Elise’s journey to Festive Switzerland (4 days) – Part 2

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Jungfraujoch

Starting the day at  Interlaken Ost Station we climbed by train to the Jungfraujoch… An outlook between 3 mountains at 3500m above sea level only accessible by cog-wheel train…

Interlaken Ost Station

Interlaken Ost Station

Interlaken Ost Station

Interlaken Ost Station

The train into the mountain leaves from Kleine Scheidegg. The train then entered the tunnel running through the moutain called the “Eiger”. We got to stop at Eigerwand, where there is a window about 8 m long and a metre high, halfway up the face.

We made a second stop at a window looking out on the Eismeer before the train continued to the Jungfraujoch.

Did you know?

The tunnel was constructed between 1898 and 1912; it is about 7 kilometres long, with gradients of up to 25%. 

The journey from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch takes approximately 50 minutes the downhill return journey took only 35 minutes.

I Felt dizzy from the lack of oxygen but so worth the outstanding views…-6 on the top of the mountain today but blue skies and so clear… So beautiful.

Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch

Went past Wengen and stopped at Lauterbrunn for the train change on the way up and then through Grindelwald on the way back down. To finish off the day we had fondue at the Kasino in Interlaken where they host a folklore show with alpenhorns and yodeling…

Onto Lucerne early tomorrow… Looking forward to it!

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Elise’s journey to Festive Switzerland (4 days)

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Hi there! This is Elise reporting and I’d like to share my European adventure to Switzerland with you! I went November/December last year and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since! I’d love to go back during the advent season. There is nothing like it in Australia!

Day 1: Arrive Switzerland!

36 hours ago I left Melbourne… I have been to Singapore then onto Frankfurt.
Arriving in Frankfurt at 5:30a.m. with 19 hours and no sleep… Feeling wired… Qantas A380 were so good between Melbourne to Singapore. Leg room is super important to me so its appreciated when you get on in economy… Its basically night when we arrive shuttling from terminal 1 to the rail station.
It looks like a busy hub of travelling!!!

We travelled from Frankfurt to Basel by train which took 3 hours. Such efficient connections even between boarders…there’s no issues at all… Also love the Eurail pass, we filled our first day in today!

On the train - Basel to Frankfurt

On the train – Basel to Frankfurt

Basel is a really pretty city along the river rhine. I’d love to stay for a few more day’s rather then quickly passing through… Especially as it was Christmas market time and the stalls looked amazing!!!

Church, Basel

Church, Basel

Christmas Market in Basel

Christmas Market in Basel

Basel Town Hall, Basel

Basel Town Hall, Basel

The above photo is one of the post boxes that is still in Basel today!!!

Did you know?

Basel was the only Swiss canton to ever be issued its own postage stamps. The idea of a postage stamp for Basel came from Johannes Bernoulli, the city’s Postmaster General, in 1843. Bernoulli proposed that the State Council increase their six letter boxes to sixteen and also that the opportunity to issue a stamp for Basel should be taken.

The council approved Bernoulli’s proposal in January 1844 but the stamp was not issued until July 1st 1845. The stamp was designed by the architect Melchior Berri. It depicts a white dove embossed on a red background carrying a letter in its beak. A Bishop’s crosier (Basel Coat of Arms) is shown at the top centre.

The stamps were engraved and printed by H.B. Krebs on thick yellow/white paper in sheets of 40. Basel Dove stamps were withdrawn from use in December 1848.

For a long time, it was unknown how many of the stamps had been printed. In the early 1930s, experts estimated that 20,880 stamps were produced in total. However, information provided by expert collectors researching the archives of the Basel Postal Administrations suggests that 41,480 of the stamps were printed.

Rhine River from Restaurant, Basel

Rhine River from Restaurant, Basel

We then return back to the train station via Tram for Interlaken.

We stay at the hotel Krebs, just in Interlaken West station. So exhausted being up for over 24 hours.

It’s been a full on action packed two days with little to no sleep and I can’t wait till tomorrow.. 🙂

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 12

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Dear Reader,

We are near the end of my journey and therefore my story. Throughout this I have shared my personal thoughts and opinions which in no way should be seen as those of anyone other than myself.

