Swiss Explorations Part I
On October 4, 2009 | 0 Comments | Uncategorized | Tags: ,

The sun streams in through open windows in our Grindelwald apartment. In the distance I hear the rhythmic chiming of cowbells. As I look out the window, a mountain rises up, with houses dotting the lower parts, and thick forest up above.

Yesterday was spent getting here, as the train ride from Geneva to Grindelwald takes about four hours. Along the way we had a great view of Lake Geneva and saw cows, goats, sheep, deer, and buffalo, all grazing happily in the open meadows. Initially everyone spoke French, but at Bern the train filled with backpacks, with everyone in hiking boots and chatting away in German. One woman was talking and switching back and forth between the two languages, and even threw in a little Italian along the way. (Even the Swiss whose main language is German seem to say “merci” when thanking customers.)

We found our apartment with the help of a cab driver, and spent the rest of the day exploring the town. We have already been to the grocery store, the bakery, and the cheese shop, so we’re right at home. There’s a sporting goods store on every corner and then some, so no problem if we need any gear! Henry wants me to add that the local cheese is excellent. “It really tastes like cheese!”

This morning we decided to tackle the Jungfrau, billed as “the top of Europe.” Standing nearly 12,000 feet, the icy Jungfrau intimidates. The train takes 1 1/2 hours to get to the top, where the vistas–and the wind–take one’s breath away. Dressed in plenty of layers, we stayed comfortable, although I didn’t enjoy walking down a path of sheer ice! I have several photos of ice sculptures from the Jungfrau, which I will post on Facebook.

On the way down, we stopped at Kleine Scheidegg, one of the many mountain villages dotting the landscape. We had been advised by those in the know to order the Rosti, or hash browns, at the train station restaurant. Full of potatoes and salad, we made our first hike, a modest three-mile walk to Mannlichen, another mountain village. The trail was full of people and dogs enjoying the fresh air…we hardly ever hear English here, so most of the tourists at this time of year are from nearby, speaking German and French. (We also saw several Japanese tour groups.)

At Mannlichen, we had a soda and took the gondola down to Wengen, which is the favorite village of a woman on Trip Advisor who has helped us with hiking information. However, Wengen closes down at the beginning of October until just before Christmas, when the ski season gets underway there, so it took us all of about ten minutes to scope out the town. From there we took the train back to Kleine Schidegg, had a snack, and then came back to Grindelwald. We will need to get up early tomorrow for our first daylong hike, so it feels good to rest a bit.

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