Saturday, June 18, 2011

Switzerland: The Most Beautiful Place On Earth

Words and pictures can’t even begin to explain or show the beauty of Switzerland. I’ll do my best though to explain the events and feelings I had during the weekend we spent in Switzerland.

I loved the mountains and trees that reminded me so much of home. It was so peaceful to get away from the busy cities and relax in such a beautiful place. The sun rays through the clouds only added to the effect. The only way to explain why I loved it so much is to say that it reminded me of a combined version of so many of my favorite places—Alpine, Midway, Jackson Hole, Glacier National Park, and Park City.

The first night in Switzerland we stayed in Murten. It was a beautiful small town with buildings that looked exactly like classic Swiss architecture. We grabbed a quick dinner then walked along the shore of the lake behind our hotel.

The next day we had two business visits at the La Maison du Gruyere Cheese Factory and the Callier Chocolate Factory. It was cool to see how cheese is traditionally made, but I really loved the chocolate tour. I couldn’t help myself! I’m female. I ended up buying 12 chocolate bars in the store after our tour. I can’t promise they will all make it home, but if you’re lucky I’ll share.

We ate lunch in Bern, which was especially cool for me because that is where my Grandpa Clegg was stationed for the U.S. Army. I ended up buying a whole chicken for lunch and practically ate the whole thing myself. The European diet is very different from the American diet and I had a serious meat craving. I definitely felt much better after that!

From Bern we drove to Interlaken, a city at the base of the Swiss Alps. I spent the whole time there trying to keep my mouth closed, but I was simply in awe and couldn’t help expressing it. From the rock face fell the most beautiful waterfalls. No picture could begin to do them justice. All I know is that everyone should have the opportunity to see something that majestic in their lifetime. It makes you think about how insignificant you are in the world, and yet, that there is a God who knows you personally.

In Interlaken we boarded a cog train that took us up the mountain into the city of Wengen. We spent the whole weekend staying in a resort like hotel with a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and massage area. We definitely took advantage of the facilities, especially the outdoor Jacuzzi with the spectacular view of the Alps. That first night we walked around the little town to familiarize ourselves. My favorite parts of our walk were watching the adorable calves run around with bells on their necks and then getting caught in a rainstorm.

I was so happy to wake up the next day in such a beautiful, serene place. We spent most of our day doing the Manlichen hike – which literally means straight up the mountain behind our hotel. The hike nearly kicked my butt, but it was worth it when I finally made it to the top. There were a few people in the group who were sick with head colds, so part of us split off and did the hike at a pace that was reasonable for them. Our method was simple: someone would climb a few hundred steps ahead then turn back to the group and say, “It’s even more beautiful from up here.” It was a simple motivation that kept us going the whole way. The cool thing is, the person who led off constantly rotated, but the motivating statement remained the same. There are so many gospel applications to this situation, but it made me grateful for the people in my life who set an example for me and then turn back happily to tell me that life is even better when you come a little closer to the Savior. I am also grateful for the times when I get to be that example. Even further, the hike was never easy – and neither is life – but you can most definitely “find joy in the journey.”

These topics and applications were discussed in our informal “sacrament meeting” we held in our hotel the next day. There was not a church nearby that we could attend, so we held our own meeting. It was a very powerful meeting and the Spirit was strong. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the sweet experience of being in the Alps.

Our next stop was Munich, which I was incredibly excited for, but it was hard to leave the most beautiful place on earth!

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