Day 9

After breakfast in the Hotel Montana’s breakfast room which is nicely appointed and generous servings, I collected my luggage from the room leaving Craig some more hours of making Alp Horn music. With my worldly goods, SOME chocolate and souvenirs in my backpack, I walked to Zurich HB and my train to the airport. I bought my train ticket though the machine and as I had discovered over the last 8 Days, the train came on time.

Arriving at Zurich Airport its was an easy trip up the escalators and across the road to the terminal and the Singapore Airlines check in counter. The Singapore Airlines service is just not found in-flight. The lady ensured I had my documents correct (maybe she had been a Swiss Rail conductor earlier) and directed me to security and the next stage of departure from Switzerland.

Zurich Airport security is quite tight and I would suggest allowing time to get from the Check in to the Gate. I had somehow triggered some security and had a body search done. I will not go into detail for security reasons.

I said my farewell to the ‘Brunette Kissing Heidi‘ on the tunnel wall, as my train carried me past her and on to my departure terminal.

My fellow travellers and I boarded our flight and prepared for the enjoyment of flying Singapore Airlines. I took the opportunity to catch up on some more movies I had not seen. I took advantage of the armrest mounted power outlet to use my laptop. When our impeding Singapore arrival was announced, I wondered where the time had gone.

Day 10 
I had actually arrived in Singapore this day.Both flights were in the same terminal so it was a very easy transit. As with the outbound to Europe there was a security checkpoint at the gate lounge entrance so time should be allowed for this.

As with all the flights on the trip. The service levels made one feel at home and that’s where I was at day’s end, home.

So how did I go in my search?

I completely missed the Fondues but it was made up for by the wonderful variety of foods I did have. Fondues may have to wait ’til my next Swiss adventure or maybe I will find a restaurant in Australia to see what I missed out on.

Though Heidi was just a story book and movie character, it was an experience to meet the people of Switzerland whether they be Nationals or Foreigners working there. There was always the special feeling of welcome. I feel I have to make special mentions. Again, the Swiss Rail Conductors do their job like no one else  in world with the same duties. The hotel staff were always there to help and nothing was a problem from front desk to house keeping.

The Keg Parties could have been an issue if Craig had not shared his ‘Little Discovery’ in Interlaken. If you search the ‘net for St Bernard dogs, you will find I was completely in the wrong part of Switzerland. So if you need rescuing in the Italy part of Switzerland, they still have the kegs around their necks full.

Special Thanks to:

Craig Hunt for his companionship, guidance, support and sense of humour.

Holidays on Location staff for suggesting I should discover Switzerland by Rail as I am normally the self drive / ride man.

Holidays on Location for the facility to share my adventure through their website.

Elise,  The little Techie at Holidays on Location for trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

Next update hopefully things to share like photos and hints to travelling through Switzerland by rail.

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 11

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Our last full day in Switzerland , Day 8. FULL being the appropriate word!

After breakfast with our bags packed we were back to riding the rails. Craig’s plan was to maximise our ticket and we were off to Zurich via St Gallen with the turnaround point of Romanshorn.

St Gallen

Just a little bit of the cathedral of St Gallen.

We boarded our train and settled in for the ride when the conductor appeared as always to check our tickets. He suggested I may have to leave to train as I had failed the ticket completion test on the last day! I had not filled out the date. He offered to give me a second chance and would check my ticket on his return through the carriage. As he walked away I grabbed the pen out of my pocket and completed the section. He duly returned and advised I could now stay on the train. Did I mention, the conductors on Swiss Rail had great personalities and senses of humour.

Our train journey was interrupted by another bus ride but this was a little more difficult. Though the train conduct explained what was happening and we connected to the bus without problems. The station, where we disembarked the bus at had a station attendant who didn’t speak English but instead yelled in German. We worked out which train to catch and boarded.

Due our little detour we found ourselves at a station next to Lake Zurich. A change of plans and we went to our Zurich hotel, the Hotel Montana and left our luggage. All went well with our new plan and were travelling to St Gallen with just our daypacks.

St Gallen is a treasure, a wonderful old city with fascinating sights. Lots of church and little cobblestone streets. The gluvine from one of the street stall definitely didn’t hurt and was a perfect partner to the brätwurst. We returned to the station to catch our train to the planned turnaround point of Romanshorn.

