Saturday, June 3

Saturday: Climb Every Mountain

They recommend that if you only have a short time in Switzerland then you should visit the mountains so that's what we did. We're in Interlaken, Switzerland, which is located in the south central part. It's also in the German speaking part of Switzerland so I still have a little more time in an area in which I speak their language (badly).

Interlaken, itself, is located in a long valley between two long lakes. To the south of town, there is a valley that leads up into an area with very tall mountains, almost 4000 meters which for us would be taller than 13,000 feet.

Unfortunately, our hostel is located in Bönigen, which is the neighboring town to the west. Along with the cost of our rooms, a bus pass is included, so we can take the bus around. On the bad side, it only comes once an hour. Several times we walked into town, it's about 20 minutes to the train station and another 10 to the downtown, which is really just along a single road. We had two ways of going to town: we could either walk on the sidewalks or we could walk along the lake and river. The lake/river was prettier.

Like I was saying earlier, the Swiss stuck with their currency, the Swiss Franc. It's very colorful and the coins are big and silver. Although I support them in their determination to keep their own currency, I sure wish they hadn't. But, all in all, it would just make it easier to travel in and out, especially when you're only there for a day. All of the more expensiver touristy places take euros so it works out.

So, today we got up earlier that we would have liked and left to ascend mountain at approximately 9 am. One may go to the train station and purchase a round trip ticket for about $80. One then boards the train which goes up the valley. Next one gets on the bus to be wisked away to the gondola station. Finally one ascends nearly two miles over four gondolas to reach the Piz Glora on the Schilthorn. It's a spinning restaraunt on top of a mountain and it's where they filmed the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. There are many mountains to be seen and it was partly cloudy so the horizon couldn't be seen.

After we walked around the deck and had a very good lunch, it was time to decend. We went down two stops to Mürren. From Mürren, the path winds back and forth down the mountain to the Gimmelwald of Rick Steves' fame. We stopped for expensive ice cream. Mike, John, Dave, and I decided to walk all the way down the mountain to the valley floor. I looked it up and all together it was a difference in elevation of about 800 meters. You'd think that really only going up the mountain would get your legs, but even coming down gets you too. Of course, you're not breathing hard, but your legs get wiggly; mine did a little.

You have to be careful going down the mountain. On one side of the path, and I say path because there isn't a road that goes up there, there are signs warning for falling rocks and on the other there is a drop off of perhaps a hundred feet. It was beautiful walking down the mountain, though. Wisconsin may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but I've never seen so many streams and waterfalls as I did in the Alps. Luckily, my battery didn't die until we reached the bottom of the mountain; quite frankly, every picture is worthy of being a postcard.

After returning to the flat land in the valley, we had to walk down the road back to the gondola station to get back on the bus. Walking down the narrow road we passed avalanche dugouts. They were placed in front of each farm.

We were then conveyed back to the train station, Interlaken Ost. and we attempted to board a bus. We got the right number. The bus was headed out but then it went strait instead of turning. We ended up going about 10 miles west along the lake before the bus route turned around back towards Interlaken. We also had to buy a 3 euro bus ticket to get back. All of this took us about an hour longer than we had planned. We then met the rest of the group for dinner.

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