31.05.2015 - 31.05.2015
We leave Italy today for 5 nights – 3 nights in Lauterbrunnen and 2 nights in Munich – we then return to Italy to the Dolomites for 3 nights. I have loved Italy – its scenery and its culture and the food. Andrew planned the itinerary very well – it worked out just great – we didn’t stay too long anywhere and have seen a lot.
Andrew went out and bought tasty pastries for breakfast and Bill made some coffee. After packing up, Andrew and Bill went to pick up the car from the garage. We then packed the car and left. It was very overcast when we left and when we got into Switzerland (less than 10 kilometres from Como) it started to rain. The mountains were obscured by cloud cover – so there was not much to see. However as we got further north the weather cleared and it was sunny again – I was thankful for that. The motorways in Switzerland are amazing – they make a lot of use of tunnels – some of them quite long. You pay 40 Swiss Francs for a sticker on your car and this means there are no tolls. However it is quite stressful as all the signs are in Swiss. We got bushed once but were soon on the right road again. The scenery is beautiful with lots of lakes and of course the high mountains. It is a very well ordered country (a bit different to Italy).
We arrived at Lauterbrunnen at about 1.30pm and were able to check in early (normal check is 3.00pm). It was sunny – I am so thankful that we have had good weather for the whole time so far. The room we have is modern and a good size and we have the use of a lounge and also a verandah which looks south and includes a great view of Staubbachfall – Europe’s highest free fall waterfall – the water falls 297 metres from the top of a massive cliff with a sheer face. The scenery is just magnificent. Lauterbrunnen is located in a deep valley between steep mountains or at times massive cliffs. It is wide enough to allow plenty of sunlight – in reality the town is located in a broad gorge. The view from our room is beautiful. We look out on green meadow with chalets, there are forests and the cliff face and behind the cliff face more mountains. A swift flowing river flows through the town.
Andrew suggested we go for a walk to Schilthorn a peak of 2,970 metres (Mt, Kosciuszko is 2,228 metres). This would mean walking from Murren which is only 1,638 metres (a climb of 1,332 metres). Well it was worth a try - although I doubted my ability to climb such a height, We got the cable car up the steep mountain and then caught a tram which runs along the top of the cliff overlooking Lauterbrunnen to Murren. The scenery at Murren is most impressive as you look down into the deep valley and then at the towering mountains (covered in snow) on the other side. We could see para gliders floating along over the valley. They must be game.
We then started our ascent. At first it was quite easy but got steeper as we got higher. We came to a ridge which overlooks Blumental a vast bowl covered in grass which in winter is a popular skying place. Andrew and Bill managed well but I struggled from here on due to the steepness of the climb. But the views were breathtaking looking over the valley to the snow covered mountains on the other side – the mountains were above cloud level – a few clouds floated alongside the mountains – this added to the view. We came to snow drifts and as we got higher the snow drifts became bigger and deeper. In some cases the snow was well over our ankles. We saw a herd of wild goats which soon scampered after seeing us. We only had shirts on and I started to feel the cold and put on my rain jacket – I had my sleeveless jacket as well and offered it to Bill but he did not need it. I must be soft! I found a knoll beside the snow covered in grass and lichen which was so springy and soft – so I lay down and told Andrew and Bill that I would wait until they came back. I really enjoyed a comfortable rest. We were now about 2,500 metres high – still about 500 metres higher to go. Andrew and Bill started up a big area of snow but Andrew became concerned about an under-snow stream and the danger of falling through the snow into the stream – also clouds were starting to descend. So they decided to give up the quest and so we returned. It was more dangerous going down than up as the path was gravelly – very easy to slip! It was a wonderful experience even though we did not get to Schilthorn – but maybe next time.
It was much easier coming down as the slope eased. And indeed looking back we could see the clouds had descended.
We caught the tram and the cable car back. The tram driver found I had left my hat in the tram and brought it to me. I lost my London hat in the London Museum so have been using my auxiliary hat (the one Hope does not like).
It was about 6.00pm when we got back.
We tidied up and went out for dinner at the Oberland Hotel. We all had Rosti (a Swiss dish based on potatoe) – I had “Truckers”, Andrew had “Lauterbrunnen” and Bill had “Oberland”. They were nice meals but very expensive (as are most things in this town – quite a change from Italy).
Bill went out for some photos after this. Later I went for a walk and came to the graveyard. It was the prettiest graveyard I have ever seen. The graves were so neat, all had well-tended flowers growing on them and the grave stones where all much the same size and the wording was uniform. I was quite impressed. I looked at the ages of the deceased and they were all at least 80 years when they died apart from a few cases!!! This must be an area of great longevity!
Switzerland is such a neat place – even the weeds are neat (and I am not joking)! They must have trained the weeds to conform to the culture.
Another great day.