David at St Gallen

David at St Gallen

At Romanshorm, I decided to catch the next train to Zurich and Craig was going to do some exploring. I think some old woman was trying to chat me up on the platform but she only spoke German and I only spoke English. I escaped her by boarding the train and after about 5 minutes, I had Craig sitting next to me on the train.

On our return to Zurich we took the 5 minute walk from Zurich HB to our overnight accommodation Hotel Montana.

We walked to a supermarket and I bought the souvenirs; chocolate, chocolate, things with emblems  of Switzerland and some more chocolate. I handed over my credit card and made a discovery. You cannot sign but have to use the PIN number. Oh no, I didn’t know the PIN as I have so many other numbers to remember. I resort to using the cash I have left.

Craig with Giant Chocolate at St Gallen

Craig with Giant Chocolate Balls at St Gallen

We then go looking for a restaurant. We found a place which is a mixture of takeaway and dine in. We ordered at what looked like the takeaway counter then were directed to a table. Great food. Craig had to pay as I still have no idea of my PIN number.

We return to the Hotel Montana. The hotel has a boutiqueness about it and the location to the station is fantastic. From our original stay on Zurich, I remembered we are also near the bus terminal from where our Zurich city tour had departed. As I had discovered from my encounters in the other hotels, the staff are friendly and so helpful.

Next time. I leave Craig in Zurich and head back to Australia.

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 10

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Another day, Day 7.
The day was to show how ‘unSwiss’ we had remained.

Mt Pilatus Trip

How the wheels go round and round on the Cogwheel Railway!

During breakfast we met the Hotel Waldstatterhof‘s General Manager, Patric Graber who is a good friend of the owners of Holidays on Location and he had been warned of our stay in the hotel. As Patric had worked in the Lucerne Tourist office, we asked him for information such as the best time and way to go to Pilatus Kulm.

Beginning the Mt Pilatus Trip

Alpnachstad, the beginning of the climb to Pilatus Kulm.

After Patric escaped us and we finished breakfast, we went to the station to check the timetable. The train we needed was about to leave so we boarded. We had thought about taking the boat trip but we had earlier discovered they were not operating. We took the train to Alpnachstad and the cogwheel train from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm.

We had dressed warmly to go to the station but were we really prepared for the assault on Pilatus Kulm. Remember we had just gone to the station to check the timetable.

On the cogwheel train to Mt Pilatus

The passing station on the Cogwheel railway to Pilatus Kulm

The Cogwheel train ride was very scenic and an experience in itself. Along the way we saw people on top of the small peaks as they made their way by foot down to Alpnachstad.

It was exploring time at Pilatus Kulm’s observation decks and the caves, where stories told of the dragon. The lookout at the highest point was a challenge, not to climb but to get a clear photo of the scenery without a Tourist posing in the way.
Strangely, as much as I looked, I did not see any big rubber balls, mats or elastic bands. I thought from the name we had been going to the source of Pilates! Obviously, I now realised I had got that wrong. Rubber wouldn’t last long in these conditions.

 Mt Pilatus Trip

Pilatus Klum. Where the Cogwheel railway and gondolas meet.

We had a small meal then took the gondolas to Kriens with some stops along the way to ‘checkout the views’. At one stop the attendee asked us why we were getting off. ‘To see the view” was our answer. I should have should have guess there wasn’t any from the look of his face. When we return he just smiled knowingly. Further along we heard cows bells as we passed over green fields in which they grazed. At the gondola journey’s end, we followed the signs into town where we caught the bus into Lucerne.

In Lucerne we did yet more exploring of the old buildings and bridges. We crossed the old covered bridge and discovered the Hotel Wilden Mann in a street just back from the canal. The hotel is a composite of old buildings, there were two restaurants, one being hundreds of years old but the coffee machine was much younger and did a great job.

The gondolas on the Mt Pilatus Trip

One of the sets of gondolas from Pilatus Kulm to Kriens.

