Our first day in Switzerland

Trip Start May 18, 2007
Trip End Jul 18, 2007

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Sunday, June 3, 2007

Good morning from the Swiss Alps!

What a stunning morning. We opened the blinds at 7am this morning to the towering Swiss Alps, with freshly covered snow atop these extremely steep beauties. The sun was just awakening in Alpenglow splendor when Laurie urged Ryan to take a peek out the picturesque window from the B&B. The look on Ryan's face was classic and a look that cannot be truly described, yet priceless!

Ryan was certain that Laurie was taking him on a wild goose chase to some place far away without really knowing what awaited us... this morning's early viewing was confirming that we had made the right decision to extend our stay in Switzerland.

We had a wonderful Swiss breakfast prepared by a very frenetic Esther, who was busy preparing her entire family for a special communion but she managed to feed us well. We shared breakfast with some other travelers from Germany and Victoria, BC but time was wasting and we did a fast check out and headed up to the Gondola to Murren.

Today was what we had dreamed about from our tiny little B&B room (we were in a double room which felt like a single) but the blue bird skies with our white puff clouds were calling our name!  Just a week ago, Murren was covered in 30 cm of snow, the rail lines were shut down with trees covering the tracks from the huge storm and frigid temperatures across the Bernese Oberland region. Today was a warm 60 degrees and we took an early 32 minutes journey up to the Schilthorn-Piz Gloria, altitude at 10,000 ft, with breathtaking views of the world's first revolving restaurant, overlooking over 200 mountain peaks, where the famous James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Service" was filmed in 1968. This famous overlook was finished in 1967, filming of the movie began a year later, making the Schilthorn world renown.  The Gondola stopped mid-way at Birg where we dropped off 2 hikers, and continued on to the top where the 360 degree views of the Alps awaited us.

What makes the Schilthorn famous is that we were so close to the Alps that we felt we could reach out and touch them. The most spectacular of them all: Eiger (elevation 3970 m = 13025 ft), Mönch (4099 m = 13448 ft) and Jungfrau (4158 m = 13642 ft). These peaks towered above us and made the Cascade Mountains seem like mole hills. We walked around the terrace for what seemed like hours, capturing the changing views with the sun peeking out from the fluffy clouds and changing colors across the panoramic. Many fellow tourists stopped to chat and were very friendly, everyone kindly taking pictures for each other to capture the views to send home.

We ate lunch in the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant which rotates continually, providing the most amazing 360 views, displaying the best art show imaginable.

We made our descent after lunch when we began to feel the affects of the 10,000 ft altitude and loaded up in the Gondola packing us in for the short ride back to Murren. There was one guy who got on at the very end and we heard him say "Let me make my way to the middle - I have Vertigo!" (Sammy and Roger - we thought of you!).

After the descent to Murren, we took a long hike through the mountainside on the North Face Trail, 2 hr hike from Murren to Spielbodenalp and back to Murren, ~2.5 miles, taking in impressive North Faces of the Bernese Alps, several ski lifts and slopes, blooming wildflowers and old mountain huts dotting the landscape.

We headed back to town around 4pm where the altitude was begging us for a quick nap before our Fondue dinner at the Gondola station, run by the Hotel Alpenruh. (Sammy, Karl and Jilly - same place we ate with Ian!). We enjoyed an amazing Murren cheese fondue while gazing out at the sunset of our Alps.

We have managed to find the windows of excellent weather along our adventure and today was no different and crossing our fingers as the weather here is so unpredictable, changing hourly. During our fondue feast we watched the light mist roll in and engulf the Alps, making them disappear from our view completely. As we gaze out at the evening sky, we see the clouds have cleared showing off bright stars and we hope that brings more clear skies for our 2nd day in Murren.

We both have been touched by the Alpine snow field sunburn and lungs filled with pristine air.

Today was the most awesome, thrilling and breathtaking scenery we have ever seen in our travels, with every turn we looked at each other and said "isn't this amazing?"

Tomorrow, weather permitting, more Alpine exploring.

Today's walk: 5.0 miles
Total for the journey (88 miles, 17 days)

Ryan and Laurie

Sammy, Karl and Jilly - Murren has not changed one bit since we were here together. We are thrilled to be able to stay at the Hotel Alpenruh and they are as nice today as before and I swear we are staying in your room! Really great memories!!

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