7 Things to Do in Interlaken, Switzerland

When making my country bucket list for my study abroad trip, Switzerland slowly made its way to the top as I returned to the list over a few months time. I had no desire to ski the swiss alps or explore the water. I just wanted to see the beautiful mountain from the bottom and eat some chocolate. Not knowing who to go with or how to get there, I tried not to get my hopes up until I was booking the trip itself just two weeks in advance.

I found myself being able to go, with my friend Caitlyn by my side, in late February. It almost didn’t happen a couple times, and getting there was a feat in it of itself, but I am so thankful for having made it through the whirlwind trip.

I had less than 48 hours in the country, but I think I used my time wisely enough to be able to pass on my tips. Here is what I consider to be the essential things to do and see in Interlaken, Switzerland:

1. Go Paragliding

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I am not sure if I can do the experience of paragliding justice through my words, but I will give it a try. After what can only be a complete lack of coordination on my end during the first attempt at take off, my pilot Simon and I sailed off the side of the mountain over the city of Interlaken. From the moment we were in the air, I was in awe. The nerves I had were gone and I wanted to soak up the 15 minutes that I had because it was pure bliss to just look out at the lakes, buildings, and mountains. He even pulled some “rollercoaster” moves that would normally ruin anything for me, but I embraced it all. I would recommend paragliding to anyone, and just about anywhere. I hope to do it somewhere warm next time.

2. Don’t Just Eat Chocolate; Make It!

The Funky Chocolate Club offers an experience that takes you from bean to bar. They definitely tailor to the gullible tourist market, but I am not mad about it. Their calling is for a chance to get “chocolate wasted” and they delivered as soon as they gave us our first piece.

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Our adorable chocolate guide taught us about the history of chocolate, how the different kinds are made, and helped us make three bars of our own. It was a chill vibe that also enhanced the importance of the chocolate process. The best part was that because I made the chocolate, it is just a bit easier to ration it knowing I put work into it. I still went through two of the three bars in a week.. oops!

Would also highly recommend their chocolate covered strawberries.

3. Stroll Through Unterseen

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Deciding to get up at 5:45 am on a Saturday, after a full day of traveling the day before, was the best thing we could have done for ourselves. I could not exactly tell you how the larger city of Interlaken is divided besides this area, but the town of Unterseen was worth seeing. There was no one around, even after we took our time getting up and eating breakfast, as we strolled the streets at 7am.

Clouds were everywhere and it could have been warmer, but seeing the unique architecture and shops was nice. It was also our first real look at the mountains. They took my breath away, as we had arrived too late to see them the night before. I had seen mountains in California and Pennsylvania, but these are in a league of their own in both size and density of trees. I was constantly turning every which way in order to see them all.

4. Eat An American Burger at an Irish Pub In Switzerland

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The 3 Tells Irish Pub has the worst nachos I have ever had, thanks to some stale chips and nasty guac, but the biggest and messiest burger I may have ever had. That is a very good thing. It was right next to our youth hostel, Balmers, which is probably why it is so popular. The cheese on the burger had a great taste, the bun was different, and the fries were unnecessary considering the size of the burger but I still scarfed them down. It was kind of our only option to eat at the time, and the service was a little uncomfortable, but overall I can’t complain too much when they serve a quality burger like that.

Shoutout to Barracuda Cafe and Bar, just down the road from 3 Tells, for serving bagels in the morning and mojitos at night.

5. Sneak into the Victoria-Jungfrau

Just make your way through the first floor and even up a staircase or two. We simply wanted to get warm, but it was probably the nicest hotel I’ve been in–even if I didn’t stay there. I spent maybe 40 minutes here while our chocolate cooled, but it was the perfect spot to taste of life of luxury, even it was just from using their bathroom and sitting on some cozy sofas.

6. Take A (Free) Bus To Oberhofen Castle

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Now we are still not sure whether the ride should have truly been free but hoping on and off several buses without being checked for tickets made it easy to jaunt about. Working in several missed buses there and back, and maybe a few panic moments, we found out that Oberhofen Castle was surrounded by beautiful water and a quiet town. It took us about 5 minutes to realize that the only thing to do there that time of the year was take in the view, but making out way out there was well worth it just for that.

