Grunge tenting – Switzerland Part 3

Grunge tenting – Switzerland Part 3

So carrying on from the last part of my adventure, our group continued driving through the night until we ended up in the parking garage of a sports complex somewhere in the lil’ town of Flims, Switzerland. We slept that night in hammocks in the women’s locker room– not the most comfortable or warm, but pretty exotic really and it does make for a funny memory.

When morning came the next day I woke and ventured out to see my surroundings properly. We were in pine and mountain territory which suited me just fine (having grown up a hop skip and jump away from the rockies). The rigging crew was already hard at work setting lines up for us to play on for the next couple of days. Adam had still not arrived by this time, so I and a few new friends set off sauntering down the path toward Caumasee Lake which is just about as beautiful as a lake can get…

20170901_06123220170901_061252

We took to the paddle boat and set off to explore. We paddled, then jumped off a diving board and swam through the water which was far more icy cold than I anticipated. This lake is tucked away by these beautiful big fur trees and the water is this blue/green hue that glistens like some fairytale scene.

This place was the last stop on the waterlining tour, which was perhaps a good thing because the weather was starting to take a turn for the worse. Whereas in Sion it was swelteringly hot, in Flims it was overcast and pouring rain. I was surprised to be pulling out my toque and warmest coat on only our first week of the trip.

And our camping situation? That was something else entirely. When Adam finally arrived we had to sort out what to do. None of us wanted to set up our tents in the soaking wet grass and under the pouring rain, so we decided instead to set up in the parking garage…

Sorry for the very poor quality video, but to be honest when I was in the moment it didn’t seem like a something to capture in HQ!  I just took this one quickly as an update for my mom.

As you can see we huddled all of our tents together and sectioned ourselves off with some tape. Cars rolling in must have been very surprised to see our little makeshift garage campground. That’s where we were hanging out, preparing our food and making friends when the rain was pouring down. Every time there was a break in the sky we would race back down to the lines for more fun…

20170901_06171220170901_061738

I’m pretty new to this sport, but I was completely floored by the immensity of this operation and the dedication of those doing the rigging– they worked tirelessly all day through cold, wind and rain to get these waterlines up. The passion that exists within the slackline community is so rich and lovely. Everyone is adventurous, positive, and up lifting. They take care of each other. Even when the weather absolutely sucked everyone put in their best effort to battle these lines and make the most of it.

20170901_062720

If you want to see a few of these incredible humans in action…

Remember this water is super cold, the air is hardly any better, it’s raining like crazy most of the time, and these lines are extremely difficult and challenging to walk. Meaning that these are actually super humans you’re watching! 🙂

It is really remarkable to my eyes. While I didn’t get on any of these lines, I was certainly grateful for the company, the scenery, and the adventure.

20170901_094457
one very happy boyfriend
20170901_075828
new friends
20170901_061520
at last some sun!

If you’re interested in seeing a little more of what I was a part of, these awesome peoples also made this video about the event, which is below!

 

That’s about it for part 3, thanks for reading!

Part 4 coming soon 😀

Magic is a midnight lightning storm – Switzerland Part 2

Magic is a midnight lightning storm – Switzerland Part 2

You know when you’re reading a book or watching a movie and something absolutely magical happens that literally gives you tingles? And you sit there in complete awe of how beautiful the universe can be, thinking about how you’d love for things like that to happen way more often in real life?

I believe these magical moments are all around us, all the time, and we just have to keep our eyes open to see them. They can even come in the form of really small/mundane things like not getting a ticket even through you left your car parked illegally for hours at a time, or finding a pair of jeans that actually feel comfortable, or maybe just witnessing the barista getting your order right for once at Starbucks.  Maybe you’re really moved by Christmas lights, or gingerbread, or snow, and you love the whimsical energy that December inevitably brings. Whatever your magic, I know I’m not the only one that celebrates these little day-to-day victories, but I want to tell you about one of the more grandiose victories that I experienced on my recent jaunt through Europe, so let’s go back to Switzerland again.

