21 day Best of Europe-DAY 16 Switzerland!
I think everyone was looking forward to seeing Switzerland and the Alps. I know the mountains aren't something we see very often so it was eagerly anticipated! To get to Lauterbrunnen you have to approach from the north so since we had to go through Interlaken to get there, we made that one of our rest stops. We also stopped in Italy before crossing the border for a snack at a nice autogrill and a couple hours later we stopped for lunch in Bellinzona, Switzerland. We went through many a tunnel to get to our destination and utilized the Gotthard Pass (it connects north to south Switzerland). We also passed bodies of water, Lake Lugano, which is just over the Swiss border from Italy was specifically noted.
The drive to Switzerland was so beautiful and it's something you miss all through Europe by flying from one point to another. It's especially nice to have someone do the driving for you! Ben had to change his direction a little bit because he had wanted to take the Interlaken overpass but it was closed because of snow. We passed Lake Lucern and finally arrived at Interlaken a little before 4pm. We had about 30 minutes to enjoy this area before we were back on the road. Interlaken was fun and we were able to get a cappuccino and window shop. Watches were nice there and very pricey. We looked at chocolate in some of the fancy shops but did not buy (I had purchased some chocolate in every country and took that to work to share after we returned to the states).
Stechelberg is at the end of the road, basically. Ben dropped us off at our hotel at around 6pm where we were greeted by Otto and Marian, our hosts. THIS is the only stop on our trip that may require the sharing of bathrooms and as it turned out, we DID share with Darlene and Bradley. I can't stress enough how this was no big deal! We coordinated showers effortlessly and there was no problem! We've all been together for over two weeks now so it's like sharing a bathroom with your family! We drop off our bags and have a nice walk around the area. It is so quiet! So peaceful! The only sound you hear is the sound of the water rushing down the mountains or along the stream, and the occasional chicken. On our walk we notice words inscripted on the homes. We learned that those are basically the homeowner asking for blessings/protection from fire. We need to be back to the hotel for our 7pm fondue demo then dinner will follow. Both of our dinners will be at the hotel for this leg of the trip.
The weather looks promising for tomorrow and for our visit to the Schilthorn but it could change. IF it's a go, we are to meet Colleen downstairs at 7:40 am. We want to be in the early groups up because as the day goes on, clouds tend to cover up the views. We head to bed tonight with the hope that tomorrow we'll be able to go in the morning.
21 day Best of Europe-DAY 17 Schilthorn, Lauterbrunnen Valley hike
We met up with Colleen at 7:40 am and learned that we were good for the visit to the Schilthorn. Ben picks us up and drops us off at the Stechelberg Schilthornbahn. From there we will take the cable car to Gimmewald, get off and take another cable car to Mürren. The final leg of the trip starts in Mürren. We boarded the cable car and switched to another one in Birg. Finally, we reach the summit of the Schilthorn! It's not as complicated as it sounds. We did the reverse to get back down. At 9:40, after we were done, we gathered with the rest of the group (that didn't do the Schilthorn) and we all walked from the Stechelberg lift station to Trümmelbach Falls. What an amazing feat of nature! The Trümmelbach Falls are a series of ten glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain made accessible by tunnel-lift and illuminated stairs.
At 9:40, after we were done, we gathered with the rest of the group (that didn't do the Schilthorn) and we all walked from the Stechelberg lift station to Trümmelbach Falls. What an amazing feat of nature! The Trümmelbach Falls are a series of ten glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain made accessible by tunnel-lift and illuminated stairs.
After the Falls, we walked some more and Colleen suggested good places for lunch. A group of us ate at the Hotel Oberland where I experienced Rösti (Rösti or röschti is a Swiss dish consisting mainly of potatoes). After our hike, Ben met us at a church in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and drove us back to our hotel. While on that bus ride, Colleen asked us if anyone would like to hike through Mürren and no one did. I would have loved to (and I really wish I had had the energy)..... I will say, it was a very tiring morning/afternoon and after we got back to the hotel, we actually took a nap. Here are some of the views along that hike.
After naps and showers, it seemed many of us were refreshed. So much so that we had a little happy hour ourselves right outside the restaurant of our hotel. There was a cute little area with tables and chairs and many of us shared the wine we had previously purchased along the way. Makes sense, right? After all, Rick talks about the importance of traveling light :)
21 day Best of Europe-DAY 18 Leaving Switzerland
As mentioned above, our bus rolled out at 8:15 in the morning. As we were leaving our hotel, the heavens opened up and wept. It made for a very sleepy ride! We were headed for Beaune, France where we will be spending one night. On the ride, Colleen came around the bus and asked if we wanted to join a group dinner in Beaune and at 25 euros each, it was a great deal. We had choices of appetizer, main dish, and dessert. It was probably the best meal of the trip. We passed Bern and Lake Neuchatel then stopped for one last time in Switzerland at around 10 am. This was a good thing as we could all get rid of any Swiss Francs we still had. Scenes from Switzerland.