Tag Archives: interlaken

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Safety Mid-term!

By Trevor Bellwood

You are many weeks into your dream semester overseas in Europe. Countless memories have been made. Your journey has been nothing but incredible. A lot of that can be credited to the priceless tips you received from your friends, family, and first-class travelers. Your Dad’s and Mom’s “be smart, be safe” lecture could have done it, or maybe your Greek brother’s and sister’s study abroad guide helped. Nonetheless let us make sure those memories keep on coming. No bad ones, just good ones. Here are 6 tips that I feel are very important for you and every student for these next few months. I want to make sure you all keep living the dream

1. Walking’s overrated, take a taxi.

Nearly all of the cities and towns you visit are unfamiliar areas. And there’s a good chance you don’t have a working iPhone 5/5c/6 to get you around. After a late night at a club, going to or leaving a train station, or just getting back from a walk gone wrong, call a taxi. Bartenders, bouncers, shop owners, and local law enforcement all are capable of either getting you to a taxi or helping you call for one. Here’s a simple question to ask yourself: “How would Mom want me to walk back?” Sounds silly, but it works!

2. Bar crawl, but don’t crawl.

As you probably know, crawls are one of the best ways to get immersed in any city’s nightlife and visit the top bars and clubs. They are offered in nearly all of the great cities in Europe–from the epic Clock Tower Bar Crawl in Prague, Czech Republic to the new crawl in quaint ol’ Interlaken, Switzerland that ends at the dynamic Metro Bar Nightclub. But joining in on them responsibly is key for them to be great experiences. It is pretty easy. Just take whatever you do back home to stay in control, and add a few more precautions. Be careful with the welcome shots and stay with one brand of beer for the night. These ‘welcome shots’(a.k.a. sugary shooters) tend to throw many students off their pace.

European beers, on average, are a bit stronger than the typical American brands. Try to find a good one with a reasonable ABV percentage, and stick to it for the night. If you try to taste every beer on tap and in the fridge it gets tough to keep track of the intake of alcohol–some beers can be the typical 4% U.S. brand or the lethal 10% Dragoon (Florence students, you better know about this sensation!).

3. You don’t have to GoPro everything

The love for GoPros is at an all-time high. Studying abroad and owning a GoPro will soon become an application prerequisite. But owning one does not mean that you need to put blood, sweat, and tears into getting every single GoPro action shot.

Is a GoPro cliff-jumping video worth a trip to the hospital? Injuries from cliff-jumping are far too common: massive bruises and banged up backs happen all the time. Do not let a half-second jump ruin your semester. Take the cooler pictures from land.

4. Stick to the trails when skiing the European Alps.

There is east coast skiing, then there is west coast skiing, and then there is the mighty skiing that can be done in the alps throughout Europe. The thrills that these mountains offer are second to none. These thrills attract countless students to get on the slopes, like in the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps or the Dolomites in Italy. And at times there seem to be no limits for what can be done. But oh, there are. Skiing “on piste,” as the French say, is skiing and enjoying the fresh powder within the marked boundaries. Going “off piste”  presents a large risk, and can result in severe or fatal injuries. In addition to these injuries, the high cost of rescue will be added to your bill, as rescue off piste is not guaranteed or covered by most health or accident insurance. If you are looking for some good local backcountry, play it safe and hire a local guide.

5. Buddy system is the best system

Being with a buddy ensures two important things: you will always have a partner in crime to help get out of the bad times and a buddy to celebrate the glory with–such a win-win situation. BFFs, ya know.

6. Love the locals

Studying abroad is not a right, it is most certainly a privilege. You were granted permission to leave the United States and explore the world. Wherever in Europe you ended up, you were greeted, welcomed, and allowed to come into and enjoy. Please remember to respect this environment since that place is someone’s home and you are just the guest. You can show this respect in many ways, from being quiet and respecting strict noise ordinances at night and in the early morning, or refraining from making harsh irrational judgments based on someone’s perceived actions. I know your Dad and Mom taught you to always think before you speak; well, that is as important as the famous golden rule (treat others as you wish to be treated) when crossing the pond to Europe.

 

Have fun, get out there, explore Europe, and be safe.

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7 European Cities That Will Totally Surprise You

By Ashleigh Farrar and Marlee Newman

  1. Prague

    1260851_2177585610508_2058552766_nPrague is the perfect balance of romantic and gothic. You can’t help but dream about your childhood fantasy, Disney movie prince… but at the same time, if you had to pick a city to slay a giant dragon in, Prague would be it. Not into princes or dragon slaying? (c’mon…) You can still jam out at a 5 story club, eat delicious Trdelník dessert in the streets or walk across one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, Saint Charles bridge.

