Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sledging, Not Sledding

Friday night a bunch of au pairs headed up to a CouchSurfing Zürich weekend sledding party. (CouchSurfing is really cool, look it up if you don't know what it is!) We all meet up at the train station, grab our train "adult beverages," and settle down for our train-bus-bus-train rides. On our first bus my friend Danielle and I squeeze in (squeezed literally because my stupid-ass-Vera Bradley duffel bag was filled with an inflatable sled, sleeping bag, snow-suit and warm clothes) next to these two teenagers. The kids are speaking English, so me being me, I strike up a conversation with them. The girl kept asking us the same questions (and giving us the same answers about how she had friends in Minnesota et cetera...) but the boy was cool. He was telling us that the Swiss summer was pretty great, but he was bummed because he missed last summer because he was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy to get rid of his cancer--we were impressed by him but less so by the girl. The boy got off, wished the girl luck and we continued on our bus route. She said it was a "rough night," I assumed she had been broken up with or something to that extent, when she looked at us and said, "Do you have a bag?" Now I knew exactly what kind of "bag" this girl meant, and luckily (for all of us) I had a plastic bag holding all my food. I dumped the contents of the bag onto Danielle and held it out for her. Immediately she began vomiting. Violently. I mean it was so violent that it literally splashed from the bag back onto her face (not that she noticed). Danielle being the ever-prepared au pair gave the girl tissues so she could clean off her face. That's when the girl looked at me and held the bag out over my S.A.V.Bradley bag and said, "It has a leak." Like hell I was going to let her disgusting vomit drip on my stuff so I grabbed the leaky vomit-receptacle while she said I could just put it into the bus's trash can. I was also not going to let the poor bus stink of vomit so luckily we were nearing a stop and I opened the door and threw it vomit bag out. Sorry for littering, it was a necessity though.

After the vomit incident the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Until our last train started to slowly creep down the mountain we were supposed to be going up. And I realized that I had 3-4 drops of VOMIT on my jeans. Sick. We made it there, met our host who took us to his family's cabin which was a strenuous upward hike. We made it there and took off our shoes when disaster struck. You know when you have a best friend, who has been there through thick and thin? Who comforts you at the coldest, darkest moments of your life? Who knows you so well, it almost feels like they are made just for you? Well my best friend deserted me. Yes, I am talking about my Ugg boots. (Hate on them all you want, I don't think they are ugly and they are comfortable.) My Uggs RIPPED. Photographic evidence of the tragedy. The only silver lining that came from this was later, when I went to go sadly stare at my former-friends I found a beer sitting in one of them! Free shoe-beer! The night was fun (even when a Google employee told me that "It was all a lie there." Apparently no one, save for him, uses the fun slides and igloo/ball pits. He did offer to give us a tour, which I will definitely be doing.) but I called it a night earlier than most of the cabin's inhabitants.

Saturday morning we woke up to blinding sunlight (how I've missed you). Because we arrived at night we didn't get to see our surroundings, but it was incredible. The clouds were below us and we had blue skies and mountains for as far as the eye could see. A girl could get used to this kind of view! We hung around outside, warmed by the sun and ate a lovely breakfast (which included Nutella!).

We trekked up the hill to go sledding, and by sledding I mean sledging. Sledging is what Europeans call sledding, but it is very, very different. There are a few main differences: sledges are wooden with a plastic runner on the bottom, you go down the course and take a train back up and there's a distinct possibility that you could die by zooming of an Alp. (All in a day's sledge.) When we started our Danielle was going to use our friend's plastic sled (they won't let you use a tube-sled, for a good reason--you'd surely fly off the mountain and die) so when she asked if she could ride with me I was, at first, a little irked. Danielle likes to go fast, I like to go slow and enjoy my scenery (and, you know, stay alive). I agreed however and thank goodness I did. We were so grateful to be together (it helps to know that you aren't the only one scared out of her mind!) plus it helps to have four feet digging into the ground trying to stop you from sudden Alp-death. It was tons of fun, despite our constant shouting (we seemed to hit every bump on the courses) and everyone around us was very amused. (Except for some parents who probably weren't happy when two girls whizzed by going, "Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit! Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!!!" We had a blast but after four runs we were tired, cold and ready to rest for a bit.

We made it back to the cabin, hung out until 6:30 and then walked back to the train station for our 7:05 train. Of course, there wasn't a 7:05 train. It was 6:40 and then next train arrived at 8:10. Well I didn't want to sit in the cold for over an hour, and I certainly didn't want to hike back up the hill so I suggested we walk down to the train station. Yes, walk down and Alp. No big deal. Some girls said it was a bad idea, but I thought it would be an adventure, so the believers reassured the nervous ones and off we went. In the dark. Down a mountain. With the stupid ass Very Bradley on my shoulder. We started singing (well mostly my friend Allie and I) Journey and Spice Girls to keep all our spirits up when we heard shouts coming from next to us. I, of course, shouted back, because it's always good to make friends with strange men, at night, in the middle of a mountain--right? Of course as we were trudging downhill the only thing I could think to do was to text message one of my best friends Molly. Molly who lives in America. (Sorry about you cell-phone bill Moll.) She of all people could empathize most with the plight of a Vera Bradley carrier.

We finally arrived at a train station (not our final destination) and looked at a map. We had made it a little over 1/4 of the way in 30 minutes, when we got to the station the two strangers sledged up to us and immediately offered us a drink of their alcohol. The first two girls declined but not being one to turn down a free shot (sorry mom) I accepted. The boys gave us their bottle (thank you) and when the other three caught up with us we thought (and sipped): should we wait here for the train in 50 minutes or continue walking? Next thing we know the guys are back and saying, "Are you hungry? We have cheese fondue." Never offer six girls free cheese, because you know they'll take it. So we walk the 100 meters to their cabin where it turns out there are 20 boys drinking and eating (with one 70 year old cooking). Well apparently they were a German soccer (I mean futboll) team, there for a weekend of bonding. Bonding with a lot of alcohol and food. This was turning out better than expected... When I texted Molly our whereabouts (some one had to know!) she replied, "Oh my god your life is so fake right now! Wait fondue? I love texting you." (And I love being able to text her!) I told you girls would do anything for cheese. During the time at the cabin I never felt unsafe though, don't worry mom, and besides the guys were so skinny I knew I could have taken any of them in a fight! So they gave us drinks and food and then tried to get us to stay for a later train. We were working out the logistics when one girl finally came to her senses and we packed up and moved on. It was the best 50 minute respite I've ever had!

Finally made it home and crashed into bed after a long day of sledging and trekking. It was definitely an incredibly trip!

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