Last year for Christmas, we traveled to Georgia to enjoy the season with our family. Immediately upon our return, we had to unpack our Georgia clothes and re-pack our serious winter clothes. Then we had to drive five hours to our New Year’s destination, Interlaken, Switzerland. Yes, I know, a bit ambitious considering we had just gotten off a 9-hour flight. Whatever! We were going sledding in Switzerland!
Where We Stayed
We decided to stay in the village of Lauterbrunnen because it was less expensive. We stayed at Hotel Schützen which was directly across the street from the train station, making it easy to get to Interlaken and Grindelwald. The hotel has an amazing view from the bottom of what they call the Mighty Trio, which is the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Walking outside each morning, we were greeted with not only a beautiful blanket of white, but also the breathtaking surroundings of waterfalls and Alpine views. This hotel is family-owned spanning two generations and was very warm and inviting. In the style of many European hotels, we did have to share a shower with complete strangers. This situation was odd for us Americans, but feasible.
Our first day was a bit laid back. We took the train into Interlaken, enjoyed some Korean food for lunch, and then took in the beauty of the day. It was cold and there was at least a foot of snow (that’s a lot when you hail from Georgia), but the Christmas Markets with their Gluhwein helped to ease the pain.
We had already agreed to take the train to Grindelwald on Day 2 for sledding. I should preface this by saying that I have never been sledding and had no idea what to expect.
The group of friends that we travelled with concurred that sledding Grindelwald using aluminum sleds was a “great” idea. As a newbie, I just went along for the ride. Literally.
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We enjoyed the day so much, taking the lift and deciding on our starting point. We knew that along the way we would be able to stop and have lunch and something warm to drink. What I didn’t know was exactly how cold I was going to be and how many “near death” experiences I would have. (Joking a little).
While I did injure my back a little (mostly just sore and some bruising – because I had to learn to drive a sled), it turned out to be one of the most fun things I have ever done! Yes, I wrecked repeatedly. Yes, I ate more snow than I care to admit. Yes, I ran over strangers. Yes, my husband got it all on video. But, for someone who rarely played in the snow as a child, this was just an entire day of laugh out loud experiences. We even got a smile out of our teenage daughter. That was worth the cost of the trip!
Our day ended of course at a Frohes Fest at the bottom of the mountain. We needed to celebrate, what can I say?
Our plan was to sled Jungfrau on New Year’s Eve, but I woke up and my body just refused. While some of the other brave souls went ahead, we chose to make it a day of rest and recuperation. We even enjoyed some famous Swiss Cheese Fondue.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve dinner was at The Hotel Steinbock, a Fondue restaurant in Lauterbrunnen. While not a large restaurant, it was definitely big on the delivery of an experience. Our dinner table was overflowing with delicious food and lots of laughter. We even had entertainment.
In Switzerland for New Year’s Eve, it is a tradition for men and boys to walk the streets and even into restaurants carrying giant cowbells, yodeling ancient songs and wishing everyone a good new year. This was a LOUD tradition, especially in a small, enclosed space, but it was fun to watch. These same bell-ringers would visit us later in the night at the hotel to “ring in” the New Year.
Our balcony was the gathering place for our New Year’s Eve celebration. We could see all of the fireworks and festivities and even the frozen waterfall wearing our pajamas. THAT is exactly how we did it.
Tip: Switzerland can be expensive, especially if you eat out for every meal. If you are planning to drive as we did, pack a cooler and bring along snacks and drinks so that you don’t find yourself enjoying a Big Mac for € 15!
How to Get There
Interlaken, Switzerland is an approximately 5 hour drive south of Kaiserslautern, 5 hours and 15 minutes south of Wiesbaden and 4 hours and 10 minutes south of Stuttgart. Click on DB Bahn for train information.
Author’s Profile: Cheryl Koller is a native of Georgia. She is a DOD spouse, mom of 4 daughters (2 adults, 2 teens), thrill-seeker, avid traveler, and lover of food and wine. She is a self-proclaimed Freedom-Preneur and Blogger currently living in Ramstein with her family.
Featured Image Photo Credit: © Cheryl Koller