7. Check out a Lake or TwoIMG_5618.jpg

The bus ride to Oberhofen offered an amazing view of Lake Thun (pronounced “tune”), but Lake Geneva gave that a run for its money as we made our way to the airport. Lakeside mountains are a combination I never grew up seeing but that I miss already.

 

Here is a look at some of the stuff I mentioned, as Caitlyn captured it all in an amazing video. Let me know if I missed anything… I may need to go back some day when it’s a bit warmer!

Here’s to my next adventure and finally writing about them!

xx Casey

I’m Going to London! Setting Intentions for my Spring Abroad

2018 is about to be quite a year for me. Last year I set specific goals, but now I am just going into 2018 as mindfull, eager to learn, and adventurous as possible! I am excited to have some people reading along, so plan to hear more from me as we go!

In what I can only imagine will be a quick 2 and a half weeks, I will be in London. Years of yes, no, and maybe so’s about studying abroad will be exchanged for a whole new set of thoughts as I navigate a new city and try to make it my home in just four months.

Everyone keeps asking me what I plan on doing when I am abroad. Have I got an extensive London bucket list? What am I most excited about? As I get closer, I definitely find myself thinking more specifically about my trip. Even the trips within the trip, considering I have all of Europe at my finger tips. For me, it all boils down to having an overall open mind set without being set on exactly what I will do and how it will go. I know there are some certainties that come with my trip, but the rest is waiting for me once I get there.

What I Know

I will visit five European countries besides England this Spring, but I am open to what countries those are. I have been saving to make sure that I can see the views that until recently seemed so unattainable to see. Greece beaches and Swiss mountains are what I envision, but I don’t want to get set on places that I may not find a companion to go with. I have my base number and I will be grateful to see whatever beautiful destinations I make it to.

There is a whole lot of food in Europe, and I plan to eat as much of it as I can. I will get self conscious about my body here and there, but every food baby should come down to being a sign that I am doing something right. It’s time to eat everything comforting, indulgent, sweet, spicy, and new. The food can be all or one of those things.

I know that my camera will be my best friend because just as it is important to live in the moment, it’s important to follow my passions and remember the entire experience.

What I Intend to Find Out

I may be in an English speaking country but that doesn’t save me from culture shock. I’ll see how they live across the pond, creating an adjustment period that is sure to leave me missing my friends and boyfriend back home. A long distance relationship is something I never imagined myself having to deal with, but on top of that I have to adjust to my life there and focus on myself. It’ll be a bit of a balancing act and a whole lot of learning on my part.

Going abroad for a month in Spain brought me a new sense of independence and confidence that has been dwindling since my return. I can only hope to learn about myself as I am forced to live for myself and make all of my own decision as I adjust and move forward.

Intentions and unknowns aside, I could not be more excited for what is to come. There is no denying that there are going to be tough times, but I know all of the tough times will be met with equally as amazing times. I plan on capturing as much of my trip as possible and sharing it with whatever readers stumble this way.

Here’s to an adventurous Spring 2018!

Casey

 

You Can Call Me The Girl Who Ate the World

It was my creative writing class this semester that gave me the final push to return to my abandoned child of a blog. It reminded me that it’s not about what exactly I write but that fact that I am writing at all. The following personal narrative, and my final for the class, brings me nothing but pride and hunger for both food and adventure

Of all the posts to return to CC with, I think this is a curveball for all of us but enjoy!

The Girl Who Ate the World

By Casey Irwin

I plan on eating the world. Our planet we love and live for, I plan on devouring—and I don’t just mean I’m going to eat at the “Top Ten Restaurants in Rome”.

I am going to eat Rome.

Devour Moscow.

Consume Toronto.

Throw in some Hong Kong and even Vienna for dessert. I am going to eat the world until nothing remains.

