Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yudl - Ay - EEE - Ooooo: Interlaken, Switzerland: July 18-19, 2009

Our trip took us from Paris to Bern, Switzerland. When we reached the Swiss border, they merely welcomed us to Switzerland. No border check or anything! Shortly afterwards, we passed Lake Geneva which was breathtaking! I told Sheila I was going to sing that line from "Smoke on the Water" (we all went down to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline...) and she said, "Please don't." The people next to us must have understood English because they laughed. I did it anyway.

We snapped photos of every train station sign we could and after awhile arrived in Bern. You know what I like about Bern? They have ramps for people with luggage! But there is no information booth ... European trains are pretty self-sufficient! Apparently people who use them are aware of the intricacies. However, both of us being smart, well-educated women figured out where we were supposed to be (we had about 30 min.) and at last were on a train to Interlaken.

I had managed to figure out how to call the B and B we were staying at to tell them we'd be arriving late. The hostess said she'd leave the key and directions to the room taped to the door. After arriving at Interlaken, we walked about 3-4 blocks and found the envelope with my name on it. It was about 11:30 p.m. now. Guess what? We were on the third floor and NO ELEVATOR! And in Europe, what we call the first floor is the ground floor. Their first floor is our second floor. So UP FOUR FLIGHTS OF STAIRS ... trying to be as quiet as possible. Bonk, bonk, bonk. We were exhausted and fell asleep instantly.

I woke up to "Jeannie! You've got to see this view!" Sheila had already gotten up, showered, and dressed and was ready to go. I did likewise. We went downstairs to eat and met our hostess, who was just a fount of information and as wonderful as could be. Most European breakfasts include thinly sliced ham, swiss cheese, croissants, some sort of cereal (granola, cornflakes, etc) and sometimes a few other things like boiled eggs or crepes. We both had hot chocolate.

We were told to go to the Schilthorn rather than the Jungfrau for views. Jungfrau is the highest, but you can only see through the mountain's saddle. Schilthorn has a 360 degree view. The tickets (which included all transportation costs) was about 85 dollars. She had to print off the directions, because it isn't that easy! Fortunately, she carried our bags down for us (what a strong woman!) and we went to the trainstation, Interlaken West, to await the train for Interlaken Ost (where we could store our bags). I had put Sheila in charge of directions since it was her dream to come to Switzerland and see the Alps (I was happy to come , too). Well, we ended up on the wrong platform and the train to Interlaken Ost passed us by. So we ended up taking the next train which was only about a half-hour later. It ended up being fortunate, as I'll explain later.

At the Ost station, we checked our bags (after finding out the lockers only took Swiss francs in exact change. Sheila stood in line to get the coins). We got on the train to Lauterbrunnen and had a very scenic ride-- finally catching glimpses of the snow-capped peaks. We were in line for the first air-tram when these two young ladies asked us, "Are you Seminole fans?" because they saw my back pack. Turns out they were students at the Florence study center (FSU)! We ended up spending most of the day with them. What fun! This is why missing that first train was fortunate, otherwise we might not have met them. Kate and Adrienne from Bradenton and Jacksonville. I won't belabor the trip, but it was several air trams, a short walk through Murren, and another short train ride (which we almost missed due to picture taking. Check Sheila's blog for a video about that! It's hysterical.

When we got to the top, we learned that James Bond's movie "In Her Majesty's Secret Service" had been filmed there. The visitor's center was awesome ... snow on the ground and wonderful views! The restaurant above rotates in a 360 circle in 55 minutes. Sheila and the girls had a snowball fight and the girls created about a 12 inch snowman decorated with stuff from their backpacks/purses. It was cold, but not unbearable. There was wind on one side. We did some shopping, then headed down to Murren for lunch. After that, we said good-bye to the girls and we went a different way down to stop at Trummelbach waterfalls. They drilled a tunnel upwards through the mountain and it will take you about 1/2 up. There are ten falls and numerous chutes. Amazing! Very well worth the 11 francs we paid to get in. After that visit, we went back to Interlaken Ost and caught a train to Lucerne (spelled Luzern in Switzerland). We got in there before dark and were happy to discover that our hotel was within easy walking distance. And so, Lucerne in the next post.

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