Nights in Switzerland

By Alison, February 4, 2016 — My best friend during most of my school years, and college, is called Ann. When we were teenagers we used to go on hiking vacations together, sometimes with another girl or two. We’d carry light backpacks and stay at youth hostels, which were very, very cheap. You’d get a bunk bed and blankets (bring your own sheet-sleeping-bag), and cook your own food.

One trip, we went to Switzerland. Ann’s mom was Swiss, and we stayed with her family before leaving for our trek.

We sometimes hitch-hiked for longer distances, and all was fun. One afternoon there was a festival in the little village below our hostel: food, music, beer, cider and folk-dancing. We got friendly with two young Dutch men, Job(pronounced Yop in his case), and Emil. Then, oops!, it was getting dark, and hostels had curfews. We panted back up the trail–but were too late. The place was locked, with all our stuff inside. A couple of hostelers heard us from  upstairs, and we yelled back and forth. The were pointing down the road, and telling us to go that way. Maybe an alternative place to try.

In the dark, we set out. Aha! Here was a building. But no. it had a sinister sign warning “Danger! High Voltage!” We kept on down the road. Aha! This must be it! This time, we could unlatch the door on the wooden structure, and step inside. It smelled! We heard scuffling, and we able to make out a whole wall of rabbit hutches, little pink noses wrinkling at us.

Third time lucky! This seemed to be the place, and not locked. We found two deep shelves, basically unseparated  bunks, upper and lower. Straw mattresses and rice-filled pillows. We sneaked into the nearest lower space and went to sleep in our clothes. Next morning, we woke up in daylight, and crawled out of the bunks. I guess we made some noise, because suddenly there was a whole row of startled male faces gaping at us from the upper level. We offered a hasty, “Guten morgen,” and fled back up the road. We didn’t miss curfew again!

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