A Travellerspoint blog

Day 76, Gimmelwald

sunny 25 °C

Our breakfast this morning was simpler, toast and yogurt. We left once again at 0900 to start our day. This time however, we were going for an actual hike. We started uphill immediately and didn’t stop until we reached Sprutz, a huge waterfall in the forest. We passed underneath the waterfall, something I’d never done. The forest here is very much like the forests at home, tall pine trees, mosses growing on everything, cool shade and paths littered with pine needles. We kept on going and going for a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes uphill until we reached the top of Brindli. Our total elevation gain was 700m from where we started to where we finished. We spent an hour at the top talking to people, taking pictures and eating an early lunch.
We chose to go walk back to Gimmelwald via Rotstockhütte, the long way around. We stopped at the hut and refilled our water bottle. We ate a piece of super delicious walnut pie in the sun. The walk back to Gimmelwald took 3 hours. It went down onto the valley floor 100 meters below Gimmelwald, along the river that echos through the mountains to our ears outside our hostel. We ate some alpine strawberries along the way. When we got back into town we saw the Hans the Cheese-man was outside at the cheese house. We stopped by and when he saw us he called “ALYSSA!” he had remembered my name! (and said it right!) We bought two more blocks of cheese from him to give away in Holland and a .5L of raw milk for $.75. The milk tasted like creamy heaven! It sounds cliche, but it tasted floral, like the meadow.
We dropped all our stuff off at the hostel and picked up our bathing suits. We took the cable car up to Mürren and found the pool. Shane and I swam and splashed in the pool and relaxed in the hot tub with a view of the alps everywhere we looked. We had a fantastic time! The showers were hot and free and we definitely took advantage of them. After our great swim we found dinner (unremarkable) with views directly into the valley.
With dinner paid we had 8.75CHF remaining. We knew the cable car back to Gimmelwald cost 8.80CHF. We were tired and sore from our hike so we went to the station with our francs and a 5 eurocent piece (worth more than .05 francs.) We told the lady, “we want to get rid of these francs, it’s our last day here. Can we give you 8.75CHF plus this 5 eurocent piece?” She said no. She needed the .05CHF piece. We were not impressed. We walked sorely down the hill.
The internet wasn’t working when we got back (even though we had to pay 5 euros for it) so we went to the “festival” with a few of our Canadian roommates. The six of us listened to a yodeling group and some classic folk music while we chatted. We huddled at our table trying to stay warm, we had a lot of laughs with these folks. At 2300 it was to cold to stay outside so we all headed to our respective beds.

Posted by s-a 22:24 Archived in Switzerland Tagged gimmelwald Comments (3)

Day 75, Gimmelwald

sunny 22 °C

Shane made us eggs and fried potatoes for breakfast and man was it good! We ate it outside in the cold to keep away from the flies buzzing incessantly around. The sun spread over the ground before us a few minutes after we sat down and continued it’s run down the mountain. We left for our walk at 0900, taking the cable car to Mürren. The Northface trail we decided on took us through pastures of cows and meadows filled with flowers. The only sounds were birds, cow bells and the small streams of water making its way down to the bottom of the valley. Flowers in every colour begged to be picked and put in a bouquet. The trail took a few beautiful, blissful hours to complete and at the end we ate our lunch. Bread, nutella and wine, a gift from Daniel in Germany. Delicious!
On our way back down the mountain, (which got a lot harder after a few glasses of wine!) Shane and I talked about how awesome these cows were (well, all the animals) and how happy they seem, it makes the incentive to buy local humanely raised animals so much higher. We can’t wait to get back home and stock our pantry with as much local and sustainable products as possible. Only buy the same free range eggs we’ve been getting and hopefully getting into a raw milk share where the milk actually tastes like milk and meadow, not chemicals and water. We stopped to feed the cows wherever we saw them.
When we finally got back to Gimmelwald we took showers (finally!) and changed. Then, as soon as we could, we went to find the cheese man we’d heard so much about. When we walked to his house down the road there a couple was already waiting. Hans took us all across the road to his cheese shack, a small house filled with aging cheese! He cut us off a piece to try and it was SO good! It is local Alp cheese, unpasteurized and made only during the summer when the cows are in the Alps. We bought a chunk of cheese and a piece of sausage as well as a hunk of butter made by the same cows. Hans was an awesome character, witty, quick and 70 years old and he liked us a lot. He made us promise to name our first child Hans even if it was a girl and to call him up when we needed a godfather!
We ate dinner at the only other restaurant in town, next door to our hostel. We had a glass of local milk and a plate of meat and cheese. Not cheap, but quite good. We spent time updating the blog and getting ready for bed in our dark, tiny dorm room. At 2300 when 14 people were trying to sleep, the lights were on so one guy could read. I stewed about it for 30 minutes until at 2330 I finally asked to turn out the lights. I love hostels.

