“Free falling: That Time I Sky-Dived” a.k.a Celebrating Early

Woke up at a pretty reasonable hour, around 8:00 for an 8:30am breakfast. To my great surprise and delight Switzerland might have done even better than France on the breakfast front. We ate muesli, very creamy strawberry yogurt, fresh bread, and my two favorites—amazing thin-sliced cheese, and hot, sweet porridge. It was a perfect breakfast to start off a great day.

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The Swiss version of a water fountain.

                For starters, the weather was absolutely beautiful with clear blue skies and very few clouds. Though it was very chilly in the morning (and I had packed 0 sweaters…so basically I wore three layers of thin long-sleeved shirts under my coat), as soon as the sun at peeked over the mountain it got pleasantly warm, so that I no longer needed my coat.

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                Kelsey and I started the day off by walking multiple stretches up and down the one long main road in Lauterbrunnen. Because it was Sunday, most of the touristy shops were closed (which in retrospect was probably a good thing, as I said before, Switzerland is expensive.) The beautiful weather itself kept us entertained though, and we even went off the main road a little and explored the old Laterbrunnen graveyard, covered in a thick blanket of perfectly white snow.

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                After our walk, Kelsey and I headed down to the Sky Diving headquarters! That’s right. One of the optional TopDeck excursions is sky-diving, and though it’s incredibly expensive, we figured “YOLO” (You Only LAUTERBRUNNEN Once), so we dipped into our savings a bit (a lot) for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We met up with the other six divers from my group, and joined everyone in changing into our brightly-colored jumpsuits, harnesses, etc. We met our diving guides/instructors (mine’s name was Hans), went over safety procedures/process, etc, and headed out to the helicopter pad.

We went up in the helicopter in pairs, and Kelsey and I were the third group to head up. Our parachutes were blue (a good sign, I thought, since that’s my favorite color and the sky was so blue, etc. etc.), and I handed off my iPhone to someone in the fourth group below, so they could hopefully get a picture that I could Instagram (as you can see below, it was successful!).  Anyways, we hopped in and went up. It was very loud, pretty cold, and incredibly breathtaking. The view of the mountains from the sky is absolutely incredible. We unfortunately were only in the helicopter about five minutes before it was time to jump, though.

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                I will admit, I was very, very nervous. Probably the only logic that kept me calm was that, “Well, I’ve already paid for it. And I’m not even going to be the one making the decision of when to jump. There’s this other person strapped behind me that gets to decide.” Because, honestly, making the decision to jump is the scariest part. Right? Now, wasn’t that just all deep and philosophical. Just roll me on up and stick me in a fortune cookie.

The scariest part of the whole thing, though, was actually watching Kelsey jump out first. It’s not every day you witness something just leaping out of a helicopter thousands of feet in the air. One moment, she was there, and the next she’d just disappeared. Insane. When it was my turn, I stood up, and the guide stood behind me, bracing himself near the open door. I was told to cross my arms in front of me and hold on to the front straps on my harness for the first part (a safety precaution so the divers arms don’t hit anything as they fall out of the helicopter.) I kept wanting to look down, but I was instructed to keep my chin up right before the jump. And then all of a sudden, I was tumbling down, head first, but soon our bodies kind of planed-out and we were falling parallel to the ground.

It was freezing, and such a rush. I opened my mouth to scream, but even that was difficult. For those first few seconds it’s pretty impossible to breath. After maybe five seconds, Hans tapped my shoulder, giving me the okay to let go of my harness and spread out my arms so I did that, letting them fly out to my side as the air rushed around them. It was about a 45 second free-fall in total, and the ground was so far away, it almost didn’t feel like we were really getting closer.

Eventually, Hans pulled on the parachute and it caught, as we began our slower descent back down to the large snowy field between the two big mountains surrounding Lauterbrunnen. I could see Kelsey already landed below, as she was getting up and dusting the snow off her suit. Soon, I did the same, landing with a soft “Psshhft” in the snow. That will probably be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Or it would have been. Had I actually done it. APRIL FOOL’s! (See above, I’m “Celebrating Early.” I thought about it logistically and though my original plan was to write about how I went back to Switzerland for a long weekend, I figured that since I was trying to blog every day and April Fool’s Day is on a Monday this year, it would either a) throw off my blogging habit or b) be a really, really hard-to-believe lie.) So did it work? Did you believe me?

Sorry, Mom. I had to. But no, again, just in case you still don’t believe me, (due to my incredibly detailed and accurate tale based-off-the-true-stories-and-accounts of those that actually did do the sky-diving on the trip), I did not sky dive. [For everyone else’s reference, before getting on the plane to London, one of the last things my Mom said to me was, “Whatever you do, please, please don’t sky dive.” Because, you know, London is known for its Skydiving.]

But yes. I did not sky dive, and neither did Kelsey, and we both therefore have about 700 more dollars than we would have had. Hooray!

So what did we did actually do for those couple of hours? We napped. But napped. But really. We napped hard. Because YOLO (“You’re Only Lazy Once”) when you are on a TopDeck trip. And, as I said in a previous post, the beds in this campsite are the comfiest and coziest beds I’ve been in since January. We slept for an hour, till our alarms went off, and then we looked at the clock, and passed out again for another before we could get out of bed.

After our nap, we gathered up our computers and walked to a nice little Café in Lauterbrunnen (where the male owner looked very stereotypically Swiss, with long platinum blonde hair and striking blue eyes.) There, we ate lunch as we got on to the wi-fi so that we could update everyone on our status, and I could catch up a bit on my blog. For lunch, we had delicious homemade creamy tomato-basil soup (perfect for the chilly day), and for dessert we had a perfect hot chocolate.

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                We then proceeded to walk around some more, popping into the Swiss Watch store, filled with swiss knives and time-telling devices of all sorts. We ended our walk back at the campsite, deciding to try and get our showers in before dinner. The bathrooms, again, are a two-minute outdoor walk from the cabins, and the showers charge for warm water (and you definitely WANT that because the cold water is COLD.) It’s a half-franc for about five minutes of luke-warm water, and the other girls from the trip we’d passed warned us to use a full franc to have enough time.

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                I, unfortunately, literally only had one half-franc coin left, so I had to get creative with my shower time. I.E., I turned the hot water on in the sink, got my hair wet, shampooed it, went into the shower, popped in the coin, ran in, rinsed off, conditioned, rinsed, soaped up, rinsed, and ran out. It was maybe a two-minute shower, tops. I was incredibly proud of myself.

Soon, it was dinnertime. For dinner tonight, we started with absolutely delicious traditional cheese fondu (which originates in Switzerland!) Six of us shared a huge pot of the melted cheese over a flame, and a giant basket of cubed bread. It was amazing, and I thought surely that would be it for dinner because I was so full! But, lo and behold, we were presented with another course, of a big sausage in gravy, green beans, and a Rosti, a traditional Swiss potato dish similar to hashbrowns. Finally, we were presented with desert!  A scoop of amazing vanilla ice cream (best vanilla I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever. I’m not surprised, though, as it was made by the “Happiest cows on earth.”) with hot fudge sauce.

                We finished dinner at around 7:00, but it was so dark outside that it seemed more like 10pm. Many in the group went ahead and headed to bed, but Kelsey and I stayed up later with a group of about eight, because we knew we wouldn’t be able to fall asleep that early, even if we tried. We ended up going out to the playground near the cabins, as a bunch of them had bought some Swiss beers earlier in the day and buried them in under the snow to make them cold. We all ended up sitting around outside on the little carosel, having a beer or two each, chatting and bonding. It was a very fun night. We all still ended up turning in surprisingly early, though, at around 11:00, so we could still get a good sleep before our drive to Florence tomorrow!

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1 Response to “Free falling: That Time I Sky-Dived” a.k.a Celebrating Early

  1. ddc621 says:

    Celia-You totally had me! I literally was on the edge of my seat! Kept thinking, “Deanie must have fainted reading this post!” Love reading your blog–I’m very behind! Traveling to see Maria at St. Olaf this week so I will hunker down in my favorite coffee shop up in cold country and enjoy catching up on all of your latest posts! Safe travels. Love, Mrs. Coyne

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