Top of Europe

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

THURSDAY, 28th September
Another visit to Switzerland. We were headed for the Eiger. Just because it was there. Also to drop L off at the airport on the way back the next day. Once again it was misty as we drove down to Zurich and we could see little of the hills in the distance. We had now traveled this route twice but it soon passed. Zurich was a different matter. It was busy and it was unavoidable. There was not yet a road around the city so cross traffic, like us, had to head through the city centre along a multi traffic lighted, one way, three lane urban road. It took us more than half an hour to get from one side to the other and we were not very impressed with what we saw. It seemed to be all residential high rise or commercial/industrial... a very functional town. We saw no gnomes or anything to support a return visit.
We drove on to Lucerne, a much prettier town. We parked under cover near the lake and walked around the wharf, where they were setting up a funfair, to a café attached to an entertainment centre. We had a cuppa and an apple tart. I tried to get inside the theatre but all the doors were locked. It was not a very appealing place anyway...all glass and stainless steel...but then our Opera House is all concrete and glass to the casual observer.
We drove out around the lake, found the main road and headed south west along a mixture of two lane highways and single lane. At last we were heading upwards out of the plains of Zurich and into blue skies with a beaut, clear view into the interior of Switzerland and the Alps. I was always led to believe that Switzerland was completely mountainous but it is not true. We stopped a couple of times to take in the view of the snow capped peaks in the distance and the blue green waters of the lakes alongside the road. It wound upwards between very, very green hills and sometimes through them. We traveled through a 5.2 km tunnel at one stage followed by another almost immediately of 2.5 km...and no toll!
Just before Interlaken we took the Grindlewald road which led up and into the higher regions. It followed a narrow but wild river on our left and the railway on the right. Through some small very, very so Swiss villages and into Grindlewald. We left the car parked outside the Information bureau and did a quick recce of the town before we settled ourselves down onto a park bench...a eat our prepared lunch. BUT the girls had forgotten to cut my buns. Where was my Swiss army knife when I most needed it? The Eiger was directly in front of us as we sat there in the sunshine but the Jungfrau was hidden behind it yet there were many other peaks all around. Chairlifts in the distance, para gliders descending from who knows where and by all accounts there was a rail up to the top if we wanted to do another of those cog wheel journeys. There was a restaurant at the top, just below the summit of the Jungfrau...Top of Europe it was called. It cost some CHF120 to get there so we crossed it off our list of possible things to do at the top of Europe. I had no idea that there were all these restaurants on top of these alpine ranges. [What next? McDonalds on top of Everest. A Big Mac at 29,000 feet. Oxygen extra. No ice in your Coke. Ski through service available.]
Anne bought some earrings for herself and a knife for our son. I think L bought the entire stock of cuckoo clocks to add to her collection. She also went bananas with her movie camera. You could make a screensaver of her images and not see the same scene twice in 24 hours.
We just had to see the Jungfrau so we drove around to Lauterbrunnen up the valley adjacent to the one in which we had found ourselves and which was a much smaller village and not so commercial. In fact at the end of the road there was just an old hotel and a car park. I should imagine that in winter it be a totally different outlook. We could see the Jungfrau, just a corner of it, high above us and covered in snow. We had a cuppa in a very brightly coloured hotel back in the town and decided to go with plan D which meant we did not stay overnight in a small town but seek accommodation in the big smoke...Interlaken.
I drove around Interlaken until we found a car park and then went looking on foot for a hotel of which there were many but being Switzerland they were very expensive. We followed the brown signs on the street corners and tried the Ibis which was much too expensive, a small bar/hotel which was cheaper but had small rooms with bunk beds and shared bathrooms and settled for the one across the road. To hell with the expense we needed comfort and somewhere to park the car.
It was dark now so after booking in and retrieving the car we set off in search of food but not before I had settled my curiosity regarding the river/lake. There was a river, which we found and if you translate the city name you know why there was no lake in sight only a very high cliff towards the north of the town. There were many choices of restaurant but somehow none appealed so once again we ended up back at our hotel, the Toscana. It was quite cool now so we ate inside. I had ravioli for CHF18. Anne had half a chook and chips. To Maccas for ice cream with nuts on top for L and I.
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