Swiss Travelogue


July 3, 2008 — Day 2: Excerpt

The Aareschlucht

The Aareschlucht

It was only about a 1 km walk (it was labeled on a sign like everything here, that’s how I know) to the Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht) from Riechenbach. We thought about taking the little railway tram that goes to it, but I was getting my second wind, and I was enjoying the exercise. This was when we discussed how we wanted to speak other languages, and how we were kind of glad there weren’t more American tourists around, as we both concurred that they are the most annoying (the loud, almost shouting slow English at people, as though that will help; refusing to speak a foreign language; finding cultural differences (like small fridges) annoying, etc.). This was about when we decided to work a little more on our French, since Andy’s had six years and I’ve had five (both include individual years of 7th and 8th grade, which technically is only French 1 together). Besides, we’d been relying on that for all written instructions and signs anyway.

We bought our tickets (ouch, another 15 francs together) and headed off on the trail. We actually went the opposite way as my family did the first time through the Aareschlucht, from the restaurant (where the path lead us) to the other end, which seemed to make sense since the numbers of the attractions were actually going in the right direction (1-13). Andy really liked it, and I loved it too. We spoke a lot of the time in French when we could manage it—Andy speaks French better than I do, but I can usually understand what he’s saying and respond accordingly—and English when we couldn’t.

At the other end of the gorge, we were really warm (because we went from the really cool, damp beginning of the hike to the end, which was muggy and hot) so we bought a previously-known-as Solero Shots! It’s not called Solero Shots anymore—starts with a C I think—though there were Solero popsicles, so the company is still around, just maybe sold the drink part. It was a lovely walk down memory lane, and Andy enjoyed it. Then after another brief pit stop, we headed down the road toward the sign that said “Aareschlucht Ost” which strangely led us down across a foot bridge over the river Aare to a solid rock wall with a handle-less door set into it. It looked like a utility tunnel, or like something the DARMA initiative (LOST) would have. I noticed that the sign next to the door said something like “stops on demand” and Andy noticed the buttons, one with an arrow pointing upward with the words “Aareschlucht Ost” and one with a down arrow with another town name under it. He hit the one with the up arrow and the button lit up. I tell you, it was like Riven. We stood and waited, not moving, and then all of a sudden (which again, was vehicular luck or divine intervention) there was a cool gust of wind and the sound of a train rushing past the open window (which we didn’t realize was open behind the meshing until then) and then the handless door slid open with a hiss, revealing the open doors of a train. We boarded, showed the conductor our ticket (which thankfully covered the cost), and off we went, zipping through the tunnel back to Mieringen.

July 02, 2008: Day 1– Excerpt

Train in Zurich

Train in Zurich

As we rode the train first to Luzern and then made the five-minute connection for the train to Meirigen, we saw the real mountains coming into view. It was stunning! Even having been here before, I can’t even get my head around how beautiful and majestic it is here. It still takes my breath away. Andy was loving it, too.

First Glimpse

First Glimpse

He’s probably never seen anything quite like this before—even though I have, it’s like the first time for me, too, because this time, I have to organize everything and get us from one place to the next. It will be an adventure.

Rode the train to Meiringen until the Brieg stop, then we (the other two Hasliberg couples as well) disembarked with the well-wishes of Margirit the Untours organizer, and climbed on the bus that would ultimately take us to Reuti. The other two couples are staying a town or two down, in Holfhof or something like that. I’ll check tomorrow. At any rate, Andy and I end up being the last Untours people on the bus, with a whole bunch of locals (or if tourists, German speaking-tourists). At one point, I really worried that we’d missed the stop, because it seemed like the bus was starting to go back the way it had come, but just when we started to panic and plan our backup steps(take the bus back to the trains station and then take the train to Meiringen, and take the cable car up to Reuti), the bus turned back down the way we were supposed to be going.

We finally got off at Reuti, but then we were left alone. The bus had apparently been a few minutes early, so the caretaker (Jacquiline Strieche?) hadn’t had a chance to get to the bus stop yet. But before she came, we had another little panic attack about what to do next, where to go, how to contact people, where we could find a phone, etc. It wasn’t “panicking” so much as serious “O.K. we’ll figure this out.”