    Prague is surprisingly cool because it has it all: Magnificent architecture, unreal night life, great food and rich history. So what if every word in Czech is 8 syllables with no vowels? A visit to Prague is well worth the journey and butchered pronunciation attempts.

  2. Split10665916_10152737391314809_3628274557816896208_n
    Greece is to Kim Kardashian as Croatia is to Kendall Jenner. Greece is a little more famous… but Croatia is younger and hotter! Split brings so much to the table, and the best thing about it? Not many are at the table yet! Split isn’t overrun by tourists, and every corner is even more shockingly beautiful than the last. Another surprise? The seafood in Split! Croatia offers some of the best seafood around. You have not experienced calamari until you have it grilled on a giant platter in Split, Croatia. This isn’t your local Red Lobster. Fisherman go out early in the morning off the coast, and whatever they catch for the day is what is served at restaurants that night. Whether you’re walking through a beautiful palace, rafting down the Cetina River, or eating fresh seafood, Split has surprises around every corner.
  3. Interlaken: SwitzerlandIMG_0982

    You’re probably thinking Swiss cheese, everyone walking around with skis, and unbelievable chocolate. Not far off… but Interlaken offers so much more. Imagine diving into one of those little Christmas, gingerbread house villages. Everything is cozy and charming but at the same time, Interlaken is the adventure capital of Europe (curveball?!). You can go skydiving, paragliding, canyoning, or of course, you can casually ski down the Swiss Alps. Between the picturesque mountain views and emerald green lakes, Interlaken is a hidden gem.

  4. Bruges and Brussels, Belgium10429269_10153053436403368_208734028596970368_n

    Brussels and Bruges do not get nearly enough attention. Beer, chocolate, waffles and French fries are delicacies. What more could we want? One of the biggest surprises in Brussels is Grand Place (grand platz), or the main square. It is stunningly beautiful and, at night, the whole square lights up as if the buildings are giant lanterns. Not impressed? Have a beer right around the corner at Delirium Bar with over 2000 different beers! Another great surprise is the fact that Brussels’s main monument is a tiny man pissing and no one knows why he’s famous. Instead of visiting it, you can spend all of your time drinking beer and eating waffles and write home to ma and pa about it guilt free.

    And, waffles. This deserves its own section. Most people visit Brussels and order their fantasy Belgium waffle. Heaps of Nutella dripping over the sides, giant strawberries, walnuts, and bananas piled to the ceiling. BRACE YOURSELF: Brussels waffles are best completely plain. No hooplah needed. You think I’m crazy? I’m a “Nutella on everything” kinda girl but take my word on this one. About 30 minutes outside of Brussels you’ll find Bruges. Picture the most romantic city you’ve ever been to. It has the scenic canals of Venice and the charming beauty of Northern Europe. The best part? You can still grab greasy fries in a cone and a famous Leffe beer.

  5. Amsterdam

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    You probably have some preconceived notions about Amsterdam. Throw them out the window, and get ready for surprises on every street corner. Great shopping, amazing food, and beautiful parks.

  6. NiceIMG_0981

    Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and the famous. You’d probably expect to see celebrities and paparazzi on every corner, limos, and movie premiers in the most talked about city in The French Riviera. Sure, there is the occasional celebrity sighting and plenty of yachts cruising by, but there is also a lot of unexpected artsy-charm in Nice. The charming streets of “Old Nice” are lined with cute stores selling pastries, perfumes, and other knickknacks. At night the city lights up, and the streets fill with like-minded wine connoisseurs. The most unexpected thing about Nice is the people. I’m sure they have their handful of snooty residents, but the majority of the people you encounter in Nice are shockingly “nice.” It’s a breath of nice, French air in comparison to Paris.

  7. BerlinIMG_0986

    History. Tons and tons of history. That’s what you’d expect in Berlin, right? Well you’re right. Berlin is filled with it. With all the WWII history centered in Berlin, you’d expect to see informational signs and museums on every corner. Shockingly, you have to dig a little deeper to really understand Berlin’s history. If you think about it, it makes sense. All these terrible, awful things happened in Berlin, do the residents really want to be reminded of that everyday? In no way is the city of Berlin attempting erase their history, they just aren’t screaming it at the top of their lungs. You’ll definitely be surprised when you’re standing in an apartment complex parking lot, learning that just below it was where Hitler’s bunker once stood. Besides the understated history in Berlin, there is also an up-and-coming alternative scene that is catching the eyes of young backpackers more and more each year. Because of the devastation Berlin underwent during WWII, a lot of the city is being rebuilt and is nearly all new. Its nothing like what you’d expect.

