few handstands. This place was deserted, so I got to play around as much as I wanted! The whole city was so peaceful.
After my trek around the botanical gardens, I found a huge water fountain to do handstands around… not really sure what was so great about the fountains, but they were in a pretty cool park.
After the gardens, I made my way to the Ouchy fishing pier. I can’t believe this wasn’t even on my list to see – the view was amazing. Nothing but water and mountains for miles! I really wish I had a better camera – to see everything in person was unbelievable. As soon as I walked around the area, I decided I was coming back in the afternoon for a run, not matter how tired I might be!
After walking (and handstanding) around Ouchy, I hopped on a bus to Rue De Bourge, the city’s shopping center. I went here for 2 things: Chocolate and Yoga. While at the hostel earlier, I found yoga studio – Yogashala – to take a 12 pm class at. And while most would think taking a yoga class in another language would be confusing, it is also very, very beautiful. Well, in French it is.
I took a Vinyasa/Anusara class led by Tracy Chaplin – and it is by far my most favorite yoga class I have ever taken in my life. The French language is absolutely beautiful – and while I had no idea what was being said half the time, I loved the movements, the mix of meditation in the practice, and the feeling of peace I felt in the class. While practicing, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude – the though of, “Omg, look at yourself. You are taking a yoga class, in Switzerland, in french. WHAT IS THIS LIFE.” And I started to tear up in class, full of gratitude and awed by the fact that I was able to create this experience in my life. And this is the point that I truly, truly, began to believe in myself. Which is why, if anyone ever asks me, I will always say, this was my favorite class – because it was a moment in time that changed how I view myself and the power I have to create what I want.
After the class, I walked around the city, exploring little shops and enjoyed getting lost in the windy, hilly, brick streets of Lausanne. My last stop was actually right next to where I took the yoga class, so I stopped in to Blondel Chocolates – a highly recommended chocolatier in Switzerland. And, I swear, this is hands down the best chocolate I have ever eaten in my life. Also, the most expensive. But, life changing. The tiny store has an entire wall lined with sheets and sheets of different chocolates, and a case full of handmade truffles. I’m not going to say how much I spent here, but I will say that it was worth it. Also, I wish that I had bought more! If anyone is in the area, this is the place to stop.
After shopping, I walked back to the hostel to check in and rest for a bit. After getting settled in, I went back out for a run, planning to stop at the Olympic Park/museum next to Ouchy. After walking for a solid 3+ hours that afternoon, my body was still up for a 4 mile run. Running down the hills – awesome. The 2 miles back up – not so awesome. The view = worth it. After making it to the Olympic park, I ran all the way to the top, and the view was worth it all. Amazing view of the lake + mountains! Overall, complete gratitude for a laundry list of things: one year ago, I was learning to walk/run again… and here I am, running 4+ miles up and down the hills of switzerland, exploring on my own, soaking up the beauty of the mountains, discovering things about myself, and feeling joy that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Completely Surreal.
Just a note – I didn’t actually go into the museum – museums really aren’t my thing. I am like a little kid – I’ll go in and look at everything, maybe touch a few things, then leave within 5 minutes. I’d rather just experience everything around me versus walk through a building.
After arriving back at my hostel, I showered, did some laundry, and chatted with a few people from the hostel. I was recommended to go to a local Italian restaurant nearby, Milan, so I took a walk around 9 pm and grabbed dinner by myself – the perfect end to a wonderful day. (Yes, those are fries on my plate. After eating nothing but chocolate all day, I decided to actually get some salty food in my body ;))
I wish I had more pictures that captured the beauty of Lausanne – it was truly a lovely city, and 1 day was the perfect amount of time to explore. If you are ever making your way through Switzerland, I highly recommend stopping at this gorgeous city!
by ninaeliseh | Sep 25, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, Lifestyle, Switzerland
I am finally back in the state, getting settled in, and catching up on the chaos that is work and life. It’s day 3, and I finally feel like the Jet Lag Fog has cleared, and I am starting to feel normal again. When traveling back on Tuesday, I was up for 24 hours straight! I worked from home the next few days, and I just felt like my head was in a fog. It’s my first time ever really experiencing jet lag, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect!
