Exactly a year ago today I was arriving to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France on what was my husband and I's very long overdue honeymoon. We saved up our vacation time and money and fled the country for a 2 week European vacation. Which, if I had my way, I'd do like every other month. But hey, real life is happening and I'm certainly no millionaire, so sadly I have to relive Europe through memories until my next vacation.
We went to Paris, Switzerland, and Italy in those 2 weeks and it was with teary eyes that I came home, changed by my experience. That is the wonderful thing about travel that I stress all the time- not only are you visiting a new place, but you are seeing the ways other people live and learning things about yourself that you can only learn while on vacation. Travel is almost like a test to see how well you handle things. Dealing with hiccups when plans don't go your way or getting lost in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, or being adventurous with new food, is all part of the experience.
When I say its important to see how other people live- I mean this as a way to humble ourselves. The most humbling feeling I experienced on the trip was on a day trip from Interlaken, Switzerland to Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Swiss Alps, a village known for its extremely beautiful scenery and numerous waterfalls. Coming off the train, I felt as if I was stepping into a time warp and walking onto the set of Heidi. Here there are no large buildings, advertisements, side walks, or convenience stores. Instead, there are small local shops, small hotels and bed and breakfasts that were closed for the season, small local roads and traditional Swiss homes.
Due to the off season and impending snow causing us to not want to wander too far off into trails, David and I decided to simply walk the town for the experience, plus- that was really our only option in the sleepy village. As we walked away from the train station, the town grew quiet. We walked the main road admiring the alps surrounding us in all directions, with waterfalls flowing down the sides. As we walked about 2 miles down the main road, we passed just a handful of people here and there and only 2-3 cars passed by. The village lives easy- no mansions, pools, 4-story homes, or 5 car garages. They live in cozy homes that are probably built better than new homes here in the states. The cars parked by the homes weren't brand new, but they were reliable cars that will get them from town to town. Most of the homes had gardens on the land growing herbs and vegetables, and I noticed a few cats on doors and stoops, which I image are kept around for the field mice.
The homes were decorated with love and care. Many of the homes had hearts cut into the wood and beautiful decor around the entry ways. What stood out to me the most, was their cemetery. As we passed it took me a bit before I realized it was a cemetery, as it was decorated so beautifully with wreaths and plants on passed loved ones graves. It was nothing like a modern cemetery here in the states, this was made and maintained by the people of the village.
As we got further and further into the village, the only noise you could hear were the ringing of cow bells. In this moment, there was no traffic or honking of car horns, only complete and utter peace and quiet. I know this is going to sound weird, but it was so quiet in fact, I swear you could hear the clouds rolling in with snow. As the weather in the distance started to gray, we head back to the train station to find shelter and food from the snow.
Being that the small village was basically closed for the off season, we wandered into a cozy bar that had a sign up in the door stating they were the best bar in town, since they were the only one open. David and I laughed at this and were happy to go in for a drink and comfort food in the cold weather. We walked in and were instantly greeted by the warmth of heat and other travelers and locals keeping shelter from the snow that had just started to fall.
This experience humbled me. The people of Lauterbrunnen Valley live with the necessities. They don't have a Target to run to for any occasion, or a drive through Starbucks to stop at on their way to work. They live within their means and here, material things don't matter. It was humbling to see so much love within a community, all that could be felt in the air and the surrounding village ambiance.
Lauterbrunnen Valley is only about a 45 minute train ride from Interlaken, Switzerland and I recommend taking this day trip if ever you find yourself in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Blonde in the District