We continued our wandering and at the next old bridge, we discovered there were major construction work being done to the old dam system due to flooding over recent years.  Craig decided we needed a better city view, so we did a Von Trapp (though they were Austrian) impersonation and climbed what seemed like the mountains to the old city wall. The accesses to the top of the walls were closed due to either the season or the hour of out visit. Great views though from the base of the wall overlooking Lucerne and on the opposite side up the river.

As with mountain climbing, the downhill (down-mountain) walk to the old city was considerably easier and we were soon back to our hotel.

Scenic views on the  Mt Pilatus Trip

Scenic views on the Pilatus Kulm Trip

We met with Patric in the foyer and he offered to eat with us at a traditional Swiss Restaurant. It’s obvious when your companion is local; the food styles were different and wonderful to the palate but still the fondue had escaped me.  Patric proved to be the best Swiss ambassadorand our conversation covered many subjects. Patric’s main point was to base oneself at one hotel in one city and use the Swiss Rail System to do day trips to the other areas. This provides the advantage of reduced unpacking and packing, a valid point for consideration when planning a holiday.

During dinner we had a beautiful, blonde Swiss Girl in traditional attire as our waitress. Was this Heidi? No, she was only in early twenties. But she might be her granddaughter. I asked about her family and there had been no woman called Heidi BUT with this young lady, I had at least found the spirit of Heidi.

Lucerne Watertower

Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) and water tower.

After dinner we walked back to the Hotel Waldstätterhof and a good night’s sleep though the Alp Horns had returned. No worries as I sleep contented with good Swiss food and a small achievement.

Next time. Day 8. We return to the rails for the trip back to Zurich. Will we just do the direct route?

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 9

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Trains in Interlaken

A new day, Day 6.

Great service by the waiter at the breakfast room for the second day and with our bags packed, mine including an unused souvenir placement. We checked out of the hotel and walked to Interlaken West Station, being closer to our hotel and not still not knowing what time the buses ran. We planned to changed trains at Interlaken Ost and whilst waiting, we watch the arrival and departure of the DB (Deutsche Bahn) [German Railways] train to Frankfurt.

This reminded me how brilliant the rail system is in Europe. We boarded the Brünig Express for Lucerne. On the train we met a new married couple, the shiny wedding bands are always a giveaway. They were Indian of appearance so we asked where they came from. Sydney of course, they were on their honeymoon and decided to do Switzerland by Rail and were really enjoying it. Saves arguing about missing turn-offs in a car.

Interlaken to Lucerne

Interlaken to Lucerne

Though it had the name Express, it turned out not to be so, as the tracks were being worked on and we caught a bus mid-journey. Our bus ride took us to over a mountain range to another station were our rail journey to Lucerne continued. This provided a great opportunity to see some Swiss country roads. If only there had been a motorad (motorcycle in German) available, the road trip would have been even better!

At Lucerne, a short walk to our hotel for the next two nights, the Hotel Hotel Waldstätterhof. About 6 minutes from the Station’s main entrance. As we passed a McDonald’s, I noticed they had a Fondue burger. This was not to be, as it was a double whammy for Craig. As mentioned he does not like Fondues but he also advised me he doesn’t go to McDonald’s. Fondue of any type had escaped me again.

As was becoming the norm, very friendly reception staff and small elevators. Our room was huge compared to those we had had previously though there were two wooden pillars near the middle of the room.

After moving the beds as always, for some reason the Swiss put their twin beds right next to each other. What was becoming part of the ritual of post hotel check in, was to move the beds to the opposite walls. This would not improve the sounds of non-silence during the nights.

Arriving in Lucerne

On the way to Engleberg. Some cameras just don’t like twilight.

After freshening up, Craig and I split to go ‘solo exploring’.  Hotel Waldstätterhof lent itself perfectly to this as the transport terminus is across the road from the train.

Lucerne has Switzerland’s largest Transport Museum which was only a bus ride away. I was greeted by a banner in the museum advising there was an English speaking Expatriates’ Expo upstairs. I rode the escalators to investigate and ended up sampling Australian wines with the English importer. I returned to the building’s foyer to explore the Museum. SFR14 for the few hours I had, instead I decided to try and find Craig.

