Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 20th, 2010 - Tuesday

Instead of relating this day's events, I thought I would share my unique experiences from later in the week:

Before even coming to Austria I had always wanted to go to Ireland and Switzerland. I had saved the place I wanted to go the most for my last big trip during my time here in Europe. Switzerland’s amazing scenery has always left me wanting to take a trip there. I asked anyone if they had wanted to go, and no one was interested. Finally Erin said she wanted to go with me, and our planning began. We had a lot of the same interests and thoughts on what we wanted to do while we were there. I had bigger plans of crossing out some things on my list of things to do before I died.

We got on a train without directions to our hostel and realized it when we got to the train station. Not really caring or letting our carelessness bring our mood down, we got on a late night train and waited for morning to see out the windows. Drifting in and out of sleep, I finally saw daylight and looked out the window. I was awe-struck. Speechless, I kicked Erin to wake her up and pointed out to the snow-capped mountains and bright blue lakes. We got off the train and picked a bus that was going to the same town as our hostel and hopped on. The roads were narrow and on the side of a steep mountain. We sat, not knowing where to get off or how to get to our hostel, but we didn’t have a care; we knew we would get there.

Arriving in Iseltwald, a small town with farms and fields of animals, we immediately fell in love with it. We found our way to our hostel, a lodge on a lake with a view of the Alps, and checked in. My eyes were drawn to the signs for paragliding, hang gliding, bungee jumping, and other activities. I asked about them, and we were soon signed up to go paragliding and canyon jumping directly after. To kill time before being picked up to go hang gliding we went on a hike that had the most gorgeous views. Erin was nervous but willing to do anything I was up to doing.

We were picked up in a van and brought to our jumping point. We were 3,000 feet above ground and had our lives in our crazy Swiss adrenaline junkie flyers' hands. Erin was first to run off the side of the mountain. The wind picked her up and brought her higher and higher. I was excited to go next and soon ran off the cliff as well. The wind picked me up, and I soared higher and higher into the sky. The houses looked like tiny dots, and the view of the Alps was stunning. Feeling brave I let my guide do some tricks in the air called roller coasters….. after almost throwing up with a smile, we began to land. The lake was bright blue from melting glacier water, and I couldn’t have felt more peaceful flying high above the ground with someone I had just met.

After my time in the sky we landed safe and sound on the ground and thanked our two new flying friends. We said our good byes and waited to be picked up again to go canyon jumping. I couldn’t believe I was just 3,000 feet above this ground and saw the picturesque scenery of Switzerland that I had always dreamed of seeing.

Next on our list was to do a type of bungee jumping called canyon jumping. On our van ride up to the cliff we would be jumping off of, we met more friends. We began talking with two guys that had just graduated from Ohio State. We shared stories of our past travels around Europe and enjoyed our time together. After the short walk to the cliff we signed our lives away in case something went wrong; I was picked out of the group to read the waiver to everyone. I hide my nervousness under my excitement. After volunteering to go first, I felt like it was too late to say, "hold on I need a few minutes before jumping over 150 feet attached to a rope." The guy that strapped me in could tell I was nervous and counted, 3..2..1. Without any hesitation I was already running to the edge before he finished saying two. After free falling for over a hundred feet (only 4 seconds, but the longest four seconds of my life) the rope finally caught and I felt my weight catch. Then the swing pulled me over a fast moving creek with jagged rocks sticking out of it. I swung for almost a minute between two canyons. I couldn’t have been happier. The sheer thrill and excitement made me want to do it all over again. After everyone had gone, the inventor of canyon jumping (the harness and idea) decided to jump with our group. Watching him do a front flip off the edge really impressed me. That guy was fearless.

Our trip didn’t end there. We spent the rest of our time out in the sun, soaking in the magnificent sights, souvenir shopping, and thinking: where can we go next? We decided we would do one last trip on our way back to Vienna. We decided on a destination to Paris. Arriving at the train station and saying we wanted to go to Paris, we were laughed at. The lady at the train station told us that everything was booked because of the volcano eruption that had happened. This was the first time our light-hearted travels had been affected. After a general consensus of ending our trip we decided to head home. She laughed at us again and told us it wasn’t possible to go to Vienna. I stood dumbstruck in front of her. After a long talk of declined possibilities we decided to go to Salzburg for the day before we went back to Vienna.

This trip was so unplanned and carefree that I loved every minute of it. We had ideas of what we wanted to see and where we should go, but nothing compares to doing something crazy and last minute. This trip that lasted only a weekend was a dream come true for me. I would not change any minute of this trip, and I know this was the perfect ending to the perfect trip of a lifetime.

Samantha Cooper

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