I left Chicago because there was nothing left of it. I was eating away at it as I grew up, really learning the best mindsets when setting out to explore my city, person, or plate before me. My family nurtured me with putting experiences over everything, which showed me the best approaches to satisfying my hunger. I started off slow, not completely taking it in until the picky eater in me faded away and a big appetite took its place.  Even as I visit, returning only after it has had a chance to rebuild itself in my absence, I eat all that I missed and more of the surrounding areas. Eat one city and it is as if two grows back in its place. There is always something new to try while too much of the same also remains.

Next I will be on to Spain. I go. I try the Paella. The Jamón. The Tapas. But I don’t stop there. I consume the smiles that join me for every meal. I am given energy by the flowing conversation around the table. I snack on the satisfaction of a meal out, with a buzz from a coffee and a life-high hangover. Every element of Spain fuels me for my next trip, repaying the meals that my host family feed me with the filling feelings of appreciation and love. I leave without a regret; not a corner unturned.

Maybe India is next. India might be a bit harder to swallow, but I will take on any challenge if it means a full stomach. To some people it isn’t as pleasant as other places, but throwing enough spices on anything will make it tasty. I will be bloated by the rivers, and I’ll need to run off those festivals and traditions later. Social media will capture it all before there is nothing left to capture. Consuming India is a more intimidating idea, more than just the different table manners that come with a different place. It can take a lot of energy to step into a place without letting expectations and other people’s judgments take over, but what you get out of it is so much more. I won’t let the over crowded streets clog my arteries when there is something so satisfying about sharing a meal or traditional chai tea with someone that expects nothing from you except a smile.

Again I will be forced to question myself as I make my way to Egypt. History is like the bran muffin of subjects to some people, while to me the thousands of years of being marinated in conflict and culture have left Egypt ready to be cooked and consumed like a fine steak. My tongue may grow tired from trying to speak the native language, only to have my appetite grow with the humorous conversation around my mispronunciations. The tourist filled pyramids won’t stick with me, like how carbs never manage to keep me full for long. It’ll be the authentic restaurants and people that will carry me from one adventure to the next.

It’s then that I am ready for Melbourne, Australia. One of my high school best friends was from here, but I would like to think she would be encouraging and even helpful as I nibble away at it. The artistic support that has been created by the beautiful city, whether it be through the discussion around cafés or street art, will make it go down so smoothly. The intriguing thoughts brought up enrich my body more than any vitamin could.

Can’t leave out South America. I’ll make my way through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela by way of the Andes Mountains. The rough terrain has nothing on my chompers, making my way through small villages and vast cities. You would think that I would get tired of it after so many countries, but people tend to forget just how different the Latin American countries are. Only once I take a sip of satisfaction where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet will I move on.

To Baklava in Athens.

Korean Barbeque in Seoul.

Matriarchy in Mosuo, China.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Equality in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Only the penguins of Antarctica are safe. One sided conversations leave a bad aftertaste.

I will travel them all, picking my teeth clean of them one by one, until I have licked my plate clean and eaten it too.

~          ~         ~

 I would eat the world if I could; for I think it would taste pretty damn good.

That is the thing though. Food isn’t just food. We don’t just consume and grow from what we put in our mouths. Food is the conversation around the table. Food is the energy of whoever you care to share a meal with and the culture that surrounds its roots. Meals are remembered by the place they are eaten and who they are with. Food is an experience that can be done alone, but is so much better with people by your side to complete the experience.

What I’m Going to, and What You Should, Miss About Chicago

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Two days from now I am leaving my hometown, and for once I have no idea when I will be back. No Thanksgiving or Christmas pulling me home this time. While I couldn’t be happier to be heading back East, leaving is a strange feeling. I didn’t always like Chicago, but my eyes have really opened up to it these past couple years.

While I do not actually live directly in the city, I thought I would share what I am going to miss most about Chicago and what parts of the city are really worth seeing. The best part is that you could see or go to most of these in just one day!

1. Navy Pier

IMG_5096.jpgThe first time I went to Navy Pier was to see a play in middle school. Last time I went was this summer with my two best friends. All the times in between are a blur, except the awkward magic that is prom. Navy pier has so many activities to offer, but the long, historical ferris wheel ride is my favorite. I have yet to play mini-golf there, but I have heard that it is pretty fun too!

