Switzerland: Two and a half weeks, day seventeen

View from the plane: Edinburgh Airport

Early this morning the taxi came to take Julie, her father and myself and our luggage to Interlaken OST for the train back to Geneva Airport.  With a heavy heart I waved goodbye to the little robot who’d stood outside our apartment and followed us wherever we went during our stay to make sure we didn’t get lost.  We’d always see him somewhere on a street as we passed on our way here or there but it would seem he’d have to remain behind this time to look out for the next set of visitors to his country.

Bye Little Robot, I’ll miss you…

I’ve quite enjoyed my time in Switzerland, the odd angry confrontation aside.  It’s a lot like the Lake District, but with warmer weather and my shameful lack of foreign language skills to differentiate it in many ways.

True, they could stand to sign post the difference between Geneva station and Geneva Airport Station a little clearer for the visitors (not us, I hasten to add; the family of six who unloaded all their cases onto the platform a stop too early then stared in befuddlement as the train continued on in the direction it’s been travelling in instead of terminating as it would’ve if it’d been the correct station…) and everything is far too expensive but otherwise my previous fears of not enjoying such a lengthy trip to a new land have proven unfounded.

 

 

Coda
Julie wanted to me to stress that she didn’t want to leave.  Possibly to reinforce this point she tried to kill us both by going through the red lights at the first roundabout we crossed on the way back from Edinburgh.  If I’d been in any doubt about her feelings though, the several times a day she’d mention it for the next fortnight would’ve got me up to speed sharpish, but that was us back home and having made up my mind to move on from my long term job at Getronics I had a whole lot of new trepidations to take the place of my Swiss travel concerns for the next few weeks…
Would I go back?  Yes, probably.  Not for a while though and maybe in the winter next time.  I hope the little Robot will still remember me when I do.

Switzerland: Two and a half weeks, day sixteen

View in the apartment: Packing

So, one last full day in Interlaken before the journey home.  We went to the outdoor pool again which fortunately wasn’t as cold as last time.  Curiously we encounter what appears to be a school trip from somewhere in central Scotland while there, although there’s a mixture of north-eastern accents which temporarily throw us of the scent.  Proving that, as both Confucius and Buckaroo Banzai both famously said, no matter where you go, there you are.

Following that we paid Julie’s gran a goodbye visit and helped her mother across from the apartment with her luggage as she’ll be staying on for a further six weeks. It had been threatening thunder and lightning and as we crossed the steel bridge in the rain, I attempted to use the flash on my iPhone behind her head to convince her there was lightning just out with her cone of vision.

Afterwards we took a last wander round the shops coming across a nice ice-cream place.  Enjoyed a mintychoccychippy cone while sat on the benches along Hohe-Promenade and watching the paragliders come in for landing on the grass of the park.

Switzerland: Two and a half weeks, day fourteen

View from the rabbit trail: Erm… I think we might’ve took a wrong turn…

Relatively late in the trip we realised (by which I mean I stopped taking Julie’s word for it and checked myself) that the discount cards which had been left in the apartment for us weren’t just for a trip up the Harder Kulm but also would have got us free bus and train travel within Interlaken and discounts at many of the attractions we’d visited, but today was the day when we’d take a ride up the Harderbahn funicular itself to visit the Bergrestaurant near the summit.
Despite the copious amount of aftersun/Savlon/factor 30 required by yesterdays chronic sunburn resulting in me looking to passers-by like an escaped Flesh Ganger construct from Doctor Who  (a reference lost on the Swiss who were only getting round to the end of the third series while we were there) the resulting vantage point gives a clear view of the entirety of Interlaken. While we intended to follow the walking path around the mountain, Julie’s parents had only come along to have something to eat at the restaurant so we spent some time there first as Julie was delighted to have found the same dessert she’d enjoyed a couple of days before at the Schilthorn.  I just had a plate of chips. Afterwards we set off to follow the waypoints set out as trails.  Feeling confident at our first actual taste of the type of mountain walking I’d expected to be doing the entire trip, we set our aspirations to completing the longer 90 minute route.  The initial journey was mostly uphill but having checked my work e-mail this morning and learned first hand that they valued contractors more than their loyal staff I was buoyed up on our hike by having reversed my previous decision and decided to leave to accept the new opportunity offered to me despite the potential pitfalls it opened up.  Having informed her of all this while we walked, this was also an opportune moment to remind Julie of her previous promise to buy me an iPad if I took the job…

