A holiday from a holiday

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June, amazing! I can't believe it, so many months gone so fast. We must get to Norway soon if we want to see the midnight sun. The last few days we have been staying in Jan’s house in Wassen. On Sunday he left us the key and told us to make ourselves at home.

Monday it rained for most of the day so we stayed inside and watched the trains of clouds running past the kitchen window on their way up the valley. We also watched the real trains twisting around the mountain, the passengers passing and seeing the Wassen church three times, for which it has become quite famous. Apart from a short trip to the supermarket and a visit to the church to bide some time while we were waiting for the supermarket to open we spent the day inside trying to keep warm and cure the last of our colds.

It was such a nice day, for the first time since we left Australia we had a house to ourselves. A kitchen I had free run off to cook as much as we could eat and space to relax in. Monday was filled from beginning to end with cooking, eating, painting, knitting, reading and our chatter. We had no host to step around, no Internet and no one bothering us. I don’t know if Felix relished a break from the outside as much me, though he says he did. For me it was a perfect holiday from the world.

Tuesday we were both feeling much closer to normal health. It was a mostly clear day so we decided to go for a walk up into the mountains. We headed up under a first lap of train track, past the last houses of town and up a track. I walked along and when I stopped to look closer at a flower I noticed a strange sound coming out of a gap in the stonewall. I had no idea what it was and fancifully imagined for a second I had stumbled across a supernatural first. Only for a second, then I realised it must be some insect, then no! It was a nest of birds, just hatched, mouths wide open screaming to be fed. I called out to Felix, who had a quick look too before we moved on hoping we hadn’t disturbed them too much.

Next we did something that was in hindsight a little silly. We under-estimated the Swiss Alps and their sheer steepness. We decided to go cross-country. Felix encouraged me with a push on the bottom to climb up the rock beginnings of the outside of a train tunnel. Sounds funny enough except that it was a wet, moss covered perfectly smooth and almost vertical wall until just at the top where it flattened out a little. Every step the hand and footholds got smaller and the distance to fall got bigger. If I had fallen here it wouldn’t have been too bad, if I’d fallen from where we climbed next, things wouldn’t have turned out very well.

We made it up the train tunnel then headed up the steepening valley towards a waterfall. The rocks were really slippery and water was splashing all around. There was nowhere to hold on but when I realised it, it was too late to turn round. The only thing I could do was cling with my fingertips to the small slippery handholds and grab clumps of grass, brambles and small trees. I was genuinely terrified. Below me was something hardly short of a slimy cliff. I didn’t think I’d die but I definitely was thinking about some serious injuries.

Felix had gone up the other side, which I didn’t get a chance to compare for difficulty. We both did make it up to a slightly less steep part with more greenery and the like to cling to. We scrambled for another half hour or so and surprisingly it took another episode of scrambling for dear life and digging my fingers into the dirt and pine needles desperately looking for something to stop me sliding backward down the mountain before I had to say 'that’s it’, we’re finding a path.

We found a very nice, quite wide path near a perfect little mountain hut which zigzagged up and up through the pine forest. After ages it became much narrower and quite rocky – and much steeper. I had been feeling good and fairly strong until now, but I gradually started feeling tired and weak. We carried on and crossed over a few waterfalls, all the time getting steadily steeper and steeper.

Now the path was not much more then a very faint hint of where others had walked before following the red and white makers. Red and white indicating a fairly safe, easy walk for anyone of medium fitness with good shoes, clothes, some food and more importantly water. There are two other colour combinations used to symbolise different grades of walking tracks but I can’t recall the combinations and their meaning.

I was so exhausted by now, I felt like I just could not go any further. Every time I stopped I was sure I was going to turn back, but after a minutes rest somehow I convinced myself ‘just to the next marker’, ‘just to the next tree’, ‘just round the next corner’. This just, just, justing got Felix (skipping behind me like a gazelle) and I to a little emergency shelter hut, to the official snow line (even though we passed snow much lower) and all the way up to two thousand and thirty meters. Remember, this is the middle of Summer! Even the trees were not able to grow here.

As much as I so wanted to I just couldn’t make it to the summit of Meiggelenstock. The only good reason and justification to why we couldn’t keep climbing even if we were moving only at one kilometre per hour was the fear of not making it down before dark as it was already after five pm.

Coming down was almost as hard as going up, if not harder. Felix was still skipping along like a Gazelle while my legs were jelly, at times I couldn’t stay standing anymore and I fell over completely out of control. To feel so completely exhausted, so tired that I no longer have control of my limbs gives a wonderful feeling of satisfaction, I absolutely love it. But then to have five kilometres of steep down hill still to go after reaching that point was a little overwhelming yesterday. There were a few tears and scary slips.

When we made it back to the house, I felt very happy with my level of exhaustion but still disappointed not to have made it to some kind of summit. There was more and I couldn’t do it, I can’t say I made it to the top, and that’s not for boasting, even if there was no one to say it to, I can’t say it to myself.

For dinner we had some of the very spicy soup (sound familiar to anyone?) I made for lunch the day before and gorged ourselves on sauerkraut – something we have notably missed while away from the sauerkraut eating nations.

As Felix and I spent the evening much as the night before, indulging in our rather old fashioned ‘hobbies’, Felix was painting and I was knitting, I couldn’t help but think what two dottery old folk we seemed to have become. Ending the night with a flannel wash down, as there is no shower or hot water other then what we can fit in one pot, really helped confirm it. No, what I was really going to say was what a wonderful relaxing holiday we were having. We’re holidaying all year really but this was beyond our normal holiday setting. We had a whole house, with all the comforts we could need, in the Swiss Alps, to ourselves, we had no pressure to be anywhere, do anything, no internet to tempt us into mindless hours stuck with our heads in that stupid other place. We were just sitting around on a weekday night, all worries (except going to the toilet at night in the dark alone) were put aside for a few days and it was so lovely.

So this morning, as much as we would have loved to stay for another week, we decided to move on to Zurich, our midnight sun dream in mind.
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Maria on her lonesome on

Loved this one especially. Especially the reference to that world you drift into when the internet is available (which I find so funny myself, as here I am on the computer writing this!) I love how much you enjoyed that time to yourselves, after living out of your friends' pockets for a few months - nothing like their hospitality, but equally nothing like you're own space and no expectations. Pity you couldn't stay here longer, but equally good it was short and particularly sweet. Glad you didn't break your necks on your mountain climb - and hilarious to picture Floss dragging herself arduously along with Felix traipsing along behind with boundless ease and energy - I can picture it perfectly, reminds me of being in the bush with Dad!

Now to look at your photos (I've taken to commenting as soon as I finish the text, so as not to forget what I wanted to say!)

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