Monday, September 27, 2010

They're out there somewhere!

September 17 - Our room key is attached to a piece of metal that looks just like an extra large beer bottle opener.  DH did not want to lug this around, so he removed the key to carry separately. Sometime during the night, DH decided to open the window to our room to get more airflow.  In order to keep the window open,  he used the "beer bottle opener" as a wedge.  Whoops - bad move.  When we woke up in the morning, it was gone.  Considering the cost of things in Switzerland, this is probably going to set us back a hundred bucks!  DH went outside and looked all over but couldn't find it.  Hmmm ... should be another interesting hotel checkout!

Today is the day to go to Interlaken and see the Alps up close and personal.  Unfortunately, the weather is pretty gloomy.  The weather report earlier in the week indicated that this was the best day during our Bern stay to go into the mountains.  We're hoping that the clouds clear later in the day.

On the way to the train station, we walked by the Bernina store.  They had the full line of the new 300s in the window.  I'm looking forward to visiting the store later in our visit.

Too beautiful to miss
We really enjoy our rail trips.  The trains are so clean and quiet and the Swiss countryside is just beautiful.  I thought I'd be reading my book or doing my hand sewing during these train trips, but I can't stop looking at the views.  We could definitely feel the increased elevation as we made our way to Interlaken.

A bit touristy?
Interlaken has huge hotels and lots of tourist shops; it is the most "touristy" place we've visited.  We walked the length of the town, found the fondue restaurant that was highly recommended on the Internet, then decided to take the train farther up the mountains to Grindelwald.  The weather was still overcast.  The Alps were out there - somewhere! - but we couldn't see them.

This is the smallest train we've been on, one of the special cogwheel trains that go to the higher elevations of the Alps.  Shortly after we started the trip, the conductor came for our tickets and told us that our Eurorail Pass did not cover this train.  The mountain trains are privately run.  Not only did we have to pay an additional $52 to continue the trip, but we were on the wrong car!  At the next stop, we exited the train and got on the car right behind us.  They split the train at that point, and only a couple of cars continue to twist and turn their way up the mountainside.

Where oh where are you, Alps?
 We sat right behind the engineer and had a fabulous trip to Grindelwald along a beautiful river with rapids.  The Alps were covered in clouds and fog.  It is a strange feeling - you know they are there, but you can't see them.

DH thought he saw one of the military bunkers that Switzerland uses for their defense.  They apparently have a highly sophisticated and secret defense system.

Grindelwald is a bit less touristy than Interlaken.  The weather was chilly enough for us to have a hot chocolate and something sweet:  a schwarzwalmer torte (black forest cake) for me and fruchtekuchen (berry tart) for Doug.

Hot chocolate and sweets - yummy!
We took the cogwheel train back down the mountain looking forward to our fondue dinner.  Unfortunately, the restaurant did not start serving dinner until 6 p.m.

The Berner-Oberland Bahn
While wandering in and out of shops, we suddenly saw skydivers!  People pay LOTS of money to go up one of the mountains and skydive down into the town of Interlaken landing in a large open field in the center of town.  Someone would have to pay me LOTS of money to even think about doing such a thing.

There's a skydiver in there somewhere ....
We took the train back to Bern, had some wine in room, and dined at the Eiger, a family run restaurant near the hotel with excellent service and delicious food.  Clouds, fog, drizzle, and good memories of a special day in the mountains.

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