Anyways, I wanted to give a recap of all of my adventures in Europe! There is so much to talk about, so I decided to break down each city into once blog post. Below is a recap of the first day on my trip: Geneva, Switzerland!
Sunday, 9/13 – 3:30 pm flight from Columbus to New Jersey -> sprinting to catch my connecting flight to Geneva
Monday, 9/14 – 7:30 am -> arrive in Geneva!
After arriving in the Geneva airport, I needed to buy a SIM card for my phone. Never having changed the SIM card in my phone or even really understood what it did, I walked around for about a half hour asking where to buy one. FINALLY – $20 at the post office. done. I was able to call the air bnb host I was staying with, and I hopped on a bus to pick up the keys to where I was staying. I finally arrived, and my hosts were great! an air mattress to sleep on, and a room all to myself. I ended up laying down for a hot second, as I only got about 1 hour of sleep on the plane.
After getting directions and information on how the bus system worked from my host, I ventured out.. and got lost. Luckily for me, I ended up downtown and was able to explore the nicer side of Geneva. Think: expensive shops, beautiful fountains, and hot business men in suits. So you could say I was lost, but I definitely found something I didn’t know I was looking for 😉
After exploring, I hopped back on a bus and got lost. Again. 1.5 hours later, I made it to the place I initially wanted to go: the broken chair. Basically, a giant monumental sculpture that symbolizes opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva (Wiki). It’s a huge freakin chair with a broken leg – and I of course, had to get a picture in front of it. A handstand picture. duh.
After hanging out around the chair (the UN building was right behind it), I went for a walk to the Botanical Gardens nearby. Now let me just preface this by saying I am NOT a hippy nature girl – normally I opt out of the site-seeing, history learning, nature stuff and do more adventure things (likeeeee bungee jumping in switzerland… but that’s another post in itself). So I got lost, again, but finally made it to the garden. And O.M.G. the beauty of everything, just absolutely amazing. I felt like I was in a secret garden full of magic. I literally looked like a little kid, jumping around and smiling. I mean, look at these pictures… how beautiful is this place??
Unfortunately, all of my getting lost made me out exploring later than I planned. And it rained. A lot. I was in a little glass botanical garden area, which was cool. But not for over an hour. So, I ended up walking back, in the rain, to the bus station. I took the bus back, stopping to grab a muffin for dinner at a local store, and made it back to the air bnb. The rest of the night, until about 10/11, I ended up chatting and drinking homemade liquor with my hosts. They were absolutely wonderful! I ended up sipping on 4-5 shots, my favorite being the italian chocolate… it was like drinking chocolate syrup! So, so good. You can’t get this stuff anywhere else.
I finally went to bed, and my host ended up walking to the bus station with me in the morning (I was taking a tour in France and had to meet at a bus station in the city). Him and his girlfriend were very worried I was going to get lost again, and they mapped out very detailed instructions for me! I must have seemed like a lost cause LOL
After returning from my day trip to Chamonix (read about it here!), my hosts made me dinner on my second night in Geneva – homemade italian pasta (my host is italian)! Just amazing.
I planned out my entire trip, and I will say that my favorite things were never items I had planned. I stumbled across the botanical garden, and I could never have asked for better hosts, which I now consider good friends. Overall, Geneva was wonderful – definitely not my favorite part of the trip – Lausanne & Interlaken will forever hold a special place in my heart – but a great city to explore in for a day or 2.
Has anyone been to Geneva, or are planning a triip? I would love to hear your thoughts!
by ninaeliseh | Sep 11, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, life, Lifestyle, Travel Tips
**UPDATE 9/23! since returning from my trip, I have added notes in Bold/italic below about anything I would have or would not have packed.