One of the main reasons we decided to start in Switzerland (because it’s crazy to start there in the land of everything-is-more-expensive-than-you’ve-ever-seen-it) is because of a waterline tour that was taking place. What’s that, you ask?  The waterline tour is this beautiful gathering of slack liners from all over the world who come together to (you guessed it!) slackline! The difference being that these lines are rigged over water. You get on, fall off, get wet, level up, meet new friends, and experience a week of infinite adventure. When you’re not from Switzerland, that sense of adventure is amped up 100 fold and reinforced by how beautiful the landscape is. Honestly, it’s so surreal. Let me show you what I mean, just take a look at how gorgeous this place is…

20170829_04575120170829_06434020170829_07001620170829_103641

This enchanting place is called Sion– it’s surrounded by mountains and decorated by not one, but two castles. It was our first stop on the tour and the place where we pitched our tent for the first (of many) nights. Being there felt like being at camp and also a little awkward for me because I felt like the new kid tossed in amongst a bunch of old friends… because I was. To be honest I’m a bit of a shy person, especially in overwhelming groups where everyone knows each other except me. Having said that, people were beyond welcoming and lovely, and even though I was a bit out of sorts I knew I was amongst a wonderful group of people.

On the third day we were there we decided to take the train into town to do a little exploring and take a peak at one of the castles. Being from Canada, I was beyond excited to get a look at some castles…those things that people used to build, but don’t anymore, and don’t exist in North America. It’s all part of the Eurotrip, you know?

20170830_06262820170830_06274520170830_06323720170830_06365120170830_070722

We wandered through town and trekked up and up and up the hill toward the castle. Since this was the first week of the trip, I was just brimming with energy and stopping every few metres to snap a million photos. The trek was harder than you might think, made harder by the fact that the sun was swelteringly hot, but the reward was incredible…

20170830_06530620170830_06334720170830_06353620170830_06421220170830_065329

As I sit here back in my apartment a few months later, reliving this day, I can’t help but feel swept away by just how extraordinary it really was. Thinking of the me from that day, knowing now all the wild and crazy things that were to come, I just feel really proud of myself for finally making a trip like this happen. And this place, this moment, feels like the start of it all. This was magic and magic enough, but it wasn’t even the moment that I was talking about earlier. Yes! It goes on.

After we were done in town we headed back to camp for what was to be our last evening in Sion before moving onto Flims. That’s when we ran into one of our first obstacles: getting there. With no car, and a small budget, and not knowing anyone, this was proving to be tricky. The trouble was that taking the train wasn’t really an option. Well, it wasn’t a good option. Taking the train in Switzerland will drain your pocket faster than you can say please don’t. We discovered that when we initially tried to get to Sion from Zurich, which was far and beyond what we fathomed spending (we ended up taking a blablacar instead). And the trouble was worse because even if we could resort to the train, which we couldn’t, there’s no direct route from Sion to Flims. You have to go all the way back to Zurich first and around because of the mountain passes that prevent a train from being able to run in that direction.

20171212_190520

As you can see it’s just ridiculous to go around– even if you can afford it. Much better to go straight through if you can. We had to ask around and try to find a ride from the many strangers at our camp, most of whom already had full cars, whether with humans or slackline equipment.

It seemed like we were out of luck. My boyfriend kept wandering around trying to see if anyone could squeeze us in, and I went online to try to find us another blablacar, wondering if it was time for us to try our hand at hitchhiking…

When I saw my boyfriend returning I could read on his face immediately that something was up.

“I have good news and bad news,” he said, “I found us rides, but not together. I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning, and you’ll be leaving in about 20 minutes.”

I was a bit taken aback by that. I mean, we only had one tent… if I went that night where was I going to sleep? If I take the tent where does he sleep? Generally I just wasn’t happy about the situation because I think it’s best to stick together and we had only been abroad for a few days, not long enough to feel comfortable just yet. But, thinking about it- hitchhiking wasn’t really an option. Neither was the train. Walking was definitely out, so… that was pretty much that. We started googling reasonably priced hotels (which so far as I know do not exist in Switzerland)  for me to stay at for one night. I packed up all my stuff and walked across the campground to meet the people I would be traveling with to Flims. There was a group traveling together that night, probably about 4 vehicles full of people, and luckily for me, there was space in one of the vans for me to squeeze into. Introductions were made and we started talking about departure, etc. That’s when one of the guys said to me,

“By the way, we’re not going all the way to Flims tonight, we’ll be wild camping and driving the rest of the way there tomorrow.”

