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Adventure to Switzerland and beyond

Travel Forums Europe Adventure to Switzerland and beyond

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1. Posted by Michelle87 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Hello Everyone!

I'm planning on traveling to Europe for the first time...alone! I was thinking about starting out in Interlaken, Switzerland in December of 2008. I want to celebrate New Years Eve in Paris and then return home. So thats about one month in Europe. My travel budget is not hugh but i have enough to play with and have fun. Other than that I do not have any idea of where to go or what to do.

My travel type is very adventurous. I want to learn to snow board, bungee jump, go ice climbing and paragliding. Im not really interested in doing alot of sightseeing, Id rather fill my days with fun activities and my nights out on the town meeting people and making friends. A little back ground about me: I am 20 years old and live in Florida, USA (for those of you who don't know, Florida is very hot and humid. This will be one of probably five times I'll venture into the cold). I will be celebrating my 21st birthday overseas. I am worried that since it is off season in december I will not be able to meet anyone and Ill be stuck in the cold, alone. Hence I want to ensure that where I go there are plenty of friendly people! Is this a legitimate concern? Also, I want to avoid tourist traps. Id rather hang with locals and travel off the beaten path.

(Sorry for all the cliches)

I'll looking for advice on:
Where to go in Switzerland, Germany, and France. I also really want to see Prague!
What to do when Im there (during the day and at night)
Where to stay, and what to bring
any other advice or suggestions you may have that would make my first adventure the trip of a life time. I am open to any other location ideas as well.

Thanks so much in advance to anyone who has any advice!

Safe Travels
=)

2. Posted by Kiowa (Inactive 62 posts) 8y

about Germany - in case you come to Frankfurt am Main I can give you a lot of information - just contact me ;)

3. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 8y

I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but Interlaken in Switzerland is beautiful--a great place to start! You can hike the mountains and visit the ice field at Jungfraujock. We saw tons of paragliders everywhere (although I don't know if they'd have that in winter).

We stayed at B&B Rugenpark--you can find it in the accommodation section here. Very lovely and quite reasonable.

Enjoy your adventure!

4. Posted by BlankFrack (Respected Member 280 posts) 8y

Well, if you want to go snowboarding then the places you'll be staying in will most likely be full of people in December so you don't have much to worry about from a social perspective. Champéry (1-2 hours from Geneva) is a great place to go snowboarding in Switzerland. In France you have many great places to go in winter, but if you go to La Plagne, near Albertville, you will have fantastic snowboarding/ski-ing and a lot of opportunities for other winter activities - paragliding, ice climbing, even bobsleigh.

La Plagne - http://www.la-plagne.com/en/142.203.0.0.1.0.phtml

5. Posted by Michelle87 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Quoting BlankFrack

Well, if you want to go snowboarding then the places you'll be staying in will most likely be full of people in December so you don't have much to worry about from a social perspective. Champéry (1-2 hours from Geneva) is a great place to go snowboarding in Switzerland. In France you have many great places to go in winter, but if you go to La Plagne, near Albertville, you will have fantastic snowboarding/ski-ing and a lot of opportunities for other winter activities - paragliding, ice climbing, even bobsleigh.

La Plagne - http://www.la-plagne.com/en/142.203.0.0.1.0.phtml

Thanks BlankFrack

I will definitly look into Champery and La Plagne! So far they look like fun.

Appreciate your suggestions, take care!

6. Posted by Michelle87 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Quoting tway

I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but Interlaken in Switzerland is beautiful--a great place to start! You can hike the mountains and visit the ice field at Jungfraujock. We saw tons of paragliders everywhere (although I don't know if they'd have that in winter).

We stayed at B&B Rugenpark--you can find it in the accommodation section here. Very lovely and quite reasonable.

Enjoy your adventure!

Yeah I really want to paraglide so hopefully I can find someone who will allow it?! Ive been reading about the ice field at Jungfraujock and am really interested. I dont feel like 30 days is long enough anymore for all that I want to do!

Thanks for your suggestions!

