All of my life, I’ve claimed that I was an independent person who could figure out everything on her own. Well my first trip to Switzerland definitely tested that claim. There is no greater validation on Earth than being able to successfully solo travel.
One of the big things I wanted to accomplish while I was in Europe was to bungee jump from the highest point on the continent. That was Verzasca Dam in Locarno, Switzerland. Golden Eye – the James Bond movie where he jumps off a damn? That’s Verzasca.
Locarno is such a quaint and sleepy town. Far from the German and French influences that characterize Zurich and Geneva, Locarno is in the heart of the Italian part of Switzerland (aka pizza and gelato every day). I wish in my travels I would have been able to visit Interlaken and other more “Swiss” cities, but for now I loved Locarno.
Here’s some of the food I had from an eclectic cafe:
One big attraction in Locarno is the bird sanctuary. It was a neat show where hawks, owls and other birds do tricks and stuff. From what I remember, it was reasonably priced and worth it! Here’s a pic of me and an owl!
While I was in Switzerland, I really wanted to try hang-gliding. My sister had done it in Interlaken when she visited Switzerland the previous year, so I wanted to give it a whirl. Unfortunately, with the size of Locarno, there weren’t any hang-gliding places available. However, I did find a paragliding team that added me on last minute. Paragliding is so relaxing. Think parasailing, except you’re not over water, but hundreds of feet in the air. We started on a mountain and glided down towards the coast. Recommended because the sights were amazing, but in all reality I would have preferred something a little more daring for the price I paid.
The one great thing about traveling alone is that you aren’t restrained by anyone else. I could adapt my itinerary to my mood that day and I’d hear no complaints. Getting to the dam was hard. A lot of the locals spoke Italian only, so we definitely had a communication barrier. On top of that, being alone in a foreign country did not lend itself to Internet or LTE… I was shit out of luck in a lot of ways. Thankfully, after finding the right bus, I met these two girls who just so happened to be jumping at Verzasca too! They were good people and so friendly to a lonely stranger. It ended up being beneficial because we took pictures for one another and I’ve even added them on Facebook. The dam is no joke. It is hella tall and intimidating, but like anything I do I went forth with a open mind and an empty bladder.
If you’ve never bungee’d or cliff jumped, you’ve never really experienced falling vertically. Those who sky dive (and I’ve done it before, so I know…) fall horizontally, so the pressure on one’s stomach is completely different. Bungee jumping gives you a thrill that you’ll never experience with skydiving or through a simulation. It is an unadulterated free fall that you know won’t end with your death. The rush is unbelievable. Trust me, this is the one thing I will endorse wholeheartedly.
Here’s a quick clip of my jump.
Until next time Switzerland!