2. Anywhere with Deep DishIMG_9639.jpg

Luckily for all of us deep dish can also be found in the surrounding Chicago suburbs AND be shipped anywhere in the America, so there are always opportunities for deep pizza. Giordano’s in my go-to, but Gino’s East is another Chicago classic. East coast pizza is amazing, but deep dish has a special place in my heart and stomach.

3. The ArchitectureIMG_2366.jpg

I learned to really appreciate Chicago architecture when my basic photography class went around the city taking photos. From the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park to the random banks near Union Station, I find the building’s and their histories beautiful. Walking from place to place in the summer is the best way to see it all.

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4. The Willis (*Sears*) Tower

Probably the most touristy place on this list, but the wait in line is worth it. The view reaching from the horizon of the lake to the surrounding suburbs is stunning, even on the cloudiest of Chicago days. I don’t mind heights, so I find sitting on the ledge is the best part!

5. The Lincoln Park Area

IMG_9074.jpgFull of one-of-a-kind shops and the Urban Outfitters surplus store, the neighborhoods near Lincoln park makes me think that I could have maybe survived going to school in Chicago. It is a quiet alternative to the magnificent mile with its suburban townhouses and zoo animals–both in the zoo and on campus.

Honorary mentions to Lollapalooza, the people of Chicago, and the suburbs, all of which have their good and bad moments.

Distance is definitely going to make my heart grow fonder, but i’m not going to miss Chicago winter that will, of course, be over soon after I leave.

Any Chicagoans think I missed something? Anyone heading to Chicago soon?

Your Resident Chicago Suburb-ean,

Casey

 

 

Hello October: My September Favorites

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It looks like goals are not going to be my thing, but I have definitely found some favorites!

  1. My Suite mates

I was really nervous about making friends going into college. I have yet to find my true group, but what I have for now is completely fine with me. I love my roommates and suite mates, or at least the ones that have not moved out. There has been very little drama, but we managed to have two suite mates move out and one move in. The three OG are the best, even if they aren’t perfect. I could not have been more lucky. They are helpful, caring, and very entertaining. (They do not know about this blog so I am going to hold off on pictures… for now)

  1. Café Studying

I was told that I should find my own niché going into college and that is exactly what I did. A lot of people I know like the library or the dorm lounges, but I am willing to pay for tea or coffee whenever I need a place to study. I crave the sounds of the steamer and cafe chatter. The idea of becoming a regular at Newark’s Brewed Awakenings in basically my goal in life right now. My productivity levels increase so much when I am there. I can’t wait to go back as I type this, and I was literally just there

  1. Ocean City, New JerseyIMG_7278

As much as I enjoy my suite mates, I was overjoyed when I had the chance to get away for the weekend in OCNJ. The house (my grandma’s extra house) is being kept open all year for my sake, so of course I had to check it out. I didn’t realize it until I got on the road, but I missed being alone so much. I also missed fresh air and the open road. The full weekend, although still full of homework and laundry, was more than I could have asked for. I love Ocean City so much and I cannot wait to go back.

  1. WaWa

IMG_7389National Coffee Day came and went this September. Last September I would not have cared, but now I am a changed *college* woman who needs coffee. Wawa was my supplier for that, and now many other things. I need to start a petition for more WaWas nationwide for when I go home to Chicago. Wawa does not have all that much, but for some reason I just love it. It’s probably because of all of the sweet foods and subs (hoagies?!?!).

  1. Food

Walking is my main form of transportation is college, but unfortunately I am usually walking to or from places with food or near food. Be ready for some posts about Insomnia Cookies and Newark Deli & Bagel, among many other places, once I get my hands on more of their menu items. While my dining hall food is okay, the off campus food just a short walk from my dorm is amazing. Fingers crossed exercising is in my favorites next month. #FightingThatFreshmanFifteen

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September was a roller coaster ride, but a good month over-all. I won’t go into detail because I want to safe all the juicy stuff for full posts of their own.

This was a short list with nothing to specific, but I just really wanted to post SOMETHING. I am slowly getting my lift together here at UD, but I am going to test out a new system so I can post more. Wish me luck.

Hope everyone had a great September!

Casey