Sunday, August 4, 2013

Switzerland, Part 1

The holiday season is upon us here in Europia.  What does that mean?  Everyone heads for the beach.  Or the hills.  Or (in Sweden) their country house.  Local businesses and restaurants close for 4+ weeks, as no one goes without a proper holiday.  Need something dry cleaned?  Hope you can wait!  Want to see your doctor?  He's on holiday, too!  Lots of the good coffee spots peace out, too.  Work grinds to a near halt, as there are so many people gone that nothing can happen.  Those who are at work leave early.  There's really nothing to do but go on holiday yourself!

Here a holiday is a holiday.  That means no thinking about work and definitely NO EMAIL.  Wow, right?  With 6 weeks of vacation total, most people take at least 4 weeks at one stretch.  It's like everybody in Europe's a teacher!  Summer break, y'all!

As for me n' B, our basic itinerary was Switzerland, South of France, North of France, Stockholm (with US friends in tow), and then Copenhagen.  I am taking off another week coming up, as my parents are visiting.  So my vacation ain't over yet!

The first stop was Switzerland, lovely Switzerland.  We were lucky enough to meet up with friends there and stay at a family chalet in the village of Wengen.  Wengen is a car-free wonderland, smack in the middle of the Alps.  It is quaint and not-at-all touristy, though it is definitely a tourist destination.

The train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen.  Or was it Lauterbrunnen to Wengen?  Yes, I think it was the latter.  We had to take three trains to get to Wengen, but it was easy-peasy and it's no joke how the Swiss trains run on time.  

Two different views from the deck of our chalet.  With the clouds cleared on the second shot, you can see the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Monch mountains.  There was also a telescope on the deck, so you could search for fun stuff on the mountains.  I saw two randy cows once.  Payoff!

We took the cable car (or whatever it's called!) up from the village of Wengen (which B is lording over here) to the top of the Mannlichen, where lots of the skiers get started in the winter.  

Here we are goofing at the top of the Mannlichen.  Whatta view!

Side note: stupid stupid Air Berlin lost our luggage for two days.  I was starting to sweat that we were gonna have to leave Switzerland before they could deliver it.  Oh, and their phones were totally "off" so there was no checking in for status updates.  Here B is sporting some cute stripey shorts compliments of our host and I'm stuck in the same damn pair of leather shortie shorts I wore on the plane.  I wanted to burn those shorts by the time our luggage arrived.  Grrrr.  I CAN tell you that the undergarments sold at the local Swiss "Coop" grocery are pretty nice, though!

More cable cars hauling folks up to the Mannlichen from the other side.

Random hiking dog takes a bath.

RIP spotted on our hike.

These guys were everywhere!

We stopped along the way, made a fire from kindling, and roasted sausages speared on sticks we shaved down.  It was pretty cool.  An older hiker stopped to share our fire.  We poured some of our red wine into his plastic bottle and found out he was named after a famous hiker from the old days.  That Tony was a pretty cool guy.

Delicious mountain water.

Here's a view of the Eiger, putting its deadly northern face forward.  You can read more about the Eiger here, but suffice it to say it's one of the toughest spots to climb in the world. 

Back in Wengen, who could resist a cute li'l cow cookie?  

We played a heated round of mini-golf on Wengen's center course.  We attracted many followers, including the cat here.  There was a screaming baby and his pops cheering us on from a chalet balcony, a priest who compared me to Tiger Woods--despite that I was dressed more like Luke Skywalker, and two ponies who became quite turned on with our game.  (I'll spare you the photos but one totally had a "PONE-r.")

Afterwards, our lovely hosts made us a fondue dinner, complete with chopped saucisson, cornichons, mushrooms, white wine and tea.  We also enjoyed kirsch, homemade by our host's family.  And I had gluten-free bread to dip it up with.  Yums!

Here is a lovely plate of Berner Alpkäse that we enjoyed in Wengen.  Local mountain cheese is yum.