Through the magic of texting, I discovered Craig had gone to Engleberg and invited me to join him. A very scenic rail trip into the mountains covered by my day pass. At Engleberg station I was met by Craig and he explained the town and its significance as the gateway to Mt Titlis. The cable cars were still visible in the late afternoon light but not operating. Craig had found in his travels, a traditional Swiss Restaurant where we ate. Unfortunately I could not find a fondue on the menu which was becoming an unfulfilled expectation but the excellent meal I had almost made up for it.

As we were leaving the restaurant, I am sure I saw a group of people sitting around a fondue. There was a woman in the group who looked as I had imagined Heidi to be. Had we received two of our goals? As we had to get back to the railway station for our train, there was not enough time to find out.

The conductor on the train back to Lucerne was a treat. A beautiful dark haired Swiss woman with a wonderful sense of humour and as I was discovering as with most Swiss, great English.

Next time. Day 7. We try all forms of transport as we venture to the high reaches of the alps. Why can we not climb the city wall? Dining with a local at a restaurant with Tradition Swiss food. Maybe there will be Fondue!

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 8

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Its still Day 5!
As long a day as it may seem to you, we lived it and were still going exploring.

Little Discovery

“Craig’s Little Discovery”

We left the Chalet Oberland a bit weary from the day so far but excited as this was our last night in Interlaken. Craig took me to his ‘little discovery’ from the evening before, the Hotel Splendid’s front bar. As we entered I noticed a smoking room to our left. Through the windows and the haze beyond I could see people drinking, chatting and of course, smoking.  This would have been strange in Australia but in Switzerland, smoking is still allowed almost everywhere. Craig got the first round of drinks so we sat to watched what was happening around us. Some old local bloke was trying to chat up what was obviously by their accents and age, a group of American College girls. Obviously no Heidi amongst them.

Over at the table near the window was a couple having a little disagreement and they were also American. We discovered later he was stationed in Italy with the US Army, she had come to visit and they had decided to drive to Interlaken to go skiing. Unfortunately it was out of season.

Beyond the couple sat a mature woman on her own, she appeared to be surveying the young men in the room. OH NO! Had Heidi grown up and turned into a Cougar! This thought was too much for me to handle so I bought the next round of drinks. During the night we moved around the tables and met nearly everyone in the bar including an young American girl who had come to Interlaken to find her Swiss’ roots. She had and was trying to stay out of her aunt’s house for as long as she could.

David visits Hooters in Interlaken

I had to checked all their name tags but there was no Heidi at the American Franchise.

We decided it was time for a meal so we ventured off to Hooters. I had a Cheeseburger as that was as close as they did to Fondue. I checked all the waitresses’ name badges for Heidi. No such luck. The day was ending so we finished our meals and drinks and walked back to the hotel.

I was a little disappointed at Hooters for the only owls I could find were on the souvenirs. This left me wondering as I drifted off to sleep, why would they call the restaurant Hooters?

Next time. Day 6 at last!
We leave Interlaken by rail for Lucerne but part of the journey becomes a road trip!

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 7

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Jungfrau Trip

Climbing up to the Jungfraujoch

Yes its still Day 5.
Along the way to Jungfraujoch we have two scenic stops.

Most of the viewing is cliffs of ice and snow, it is so white or an eerie pale blue as the light passes though parts of it. Returning to the train, I reclaim my seat as I look like an elderly person, parents encourage their youngsters to give up their seats or maybe they know I will just sit on them! Young looking Craig misses out so rides the rack and rails in the standing position. At the station of Jungfraujoch we went to the viewing area where unfortunately the husky sled rides and ski runs were not operating (Oh, it must be November and they were getting renovated).

Jungfraujoch - On the top of Europe

David and Craig at the Jungfraujoch – On the top of Europe. Is that Craig’s STOP! Yodelling sign?

At the viewing area I tried to create the right atmosphere by playing recordings of people yodelling through my phone. Craig suggested I put the phone somewhere on/in my body. I think he was concerned the phone would get cold though I thought it strange to suggest the place he had, as the phone would definitely not fit. Before Craig tried to show me how it would fit, I turned the phone off and put it in my warm parker pocket.

