When we heard that the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series would be making a stop in Switzerland, we immediately purchased tickets, hoping to get as close as possible to the divers making the 90 feet vertical plunge from a Swiss mountain viewpoint. We hightailed it out of Luxembourg on a quiet Friday in July, and arrived to Sisikon on the shores of Lake Lucerne in about 5 hours.
We checked into our quintessentially Swiss chalet (which was owned by Chinese immigrants who served a delicious Asian-German fusion cuisine) and immediately jumped into the pristine, clear lake. All around the edges of Lake Lucerne are little towns punctuated among stretches of forest, with docks, stone beaches and tiny coves for swimming.
Lake Lucerne was experiencing a massive heatwave, the likes of which hadn't been seen in nearly a century. Although this is probably ominous for the future, for the purposes of our weekend on the water, the warmth was welcome - the water was the perfect temperature - refreshing but never cold.
Scoping out the Event
After taking a quick dip, we drove over to the site of the Red Bull dive site to check out the platform. We hiked along a steep cliffside path and made it to the platform level that extended out over the lake. Erin was stunned by the height and Dave analysed the security checkpoints to see if there was some way he could enter undetected and jump off the platform. We were also mesmerized with the surroundings - the tiny town of Sisikon hugging the banks of the lake with sheer cliffs surrounding, and across the lake pure Swiss mountain majesty.
Picnic on the Lake
We picked up some groceries from the local COOP grocery store, and drove along the lake to an old-school swim spot complete with a rusty, creaky diving board and a floating platform out in the middle of the sparkling lake. We spent our evening feeling super nostalgic as we swam around, laid out on the platform and ate our picnic dinner. Both of us grew up with these kinds of lake experiences in Ohio. We watched the sun set over the mountains from our balcony, and had a restless sleep in our heat-box of a hotel room (many Swiss hotels don't have air conditioning because it is never (usually) too hot).
Journey to the Competition
We awoke the following morning and headed to the train station, as the entire town of Sisikon was taken over by Red Bull, meaning no parking. We boarded a 20 minute train that snaked around the lake and through a few mountain tunnels, disembarked and checked out the event site. Red Bull brought in a few barge ships, filled them with sand, and created a giant beach bar party vibe. The options were to hang out on the barges, bring your own boat, or, as we did, join a few hundred adventurous souls to watch the cliff diving from the water.
Front Row View
It seemed like there were a few old pros, who came prepared with giant rafts and floats with roofs and coolers, but we decided to keep it simple with a few grocery store foam noodles. We waded into the water, swam around the boats that began to arrive and chain together, and entered the swimmer-only front row viewing spot, just in front of where the divers would hit the water from 90 feet above.
Water Party Atmosphere
Neither of us had been to any sort of water party before, and the atmosphere was fun and cool, except for the few people who seemed to be there only to party - Dave wanted to start a fight with an obnoxious German fellow who continued to litter his cigarette butts into the fresh, clean water. We floated out on the lake for a while until the competition began.
We had an epic view of the competition, able to see every twist and flip as the divers plummeted over 50 mph from above. Dave's favorite were the slow lay out flips, and Erin was enjoying the German/English phrases the announcers would use to describe the dives "Das Wunderbar!". We floated out in the lake with hundreds of like-minded adventure sports junkies all day, until our fingers wrinkled and Dave began to shiver.
Rhiannon Ifland, the diver who Dave interviewed for an upcoming piece for The Outdoor Journal, landed some crazy dives and ended up finishing second, so it was cool to have someone to cheer for and to know one of the athletes. Eventually, we pulled our sunburned, raisin-skinned bodies out of the water, hopped on the train filled with prim Swiss folks shocked to see the wet and wild Red Bull fans piling on to the train, and headed back to our place.
We ended our weekend in Switzerland with another long swim in Lake Lucerne, another grocery store picnic, and a live band playing stereotypical Swiss-German jams as the sun went down. Unable to sleep in our muggy room, we went out again after the sun set for a night swim, during which, Erin felt fearless.
Each time we are in Switzerland we remark just how shockingly beautiful it is. Everything (including stores and bathrooms, not just nature) is so clean and fresh. The mountains are so massive and the villages so classic, that it almost doesn't feel real. Being able to drive to Switzerland on a Friday to spend a weekend is no doubt one of the biggest perks of living in Luxembourg.
Next up, a week chilling out in Formentera, our new favorite Euro summer destination.
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