Swiss Chocolate here I come!

Trip Start Mar 23, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Sunday, April 30, 2006

30th.

We had another early start to make our way to Switzerland. On the way there, aiming for Interlaken, we were told important historical facts about the country like how the idea of the Toblerone chocolate bar came from. The creator took the idea of the shape of the triangle shaped chocolate segments from the Swiss mountains. He also used nougat in it since he went to France at one point and fell in love with the taste of it.

We made it there with enough time to have about an hour to have a looked around the local shops before diner. I found Interlaken a wonderful place, very peaceful compared to London and Paris and the locals were friendly (ok so they were trying to sell you thing at the time...)

One shop I found myself in had a wall covered with all sorts of cuckoo clocks, amazing things. Luckily too expensive for my budget (I stick to budgets?!?) but I did buy a magnet shaped like a cuckoo clock. In the shop there was also various Swiss made watches and of course Swiss Army knives. I had previously introduced myself to the tour group (we had to take turns up the front on the micro phone) and had mentioned that I liked swords etc and to help pull me away if they see me standing somewhere drooling with my mouth open at something. A few people did comment at me staring at all the different knives but luckily no one dragged me away until after I bought myself one. (I never knew there were so many or how to tell what brands were the original.)

Our restaurant for dinner was amusing; well that's actually an understatement. For a start it was called something like the "Happy, joyful" something or other and the men working there wore cow print pants and the girls wore cow print skirts. I'm not sure if the main man and "Edgar" (his Korean looking Swiss assistant) had drunk down 10 short black coffees and two bags of sweet before the show but they we bursting with so much energy (I assume they get paid well.)

Our meal was made up with Cheese fondue as a starter (we were shown how to twirl the bread in the cheese to cover it and then eat it care of one of the ladies on the tour saying she would help, our man host almost shoved the piece of bread covered in scalding cheese down her throat!) At one point we were offered to try bread dipped in the hosts Glacier Water then dipped in the cheese, I have no idea what it was but the alcohol content was so intense everyone's eyes bulged out of their heads after trying it. For mains we had a chicken and mushroom dish and a form of potato bake, platters were put in the centre of the table and you had to help yourself. For desert we had chocolate fondue served with fruit all place in the centre of the table and with the same lady also having a piece inserted down her throat by the host (she was laughing, don't worry!)

During dinner havoc was create to entertain us. There was the yelling out of "Who wants fonduuuuuu!" the jumping around the room to take drink orders, or the host yelling at Edgar to go to a table and take an order. The two female waitresses both looked bored and sick of the men's silly antics. At one point we were told we wouldn't be allowed desert without someone from each table coming up and successfully blowing a long, Swiss, wooden horn. We all did ok until the host complained Edgar could do it better. Edgar mocked shock and worry and the horn was lined up so it stretched out in front of him with him standing with his back towards us all. He started blowing and the sound came out was great, almost jazz like at one point I think, that is until the host came out from the kitchen area playing a small bugle type instrument. We were also made to get up on our chares and dance. There was a rainstorm with the host flicking the lights on and off and Edgar running around holding an umbrella and spraying water on people out of a bottle. A group of Korean tourist also came in calmly at one point for dinner and by the end of it Edgar was running around with a huge Korean flag on his shoulders and they had them up clapping and chanting to what I assume is the Korean soccer team song. (One the ladies in the group were also dressed up in a cow suit and we all did a conga line around tables and out the door into the street as well.)

Over all that night was great until I got home and decided to re-format my memory card for my camera and delete all my photos. Ops!


1st May

That morning most of the tour group made our way to the train station to go off up a mountain to explore. It was an amazing journey. I have never been in snow until then and Mum had been up the same mountain when she did her big European trip a while back (before she married Dad.) It was interesting to see patches of snow in bright green sections at the bottom of the mountain. As we made our way up we also had snow and ice piled up against glass walls made at the sides of the railway tracks. As we got higher we went through a section cut into the mountain to make a tunnel made around 1889-1912, this was done to make the top of the mountain more accessible.

It took about 2 hours to get up there and so we only had about 2 hours to spend at the top but that was all you needed. (It was also 3oc outside in the snow even though someone thought it got to -9oc.) I had a look out from the viewing platform or the mass of white surrounding us which hide mountains and gods only know what else. Also up Joungfraurhoch (spelling might be wrong) was a "palace" carved out of ice- it was just a series of rooms really but still all carved out of ice with the exception of the handrail. It was strange trying to keep your balance on the ice-covered floor and not need to have ice skates on. It was amazing to see what they could carve out of ice; polar bears, penguins, an igloo and the EU mouse.

There is a section on the mountain where you can go out into the snow where there is also a large flagpole with the Swiss flag attached to in (the wind died so I can't honestly say the "Swiss flag flying proudly over the mountain.") It was strange to step on the snow and feel you feet crunch through the top layer to the softer stuff underneath, it reminded me of the thin limestone layers of the White Desert in Egypt. I was also talked into eating some snow, which tasted nicer than I thought even though my fingers went bright red with the cold and refused to warm up for a little while. (It was also great to be able to call Mum from the Mountain.)

After that I caught a train down the mountain again and got off about half way down to look at some local waterfalls. It was interesting to see how they swirled and pour all over the wonderful rock formations in the caves most of them were in. I loved the texture of the rock and it made me want to take up rock carving again though.

For dinner a small group of us (I was the token Kiwi in the group of 5 Australians) went to the local supermarket to get dinner. We all managed to fit in one couples bedroom to eat our pre-cooked chicken and salad and for the boys to drink their cheap local beer. I was also able to use my Swiss army knife a couple of times to open bottles.
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