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Stuck on an Alp

Truth be told, I did not like the idea of sleeping in a chicken coop. However, as I jumped over boulder after boulder in search of the gondola about to ditch me on an alp in Switzerland, this seemed like best option if I ended up stranded for the night.

Sometimes travel plans gone awry become the memories that always stick in your mind. My close call happened while on a FAM trip to Switzerland when I decided to take a last minute excursion with another member of the trip to Wasserauen for a gondola ride up Ebenalp.

“The last gondola ride to town leaves at six,” said the ticket master as we rode up the alp. “I’ll leave you up there if you are not back and then you will have to sleep on the mountain.”

Like a prophecy, Susan and I discovered our hike was longer than it looked on the map and we started hustling to make it back before six. I decided to backtrack thinking we had made a wrong turn, unaware the route lay hidden behind Ebenalp’s restaurant as Susan discovered after I left.

Realizing I had chosen the long way, I began running with all my might. After checking the time, I thought the chicken coop by the restaurant would probably be the best place to sleep if we ended up stranded.

I panicked as my clock said six with no gondola in sight. Finally, I could see the ticket master blowing a loud whistle next to Susan. Though I received many glares from other passengers who had arrived on time, I felt relieved I would not have to share my bed with the local fowl.

Once we reached the train station, Susan and I went to double check what train connection we needed to get back to St. Gallen for the night.

“No,” said the train station attendant when we said the name of our destination. “No more tonight.”

Unfortunately he spoke very little English, so I once again started to panic (which was hard because I was still out of breath from running). Neither of us had working cell phones or even knew what number to call if we did.

Since Wasserauen consisted of nothing but houses and a train station, I starting thinking maybe the train station attendant would let us stay at his home for the night. After ten minutes of questioning he finally wrote down what connection we needed. He had thought we were looking for a direct train so he kept repeating no.

Once we were safely inside the hotel, I decided the view had been worth it anyway.

Eliza Myers

Eliza Myers has worked for The Group Travel Leader since 2007. She is the online editor and associate editor for Select Traveler.

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