As time grew suspiciously close to the hour of walking mark without any turn to a reciprocal course being evident.  The number of people passing in the opposite direction had tailed off and the path was growing more treacherous underfoot.  Since it’d been a while since we saw a waypoint marker it began to dawn on us that we’d taken a wrong turn (or as it’d turn out, hadn’t taken a turn) along the way.  Perhaps the fact that we were technically now nearer Lake Brienz than Lake Thun should have been a clue..?

Luckily the Mootoo Twins had been out hiking as well and were waiting at the point where our path should have verged off to the right to point us in the correct direction to head back to Interlaken. Judging by the confusion of the couple of people we met on our journey back though we weren’t the only ones to have missed the relevant signposts though…

Switzerland: Two and a half weeks, day thirteen

Phone signal at the top of Europe: Three bars and 3G coverage…

I can’t even get coverage like that in the office, FFS.

Took a series of trains from Interlaken up the Jungfraubahn to the Jungfraujoch railway station at an altitude of 11,388 feet.  Despite the warm summer weather when we left the apartment we emerged from the tunnel system in the mountain onto the snow-covered glacier. 

The site here offers the visitor the chance to ski, snowboard and sledge as well as ride a death slide from higher up the cliff face partway across the glacier.

We paid for a day pass to use the sledge and tube run.  The tubes are, as the name suggests large rubber rings which you sit in and slide down a bumpy slalom course.

    This was literally hours of fun, interspersed with more run of the mill sledge rides, so much so that despite her warnings to put on sun-cream both Julie and I ended up sunburned on the top and, thanks to the sunlight reflecting off the snow, bottom of our faces.  It was something of a regret that we didn’t purchase the all-in-one activity ticket   which would have included access to the death slide and the snowboarding as well, the latter being an activity I’ve often thought of trying but never have, but I believe I mistakenly understood the ticket vendor as to requiring previous snowboarding experience to be allowed to try it.

Our snow based activities then continued by helping the Mootoo Twins modify a small snowman to more closely resemble themselves,   before we headed inside the mountain again to get the lift up to the observation deck.

  

Then we finished off our visit by going back down into the glacier to explore the ice caves before heading back to the station for the train back to Interlaken.

Switzerland: Two and a half weeks, day nine

View from the duplex cinema: OMFG IT’S A LONG WAY DOWN!!!!!!

Awoke this morning to see a headline photo of a serial murderer/rapist who was infamous for repeatedly escaping from custody and was once again on the loose.  Fear for my own safety more so because he looked like the administrative janitor in one of the building we used to work in who we were always suspicious got up to that sort of thing than any potential threat of being bummed to death.

Successfully made it to the Jungfrau Park this time.  The place is an amusement park, near Interlaken, designed by noted alien-botherer Erich von Däniken, and consists of several pavilions, each dedicated to the mystery of alien influences in the development of humanity.

  Von Däniken was actually appearing at the place that day, however having neglected to bring my fathers copy of Chariots of The Gods? from off of 1968 to be signed and not speaking any German we neglected to pay the extra money to see him.

The exhibits are quite entertaining though, and a visitor can easily spend the whole day in the site, although making me visit the duplex cinema (where the projection onto the screen in front of the audience is supplemented by the seating being mounted on a transparent floor with a second screen twenty or thirty feet below synchronised to the images on the first to give the impression of flying over the landscapes) twice with my chronic fear of heights was possibly a turn-off.  Still at least the twins enjoyed their visit.