Monday, October 04, 2010

Our Happiest Place on Earth

Well - the girls might disagree and say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. We shall agree to disagree.

In spite of setting aside several weekends this season for hiking/weekend trips, the weather never agreed. We came to our last "free weekend" for a while and had really hoped to get going somewhere. Last Friday night, it appeared the weather might be in our favor and a quick look out the window on Saturday morning confirmed it.

So we made a quick call in the morning and obtained a "family room" for 80chf cheaper than the website had claimed the night before (we find that calling the small hotels directly can often result in cheaper fares vs booking on-line). Packed a few things and off we went.

This sign tells us we're headed in the right direction: And I had to take this pic of the GPS guiding us through the tunnel at the end/beginning of the Brunig Pass - what a corkscrew!
The hills are alive - with buses, tractors and Jaguars? Note - the tractor ahead has pulled over to let this bus go by. Basically, the downhill vehicle has the right of way unless the other vehicle has a more convenient pullout. But if a bus is coming at you on these narrow roads - it's just best to get out of the way.
See - doesn't Rachel look HAPPY! She's doing her "hills are alive" Julie Andrews impersonation. And we are - yes, Lauterbrunnen is a close enough guess. The background is the Grindelwald side of the Berner Oberland mountains we love. Left side is the Wetterhorn and right is the Schreckhorn. (the cool special fog effect in the pic is from the fog on the lens - created when camera lady put camera cover in her back pocket during walk then 'covered' her lens later - sure, did it on purpose........)
Almost looks fake doesn't it. It's a real cow that went real p...... Well, you can ask Kendra about that. :)

Our nice little find on the slopes near the Grindelwald/Maennlichen Bahn was the Hotel Aspen. The real tragedy was not taking the camera down to dinner. We didn't realized when we booked this place that the chef was known for his special menu's - beautifully presented and a menu that was hard to choose from because so much of it sounded good.
Our "family room" had a 'gallery' for the children's sleeping quarters - girls were very happy:

The mighty Eiger at the end of the day:
The next morning, we headed back toward Interlaken (although the car had a hard time not going the Lauterbrunnen direction) to a little town at the entrance of the two Valleys, called Wilderswil. This town exists to 1) keep traffic speed down between Interlaken & Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen - tongue in cheek sort of and 2) it is the home of the historic Schynige Platte Bahn - a cog train that runs from about 600m to 1967m (not a hard # for me to remember) since the late 1800's.
Except the trains themselves aren't 100 yrs old. But sometimes it feels that way...... Here is the railstation at the top of Schynige Platte: Real quick: Schynige Platte is difficult for English speakers to figure out and after help from 2 Swiss friends, it's pronunciation is now firmly embedded in my brain cells. In English phonetics it's pronounced: sheen-eeg-eh plah-teh. I was determined Bart would have it down by days end. Carrying on now......
Cog trains run on a track (below) rather than a regular rail - no regular wheels on this - the cogs have some 'teeth.' This allows trains to climb a steep surface over a short distance without losing ground or - becoming a runaway train. These trains move veeerrrrrrryyyyyyy slowly but since the scenery is pretty spectacular, one doesn't mind.
What is special about Schynige Platte? From the top of the Platte, one can see Interlaken (transl. 'between the lakes) bordered by Lakes Thun and Lake Brienz on one side and from the other, the Grindewald and Lauterbrunnen Valleys with the Berner Oberland mountain range (Wetterhorn, Eiger, Moench, Jungfrau, Breiterhorn, etc....) We could sit and look at these mountains all day, every day - Magnificent!
This was mine and Rachel's first trip up. Rachel had been ill for a day several years before and Bart & Kendra had come up with Gma Elaine and J. I was excited to see my favorite mountains from a different point of view. I could handle a few more lunches up here - on the ridge - you can see Lauterbrunnen on the left and Lake Thun to the right:

We had a great 'spur of the moment' trip. A great end to the hiking season which for us wasn't filled with much hiking due to weather this summer. But we'll take every nice day we get!!! We'll be back - booked Ski Break in Wengen again!


Linds said...

Oh I love this place too! I have stayed at Wilderswil and at Grindelwald. I am not surprised this is your happy place, Susan. I know why. I fell in love with Switzerland right there when I was 12, and it has just got better as I have got older!
Beautiful pics, and that hotel seems great. I must remember the name!

Sammy said...

Wow. That cow does look fake! Aww. I miss you so much.

Judy said...

Gorgeous! I remember taking the train to Zermat and staring out the window the whole time.

MOM E said...

I was waiting for these pictures, very nice..can't wait to get back there myself, get packed C! As for Bart and the language..J still doesn't have Gruetzi down. I agree, the cow looks fake!