Thursday, July 05, 2012

Switzerland and Superlatives

It's just too easy to run out of superlatives here.  Yesterday - Wednesday- we managed another of the 'runs' that wasn't open last time - the Mannlichen cable car.  It's advertised as the longest cable car ride in Europe and we can well believe it.  It's clearly visible from the balcony where we're staying, and the base station is about a twenty-minute walk.  The summit is 2222 metres high (Grindelwald is 1050 metres) and the view - as you will see when I can add pictures - is breathtaking.  It is almost as breath-taking as First...  Lunch at the top, and the clouds came down.  We're still not sure what happens if the cableway itself is 'clouded-in' - we didn't wait to see, but enjoyed the run back.  It is possible - and good - to do several significant walks from Mannlichen, but we don't believe in Purgatory.

And today - Thursday - we did the last of the 'runs' that we're hoping to do.  We'd been told that the 'Grosse Scheidegg Rundfahrt' (Roundtrip) was worth a go.  It is!
We began in Grindelwald, by bus - what we'd call 'ordinary service bus' - just after 9.30 this morning.  This took us to Grosse Scheidegg where we changed buses, waiting (by choice) half an hour for the next bus to continue the journey to Schwarzwaldalp.  There we waited again by choice - this time for a full hour, during which Elaine had her coffee and we both had apricot pie at a stunningly-situated restaurant.  Then we took the 'postbus' as far as Meiringen.

Now, Meiringen, I wasn't aware, is the location of the Reichanbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes didn't really meet his fictional doom.  It was a surprise to see, as the bus drove down the street, the 'Hotel Sherlock Holmes'; it was a bigger surprise to see an apparently authentic London street sign - 'Baker Street'!

From Meiringen, on by train to Brienze, then by boat to Interlaken (with lunch on the boat), and then 'home' by the 'usual train' to Grindelwald.

And it all sounds so normal!  But the roads - THE ROADS - those first buses travel: 'on one side... a magnificent view of the world-famous Eiger and Grindelwald, and on the other side to the Engelhorner and the Reichenbach valley.'  But even that doesn't say it: I have never seen such narrow, steep, hair-pin and precipitous roads in my life.  The bus-drivers were, frankly, amazing.

The weather - both days - stayed really bright and sunny for the first two-thirds, then (as I've said) clouds yesterday, some rain today while we were on the boat.  But brilliant weather for the most part, and brilliant excursions.

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