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It doesn’t take long for anyone to realize that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to travel in the world. After seeing countless hostels that took up $40 per bed per night on hostelworld.com, I found numerous hostels in Interlaken with much cheaper price to stay. Not to mention, most hostels in Switzerland are located in this town. Although not sure why is it such a popular place, I decided to check it out – simply because it is so much cheaper to stay there (yes, I’m Asian)….
Well, this is probably the best decision I have made in Switzerland so far. Although it didn’t save me money by going there, I spent a lot of money on doing adventure stuff like river rafting, canyoning, and rope courses. But its superb location in between two high-altitude lakes made it a superb place for all sorts of outdoors adventure activities.
I remember arriving here around 9pm on a Thursday night, by then, it’s already dark and I could see clouds circling around its mountains right outside of the train station. Following the road signs and my own map, I made my way to the Balmers Herberge Hostel – one of the most popular hostels and also one of the cheapests on hostelworld.com. Surprisingly, I found the receptionist is a guy from Plano, Texas. He stayed here due to his wife is a local to Interlaken. We happily exchanged our experiences in Europe for a while before he pointed me to my tent camp – just a kilometer away from here. “but it’s dark, is there anyway I could follow someone to my camp?” I was obviously very worried.
“Don’t worry, there are very big signs so you won’t miss it.” He assured me…
There were big signs, but it was night and there weren’t much light around this mountain town and I kept walking till it started to rain. The rain got harder and harder and then it started pouring… despite my umbrella, the rain and wind caught up with me and I was drenched with my backpack in no time. I was in my summer dress so obviously I wasn’t prepared for cold wind and rain. Worst of all, after walking a 200 hundred meters from the hostel, there were no one around and it turned into a pitch black street with just a few lights around to guide you along the road.
After walking in the cold and rain for an hour – not knowing the time and how far I went along the road (I figured for sure this was already over one kilometer), I found a small hotel ran by a Korean family and asked for their help. They told me that I was actually in the next town, and helped me to get on the phone with my hostel. My hostel got me a taxi, except that the taxi charged me 12 euros instead of the 5-7 euros as the hostel told me. It turned out that there was a shortage of taxi due to a festival in the area, and this taxi came from Interlaken so I had to pay a return trip for him to drive here and drive me back. I was left with no choice but to ride along to the campsite. Though I was glad that the tents in the camp were actually pretty nice (though not as warm as if you are in a real building). Because it was so cold at night, it took more than 24 hours for those soaked cloth to dry up…
I met quite a few friendly backpackers there, though often we had to split then get back together with the tight hostel availability. Though I couldn’t book myself for the Saturday night online, the Planonian receptionist told me to come by early in the morning to grab the cancelled reservation. This worked – I grabbed the last reservation around 7am in the morning. Several guys in my tent were sleeping in and had to move to Animal House not far from here for the busy Saturday night.
The Balmers hostel staff was very nice. Although they had a full booking that night I have arrived. He let 3 girls to stay on the lobby couches for the night because he simply don’t think it was a good idea to send them back out into the wind and rain… Saturday night yodel fest was extremely busy, they had extra mattress sat up all over the cafeteria of my camp site for people who wanted a place to sleep last minute….
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