In the valley we can saw a man walking in this white wilderness. I wondered where his stocks and skis were. Had the Zurich ski thief stuck so far from Zurich?
As we walked down the tunnel to the elevator, I heard yodelling! Imagining a potential outcome, I immediately showed Craig my phone was turned off. As we continued walking, out of the dim light appeared a group of yodellers with the yodelling club flags flying from the backpacks. I waited, wandering if Craig suggest to them how to keep their flags warm.

David at Jungfraujoch

David at Jungfraujoch. Is that colour coordinated hair, beard and scenery?

We took the  elevator to the Sphinx observation terrace at 3573 metres above sea level.  The view from here is breathtaking and there were black birds flying around. They contrasted with the immense whiteness of the area.

Back down by elevator and we walked through the Ice Palace and tried boot skating as the floor was ice.  Onto the Plateau and we were taken by the sensation of it all. Unfortunately, some of our fellow travellers, the tourists I guess, had left their mark by not taking their empty drink containers and food wrappers with them. Fortunately it was the unthinking or insensitive few. Time to return to Interlaken via Kleine Scheidegg as the Human Railway Garmin advised we should take the train to Wengen.

Craig at the Ice Palace

Craig at the Ice Palace – Jungfraujoch. Nice Ice Puppy.

At Wengen we disembarked for a leg streaking walk with Dark Toblerone for nourishment. Back to the station after checking out the Ski equipment.

A toblerone a day helps you work rest and play

Does a few pieces of Toblerone make it a relief map?

We caught the train to Lauterbrunnen. Here we were too late for a cable car ride so we will save that for next time we are in town. The train for Interlaken arrived out of the darkness and we made our way back to the hotel.
Next time, its still Day 5! Its a long day but its been special. After the hotel, a freshen up we will try retracing Craig’s footsteps but adding the adventure of looking for the Owls at Hooters.

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 6

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Day 5
We hit the different rail lines with our Swiss Pass, visiting parts of the Tops of Europe

(I had earlier called it Tops of Switzerland, sorry) and wonder if Heidi left the village to work in an American franchise. We also discover we are not the only tourists!

City Hotel Oberland Interlaken

City Hotel Oberland and Chalet Oberland Interlaken. The breakfast room is on the first floor.

The previous night whilst I impersonated a corpse, Craig had taken up the challenge with an after hours search for Heidi and the St Bernard Dogs (they carry kegs on their collars) through the streets of Interlaken. I had discovered to my horror a few days earlier, Craig DOES NOT like fondues and this may impede part of our 10 day Search!

I awoke refreshed and in need of a big breakfast, it was still days off ’til I would run the risk of life jacket wearing.The Chalet Oberland, as I was to discover, like most of Interlaken was renovating and November is the quiet time so the best time of year to do it. Craig and I found the breakfast rooms in the old part of the hotel, overlooking the main road. A charming waiter showed us to our table, asked us what we would like to drink and pointed us to the plate and bowl loading area. I returned to the table with a first course and discovered ‘the souvenir paper place mats’. I made a mental note to knock one of these off before we left! On his placement, Craig excitedly showed me where we would be travelling during the day, he is like the Human Railway Garmin.

Tepe on the  Jungfrau Trip

A Teepee at Kleine Scheidegg. Maybe North Switzerland Indians?

After breakfast, back to the room to prepare. We were travelling to Jungfraujoch and the railway station is at 3,570 metres. I wore the borrowed parker, the new gloves and beanie, Would I need the thermals? I had bought them for the trip but today I chose to travel light. With our day packs packed, we walked back to Interlaken Ost, I think we walked because we knew when the train would run but not the timing of complimentary bus. I am sure this had nothing to do with Craig’s concern of my lack of exercise between meals.

Along the way I caught up on the sights, the bar Craig had been to the night before, then the Hotel Metropole where I had taken the distant shoot of the Jungfrau. We then passed Hooters, an American franchise with something to do with owls, I thought. Odd, but it is American. Across the road were statues of a naked boy and a naked girl at the entrance to a park. Were these monuments to Peter and Heidi? No signs, so no idea. As we continued, we passed by an interesting hotel which is actually two old ones joined together, the Hotel Carlton Europe. They used to be, the Hotel Carlton and the Hotel Europe.

Statue in Interlaken

Is this a Heidi memorial in Interlaken?

