> SlowTrav > Stories > Pauline's Pages > 1997, Italy, Switzerland

Summer 1997 - Italy and Switzerland

Back to Switzerland, a week in Grindelwald

Thursday July 3

My God we are in an apartment in Grindelwald!

Woke up to truck noise and you could taste the exhaust fumes. Still overcast. Decided to leave early - just can't take this weather any more. Drove to Lugano, the Gottard tunnel, to the autobahn to Interlaken. Stopped for lunch just off the autostrada. Back to Swiss food: home made tomato soup with the cream floating on top, rosti mit zwei speiglei (potatoes with egg), coffee. Fabulous. Cold outside and overcast, but it cleared as we drove towards Grindelwald.

Left Menaggio at 11:00pm, arrived in Grindelwald at 4:00pm. We hadn't been to Grindelwald since we spent two weeks there in 1988. Went to the tourist office. Got listing of available vacation rentals (ferienwogen). Went to see one, but didn't like it. Found another one that we liked. Back to tourist office to arrange it. The ground floor apartment in Chalet Adlerhorst. French doors from the living room go to small terrace with a view of the valley, Grindelwald and the Eiger. Stunning.

Out for dinner to a restaurant at four star hotel. A fancy restaurant, but with fish specialties and a vegetarian menu. Fabulous.

Friday July 4

Slept well with the window open to let in the cool alpine air. Feel like I am going through the after holiday let down. Six weeks of Italy with the adrenaline pumping, coping with the energy, the craziness, the beauty, the crowds, the noise.

Went into town. I got the price and schedule for trains to Prague (dreaming). Talked to the PTT about using the computer - they have a phone you can try but it doesn't always work. Went to the Laundromat. Did some grocery shopping. It had started raining by now - a gentle rain; with raincoat and umbrella you were ok. You can get organic vegetables at Migros (a supermarket chain in Switzerland), frozen vegetarian things at Coop (another chain in both Switzerland and Italy). The small stores sell real milk from local farms (unprocessed).

Had coffee and cake at bakery tea house. Lots of Japanese tourists in town. We are both pretty tired out.

Saturday July 5

I feel really comfortable here. It is nice to be back in Switzerland. Things seem more predictable. Went into town for groceries - crowded in the stores, especially food stores because they will be closed Sunday.

Sunday July 6

Raining and overcast. Bundled up in raincoats and hiking boots and went for a hike. Walked uphill towards Bussalp, got just above the Abbachfall, then back down. Walked for two hours, felt great. Nothing is as good as the hiking in Switzerland.

Light rain occasionally. Beautiful small farms, hay heaped on holders forming tall stacks in neat rows in the fields. Trying to dry in this weather. Great old wooden farm houses - intricate carving, frequently writing on the front of building. Fields full of wildflowers. No cars and only a few people. Quiet, clean, fresh. Beautiful views of the valleys and mountains shrouded in clouds.

Home and then into town. Many stores open, even the bakery, but not Coop. The weather is supposed to clear tomorrow.

Monday July 7

Just watched a commercial on CNN, no words, a couple making out, she grabs his cell phone from his back pocket and sees the list of pre-programmed numbers, all women, while he is groping her, she selects Doctor, dials it, knees him in the balls and leaves.

Woke up to sunshine, only a few clouds, still crisp. Drove into town, left car in lot and raced for Bussalp bus. It dropped off just before Busalp at the start of our trail - we were the only one to get off. It is cold, sun alternating with cloud. We are hiking the Hohenweg 1600m (the middle level hike on the mountain) from Bussalp to Bort (Middle station on the Firstbahn) to Unter Lauchbuhl. 1 1/2 hours to Bort, had lunch at the restaurant there. Very expensive; over 50 CHF for two, but the food was good, and you are eating on a mountainside with no roads, only gondolas and chairlifts. 1 1/2 hours to the end of the hike where we waited at a bus stop. The bus came in 10 minutes.

Beautiful mid-level hike, muddy trails, fields full of wildflowers, incredible colors, sunny but crisp, ran into cows on the trail (they wouldn't stop licking us). The hike was mostly level, some up and down, beautiful views of the Eiger, the glaciers.

Decided that after a week in Grindelwald, we would spend a week in Crans-Montana. This is in the French part of Switzerland and we only knew about it because we had just read a Paul Erdman novel where the characters go to Crans-Montana and we thought, why not? We called the tourist office and they faxed information about vacation rentals to the tourist office in Grindelwald. See how easy it is in Switzerland?

Drove to Lauterbrunnen. One of our books suggested staying here, but it is in a box canyon, and it doesn't look like good hiking nearby (walls of rock).

Tuesday July 8

Did some shopping in Grindelwald today.

Wednesday July 9

We set out to do an easy hike today, but took a wrong turn in a field and ended up doing a harder hike. Parked at Mannlichenbahn took the gondola to middle station Holenstein, started hike across the hill to the train on other side, but poor signs made us turn uphill and end up hiking up 500 m to Kleine Scheidegg. Took train to Wengen, walked around, had beer and fries, took gondolas back. Starting to rain at the top. Great hike, even if it was more than we wanted.

Thursday July 10

Sunny day, but we felt like a drive. Drove to Thun at the end of the lake - took 45 minutes. Parked and walked into the old town. A small old town beside a larger and lively new town. Only one main street in old town. A big castle too. The street walks on the terraces of the shops below. Had a great lunch.

Walked along the river towards the lake. Overcast and thunder in the distance. Appropriate because Thun means thunder. Drove into the Emmenthal to Langnau, walked around, rain started, drove further north to Burgdorf, walked into the old town, drove autobahn home, got slowed by rush hour near Bern and heavy rain.

Friday July 11

Overcast somewhat, didn't know if we could hike up high, went into town and to the Firstbahn, but the camera from the top showed heavy fog and 11 degrees C, so we took the Pfingstegg ride which just goes partway up the mountain, had coffee and kuchen at the cafe where the gondola stops, used the binoculars to find our house, then did the walk to Hotel Wetterhorn, about one hour. Great, gentle hike. Saw pigs, goats, cows. Had a picnic lunch along the way. Walked back to Grindelwald from Hotel Wetterhorn (another hour) instead of taking bus. Started to rain at end of hike.

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