Saturday, the 9th, I (barely) made the last train to Switzerland to meet Kristen for a nice, long weekend in Gryon. It’s a tiny little ski town about 2 hours southeast of Geneva and we figured it would be nice to relax there instead of a bigger city. We also got a great deal on our accommodation, only paying 20 Euros a night each, which is a steal in Switzerland. The view from the chalet was breathtaking and the people that worked there were so helpful in arranging activities for us while we were there. Unfortunately I was feeling pretty shitty and felt a sickness coming on so I was reluctant to really do anything super strenuous because I wanted to get better before my race in Nice. That being said, we did want to do something thrilling though because we are in the frickin Swiss Alps.
On Sunday we went paragliding in Villars, which is a similar town that is a tram ride away farther up the mountain. If you went somewhere like Interlaken, you’d be looking at paying around 200- 250 Euros to go paragliding. CRAZY. In Gryon we got the lift pass and paragliding for 130 CHF (about 130 American dollars/ 100 euros) and it was unbelievable. In Switzerland you assume your own risk, so no paperwork of signing your life away. You just go. The guy that flew us had been doing it since the 70’s and he was an expat from NYC. I went first, the flight was about 15 minutes and we landed in the middle of snowy field somewhere so we had to hitchhike back, then Kristen went. It took pretty much the whole day when all was said and done and afterwards we went back to the chalet for a snack and a nap before getting our very anticipated fondue dinner! Switzerland is crazy expensive as far as everyday living goes, so eating out will run you about 25-35 CHF per person. We figured we needed to get fondue at least one night, so we did and it was SO worth it.
The next day we went back up to Villars and walked around for a bit, the weather wasn’t that great at it was super cold so we didn’t get to do snowshoeing like we planned, but we got a nice walk in. We made dinner back at the chalet and watched Chocolat in the movie room,. Kristen had to leave Tuesday morning, so we said our goodbyes and then I hopped on the train to Interlaken. I have a feeling the train ride would have been beautiful, and it was in the beginning, but when its cloudy in Switzerland its like your in the middle of a cloud and you can’t see anything around you.
Unfortunately it was like this in Interlaken till the day I left (Thursday), but I did finally get to see the city and just why it is so popular. The lakes are some of the bluest I’ve ever seen and the mountains surrounding it make it look as if it were fake and framed. Incredible. I didn’t do much in Interlaken besides take long walks and drink copious amount of tea in an effort to get over my sickness. The hostel I stayed in was really great and they even upgraded me to my own personal room since it was pretty slow. Interlaken is obviously expensive so I didn’t get to do any extreme activities, but I’ll be coming back with my Mom and sister in June so I’ll hopefully be able to do some bungee jumping then! I had a lot of time to kill before meeting Lana in Milan Thursday, so I hopped on a train to Luzern for the scenery and took the long way down through Lugano to Milano. It was an absolutely beautiful day, so the train ride was very scenic. Once I got to Milan I somehow but a stroke of luck found the hostel. It was probably one of the worse ones I’ve stayed in, but it was only for a night so it didn’t really matter. I brought a bottle of wine to go pick up Lana and we walked the streets, drinking and catching up ,back to our hostel where we realized it was a bit too late (1 am) to go out , especially since we were waking up early for a run the next morning. So we went to sleep and woke up around 9 for a short 30-35 minute run around the city. Milan is pretty metropolitan, so the run wasn’t very great and we were dodging construction and traffic most of the time.
We did get to go into the main center (Duomo) though and It was really nice. We went to a famout panzerotti place called Luini and got some grub. Me, having a major sweet tooth, then felt obligated to get gelato. It was just as wonderful as I had hoped at I’m so happy I don’t live in Italy or else my waistline would be suffering far worse than it is in the Netherlands.
After we indulged, we hopped on the train heading to Nice. It’s about a 4 hour ride, but the views of the Cote’d Azur are really beautiful and so the train ride went by quick. We grabbed a couple bottles of Limoncello and Mandarini at the border before France and made ourselves cocktails before getting to Nice. We settled into the hostel and then made our way out on the town. We went to a place called Wayne’s where they have a live band and strongly encourage you to dance on the tables (which we happily did). We danced and chatted with some people we met from our hostel and then got a sketchy kebab for the walk home.
The next morning we slept in, ate breakfast at the hostel , then went to go walk around Nice. We ran into a market as we wandered the streets and bought some sundried tomatoes, baguette, strawberries, and an orange for a a picnice lunch. We went to pick up our packets for the race and then climbed up a hill/ castle ruins to eat overlooking to beautiful coastline. It was almost too perfect with accordion playing background music. We went down to the beach after that and relaxed on the stony shore. We met some younger Italian girls that we chatted with for a while, then we went back up to the street where we watched the Carnaval flower parade.
After that we went back to the hostel for a little while to hang out before going out to a nice seafood dinner! The place we went was really great, and cheap for everything that we got. I got a place of cod, mussels and fresh vegetables for 14 euro and Lana got Red Rock fish in a stewed tomato sauce. We split a bottle of wine then wandered the streets back and watched a light parade. We it the hay early because we had to wake up pretty early for our race the next morning!
We got the start line around 8:45, checked our belongings in and met a nice woman from London who interviewed us about the race and why we were there etc. We lined up and we were off at 9:15. The race was really great and there were bands along the way while we were running. We ran mainly along the Promenade de Anglais which is RIGHT along the coast, so it was flat and a great view of the Med while we were trotting along. We stopped to take pictures with passerby’s and took our time running, enjoying every minute of it. We still finished in 1 hr 30 min on the dot and we felt like we could’ve kept running for much longer. Afterwards we enjoyed the free food and refreshments and then went to the beach to eat and relax by the water. We slowly made our way back to the hostel where we showered and changed. I went to the train station afterwards where I was informed I wasn’t going to be able to get a reservation for the train I needed back to Amsterdam, so a little speed bump but there had to be someway home by train even if it involved me traveling literally all day. I chose not to really worry about it, so instead we napped and then started talking and drinking with some people at the hostel before going out for our last night in Nice. We drank as we walked around the city an ended up at Wayne’s again for the same cover band and a great night dancing and singing. Around 1 we left and went to the Med for a little dip in the sea to top off the night! It definitely was cold, but felt refreshing after a long day.
So today I woke up after little sleep and am currently on a train, hair still wait for the sea, trying to figure out how I’m going to get home. I have some friend’s places to stay in Germany if I can’t catch the overnight train from Milan… but I’m just taking it easy and enjoying the ride . No use in stressing over something you can’t change. I’ll make it back to Amsterdam eventually. For now I’ll just enjoy the beautiful train ride a long the coast and the warm sunshine that I wont have the pleasure of seeing again till I’m back in May/June.
Made the night train back to Amsterdam, 26 hours + of train travel, phew!
Thanks for reading & here’s a short version of the paragliding trip!