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11 Reasons Interlaken is Heaven in Both Summer and Winter

11. The Jungfrau Mountain

Bernese Oberland tourism destinations

Whether you are skiing down its world class trails or simply ogling at it from town, the Jungfrau Mountain is sent from above.

10. Hike till ya drop

Harder Kulm

Get your lungs ready for the hike of a lifetime! About two hours uphill but, let me tell you, the view of the lakes, Interlaken, and the mountains is more than worth it. If you aren’t into that whole exercise thing, there is a funicular to cruise you right on up so you can still enjoy the views.

9. Hitting the slopes

Ski Trails

If you are the ultimate ski bunny or board rat, Interlaken in the winter is for you. It is the gateway to the Jungfrau mountain trails which give you hours and hours of intense skiing!

8. The sky is not only for clouds

Skydivers

Interlaken is the adventure capital of Europe, and looking up all year long will not only show you clear skies but people floating down. Let your adventure animal roar as you paraglide or skydive from the planes and peaks into the center of Interlaken.

7. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese

Swiss Cheese

If cheese is something you could never live without, get on a plane to Interlaken now! The Swiss cheese there is locally made, and after what seems like just one bite, before you know it, three pounds of this food of the gods has disappeared…

6. Rosti for every meal

Rosti

No matter if it is hot or cold out the best way to chow down in Switzerland is with a traditional Swiss Rosti. Who doesn’t love fried potatoes sometimes garnished with a nice egg on top?!

5. Gatorade blue lakes

Lake Brienz

Taking a leisurely walk through Interlaken will bring you to two different lakes, one of which is the most breathtaking lake you may ever see, known by Interlaken fanatics as Gatorade Blue Lake Brienz.

4. Swiss chocolate

Chocolat

I mean…enough said. A country known for its chocolate is someplace I want to be year round.

3. World class relaxation

Victoria Jungfrau

Interlaken is the home of The Grand Hotel Victoria Jungfrau. Stay at a world class hotel with world class food–and the best part: the Spa has won 5 stars and will take away any aches and pains after a day of adventuring.

2. Water sports for days

Canyoning-Water Sports

While you may think Switzerland means snow and skiing, think again. Interlaken is also known for its white water rafting, canyoning, boating, and more. A basic summer night is turned into romance central when you are lounging by the lake watching the sunset.

1. Dream Land

Lake Thun Sunset

 

Walking through Interlaken is like walking through someplace you thought you could only dream of. With the snow capped mountains behind you and the gleaming lake in front of you, Interlaken will quickly become a place you never want to leave, and when you eventually have to, the spot you want to return to over and over again!

 

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Pure Bliss: Skydive Swiss Alps Edition

Skydiving was something I had always wanted to do, but not necessarily something I thought would actually happen. Before I left for Italy, a friend told me that her biggest regret of studying abroad was that she didn’t skydive over the Swiss Alps. I immediately began looking into it, researching companies that offered it and thinking about when I would want to do it. I looked into how much it would cost including pictures and videos, and I started watching videos on the Skydive Swiss Alps website. Finally, I booked a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland a month before leaving to study abroad through Bus2Alps, where I would skydive.

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To say that I wasn’t nervous at all would definitely be an understatement. The only thing I felt the entire week leading up to my skydive, including the 10 seconds before I jumped, was adrenaline and pure excitement. The lack of nerves were probably attributable to the combination of extreme adrenaline high and the fact that I’d watched countless videos of people doing exactly what I would be doing, replacing any potential nervousness with excitement.

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I woke up the day of; a van picked me up at my hostel and took me to the runway/landing zone. The group went through a brief training of what to do at each part of the skydive in terms of positioning your body. If you do skydive, you need to get a video, because whoever you jump with has a GoPro and films every step of the way: interviews you right before getting on the plane, films the scenery from the plane, talks to you while you’re ascending, and then right before you jump as well as the whole way down. I love watching the video now because I literally had a smile on my face the entire time, and I was able to choose the songs to go on the video, so it takes me back almost instantly, which may sound corny but this was one of the best days ever. I’ve never felt so great in a way that isn’t comprehendible unless you’ve experience it: pure bliss.