Posted by s-a 18:57 Archived in Switzerland Tagged gimmelwald Comments (1)

Day 74, Gimmelwald

overcast 20 °C

Happy Canada Day! We started this fantastic day taking a train from Basel to Interlaken Ost. The ost is very important because if you don’t pay attention you’ll get off at the wrong station. This did not happen to us, but it could have. We wrote Happy Canada Day! on a German newspaper and then a sweet old lady asked for it. We gave it to her right away. The train ride was two hours long. When we got off Shane bought tickets for our trip to Gimmelwald and I stood guard of Gary, Charlie and Mary (our luggage.)
While we were waiting for our train to Lauterbrunnen a couple from London chatted us up. Shane was writing on Gary, instructing everyone not to pick him up by the handle, the gentleman asked what he was doing and we told him. We were writing on him because we’re going to get rid of it as soon as we get home, making him funny makes the experience more enjoyable. He was broken, we were writing on him like a cast. The gentlewoman suggested we get people to sign him. They were our first. They wrote “Good luck with this questionable case! Best wishes Adrian and Alison (from London)” This was very cool!
We got off the train in Lauterbrunnen and waited for a bus to Schilthornbahn. The bus came and filled up quickly. We got off at our stop and the two of us carried Gary up the stairs to the cable car station. We made the five minute ride with our mouths hanging open, the Bernese Alps are AMAZING! Our hostel is one of the few buildings in Gimmelwald so we were there as soon as we stepped off the car. We carried Gary up two more flights of stairs and ditched him. Shane and I ate the rest of Opa Sigfried’s speck on buns with alp butter looking to the mountains.
The hostel only offers some dinner options so we needed to buy groceries. The closest grocery store was in Mürren an 4.40SF trip each, each way or a 30 minute hike. We had no idea how hard it would be! We decided to be cheap and do the hike. It was exhausting, Shane panted like a dog. We had our first experience with the Alpen cows (as we call them.) These are beautiful cows with large bells around their necks. They graze the gorgeous meadows bells jingling away and look so happy, just like cows should be.
We bought some postcards and wandered around Mürren petting cats and stopping to gawk over the epic views. It was a bit cloudy so every time you turn around a different piece of mountain would expose itself and you would gasp and point again. We found the grocery store and bought eggs and potatoes for breakfast and apples and bread for lunch. We left heading back to Gimmelwald. Along the way we stopped at every garden we came across. The vegetables all planted in neat tidy rows, growing look so healthy and clean! No dirty air to feed to vegetables up here!
Starving we ate pizza at our hostel for dinner. The food wasn’t bad but the service (by the owner) was horrible! We couldn’t take showers because they cost money we didn’t need to spend and couldn’t use the internet because it cost money too! After a few rounds of cards we grew so sick of the flies around us, we went outside and drank a hot chocolate with great views. We went on a walk to kill some time and saw huge squash plants growing out of an enormous pile of hay. We went to bed early and with the lights on as our 14 roommates came in and out late into the evening. I love hostels.

Posted by s-a 21:41 Archived in Switzerland Tagged gimmelwald Comments (3)

Day 73, Basel

sunny 25 °C

We woke up early, 0630 to say goodbye to everyone. Kathrin was going to work, Fabi and Andi to school. Tante Monika brought them to town at 0700, as it was raining heavily. It was sad to see them go, we wish we could have spent more time. Their hospitality was incredible! I thought I know what a good hostess was and then I came here. It turns out I had no idea! While they were gone I called to Holland to arrange a coffee date and Shane sent a few emails to his cousins there as well.
When Tante came back home she made us another delicious breakfast and we went to pack. At 0900 we put our stuff in the car. Tante packed us a wonderful lunch and they gave us a bottle of wine to take home “To remember us later” she said. I could have cried at such generosity. Oma came to say goodbye and they gave us new bags to carry our (far to heavy) goods in. She drove us to the train station and waited with us on the platform. When the train came we said our last good-byes. It was hard to leave.
We made two transfers, one in Wurzburg and one in Frankfurt, which was 20 minutes late. We got on this car and walked to the cabin we had reserved seats in. There were three children and a mother with their stuff EVERYWHERE! I tried to put my backpack up top when the mother walked in. “You have reserved?” she asked. We clearly had, it said so on the door, we had reserved the window seats. “And you insist on the window?” She said in a way that implied it would be rude for us to do so. The children were already in our seats. Of course I said no, we just needed two seats. Our 9 euros reservation fee flew out the window. We were very annoyed. Then the youngest girl, about 2 years old started throwing a tantrum. She was screaming and kicking and punching her mother, we could hear the slaps. It was awful. I felt a little sorry for the mother, but on the other hand if my kid ever kicked me in the chest...
The train ride felt like a really long time, but it was only a few hours. We arrived in Basel at 1500. We walked to our hostel, about two kilometers completely weighed down with bags. During our time with the family we had acquired two large bottles of wine, two mini bottles, two 1L beer glasses, 1 large jar of honey and one bag full of delicious lunch and sliced meats (including speck from Opa Siegreid). And it weighed a lot!
We got to the hostel and dropped our bags, we decided to look around a bit. We took the tram into the more historic part of town but didn’t find it all that interesting. One thing we did find was a suitcase, his name is Gary (Shane’s choice) and we bought him on sale for 35 euros. He is a very large suitcase that is very poor quality. We brought him home right away. We tried fitting all our stuff in it, all the contents of one backpack and the four additional bags we were carrying. It didn’t really work, the handle broke immediately.
Disappointed with Gary, we decided even though it was hot summer weather to get fondue. We’re only in Switzerland once! Our host gave us the name of a place to go, “reasonable prices by Swiss standard” (He also teased my pronunciation of the word, “fun-du” he asked “is this Canadian?”) We got to the place fairly easy, it was on a quiet street in the shadow of a beautiful church. We looked at the price before going in, 25SF per person. Holy crow! We went in and ordered anyway and went ahead and got a glass of wine to go with it. The pot of cheese came to the table bubbling and hot with just a basket of bread to accompany. We thought this was a little stingy but after we started eating we understood. It was amazing, the Swiss highly value their Alpen cheese and it is extremely high quality. They don’t undercut the farmers by paying them less, they get what it is worth and we pay more. We were fine with paying so much, it tasted so good.
We went back to our room and realized that the Swiss have their own electrical plug-ins, not the same as the rest of Europe. We borrowed one from the front desk and spent some time on the computer trying to ignore the very loud snoring coming from the bunk beside us. From such a long day we slept instantly.

