While keeping my eyes glued to the flat screen watching the 2012 London Summer Olympics, reveling in the unbelievable competition among the many nations, I’ve been reminded how fortunate I’ve been in this great life to have visited so many, specifically those in Europe during my backpacking journey of 1997.
During the eight week sojourn throughout Western Europe, Hungary and the Czech Republic, following graduation from the University of Florida a whopping 15 years ago, I had one of the most amazing experiences I could ever imagine – paragliding in the midst of the Alps in Switzerland. Simply an unbelievable opportunity that I wanted to share with all of you, in hopes that you, too, will find your way to “the friendly skies” and “float on” at some point in your lives.
From the base camp of Balmer’s Herberge in Interlaken, Switzerland (one of the coolest hostels in the world!), my traveling buddies and I were escorted by a professional group from Paragliding Interlaken, who founded the “sport” of back in the day, up a couple thousand feet into the Swiss Alps, where we would “begin our flight.”
Once helmeted, strapped into the appropriate gear and parachute prepped, my tandem professional paragliding partner and I were ready to fly. Given the instruction to just “walk on down” the incline of the hill we were on, while connected to various pieces of equipment and the parachute, of course, I found myself aloft in a matter of seconds, gliding above the hills, mountains and lakes below, while completely comfortable like sitting in a lounge chair. An unbelievable view, not a cloud in the sky and I could see forever!
Connected to my tandem partner, who was “floating” just behind me, controlling our ascents, descents, speed and overall elevation, I was left to man the camera, absorb the breathtaking sights and witness an experience that I could have never dreamed of. The vision of the three highest peaks in all of the Alps – the stunning, snow-capped Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger – right in front of us, the spectacular aqua-blue waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz just below and jaw-dropping vistas in every direction we turned, I was in complete awe. All in all, we were “in flight” for well over an hour, time that seemed to last forever. Honestly, I cannot say enough. The adventure was one that I will obviously never forget and I cannot recommend enough.
In the event you ever get the chance to paraglide, whether in the midst of the Alps in Switzerland, or at any other incredible location on this wonderful planet, I hope that you will also relish every moment and every tremendous view you might have. It’s an experience of a lifetime!
Float on, my friends!
Paragliding Interlaken GmbH
3800 Matten bei