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The whole experience, regardless of how short it may have been, also made me realize how important it is to maintain a grateful and appreciative attitude no matter where you are in life. The rush of emotions and adrenaline I felt the whole day and week before my skydive are so vivid and memorable, as is the beautiful view of the Alps that I experienced. Even after I landed I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I had done something that I never really thought I’d have the chance to do and it felt incredible, physically and mentally.

I think an important part of life and life abroad especially is pushing boundaries and limits that you’ve maybe set for yourself and that you didn’t necessarily expect yourself to push. Experiencing new things despite certain fears or reservations you may have is so important because most of the time, if you end up trying something that you were a little bit skeptical about, you won’t regret it, you’ll just wonder why you were nervous or skeptical in the first place. I don’t even know now why I ever thought that skydiving was an unachievable, back burner goal.

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Treat Yo Self: Exploring National Food Identities

While they may not be consistently nutritious, and more notably low in calories, the food that characterizes many European countries is consistently delicious. So many of the places I visited had a sort of “food identity.” I’m here to tell you what each of those identities is as well as remind you to treat yourself to them if you have the chance because you’ll miss it more than you know when you’re home. Eat whatever you want. Do not count calories. Just treat yourself.

Good old Italia. Also the country in which I studied and which also happens to be a country known for its cuisine. Italy is so big and every region’s food is so different, making it easy to come by good food. Studying in Florence, there’s all the places everyone knows and goes to like Zaza’s, Gusta Pizza, All’Antico Vinaio, Pino’s, Gatto, etc, plus SO MUCH MORE/way too many to name. My favorite panini in Florence was definitely All’Antico Vinaio, could’ve eaten it every single day.

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I also loved the panini at a little wine bar called ‘ino over by the Uffizi. Their bread is amazing, and all of the panini have three ingredients, and all of them are delicious.

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Rome has similar food, but they’re definitely known for carbonara so make sure to treat yourself to some if you’re there. Truffle ravioli are an essential part of any Italian experience; so make sure to order those as well because they aren’t hard to come by.

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The truffle ravioli at Tony’s in Rome.
Venetian seafood.
Venetian seafood.

Olives, cheese, meat(s), and wine are essentials in Italy, so treat yourself to as much of those as you can because those truly aren’t the same in the US.

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From left to right all the way down: Milan’s Salsamenteria di Parma served their wine in bowls instead of glasses; Cantinetta dei Verrazzano in Florence has some of the best cheese and meat to go along with their family’s famous wine; treats from La Fierucola, the organic market held on the third Sunday of every month in Florence’s Santo Spirito; gorgonzola, pecorino, honey, meats and wine from a market/event in Piazza Santa Maria Novella; olives and cheese from the same market; cool presentation of cheese and meat at La Vivanda in Florence.
From left to right all the way down: Milan’s Salsamenteria di Parma served their wine in bowls instead of glasses; Cantinetta dei Verrazzano in Florence has some of the best cheese and meat to go along with their family’s famous wine; treats from La Fierucola, the organic market held on the third Sunday of every month in Florence’s Santo Spirito; gorgonzola, pecorino, honey, meats and wine from a market/event in Piazza Santa Maria Novella; olives and cheese from the same market; presentation of cheese and meat at La Vivanda in Florence.

Barcelona, aka many people’s heaven on Earth, has anything you’d ever want and more. Treat yourself to brunch at Milk or Brunch & Cake and then later chow down on some patatas bravas at Tapas 24 or tomate. When you wake up on Saturday, maybe stop by Bo de B for a tasty sandwich filled with all fresh ingredients. From what I could tell, tapas are pretty big here so that’s the thing to try if nothing else, besides maybe the eggs Benny on a waffle at Brunch & Cake/the best treat ever.

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GREECE. Greek food is unreal. If you don’t eat moussaka if/when in Greece, you’re missing out. It’s similar to lasagna in that it’s layered, but this bad boy’s got eggplant or potatoes, followed by some meat, followed by a ‘savory custard’ (tastes like cheese). It’s out of this world.

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Prague: the city of treats. If you’re feeling really wild n crazy and want to gain 5 pounds in a weekend (not really but probably) eat how I ate while I was in Prague. Czech people are into meat and beer. Most dishes are served with potatoes of some sort and all the meat is cooked to perfection. I went during a weekend before Easter, so Old Town Square was filled with tents selling food and beer. They had homemade chips literally right out of the fryer, “grilled” cheese, grilled chicken and veggie skewers and so much SAUSAGE. Treats on treats on treats on treats. This was one of my favorite weekends food-wise, plus beer is the equivalent of water in Prague. While calories did play a very large factor here, I still decided to treat myself, and look how happy I was:

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Amsterdam was hands down my favorite city. If Boston and Venice had a baby it would be Amsterdam. Being here made me miss the US while simultaneously wishing I were European. Food-wise, not much to say except for cheese museum and pancakes. Other than that all the food was what you’d find anywhere. If you don’t eat a pancake or treat yourself at the cheese museum while in Amsterdam don’t worry about it, you probably just aren’t as into cheese as you should be. It’s a museum full of free cheese samples, so I don’t know what more you could ask for. The Heineken Experience is also a must.

