The Sweetness of Being Neutral

Trip Start Apr 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 06, 2009

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Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh refreshingly sweet to celebrate the middle point of our journey (days 57/58) in the centre of 'central' Europe in the middle of the most neutral state on the globe, Switzerland.  More importantly the Berner Oberland which gave us the best scenery of the trip to date.

Our first night was spent in Lucerne, slightly to the east of the above mentioned area.  Just for one night, to break up travel.  A nice small town with a pretty cool bridge and the sight of the beckoning Swiss alps in the distance.  Had a great chat for a few hours in the hostel with a group of Americans and hit the hay.

The next day we caught the 2 hour train to Interlaken, an absolutely beautiful scenic ride.  Then a 20 minute train to Lauterbrunnen, a 15 minute bus to a cable car which took us up to the 1360m (or so) high village of Gimmelwald.  One of our new favourite places.  Ever.  70 people permanently live here, pretty much all of whom own cows, are farmers or who run bed & breakfasts.  Chris found this Mountain Hostel on the internet a while ago and we were so rapt to discover this hidden gem so far away from the big cities.

Spent the first afternoon walking around for a couple of hours and a relaxing evening in the hostel.  Day 58 was to be a tough one on the body, but one of the most memorable days of our short lives.  Hiking our little part of the Swiss Alps.  Walking up, up, and up until we couldn't be bothered anymore.  Up to app. 1900m high, a point in which we were delighted to walk in summertime snow.  We were out for nearly 8 hours wll up which involved the best located mini-golf in the world, a picnic lunch with panoramic views, and hearing well over 100 different cowbells around the necks of cows, sheep and goats.  Hard to put what we saw in to words, just check out a couple of photos and see more when we get back.  One highlight of the walk was around 9:30am when cloud was still rising from the valley below us.  It surrounded and went through us for around half an hour, and with snowcapped mountains in the background it seriously felt as close to heaven as the Earth could possibly provide.  We were knackered by the end, but what a great day.

Checked out of Mountain Hostel the next day, took the cable car down, and decided to skip the 15 minute busride by walking the length of Lauterbrunnen Valley.  Suckers for punishment. This became about 2 hours walking with our massive backpacks on, as we'd checked out of accommodation, so we think we did pretty well.  The walk was packed with more great eye candy though, including a stop at Trummelbach Falls.  A series of waterfalls actually inside a mountain with spots to get right up close and showered with spray from glacier water hurtling down at ridiculous speeds.  More natural Swiss beauty.  Spent the night in Interlaken with some great chicken, a couple of beers, and a solo musician who thought he was the greatest rockstar to ever grace a stage.  He was fun.

So it's off to Italy tomorrow.  Chris likes the metaphor of reaching our highest altitude on the middle day of the trip and knowing it's all downhill from here...sort of.  Lots of more exciting things to see as we enter the second half of our journey.

Hope everyone in Melbourne is avoiding that swine flu.  Get over it, Europe has!
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