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Days 12 and 13: Switzerland

So, in conclusion, the two things I learned in Germany are: (1) just smile and accept the gummy bears (2) always have spare change for the toilet.  

Tuesday was the train ride from Heidelberg to Mannheim to Interlaken, Switzerland, and on to the tiny village of Grindelwald. The train route starts off fairly flat with stretches of rural areas and industry. As you enter Switzerland, the hills rise on either side with farms, trees, and towns. The land flattens out after a while, with proper mountains in the distance--the Alps. The train speeds beside a river for a while, then, as you near Interlaken, it curves around the magnificent Lake Brienz. In the summer, there is boating and water sports, and the high mountains, gold and gray, are etched deep from ancient glaciers. We got off the train at Interlaken and bought tickets for the local train that lurches and squeals its way up the mountain to Grindelwald.  

Grindelwald is a small, picturesque ski town that in the summer houses tourists there for the view, hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, and camping. We had a reservation at the Hotel Spinne, which looks unremarkable in internet photos, but is actually quite charming in person. Our reservation, the woman at the reception desk informed us, had been upgraded, and we had been given a room on the south side with a balcony overlooking the Eiger. OMGYouGuys, this is the most stunning view Evar.  

And, the room has a bathtub, which we haven't had since Berlin. I have mentioned the blisters I've developed. On both heels, both small toes, and now my left big toe, but blister pads have seen me through those. The big mobility issue this trip has been my knees. Deborah wants to explore and wander. I grumble unless we have an exact plan for each walk, and find the nearest seat if we don't. I'm not a party pooper, really. But a soak in a tub helps.  

We wandered the main drag of Grindelwald--Dorfstrasse--then found a restaurant for dinner. I had a succulent sirloin and Deborah had a creamy sole. Afterwards, we wandered down some residential streets, admiring the mountain peaks, a herd of sheep, and a rushing stream. We went back to the hotel and I had my bath. Then we retired to our balcony to watch the sun set and enjoy a glass of  the wine we bought in the Rhineland with some Swiss chocolate.  

Northern Switzerland seems a bit schitzophrenic. They speak both German and French (or a combination of both), but as all Swiss, insist on having their own money (Francs instead of Euros, omg where's the bank) and their own eletrical outlet style (we needed to borrow adaptors for our adaptors).  

Our itinerary had us getting up bright and early to catch the 7:30 or 8:30 am train back to Interlaken to make a connection to Bern we had a train seat reservation for. But we were exhausted from our early morning in Heidelberg and charmed by Grindelwald and decided to sleep in, explore the village some more, and catch a later train. This is where we were really "winging it," because up to now we'd had reserved seats on specific trains and had not taken advantage of the "flexi" part of our flexi-pass rail ticket that lets you jump on any train in the system for a set number of non-contiguous days of your choice in the countries pre-specified on the ticket--as long as you can find a seat.  

We caught the 2 pm intercity train from Interlaken to Bern, and switched to the 3:05 to Geneva. When you are train-hopping and not really sure what you are doing, you can end up in the cushy "quiet car," where old men hush you just for passing a quick communication, or the cramp cattle car where kids scream and the seats don't tilt back. Our second train took us down the length of Lake Geneva, and we got off at the main train station of the same-named city in the pouring rain. This is the first rain we've seen since we arrived in Europe. Luckily for us, our hotel was a mere 700 yards from the train station, most of that length in the underground mall. Our hotel here is another uber-modern "design hotel." I miss Grindelwald already.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2013 07:34 pm (UTC)
It's a good thing Hotel Spinne (Hotel Spider) isn't as creepy as its name. I guess Dorfstrasse (The Town Street) is better than Einzigestrasse (The One and Only Street).

Sounds like you're having a great time!

Edited at 2013-07-17 07:35 pm (UTC)
Jul. 18th, 2013 04:58 am (UTC)
No spiders in sight. It was comfortably contemporary and clean without veering into the cold ultra-modern of our hotels in Munich and Geneva.
Jul. 18th, 2013 04:17 am (UTC)
yay for stunning views. Hope the soak helps your knees
Jul. 18th, 2013 05:00 am (UTC)
Ugh when didi I get old and lame?
Jul. 18th, 2013 05:01 am (UTC)
That crap sneaks up on you
Jul. 18th, 2013 04:22 pm (UTC)
Indeed it does.
Jul. 18th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC)
Uhhm, did the Segway ever take off in Europe? Could you rent one, and more importantly, is your self-esteem sufficiently great enough to be willing to be seen riding one?

Just a (probably ridiculous, but well-intentioned) thought.

I envy ya'all. I'll never be able to do what you're doing, so it's cool to be along for at least part of the ride in the virtual way. Continued good travels to you both!
Jul. 18th, 2013 04:01 pm (UTC)
I have seen them in limited places, not enough to call them a European "thing." However, the first time I saw them, I remarked (re: my knees), "I need to get me one of those!"
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )