Sliding down a Swiss mountain (ergo, how to get to Kandersteg)

Recently when I open my browser and start to type c h e r r y b e l l y in the bar, the immediate emotion I feel in the pit of my stomach is that of trepidation and hesitation. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having let this space waste away again, back to the old hurried, frenzied days of university when I simply had no time to sit down and write because I simply had too many things to do. Except, this time, I unfortunately don’t have quite the same amount of fun and happiness I had back then in exchange for my procrastination.

But of course, dramatizing the woes of adulthood is really another version of procrastination right now heh heh and so please allow me to turn your attention to the magical, exhilarating ride that was the Rodelbahn on the side of a crazily beautiful Swiss mountain (or a mountain coaster in other words).

Vivian was actually the one who introduced to me the existence of this mountain slide. It’s located in the valley of Oeschinen, which is basically a small area in between the mountains. At the foot of the mountains, you have Kandersteg, a lovely little city which looks as though it walked right off the pages of a Hans Christian Andersen book.

A gondola lift from Kandersteg will bring you straight to Oeschinen, and the slide is right beside the gondola lift station.

How to get to Kandersteg

We were actually based in Basel, another city way, way up north in Switzerland. Basel was easiest as a base for us I think, because it quite literally straddles the border between Switzerland, France and Germany – countries which were all on our itinerary.

To get to Kandersteg from Basel, we took the Basel SBB train service. We had an intermediary stop at Bern, where we had to change trains, but otherwise it was pretty straightforward. The return tickets were about SGD$120 per person in total – yes I know, but we had a mountain coaster to ride! We booked the tickets online in Singapore by the way.

The trains run on scheduled timetables and we had to pre-book the timing we wanted, so make sure you plan your day in Kandersteg/Oeschinen before committing to the timings! We booked a 6.30AM train from Basel to Kandersteg (again, yes I know, but your girl had to maximize her hours on the slide!) and a 7.13PM train from Kandersteg back to Basel. Each train ride one-way was about 2 hours long, so the to-and-fro transport cost us about 4 hours in total, meaning we had approximately 8 hours to frolic in Kandersteg/Oeschinen, which is really quite generous for a day trip I believe.

From: Basel, Switzerland
To: Kandersteg, Switzerland
How To Go: Basel SBB Train
How Much: SGD$120/pax (return)
How Long: 2 hours one-way

swiss1 How to get to Oeschinen from Kandersteg

From the Kandersteg train station, you have to walk through just about the whole city to get to the gondola lift station. It took us about 25 minutes, which while on one hand was pretty exhausting in the summer heat, but also speaks volumes about how tiny the city is haha (side note: do you believe me on how insanely gorgeous the buildings are now?).

From: Kandersteg, Kandersteg
To: Oeschinen, Kandersteg
How To Go: Kandersteg-Oeschinen Gondola Lift
How Much: CHF 28 in the Summer (~SGD$38/pax for return)
How Long: 15 minutes one-way

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CAN YOU BELIEVE WE RODE ON THAT DAMN SLIDE OFF THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN??
IT WAS A. M. A. Z. I. N. G.

swiss3 swiss4We had about 2 turns on the crazy slide each, and while I was absolutely itching for MOAR!!, each entry was also CHF 5 (approximately SGD 6.70), so whilst you weren’t paying close attention, 2 rounds on this darn slide charged about the same as a movie does on a Sunday.

And so I was dragged kicking and screaming away.

Just kidding, I was only sulking. Just a little bit. But the breathlessly beautiful 25-minute stroll we embarked on to get to Lake Oeschinen quickly distracted me from any lingering childish need to be a speed monster.

swiss5(That shot on the diverging paths will easily, easily be my favourite for a long time.)

Oeschinen is home to both the Rodelbahn/Slide/Mountain Coaster (whichever sounds the most daredevil) as well as Oeschinensee – or Lake Oeschinen, a UNESCO world heritage site.swiss6

We spent the remainder of our time at the lake – having a picnic on the rocks, enjoying hot chocolate at the cafe, flying our new bb drone around, disturbing the cows etc etc etc. It was really quite amazing.

We also rowed a boat on the lake, and very cheapo-ly decided to book it for half an hour instead of the full hour, only to find ourselves stuck in the middle of the lake hahaha. We returned almost exactly at the one-hour mark, much to the renter’s exasperation. We were promptly charged for the remainder anyway heh heh moral of the story, it’s okay to be cheapo because if you can’t get away with it you’ll pay full price, but if you can, then hey, pats on the back 😉

There’s really nothing quite like escaping from reality by traveling on a train to a cute little city in the middle of nowhere, and then hoping on to a cable car to go up to the clouds where a lovely little valley and its adrenaline slide and glistening lake lay waiting for you with open arms (and grazing cows).

In fact, scratch that about Kandersteg looking similar to a fairytale.

This entire adventure has been a fairytale, and I already cannot wait to be back.

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Cambridge Summer School & Other Shenanigans

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It appears I never quite got to explaining the real reason why I traveled so extensively back in summer of my third year in university. To be honest, there really was no better excuse reason to travel so much on a student budget other than summer school.

In 2014, I went to Humboldt University in Berlin, and in 2015, I found my way to the University of Cambridge.

(Yes, the same dreaded place where they set our ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels.)

But dreaded a place Cambridge was not.  Continue reading “Cambridge Summer School & Other Shenanigans”

– and on the 6th day, God created Man…chester

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Growing up, my mother took it upon herself to ensure that my sister and I would always go to my dad’s room and say goodnight to him before we went to bed every night. Because he hardly left his room, we’d rarely speak to him during the day, so my mother assumed we wouldn’t want to wish him goodnight.

What she didn’t know though, was how difficult it would be to get us out of the room instead. We’d curl up under the covers with my dad and watch Manchester United play. Then, my 6 year old self could hardly understand the game. It was always a flurry of names (Neville, Butt, Rooney, Beckham…) and a whole lot of cheering from my dad. I’d cheer right along with him, completely oblivious to what warranted a celebration. I remember he took a good month to explain to me what offside was. Sometimes, even though I understood, I’d ask him to explain again because it just felt nice to spend more time with him, even if it meant seeing my mom (having forgotten we were there) burst into the room a good hour later, red-faced with annoyance, shooing us to bed with a hanger in hand.

And so it was added to my bucket list that I’d one day bring my dad back to the city where he spent his teenage years, and watch a live United match with him. Of course this dream is still very much a WIP, but back in Summer 2014, the opportunity to explore Manchester presented itself, and so I jumped right on it.

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Continue reading “– and on the 6th day, God created Man…chester”