………

but… I don’t have a tent.” I said meekly.

and he just said, “No worries, we’ll sort you out.”

At this point I was pretty nervous. I mean I had that one rogue camping adventure which I thoroughly enjoyed, but that was with my boyfriend and two of our best friends, and in my own tent. This was driving through the swiss alps in the middle of the night with a group of strangers, without my boyfriend, having none of my own equipment, with no mobile communication, and sleeping I-didn’t-know-where in I-didn’t-know-what. The stress is understandable, right?  But, that was the situation so I gave them my bag, kissed my boyfriend goodbye, and got in the van.

Off we went, driving through the swiss alps in the middle of the night in a great big van. It was too dark for me to see anything, which I regretted, but as the night went on it started to rain and we found ourselves driving through one of the most tremendous lightning storms I’d ever seen. After many hours of this, the group (all the cars) took a little stop at the top of one of the mountain passes. The rain had subsided somewhat and everyone was deciding where we would sleep. We were in an oddball parking lot of a restaurant which had long since closed as it was probably around 1 or 2 in the morning at this time. With the rain relenting somewhat, everyone took the opportunity to get out of the car and stretch their legs. The parking lot overlooked the town below which was crested in valley and which, I imagined, showcased an enormously stunning view during the day. I walked over to the edge to look into the darkness in front of me, and what came next was the magical moment.

It was the lightning. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Each strike was wild and bold, and every time they burst out of the sky they cast a fleeting blaze of light over the valley below such that I could see the buildings and shape of it all. Flash after flash ignited like this, allowing me one of the most unique viewing experiences of a place I’d ever seen. It was captivating. Everyone was drawn in by the sheer magnificence of the show, and we all stood there admiring it. I was shivering somewhat from the cold so one of the guys came over to me and, without saying a word, cocooned me in a sleeping bag that he was already sharing with someone else. The three of us huddled together on that mountain and watched the sky explode. All was silent except for the the roar of the thunder, and the sound of the rain as it began to creep back in. It gave me all the tingles.

I think that one will go down in my memory bank hall of fame.

Thanks for reading guys, I know it was a long one. Hope you enjoyed.

xoxo

 

Let’s go back to Switzerland

Let’s go back to Switzerland

I’ve been home from my grand European adventure for almost a month now. In the last three weeks I’ve started three new jobs, gotten a year older, and donated even more of my apartment to charity (forever en route to minimalism). I’ve slipped gracefully(?) back into Toronto life– aka big-city-life aka sirens-never-stop-life aka never-see-the-stars-life aka it’s-actually-okay-here-life.

I usually find it a little difficult to adjust to my regular world after being away for so long (I was gone for over two months!) but this time it was rather unremarkable. Instead of being all ~woooowww I’m home! How novel~ I was just like –oh yeah. This is Toronto. Okay-

This morning I ran out of soap in the shower and it was time to bust open the last remaining piece of my adventure– a bar soap I purchased in Cologne, Germany. As far as I’m concerned I’m still overseas in my heart so long as the soap remains….

maybe that’s a little out there. But hey! This is my inner dialogue and I can pretend, okay!

Alright… let’s go back to the beginning.

On August 26th I was hastily cramming my new backpack full of what I thought was necessary for two months of life on the road. I went through my mental checklist– clothes, toiletries, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, collapsible pillow– seemingly I was good. My boyfriend was a lot more confident in our packing abilities than I was, and so he waited patiently for me to say “oh but!” and “wait! what about” at least a few dozen times as we were preparing to leave.

We were subletting the apartment for two months to a couple from the UK who were miraculously a lot like us. The girl was around my age and we connected on some very key points so I felt pretty confident leaving my place in her care. I gave her my key and she said,

Okay, bye! Happy Travels!

Thus I left my home to be someone else’s home for a while, and I sauntered off to the airport weighing much more than I usually do when I leave my front door. As I mentioned a while back, this was to be my first ever proper backpacking trip. I was mostly excited, although somewhat unnerved… I mean, what was waiting for me across the pond? So many doubts running through my head: Can I really make this work for two whole months? What if I run out of money so fast that I can’t afford to eat and I end up sleeping in my backpack on some unknown European street, unable even to ask for help because I can’t speak the local language!? Oh god.

