November 26, 2002
A Weekend in the Most Beautiful Place on Earth
Eurail passes were nearly cashed out, Thanksgiving was on the horizon, and schoolwork was picking up. The semester was nearing its end, and many of us decided to end the travel season with a weekend in arguably the most beautiful place on earth, the Alps. We all appreciated the relaxed pace, picturesque scenery, and short train ride it offered at the end of two months of continuous travel and tiring overnight journeys.
Our destination was the town of Interlaken, Switzerland, the birthplace of winter sports and site of pilgrimage for a global crowd of backpackers and thrill-seekers. Situated between two lakes (hence the name) and several amazing mountains, tourists can choose from almost any adventure possible, weather and wallet permitting. Centre students went paragliding, skiing, and even hurled themselves out of completely good airplanes at several thousand feet, all without any permanent debilitating injuries. Miracles never cease.
My first taste of the Alps may have been even scarier than skydiving, however. I climbed into a rented Volkswagen drop-
top with three other guys and sped off through the valley and mountains. None of us had experienced the freedom of independent wheels in months, nor did we have any business stuffing our four crepe-inflated frames into this overgrown go-kart. But the VW never scraped the ground and avoided oncoming traffic, safely delivering us to some of the most amazing hiking in the world.