Today was very different. The cloud didn’t seem too low, so we ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ a bit before deciding what to do, and then decided on a trip round the lake on the motor boat.
What lake? Lake Brienz, one of the laken that Interlaken is inter. So yes, it was another trip to Interlaken. This time I managed to misplace my tickets – minutes after leaving the ticket office I’d been distracted, then couldn’t remember where I’d put the tickets. I searched every pocket and my derriere portiere (I’m a pastor and can’t possibly say bum bag). Went back to the young man that had sold them to me (very good English): had I left them there? No. I’d still got the receipt – was there anything he could do? No. Well, yes – sell me more tickets. Bit drastic for that – search again. And I found them. I’d put them away safe.
What had distracted me? Well, I’d bought a newspaper. English language, and yesterday's. As I walked away from the kiosk I realized how much I’d paid for it – five francs 50; that’s almost four pounds. That distracted me. Mind you, it was the Daily Mail so at least I know the news I paid so much for is 100% accurate…
Thirty-five minutes to Interlaken, and then we bought tickets for the ship ‘Jungfrau’, for a three-hour trip around the lake. There was, we were told, a party of 60+ (numbers, not age) and so the boat was a little full. Would we like first class tickets? We would – they only cost us a few francs extra.
So up on to the upper deck, sitting in the restaurant at the prow of the boat, almost alone, with an amazing panoramic view of the lake and the mountains around. There are several ‘stops’ on the lake itself, one at Giessback-something, with the oldest funicular railway in Europe.
In fact, we had lunch on the boat, served by a very good waiter with ‘a little’ English. He apologized for the weather, ‘It shouldn’t be like this in May. It’s English weather!’ (He’s right.) The menu was good; Elaine had soup again (Goulash soup – delicious, she said) and I had chicken schnitzel – which certainly was delicious. Lots of coffee, naturally.
Brienze is the name of the lake; it’s also the last stop on the lake. If we’d been able to do the rundfahrt (round trip) which we’ve been recommended, we’d have done the lake anyway, one way, Brienze to Interlaken. But there’s doubt about whether every part of the rundfahrt is open yet – the Tourist Information office doesn’t seem able to tell us, except that the Grindelwald Bus which does the first part is only running on a reduced schedule. So we’ve not tried that yet, and probably won’t get chance now. But we didn’t want to miss the lake, and are glad we didn’t.
Felt a bit of a fool about the tickets, though. Second time this holiday, both to do with trains. The first time was when we were getting ready to get off the train from Zurich. We were upstairs – unsettling on a train, that. And where we were sitting was a long way from where we’d climbed the stairs. We’d noticed that the trains only stopped very briefly in each station and didn’t want to miss our stop, so I asked the guard where to get off. ‘Berne’ he said. Yes, but where did we get off the train? Berne, he said. Yes, but where are the stairs? His English wasn’t good (better than my German – I’m not criticizing) so he fetched another guard whose English was excellent. ‘How can I help you, sir?’ ‘I just want to know where the stairs are…’ He said ‘You’re kidding, right?’ ‘No.’ So he showed me: two yards from where we were sitting. Ok.