Since booking my trip back in June, I haven’t given much thought to packing until the past week. Insert: frantic last-minute purchases on amazon prime. Since I am only taking 1 backpack, there is some serious consolidating happening. Which, surprisingly, hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I already knew i wouldn’t be taking any hair appliances, and I’m perfectly fine with walking around in leggings the entire trip. So, I did a lot of research and made a list of what I needed to bring, including a few non-negotiable must-haves. Below is a list of everything I have packed – it seems like a lot, but it’s just a bunch of small things that all add up to fitting perfectly in 1 bag. Also – I am bringing a second bag for souvenirs & crap that won’t fit into my backpack (my books!).
Packing Cubes – You definitely need these for organization while traveling!
Top cube: Toiletries Middle cube: Bathing suit/socks/underwear Bottom cube: Clothes
Toiletries (travel size):
sunscreen – barely used this, would only bring if I went somewhere warmer!
shampoo & conditioner
toothbrush & toothpaste
hairbrush + hair ties/bobby pins
Clothes: **Planning on doing laundry at the hostels as needed!
8 pairs of socks
15 pairs of underwear – could have brought less, since I did laundry during my trip
2 scarves – these have secret pockets in them to carry my passport/valuables in! I had these made on etsy in black and grey – I could have honestly done without these – it wasn’t super cold, and I felt safe with just my cross body bag
1 pair of shorts – never wore, it was way too cold!
4 pairs of black leggings
3 tanks (1 white, 1 black, 1 casual)
3 workout outfits **Planning on running around the cities/impromptu yoga classes! – wore 1 workout outfit when I went for a run, and shorts when i did laundry. could have survived with packing only 1-2 outfits
1 bathingsuit – never wore this, but glad I brought it just in case
2 long sleeved shirts + 1 pair of fleece-lined leggings for when I am in the mountains!
1 long-sleeved chambray button up shirt
1 sweater – for the plane ride & cold nights – i completely underestimated how cold it was going to be when I was over there! i probably would have brought a second sweater that was thicker for when I was in the mountains!
1 rain jacket – it’s supposed to rain 2-3 days I am there! – one of my best packing choices, it rained a LOT!
1 pajama outfit
Secret Scarf with Hidden Passport!
Shoes: – perfect amount of shoes to bring, no complaints!
workout arm band – used this when I went for a run
charcoal tablets (for food poisoning/stomach issues)
peppermint oil (headaches/sinuses) – i used this + lemon everyday!
contacts + glasses
sunglasses – used everyday!
adapter plugs – for Germany & for Switzerland
camera – only used a few times, mainly used my phone for pictures!
locks – for my bag zippers + storing my bag at the hostels – honestly didn’t really need, I felt pretty safe the entire time!
Eurorail train tickets
Day bag for exploring + money belt for under my clothes – could have done without the money belt, day bag = best item brought on the trip! used it everywhere I went, and had no issues with pick pocketing
mini duct tape (who knows what type of emergency I’ll have ;))
Also brought an extra bag for souveniers – so glad I did! 10+ lbs of chocolate, a huge 1 liter beer stein + misc things collected – all needed to be carried back and would never have fit in my suitcase!
pictures/copies of ID/passport on phone/email
headphones – lifesaver!
baby wipes – lifesaver!
protein bars – lifesavers!
aquaphor – my lips were chapped the entire trip, so glad i brought this!
tissues – i wish i had brought more, as i used these for small spills and my runny nose!
carabiner/flashlight/whistle all-in-one – only used once while in the hostel, but still good to have.
backup phone charger – one of the top items used while traveling. SUCH a lifesaver! My phone battery drained quickly from using maps
mini notebook for travel notes – used this until I lost my pen ;/
books **planning on leaving these on the plane for the next person once I am finished – less weight to carry! – honestly wish I had only brought 1 book, if any. I didn’t really have time to read them, and it was hard to lug them around
Jet Lag medicine for the flight back – so far this stuff is magic! I didn’t sleep for 24 hours straight while traveling back to the states, and i got about 8-9 hours of sleep when I got home. Feeling a little groggy, but I was able to work and get stuff done the next day perfectly fine.