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In Germany the majority of what I treated myself to consisted of beer, but Springfest has lots of tasty treats. Some Bratwurst, some roasted chicken, pretzels, more meat, some potatoes. Good stuff, but nothing too exciting.

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Cheese and chocolate are Switzerland’s staples…treats all around. I’m pretty indifferent towards chocolate, but I make up for those feelings with my feelings for cheese.

Treating myself to some candlelit fondue at Gasthof Hirschen in Interlaken. I insist that you do this too.
Treating myself to some candlelit fondue at Gasthof Hirschen in Interlaken. I insist that you do this too.

In addition to their cheese, Switzerland dabbles in landscapes, mountain ranges and overall aesthetic appeal.

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I hope that wherever you study and wherever you may travel, you always remember to treat yourself. So much of my experience abroad involved food and I don’t regret it, nor do I regret anything that I ate, because I thoroughly enjoyed it all. If you ever need encouragement or inspiration, just read this post again.

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“Why We Ride” blog competition

Bus2alps is holding another awesome contest for all those who love travel. All you have to do is write a blog post explaining why you ride with Bus2alps! You don’t have to be a professional writer but creativity, as always, is encouraged.

Blog submissions will be accepted from March 31 until Tuesday, April 8 at midnight CET.

After that, Bus2alps will pick five favorites and open the polls to the public for voting. Voting on the Final 3 blog posts will take place from Wednesday, April 9 to Friday, April 11 at midnight CET. Winners are announced and notified April 12.

Here are the rules:

  • Blog entries must be 1000 words or less

  • Your entry must be posted on your personal blog and submitted with blog link to wiseman@bus2alps.com

  • All entries must have a direct link to the Bus2alps website

  • All blog entries must be tagged with the following: Bus2alps, Student Travel, Student Travel <city you are studying in>, <the destination>, Study Abroad, Bus2alps review

  • The contestant must state the following in their entry:

    • The Bus2alps destination they were/are in

    • Why you ride with Bus2alps

    • Why the Bus2alps trip enhanced your experience

    • And of course any other funny stories or experience you had

  • Entries do not need to be professionally written and must include at least one photo from the trip

Prizes:
3rd place- 50% off French Riviera trip
2nd place- 100% off Interlaken and Lake Como trip AND free Bus2alps t-shirt
1st place- 100% off Bus2alps weekend trip of choice AND free Bus2alps t-shirt and tote

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Europe’s top 10 adventure experiences

By Emily Rosenbloom and Sara Wiseman

10. Hiking in Cinque Terre
hiking
Lace up your sneakers and get ready to climb. Trails in Cinque Terre offer a stair-filled workout for your buns. The trails also offer incredible views of the towns and coast.

9. Scuba-diving in the French Riviera
scuba
After winning big at the Monte Carlo and living the high life, take a load off and explore Nice’s underwater world.

8. Whitewater Rafting in Croatia
rafting
While this activity gets the adrenaline pumping, visitors should also consider rafting in Croatia for the stunning views.

7. Caving in Budapest
caving
Also known as spelunking, caving is a unique activity that allows you to explore wild cave systems. Why do you want to do this? It’s a unique and beautiful experience in an equally beautiful city!

6. Visiting Morocco
morocco
New continent, new world! Morocco is one of a kind and an experience within its self! If you’re looking for an adventure, Morocco is calling your name.

5. Cliff jumping in Positano
cliff jumping
One word: Awesome!

4. ATV’ing in Greece
atv
Why walk when you can four wheel it around one of Europe’s most ancient cities? It’s the only way to explore Greece!

3. Canyon jumping in Interlaken
canyon jump
One of three places in the world that offers canyon jumping. You’ll take that jump and free fall through the canyon. It’s an adrenaline junkie’s heaven!

2. Surfing in Portugal
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Wax up your board and rip the waves. Or, if you’re a newbie, take a lesson to get onto your feet and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Portugal on a different level.

1. Skydiving in Interlaken
skydiving
You’ll never want to leave Interlaken after free falling between the snowy mountains and the two lakes.