We reached the Interlaken Ost station and were well in time for the train, as were our fellow travellers. There are two ways from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch. Both involve changing trains but both meet before the final assault on the Jungfrau. The Human Train Garmin had decided which route we would take, so we boarded the back carriages of train which advised ‘to Grindelwald’.

As we climbed, I spotted goats in the paddock next to the railway. I searched the field for Peter, for I figured, if I find Peter there will be Heidi. Unfortunately these must have been orphan goats as there was no herder (Peter). The train stopped at Zweilütschinen where it split! The front half going to Lauterbrunnen and the back half where we were going to Grindelwald.

Our stationmaster at Kline Schinegg

Our stationmaster at Kleine Scheidegg

Along the way we discovered the train was propelled up the steep parts of the rail line by cogwheels and racks between the tracks. The clunking noises were the clue for us. At Grindelwald we have been befriended by two American guys on a day trip from the other side of Switzerland. They are lost and we are their new buddies. We headed for the train to Kleine Scheidegg and pointed them to the ticket office. At Kleine Scheidegg we again changed trains. This is where the two rail lines meet. We joined our train and passed on to the Eigerglacier (2320 metres), here the train entered the 7 km long tunnel to the Jungfraujoch.

Next time, its still Day 5, its a long day and we reach the Top of Switzerland / Europe! On our return, the question will be posed, is Toblerone a meal in a silver wrapper and is dark Toblerone doubly so? Will we return to Interlaken in the same day?

10 Days in search of Fondues, Heidi and Keg Parties – Part 5

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Day 4

We hit the rails with our Swiss Pass, check out a Bear Place and go to see the Young Girl, maybe this is will be Heidi.

After a peaceful sleep with no Alp Horn music coming from my travelling companion Craig, we both met for breakfast and finalised our plans for the day.

Pretzel Shop -  Zurich

Pretzel Shop – Zurich

After breakfast. we gathered our worldly possessions, mine in the backpack. We walked the 8 minutes to Zurich Stadelhorfen. We waited for the train and as always the train was on time, as was our connecting train at Zurich HB which took us to Bern and the Bears.

Our first experience with the Swiss Rail pass and we had completed all the details on our ticket. The conductor asked for the tickets and we must have got the answers correct as we remained on the train. We were soon in Bern and at the station we found luggage room and the largest locker we could find. It was huge as it swallowed all our bags for a cost of SFR5.00.
With our possessions safely locked away we started our exploration. Our first discovery was a coffee house where we experimented by eating and drinking Swiss Chocolate. Our batteries recharged, we went looking for the ‘history on show’. Over the cobblestone paths and roads, dodging trams, buses, taxis and delivery vans, we found the city’s famous clock, it didn’t just tell the time, it put on  a little show at different times of the day. We fluked our arrive time as we watched the trumpeter play and characters moved in different parts of the clock. We then found Einstein’s house down the road.  Along the way were fountains in the middle of the road definitely something we don’t have back home.

We walked through an arcade and into a square where Bern’s late-Gothic Münster (Cathedral) with its feathery spire was located, its the highest in Switzerland, unfortunately there was a lot of reconstruction being done so any photos would do it no justice. The reconstruction work continued inside. It was still truly amazing.

We then continued the journey partially crossing the bridge then back into the city and on to the Parliament buildings. Along the way we found a statue of the Bear

I found a Bear in Bern!!

Heading back for the railway station the low body battery warnings started so we stopped for lunch in the Plaza. We ate a traditional Rösti to blend in again with the locals but I think our accents and lack of German language were the giveaways, that hadn’t been a problem the night before!

Returning to the station, we gathered our luggage and await our train to Interlaken.

For some strange reason I thought we should disembark at Interlaken Ost (Interlaken has 2 stations, Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West) so we had a lovely walk back to our hotel for the next 2 nights, the Chalet Oberland.

Along the way we made our first sighting of the Young Girl! Not Heidi but the Jungfrau.

Settled into our room, I crashed so Craig took the opportunity to go ‘out on the town’ to places I still do not know of.

Next time, Day 5 we again hit the different rail lines with our Swiss Pass, visit part of the Tops of Switzerland and wonder if Heidi left the village to work in an American franchise. We also discover we are not the only tourists!