Monday, June 4, 2012

Swiss Alps

We left Zurich on Friday morning, heading for Mürren. We chose to go by way of Lucerne because we had heard that the route would be scenic. “Scenic” doesn’t even begin to describe our train ride: I’d prefer to say “spectacular.” And the city of Lucerne came as an added benefit. We stayed there for a few hours before changing trains, giving ourselves a walking tour guided by a map we got at the train station. The map included a suggested route, which we followed down the river, up onto the wall, back down into the old town center, and finally back across a long old covered bridge.
When we’d seen enough we got onto a panoramic train car and headed for Interlaken. We had lots of food with us, and we started by spreading out a picnic for ourselves on our table. We enjoyed our meal especially because of the scenery that seasoned it. We started out on the shores of a beautiful blue lake surrounded by meadows and villages and backed by snow-capped mountains. The farther we traveled, the nearer came the mountains. Finally we climbed right into the mountains and crept into the town of Meiringen, where the crew detached the engine from the front of our train and attached it at the other end. We pulled out of town by the same route we entered, arcing off presently toward Lauterbrunnen.

The panoramic train ended in Lauterbrunnen, where we switched to a smaller train which took us to a gondola which took us to a little mountain tram which finally took us to Mürren. It’s unfair to compare the scenery in one part of the trip to another, but I can comfortably say that we’re really happy about staying in Mürren.

Our friends Charlene and Walti arrived later that day and we had a long and delightful dinner together. We decided to go ahead and plunge to Jungfraujoch the next day because we expected poor weather for the rest of the week and we wanted to enjoy the views from very high on the Jungfrau. The elevation at the station is 3454 meters above sea level. We enjoyed clear skies and fantastic views from the moment we emerged from the train tunnel. We walked (slowly because of the snow and the elevation) up to a mountain hut at the top of the saddle, looking down into the other side of the mountain range. The hut includes a kitchen, and we had vegetable soup and sausage for lunch before walking back down.

We didn’t ride the train all the way down to Lauterbrunnen, stopping to walk partway down through florid Alpine meadows. We felt both tired and exhilarated when we returned to Mürren, and ate dinner with enthusiasm and hearty appetites.

Today we took a gondola up to Schilthorn, also called Piz Gloria since it was featured in the film version of the James Bond story On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The weather stayed beautifully clear and we enjoyed spectacular views both outdoors and indoors over coffee in the rotating restaurant. When we came back down, Alla decided to take a rest while Charlene, Walti and I went for a hike from Allmendhubel, a little settlement above Mürren, connected by a cog railway. We walked through woods and meadows, under a waterfall, and finally back down to Mürren. If we had skipped lunch or the waterfall detour we might have gotten back before the rain started, but instead we came home just a little wet. Nobody minded the water, and we’re quite happy about everything we saw and did.

We took at least 500 photos over the last three days, but I respect my readers too much to foist most of them on you. Still, you can find some of my favorites here.

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