It was beautiful summer day by the Lac Leman, Switzerland’s famous lake. Most people call it Lake Geneva, for the city that frames the base of the lake. It flows from the Rhone glaciers, making the water inexplicably cold, and only swimmable in the summer months (barely). The temperature was not going to stop Cecile, a young woman who was on vacation.
Switzerland has plenty of beautiful nature marvels to explore. They’re split between the Swiss and French side (and a small part that borders Italy where Swiss people also speak Italian). Engulfed by other European countries, it shares its influence among them while remaining unquestionably Swiss. That was something Cecile had fallen in love with in her short time here.
She had already been to explore the beautiful mountains in Interlaken, a small town nestled in the German side of Switzerland. There were plenty of hikes along the mountains and swimming in the lakes. The town is squeezed between two crystal lakes, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, hence the name: Interlaken. She had rafted through the waters, bike rode through the mountain trails and gotten a pretty mean tan from swimming in the glacial waters.
Besides Interlaken, she had also done a glacial tour through Switzerland. The glacial express takes you through St. Mortiz, Zermatt, Chur, and many other Swiss cities. The train goes through the glaciers, giving people a striking view of the marvelous natural wonders. In her short couple of weeks in Switzerland, she had made sure to see as many natural wonders and big cities as she could, including Zurich (where she had a lot of fun hiking Uetiliberg, the mountain also known for its skiing and visiting cathedrals such as Grossmunster and Fraumunster, renowned for their 11-12th century architecture).
Cecile was no stranger to adventure. So when a group of Swiss college students came up to her at the Montreux Jazz festival (a music festival with plenty of famous acts in a small lakeside town in Switzerland each June), she was very keen on hanging out with them some more. People in Switzerland had been exceptionally friendly, and her knowledge of French & German was getting better with each day. Of course, it helped that she took some classes her freshman year of college. Unlike most places she had been, people were fairly patient, even if she could not speak the special Swiss German dialogue just yet. The group of 5-6 students was going to go swimming in the lake tomorrow and wanted her to join. She wholeheartedly accepted.
The next day, the group bike rode down the pavilion next to Lake Leman and onto their favorite spot. The day started off pretty well. There was plenty of food (gruyere and bread being in abundance), wine (imported from France and Swiss vineyards as well), and fruit. Ignoring the usual rules about waiting 30 minutes to swim, the students were excited to jump right into the lake. It had been an extremely hot summer and much of Europe was not ready for the heat wave that hit (neither air conditioning nor ice are particularly popular in Europe).
To compensate for the weather, they were running off the dock and doing backflips straight into the glacial lake. One particular guy, Sebastian, was running full force when the water that was on the lake caused him to slip. He immediately hit his head on the edge of the dock. Cecile stood frozen, not knowing what to do. Everyone else rushed over and began to panic. There was blood coming out of his head! Sebastian was puzzled, but not completely panicked.
“Aww man,” he let out a sigh, clearly underreacting by Cecile’s standards. While his friends began to panic, she jogged over, picked him up and leaned him against her.
“Where’s the nearest hospital?”
There was one a 30-minute drive from where they were. Actually, there might have been one closer but no one in their group had grown up in this part of Switzerland, or were not Swiss to begin with, so the closest one they found was that one. They began asking people on the beach if they had a car (they had come by bikes). One older couple offered to drive them. With a towel on the back of Sebastian’s head, Cecile piled into the backseat and sat with him on the driver over. Sebastian smirked at her.
“You know this means we have to get married, right?”
Cecile stared at him and laughed. “Are you really flirting with me right now?”
He smiled. “Non, non, pas de flirting. But you have to admit, if I asked for your number right now, it’d be pretty hard to say no.” Cecile rolled her eyes. He had her there. This was by far the most committed anyone had been to picking her up. The two rode to the hospital, making jokes with the couple in front of them. The sight of them strolling into the hospital laughing, with a bloody head left the hospital staff stunned. Luckily for Sebastian, the wound was a fairly superficial one. They were there for five hours, but most of it was filling out paperwork once the injury was treated. Sebastian was to take it easy and stay out of the sun for a couple of weeks and come back in a couple days to get reevaluated. The nurse came over to Sebastian, who was all bandaged and new, and asked if he had an emergency contact they could put down.
“Pretty weird last name. Cecile unbelievable!”
It was not the most orthodox way to spend a summer vacation, but Cecile could not deny that her Swiss summer had been one the most unforgettable ones yet.