Out of the land of croissants and baguettes and into the land of chocolate and cheese fondue. That's right, we made it to Switzerland.
As the coach started to circle the breathtakingly blue lakes and meander into the gigantic mountains of the Swiss Alps, Vincenzo, our Trip Leader, started to play 'Paradise' by Coldplay. And oh, how fitting it was.
As we pulled into our campsite in Lauterbrunnen and hopped off the bus, I think every single person's jaw dropped at the #views. Simply stunning. Snow-capped mountains were all around us. Ridiculously high waterfalls crashed down whilst glistening in the evening sun. Every property was a cute cabin-style and every local was very friendly and relaxed. Just wow.
The next day we had a few options. Some caught the cable car and train up to Murren – a quaint ski town up high in the mountains with unbeatable views and even better sorbet. Some yodeled their way up the scenic train to Jungfrau – the highest point in Europe.
But best of all (*bucket list alert!*), right in the middle of the Swiss Alps, we had the incredible opportunity to skydive out of a helicopter. That's right! Here’s how it goes down: hop into a chopper and reach 12,000ft over the unbelievable alpine scenery, strap yourself to a beautiful stranger, take the leap of faith James Bond-style for a 45 second freefall, and finally, once the parachute has opened, glide your way back down gracefully to the valley. #Epic
As I’ve dived before, we're going to be following the once-in-a-lifetime experience of one of my awesome Topdeck travel mates. Meet Ben! A (very handsome) 23-year-old construction manager from New South Wales, Australia.
What were your initial thoughts when you heard it was possible to skydive out of a helicopter over the Swiss Alps?
Well to be honest it was the reason I chose this trip over the other options. I knew it would be something I would enjoy and be able to remember for the rest of my life. It was a real bucket list item for me.
How were you feeling the day of the dive when you knew all was going ahead? Were you nervous? Excited?
It was funny. I didn't feel much actually. I guess it never seemed real until it actually happened. That soon changed once I was dangling out of the helicopter though!
How cool was the helicopter ride?
Yeah the helicopter ride was unbelievable! The views were breathtaking and are something I'll never forget! The pilot was extremely skilled which allowed us to get quite close to cliff faces which increased the whole experience!
Did you have any final thoughts just as they opened the helicopter window?
I was nothing but excited by that point! The instructors made me feel so calm and made the experience seem only exciting.
Describe the freefall for us!
The first few seconds was like any other fall I guess. You kind of lose your stomach and your sense of orientation. However, when we settled it was amazing! It felt like you were just floating in the air and the world was moving around you. The noise was reasonably loud but I guess that was expected. The pressure of the air against your face made it feel like you were really moving fast!
Describe the parachute section for us!
This was the opportunity to really just take a breath and take in what I had just done. I'd seen the Swiss Alps from the ground but words can't describe the beauty from that height. And the size! The instructor gave me the controls and let me steer a little bit. We did a few sharp turns which felt so cool and made it so you were horizontal and looking straight down.
How did you feel when you landed?
Disappointed. But only because it was over! All I wanted was to be up in the air still! The adrenaline was pumping and being able to turn around and see my mate land was such an amazing combination of good emotions.
Would you recommend this experience to a friend? Would you do it again yourself?
Absolutely! You haven't lived until you’ve done this! I would have gotten straight back on the helicopter and done it again if they had let me.
Nice one Ben!
Christianne Risman - better known as being “Backpacking Bananas” - has been travelling, and vlogging her experiences, for over five years. Christianne is an adventurer with a not-so-subtle passion for hostels, long-haul flights and those dusty roads less travelled. Her 30,000 fans trust her travel tips and enjoy following her spirited footsteps backpacking around the globe.