7. Posted by nzkatenz (Budding Member 51 posts) 8y

I was in interlaken about the same time as you will be last year. The snow fields werent open yet, and there was almost no adventure sports available because of the weather. I managed to do a canyon jump, and also horse trekking, so not too adventurous!
There was however a lot of nice walks you could do to get out and about in the snow. I am from somewhere with no snow too, and i found it amazing.
We werent advsed to go up the big mountains like jungfrau, as its too foggy and snowy to see anything, which was a shame.
Aside from this, I had an amazing time in Interlaken. I stayed at Balmers Hostel, which I would definately reccommend. It was by no means full, but still enough people to hang out with. They also have a nightclub on site, and I met quite a few locals there as well, which was great, it seems to be the best place with nightlife in town!
Another place which i would reccommend is up a mountain called Gimmelwald. I stayed in the Mountain Hostel, which was amazing. It is situated just a short gondola ride away from the ski fields, which were open just as we were there. It is a real swiss experience, or so it seemed! Up a mountain, surrounded by snow, there were no shops or anything, bar a small store where a lady sells home made bread, cheese, and salami, and the best home made yoghurt ever! Very friendly people too.
France is great too. In Paris, I would recommend staying in a hostel called MIJE hostel (google it.) The reason for this is that it is right in the centre, you can walk to notre dame, the louvre, bastille, and even the eiffel tower, within an hour. The hostel is in le marais area, which is the Jewish quarter. It is a lovely place, and unlike most hostels in paris, it is in the centre, you dont even need to get a train/metro to get to the attractions. Alot of hostels you will find are very much on the outskirts of paris. Book in advance though!
I spent a few months in paris, so give me a shout if you need more info about what to do etc!
Kate

8. Posted by BlankFrack (Respected Member 280 posts) 8y

I stayed at Balmers Hostel, which I would definately reccommend. It was by no means full, but still enough people to hang out with.

I think it depends a lot on your personality as to whether you'd enjoy Balmers. I can understand some people really liking it, but for me it was just incredibly loud and impossible to sleep. There was also nowhere to escape from the American fratboy crowd as the rooms were too cramped (two single beds pushed together so you're essentially sharing a double bed with a complete stranger) and after a drunken American girl had vomited in my room and I'd had to listen to another two Americans having sex about three inches from my head I'd had enough! Maybe it's better when it's not completely full of people though.

9. Posted by nzkatenz (Budding Member 51 posts) 8y

Wow. Gross. I agree with that, I would hav hated it if that was the case when i was there. We didnt have the two singles pushed together thing, though i experienced that in another hostel, and its not that fun! One thing to check about balmers, which I forgot to say, is take a look at your room before you commit to it, coz some of them have really low rooves, so if you are given the top bunk, you cant sit up, and you can barely roll over...
And apparently check how full it is! Theres another hostel down the road from that, dont know the name, but i heard good things about that one too

10. Posted by kidgibnick (Budding Member 26 posts) 8y

if you want friendly people and a unique experience to really get a sense of local culture...explore traveling this way: www.couchsurfing.com

where will your trip begin?
you should start in the north...perhaps the north sea (in the summer is nice), head down to Berlin/Hamburg...onward to Cologne, towards Dusseldorf, Heidleberg, Wurzburg, and end up in Stuttgart in Baden-Wurtemburg. From there you can go to places like the Baden-Baden, and enjoy the thermal spas. It's a beautiful area of the country (the black forest). Then travel down to Freiburg...it's considered the California of Germany...a very nice city! From there, it's a short train ride to Basel (bypass) and travel onward to Bern, Switzerland. From Bern you can either explore the Alps (via Interlaken), head south to Montreux, Lucerne or Lugano towards Italy, or head north east up towards Zurich and lake Constance.

Use Interlaken as an alpine base, but don't stay there too long unless you want to do expensive extreme sports...avoid anywhere that is full of tour busses. if you want a challenge...get hiking maps and explore the Lauterbrunnen valley, but go to the remote villages and stay in hikers hostels rather than tourist traps like Grindelwald.

refer to a travel book like "Rick Steve's Switzerland" - he'll tell you the kind of tourist places to avoid, saving you time, and making your trip much more enjoyable. but really the best tips are from locals, so brush up on your "schweiz-deutsch."