I am finally back from my 4-week backpacking trip to Europe!
As expected, I returned much darker and poorer than before. Nevertheless, the trip was eye opening for me. I’m not even sure where to begin blogging about it. The people, buildings, food, and music are all different for each city, but all beautiful and intriguing in its own ways.
There were, of course, many things and people I saw and met during my trip, but to write down everything is too much. I suppose I’ll begin this recap series by featuring a story from each city – a funny encounter with a new friend, a breathtaking sight, a meaningful experience, and so forth. While I can’t (and don’t want to) share every moment of my trip with you all, I still want to let you have a little taste of the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit during #FLEuro2016.
Switzerland was our last stop and by the time we arrived at our airbnb in the city of Winterthur, my travel partner, Fatima, and I were straining hard against the lines of our budget. We had already spent all our euros and were depending on our cards for payment (hey, the Swiss have big banks – it’s safe!). Not only does Switzerland have its own currency (francs), everything is expensive. For further context, a cream cheese bagel costed 7 francs at the Zurich train station, which roughly translates to $9.41 CAD. Just remembering that makes me salty.
Anyways, my #1 objective for Switzerland was to do a hike and enjoy the Swiss alps. Our roommates, Yurich and Flo, recommended Ebenalp – the mountain with Wildkirchli, a famous restaurant situated on the side of a mountain.
Everything sounded perfect – I love hiking and hiking is free, right?
Nope. The return train tickets to Ebenalp were approximately $80 CAD, but we already committed so we continued to Ebenalp anyways. The hikes/trails were all under 3 hours (one-way), and it was a beautiful hike up, but let’s skip to the real story part, since I know most of you aren’t here to read about me raving about cows and green meadows, right?
We got to Wildkirchli and sat down next to an elderly woman and man. The woman’s name was Elise and she was celebrating her 70th birthday with her friend, Theo. She spoke 4 languages and told us stories of how her family has lived in the same house for 7 generations. She also told us her travel experiences when she was young. She gave us advice on how to be happy in life – always come back to family, stay on the right path even if you walk alone, and how if you find someone you truly love, nobody else will ever compare.
Elise then offered to show Fatima and I the rest of the mountain, including the caves and church. She translated all the history plaques, making the rest of the hike much more meaningful and interesting. When it started raining, she offered Fatima her extra rain jacket and insisted on paying for our gondola ride down. We told Elise that we would pay for our own tickets, although technically we had planned to just walk back down to save money, but Elise was persistent, telling us it was dangerous to walk back down now that it has rained and the trails are slippery. She reminded us that it was her birthday and that it was a pleasure for her to have met us during such a special day, although we can definitely argue the opposite.
In the end, we let Elise pay for our tickets and thanked her many times for her generosity and kindness. She simply brushed it off, saying that when she was a girl traveling, many people were kind to her and she was now happy to do the same for us.
We will certainly pay it forward – thank you to our Switzerland angel, Elise, whatever you may be doing right now! You have made our trip to Switzerland incredibly memorable.
Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.
― Shannon L. Alder