Friday, May 14, 2010

Into the Clouds

By Claire
The fog was worse today—lower and thicker and grayer, if that’s possible. We were really stumped as to what to do about buying a 6 day pass for €140 each (yee gads!). After much discussion, exploring the map of train routes and hiking trails, thinking about what we wanted to do, checking the weather forecast and finally just making a decision, we decided to skip the passes and pay as we go. That way we can stay home if it’s really a bad day without feeling guilty. I must say, I knew Switzerland would be expensive; but it borders on outrageous. We are just horrified at the prices—at least we’re here for only a week.

We decided to go to Interlaken and then up to Harder Kulm, a gorgeous place if you have good weather. Before you think “what a stupid idea,” the sun was beginning to burn the fog off and I could see large patches of blue sky. So, off we went to buy our tickets. €9.80 each, round trip to Interlaken; walk about 5 minutes to the funicular station where the tickets are €17.50 each, round trip.

There were blue skies in Interlaken, but with plenty of clouds; I was still optimistic. Up we went in the 100 year old funicular (the car is newer). I think the announcement said we would climb 897 meters in 8 minutes. It was straight up. And up. And into the clouds. In fact, we couldn’t see a thing! We walked up the path to the “Panoramic Restaurant with stupendous views.” The first thing we checked out was the interpretive sign showing us what we could see—if the fog would just go away.

Interpretive sign with view beyond

Panoramic Restaurant

We decided to take a hike along one of the many trails.

It seemed kind of silly to just hang around in the dripping fog but the next funicular did not leave for 55 minutes (lunch time break) so we went into the restaurant and ordered some hot chocolate. We received a mug of lukewarm milk and a packet of hot chocolate mix. We killed time watching the clouds drift back and forth, opening up the view occasionally to the gasps of our fellow tourists. I heard one guy say “The clouds move faster than the shutter speed” as everyone tried to get pictures only to find the opening covered almost instantly by clouds.

Riding down was fun—watching the world open up again.

We strolled around Interlaken: a complete disappointment and total tourist town. It’s just a line of expensive shops and restaurants. We tried finding some streets off the main drag but they didn’t seem to exist. The only thing we saw that enchanted us at all was a Japanese garden.

We refused to pay the exorbitant prices for lunch and ended up at the Coop grocery store which advertised a restaurant. It looked nice and had several islands of choices including salads, hot dishes and desserts. I saw someone carrying a dish with noodles and a gravy on it that looked like stroganoff and it was exactly what I was in the mood for. However, after loading my plate with a few vegetables and the noodles, the woman behind the counter removed the metal gravy container just as I was reaching for it. It was almost gone but there was plenty for me. Nope. All done. No more. So now what? I didn’t want plain noodles and the veggies were looking kind of weak and over cooked. I finally just abandoned my plate and filled a small plate with salad. Chuck at least had a nice dessert.

We took the wonderful Swiss train back to Lauterbrunnen—it’s so quiet and comfortable you can barely tell you are moving. A woman got on with 2 well behaved dogs and we enjoyed the views out the windows.

It was great to be back in Lauterbrunnen, where it may attract some tourists, but it just seems more real.

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. ~ Orson Welles

1 comment:

Elisabetta said...

NOT just the cuckoo clock:


...although the Midicis invented the former, and Perugia perfected the chocolate!

elle in umbria*