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The weekend was just a day away and being in Switzerland on a business trip, I look forward to spending time exploring the country and soaking in the experiences as a solo traveller.My husband was in Zurich for 2 weeks and it was lovely spending time together.
This is not the best time to visit Switzerland as its quite cold and has been raining since a few days, however the plus point is its non tourist season and I am a lot happier without the touristy crowd.
Interlaken is a very well known place in Switzerland – its the place where 2 lakes the Thun and Brienz meet. The reason its so famous is the scenic beauty of the place- the turquoise coloured lakes, surrounded by mountains and trees with myriad shades of green, brown, yellow, orange, red – imagine being a bird and flying in the sky looking at the beauty around with a new set of lens.
Interlaken is famous for adventure sports like para gliding, hand gliding and a few more. Now I am not a very brave person- I recall when I was in Macau a few years back, I was keen to try out bungee jumping from the Macau tower but once I landed there and stood there looking others jump, I chickened out. I was content doing the sky walk which is a walk on the open balcony of the 63 floors (338 metres high) tower.
But this time I was keen on experiencing para gliding. One thing that gave me confidence is I won’t be doing this alone, there would be a pilot – a pro who knows his stuff . I always wanted to make this trip most memorable. Be it travelling solo, trying out different kinds of food, meeting new people and leaving with an enriched experience . I was certain para gliding would add to the fun quotient and make this a truly memorable trip. Before I could change my mind, I registered and paid the money which meant I could not chicken out now after having spent 230 Swiss francs.
The next day we reached Interlaken and spent time exploring the place as my slot was at 3 in the noon. It looked like a cloudy day and there was a possibility that they may cancel as it was not safe unless they had clear visibility, We went up the mountains at Harder Klum, a beautiful place and we could barely see anything due to the fog. I had almost resigned to the fact that I may need to come here some other day.
We went to the meeting point anyways and lo behold! The dashing pilot was waiting for me. So it was happening finally! I could hardly control my excitement – there were butterflies in my stomach. I was asked to change my shoes to a proper hiking boots and then I left with a few others and the pilots in a mini bus.
We were 7 of us, 3 from Korea who couldn’t speak English, 2 American girls, 1 guy from HK and me. We had 7 dashing, super fit and awesome pilots who would join us and make this a memorable experience. The bus took us up the mountain from where we would descend using parachutes.
Once the bus dropped us off, it was. short walk and we reached the spot where we could see many others who were all set to take off.
My pilot whom I chose randomly was a Swiss guy called Pascal- he is an amazing pilot who spoke a bit of Hindi and made this experience a thoroughly enjoyable one for me.
I had to gear up first with my seat for flying, helmet, a jacket to keep me warm, leather gloves and here I am all set to fly!
The instructions from Pascal were – you have to jog, a slow run maybe around 20 steps.. do not stop or try to sit once we take off, keep jogging in the air till I ask you to sit.
This sounded simple but when I saw the others before me – the American girl who tripped and fell as she tried to jog but her pilot couldn’t stop, he literally dragged her and they took off- I was nervous now. I dint want a fiasco like that.
It was time finally- I was all strapped , the parachute ropes were fit into my gear and Pascal said “Are you ready Akshata?”.
I took a deep breath and said “YES”.
“Ok here we go 1,2,3.” I jogged and kept jogging, Pascal right behind me- it was a jog downhill and as I gained momentum due to the slope, the next moment I could feel myself soar in the sky. We were going higher and faster and I looked around. I could see the lakes below and the mountains all around me. I had take my seat on the parachute by then and I asked him if I could set my hands free . I spread my arms and took in that amazing feeling.
I fall short of words to describe how liberating and beautiful that feeling was- its once in a lifetime experience which shouldn’t be missed. It was time for a video then and Pascal started rattling off in Hindi “namaste” – he then went to explain me about the scenery around – how the name Interlaken came to be. Finally before ending the video he said “phir mileage” That made me laugh.
It was time for a few photo shots in the air then.
He asked me if I like roller coasters , I said I love them. He then asked if I would like one.
He then handed me over the recorder and then started a totally crazy journey of him pulling a few strings and the parachute went almost upside down and I was screaming- then he moved it the other way round. I was on a roller coaster the only difference was it was in the air. I have a video too but not one that I am going to share here!
After a few crazy spins we descended and hit the ground.
It felt like it got over too fast and I would have loved some more time in the air – but the experience was totally worth it. I choose to do it in Switzerland due to the safety factor- in fact the company running this “Paragliding Interlaken GMBh” are rated No 2 in the World. The second reason was the panoramic beauty of the place. I couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to experience this.
I am super thrilled I could tick this off my bucket list and hopefully I can now do the next one – sky diving is one I am hopeful to do some day. And the free fall from Macau Tower- I don’t think I am there yet.