We got on our first train at 7:30 am which meant we were at the station by 6:30 am. Too early. Before we left our hotel we saw a bride and groom checking in at 5:30 am. They were very cute and the groom was pretty tipsie. We got on our train and were suprised at how nice the first class seats were. We saw the French countryside which looked a lot like Minnesota farmland. Then it turned hilly. We saw some castles protecting a valley. We changed trains in Strausbourg
. This train was not as nice. We crossed over into Switzerland and the change in houses was very apparent. Chuck noticed that the French countryside seemed kind of ratty and the Swiss was very neat. Except for the massive amount of grafitti on a lot of the buildings which was a suprise. We changed trains again in Basel and had even nicer seats on this train. It was very quiet and roomy. At the Basel station I tried to go to the bathroom, but didn't have any money. Than I went back with a 5 franc bill. The McClean (that's what they called the bathroom) didn't take any bills. So I bought a three dollar bottle of water to get change and went back just to find out that I didn't have the correct coins! By that time I said forget it and waited until I got on the train. We arrived in Interlaken and the scenery was amazing with mountains right alongside the lakes. There were hang glider everywhere. We stopped there and went shopping where one of the shopkeepers yelled at anyone who touched a cookoo clock or a music box. Next we went to the casino and were lucky enough to use a bathroom and sit in some air conditioning for awhile. Noel had a $13 whisky coke. Lucky he only lost 2 francs in the slot machine.
Next we took the regional train to Lauterbrunnen. We got off the train and went to the bus at Stechelberg. When we got there, we took a cable car to Murren. In total, we left the hotel at 6:00am and got to Murren at about 5:00 pm
. LONG DAY. We checked into our apartment and found it to be great. Denise is the innkeeper and she's fabulous. This entire area is so beautiful it's beyond description. We had dinner at Stagerstubli and it was fantastic. It features authentic Swiss food. We had wafer thin slices of swiss cheese and bread for starters. I had lamb and rosti that was fantastic (although I couldn't eat all of it because of heartburn). Chuck and Noel had Sausage with gravy and onions along with hashbrowns (rosti). Then we went to the Eiger Guesthouse run by Alan, a Scottish lad and sat at the outdoor cafe and watched the sun set on the mountains. It was beautiful. We were getting chilly and Alan brought out blankets for us. We went inside and watched the USA lose to Brazil in soccer along with some other American tourists.
The next morning we got up and had a great breakfast and talked to Denise. She was born in London and moved to Switzerland to work for a ski company. She then bought the hotel 18 years ago. We met Swiss Kitty, a black and white cat that strolls through the village and gave her or him a belly rub. We went to the top of the Schiltorn by cable car which was fantastic. Chuck and Noel were scared, but I loved it. It was like a ride at Valley Fair 2,000 feet above the ground. The Alps are breathtaking. We started out at 1600 meters and ended up at 2900 meters. Whatever that is in feet, I can't remember
. When we got to the top, I couldn't go outside to the edge of the observation deck (scared of heights, so I looked from inside while Chuck and Noel went hiking. They saw a sign that said no high heels! This is the building where In Her Majesty's Secret Service with James Bond was filmed.
When we got back we took a hike to Gimmelwald, a small village below Murren. We went to Ester's Guesthouse (featured in the Rick Steve's video) and bought some bread and cheese to go along with our picnic lunch. Noel took the cable car back to Murren and Chuck and I hiked back. Chuck and I saw the infamous cows on the hillside with bells around their necks. Noel saw baby goats and chickens and a display of cowbells hung on a barn, including the 1988 winner. We went to the coop for dinner groceries and then put a load of clothes in at the laundrymat. Now we're sitting on a bench in the village in front of our chalet looking at the mountains, having a beverage and enjoying some free wifi that has been difficult to come by. See you later!
We left Paris very early to get on the road to Switzerland. A general observation about Parisians: they are very friendly and extremely stylish. Almost all of the women wore skirts or dresses. They went to market every day dressed very nicely. All of their colors matched and their accessories were perfect. And French people are not fat. At all. People on the metro gave up their seats for older people and women with small children.