Posted by s-a 20:50 Archived in Switzerland Tagged basel Comments (0)

Day 72, Mainbernheim

overcast 22 °C

Kathrin made us a wonderful breakfast this morning, she was out at the bakery before we even got up. We decided it would be nice to drive to Wurzburg and check out the town. Wurzburg has a lot of history since 1000BC when a celtic settlement was first formed and has many historical sites. We parked the car and took a stroll into the center of town. We found our way into the market and looked quickly as the shopkeepers set up. We peeked inside a church that was quite plain and not all that interesting. We walked across the Alte Mainbrucke or the old main bridge adorned with statues of saints. We glanced at the Fortress on top of the hill and decided it was not worth the work.
The three of us bought drinks from the supermarket, we were parched from the sun. We sauntered into the modern Salzburg Cathedral. Most of the building collapsed in 1946 after a 1945 bombing and it was rebuilt to combine the remaining elements which were Baroque (think: over the top) with a Romanesque style, large imposing towers, semicircular arches and surprisingly white and bare walls. It’s an unusual combination to look at. It was very cool (and huge!) We toured the crypt and then left. We walked only a few blocks to the Residence. This was the house of the Wurzburg bishop, NOT a palace as you might think considering how big it is. We thought about a tour inside and again decided not to. We walked around the beautiful gardens out back before we left looking for lunch.
Lunch came closer than we though. We left the Residence grounds and made a left turn before running into the Residence beer garden! We drank our beers and ate currywurst under tall (oak?) trees. It was an awesome lunch talking with Kathrin. Because the beer ‘masses’ we wanted were not available in Munich we asked Kathrin where to find them. We looked around not finding anything for a while. In a stroke of genius she called her dad and asked. We drove to the brewery he indicated only a few minutes from where we had parked. Success! It was a very nice beer garden and if we had more time we would have stayed. Now two very lucky people are getting these glasses and they better know how much we like them because they are HEAVY!
When we got home everyone else already was. Our wonderful family was throwing us a BBQ! Fabi (Kathrin’s other brother) and his girlfriend Bianca were there to meet us. We said our hellos and started talking right away. Kathrin let me borrow their printer and use all their ink for various things we needed. Andi came out and we moved to the patio. The sky was darkening and we worried about rain. Before we knew it a feast was upon us. Tante made the most wonderful dinner! There were so many delicious salads! And Oom BBQed up many different types of meat. It all tasted so fantastic and mid way through we met the Oma of the house, Monika’s mother. We talked and talked and my wine glass was always full (very full!) The boys left and dessert appeared and disappeared quickly. Finally a plate of Opa Sigfried’s speck, sliced nice and thin surprised us. We devoured that plate in a hurry! They gave us a huge jar of Opa Sigfried’s honey that tastes SOO good! All these goodies made my head spin. The boys came back and we took a few pictures in the yard just before the light was completely gone.
Finally as a last hurrah to the evening (and upon hearing we hadn’t ever tried shnapps) a bottle of Mirabella schnapps appeared. There was a round for everyone and it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. We said goodbye the Oom Horst before we went to bed, we wouldn’t be seeing him in the morning as he had to be at work early.

Posted by s-a 19:56 Archived in Germany Tagged family Comments (3)

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