Despite these nagging doubts I actually went into this trip with a healthy attitude– I knew it wasn’t always going to be pleasant or easy (I was right), but I also knew the adventure would teach me so much (also right).

After checking in and with our burdensome backpacks vanquished into the ether it was time to board and get ready for one of the least pleasant parts of traveling… the dreaded flight. We were scheduled to land in Zurich around 8:30 in the morning, which I think is pretty brutal. I’d much rather land just before bedtime so I could sleep and adjust to the time difference. The thought of landing after an exhausting flight and then having to face a brand new day was a bit daunting. But hey, maybe I could sleep on the plane. I once slept through an entire flight (Auckland to Calgary) from beginning to end. Maybe flight miracles can happen twice?

 

Though our faces and hearts were optimistic, it was not to be…

20170827_013710

Somewhere, way up high in the sky, amidst this beautiful and seemingly zen window seat view, I got yelled at by the woman in front of me as I was innocently trying to sleep.

I think most people can agree how agonising it is to sleep on planes. No matter what you do there is absolutely no way to get a good night’s sleep or even moderately enjoy yourself. *inhale* You flip through inane magazines, watch movies you don’t really care to watch, half-heartedly read a book, or play chess with the computer and when all of that inevitably fails to entertain you, you toss and turn and pray to the universe that you might get just a small sliver of shut-eye, even though body part after body part is falling torturously to sleep and everything you ever learned about your breath and meditation is coming up short until there you are – somewhere in the sky in no man’s land – questioning your entire life and wondering how you ever found yourself on this god forsaken plane in the first place. *exhale*

Or at least that’s how it is for me.

So back to this woman… at some point during all of this turmoil I suppose I accidentally bumped her chair as I was shifting between uncomfortable positions, and where most people would feel a slight sting of annoyance and shrug it off, she decided to turn around over top of her chair to aggressively poke me and wake me up.

“You kicked my chair,” she just about yelled.

It was apparent that I had ruined her holiday before she even landed at her destination.

I was a bit dazed, but I immediately apologised and told her it wasn’t on purpose. I think most everyone in the world would understand, but no…

You’re making it so I can’t sleep!!” she exclaimed, and then she just stood there looming over me with hatred in her frazzled looking eyes, waiting for a more satisfying response.

So I said, “Yes, well I can’t either because there’s a crazy woman yelling at me…”

….

..

.

Okay I didn’t really say that. I took the boring road and just said I would be more mindful which I guess she accepted because she finally turned around and slumped angrily back down into her chair. But jeez it was a really awkward situation. I mean if I kick your chair, and you yell at me, and I earnestly apologise, then… what more do you want from me? Should I sing you a lullaby? Guide you into savasana? Prostrate myself at your feet? What?

Anyways there wasn’t much getting back to sleep after that, but it didn’t matter. The hours went by and we would be touching down soon enough. Switzerland was finally in sight through the plane window, and that little magical feeling was beginning to set in.

It was happening.

20170827_02562020170827_023956

There’s not much to say about that first day, it was all a bit of a haze. One thing I can say with confidence is that I took the world’s best nap which more than made up for the grind of the flight. We were lucky enough to stay at a friend’s apartment who was out of town, so we had a cozy bed, a kitchen, and a base to make the most of the first day– which was mostly wandering as you might expect.

Zurich is a lovely city with some really nice architecture and even nicer canals. Also, the day had literally PERFECT weather. Clear skies and bright sun. It was so hot and I was so glad I decided to pack shorts, although it turned out to be one of only three or so days where shorts were acceptable attire, and the rest of the time they just took up space. Another thing we learned that day which we had to relearn every week thereafter– grocery stores in Switzerland are closed on Sundays, and many restaurants as well. Just doesn’t happen where I’m from.

20170827_11124720170827_11150920170827_11155120170827_111453

When we finally felt tired from our long day, we decided to hang out with some ducks and get our feet wet in the water…

Well that pretty much sums up day one.. so that’s one down and another sixty or so to write about.

Have a great weekend everyone! xo