Below are a few of the apps I downloaded on my phone – are there any others that I absolutely need to have?
Hostelworld – this has all my booking information for where I am staying **Used this a few times for directions
TripIt – I have my entire trip planned out on here – Every confirmation email I got (flights, hostels, events, etc) – I forwarded to Trip it, and it automatically created my schedule. I then went in and added details as needed. You can also send a link to friends/family so they know where you will be (in case you ever go missing ;)). **Only used this a few times
City Maps 2go – I downloaded maps for the cities I will be in to navigate my way around, no internet required – if you are traveling, you MUST download this app! I used it everywhere I went – it points you in the right direction and is totally accurate.
Rail Planner – i was able to look up all of the times trains were leaving and create a list fo every train/transfer needed. If I miss my train, I can check for other times with no issue, as I don’t have to be online to look! — used this a ton to double check my train schedules!
Gate Guru – I use this for all of my plane travels! It has information on every single thing to do at each airport by gate, with maps. It is awesome for layovers & for finding out about any flight changes!
Google Docs – my travel spreadsheet with all info was on google docs – I accessed this a LOT
And that’s it! Everything fit in my bag, and I am ready to go. Has anyone ever traveled to Europe with just 1 backpack? Am I missing any essential items? I am planning on buying a SIM card as soon as I land in Switzerland. Anyone have experience/tips for this? **bought my sim card at the post office as soon as I landed in Geneva
by ninaeliseh | Jun 15, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, Lifestyle
Ever since I got back from Belize, I couldn’t help but begin to plan my next adventure: 1.5 weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland & Germany. I have never traveled to Europe, let alone by myself, so I am terrified… but so excited to go! Once I started planning, I had to narrow down to just 2 countries because it was getting a little overwhelming (Italy, I am coming for you next year!). I’ve literally spent hours planning this trip already, and I still have a lot to do… I’ve only booked my hostel for Munich, so I’ll be booking everything else in the next few weeks! Below is my schedule so far:
Day 1: Fly to Geneva, Switzerland
Day 2: Arrive in Geneva early AM
check in at hostel
Rent bike and tour the city
visit the broken chair
Yoga class! (Any recommendations?)
Day 3: Day trip to Chamonix French Alps
Day 4: Travel to Lausanne/Montreux
check in at hostel
check out chocolate/cheese factory & eat my body weight in delicious swiss chocolate
Day 5: Travel to Grindelwald
check in at hostel
Yoga Class in morning/afternoon
bungee jump or paraglide! **anyone ever do this? I am terrified!
Day 6: Travel to Munich via train
check in at hostel, get situated
buy dirndl for Oktoberfest!
Day 7, 8, 9, 10: Oktoberfest!
hit the Schottenhamel tent for first beer pour of the festival
hang out with fellow Americans at the Hofbräu tent
Day 8, 9,10: Explore Munich
visit Olympiaturm (flying fox!)
visit Theresienwiese – Maiden of Bavaria
Tour Andechs Monastery and Brewery
Day 11: Fly back to the US
I started out wanting to end my trip in Italy, but it got to be too much in too little time. So for now, extra time in Switzerland and Germany! Transportation is probably the main thing that is stressing me out – do I need to book ahead of time? How much time do I need to take into account when traveling via train/air in Europe? How do I know what trains to take in between cities/countries? Do I need to purchase ahead of time? I am so excited to plan and travel this trip all by myself, even if it seems a little daunting. Has anyone traveled to Geneva/Oktoberfest? Any tips for a newbie solo backpacking in Europe? I would love to hear about your experience !