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…
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?
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…
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.
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.