Mountains Across from Reuti

Mountains Across from Reuti

Luckily we decided to wait a few minutes to see if she would come. She did, and we made our greetings, etc., and she and her friend led us back up to the Pollux. I used a bunch of the Swiss-German phrases I’d learned because it seems a waste to say in English what I could say in Swiss (such as, the Weather is Beautiful), etc, which it was, by the way. As I told Andy on the way up, “At least we came in on a clear day so you could see all this awesomeness, even if it gets all socked in tomorrow.”

The Pollux is just breathtaking. It’s unbelievable. Even 100x better than the pictures made it out to be, and the pictures made it look lovely! Our view is to die for, the apartment is not only pretty modern, but beautiful and simple. Andy and I just about fell over when we saw how amazing it was. It really is a fantastic place to stay—we both were almost giddy trying to communicate with Jacquiline. Her English is a little rusty, and my Swiss is atrocious, so I’m rather impressed that we managed to overall communicate. To tell the truth, her English, even rusty, is millions of miles ahead of my Swiss, which I’m starting to realize although incredibly useful (see below), it is completely insufficient for any kind of extended conversation.

Me and the Living Room

Me and the Living Room

Bedroom

Bedroom

Back Balcony

Back Balcony

Balcony

Balcony

After Jacquiline got us settled, Andy and I decided—after some discussion—not to try to squeeze in Riechenbackfalls today, since we were both jetlagged and it was getting later in the evening for the Swiss (it was about 4 o’clock by now), and we weren’t sure if there would be time to go down by the lift, go to the falls, actually SEE the falls, and then catch the lift back up. We haven’t been taught how to read that insanely complicated book of schedules yet, so we decided to play it safe and just walk a little around town. Jacquiline had pointed out a little grocery shop just a little ways down from us, so we dropped in there to pick up some supplements for the small food stuffs Untours provided in the apartment (which was exceptionally nice!). The lady who runs the place speaks—again—better English than I do Swiss, though perhaps not quite as fluently as Jacquiline. Then again, who knows? She just seemed more willing to trust our faulty German skills. She was incredibly nice and very helpful. We managed to scrape out a question about the wine selection (actually knowing that vise vie meant white wine and reuss vie means red wine), and what she would suggest. I used my catch-all phrase for the second time today: I understand a little Swiss-German, but not well. I’ve also been using “Ish guet” a whole lot, because it’s easy to remember, and because it fits my mannerisms—otherwise I’d just be saying “sure” or “that’s fine” or “cool” which doesn’t translate as well. We also picked up some lemon-citron icecream that looks exactly like something we got here when I was last here. At least, I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else in the U.S., so it must have been here.

Then, because of the heat, Andy and I headed back up to the apartment. It has been a difficult afternoon, because we’re both exhausted and want to sleep, but while I’ve been trying to fight it off by planning tons of things and looking and maps, etc., Andy has been accidentally dozing wherever he so much as sits down. I’ll call out “Andy wake up!” every time he disappears into the bedroom or up into the loft and the apartment gets really quiet. Then I’ll hear a groan and he’ll get up. He’s doing a little better now, mainly because he isn’t letting himself sit down or lay down. He took some more pictures, though which is great.

Night View from Balcony

Night View from Balcony

I still can’t get over our insanely perfect view. We definitely did not have a view even that good in Meiringen.

We ate around 6, cheese, bread, red wine, and jam. It was super tasty. Even though Andy disliked the cheese at first (he felt it tasted too much like parmesan (which granted, it did a little—it was very strong), once he realized it tasted very good with the wine, he ate a fair amount of it. The bread was absolutely divine, also. However, due to the lack of sleep and the fact that we haven’t been drinking much, the one small glass of wine each made us both rather dizzy and low and behold-! more tired. ^_^

Since then, we’ve just been trying to stay awake. I think tomorrow after the orientation, we’re going to try to hit up at least Riechenbachfalls and maybe the Aerschlucht if we’re really on our game. A hot berry Sunday sounds good now—it’s cooled off significantly from the swealtering heat of earlier. Reuti is still sunny, but Meiringen is probably in shadows now. Maybe we’ll try to watch Shrek 3, which the hostess has, in order to stay awake until 9. I think it will be a challenge.