Dave the motorhome is still resting between the goats and the bell-ringing cows at Camping Breithorn, Switzerland, in the Lauterbrunnen valley (N46.56808 E7.90922). Right now he is resonating with the loudest pooch snores you have ever heard while Jay and I are glowing red from the sun and supping our second very well earned mug of Gluhwein.
This morning started slowly. We listened to Chris Evans over the internet using the free wifi our aerial had picked up, then after breakfast it was super long, piping hot showers and some entertainment as our neighbours decided to have a fight.
Last nights laundry didn’t go quite to plan (does it ever) so Dave was once again acting as a drying space with damp clothes hanging from washing lines strung around his interior. The laundry not quite dry and the discovery that we were only a short gondola ride away from a great view of the big three mountains – The Eiger, The Möünch and The Jungfrau (or in English – The Ogre, The Monk and The Virgin) – we decided to stay another day. The valley we were in was shrouded in a blanket of cloud so we checked out the webcams to see what it was doing at the next town up. The images showed bright sunshine, so off we went. As we walked to the gondola the clouds parted at the end of the valley to give us a sneak preview of what the weather doing – hmm perhaps we should have slapped on a bit of sunscreen!
Reaching the gondola we paid 10.40CHF each for a one way ticket then jumped on board and made our way up to Gimmelwald. There were only around 20 people in the gondola but with iPads and cameras filling most of the window space and a whimpering pooch to contend with we didn’t see much of the view. We did however hear a collective ‘ooooh’ signalling we’d broken through the cloud. Peering through the people we could see blue sky and white mountain tops, enough to make anyone happy – apart from Charlie. At the top I stopped to take some photos of the view before realising that most people had gone onto another gondola – we were only half way there, poor Charlie.
Reaching Mürren (another great tip from Joseph) we wandered through the town before finding a bench with a view for a picnic we’d brought with us. I could stare at those mountains all day and never get bored. Tiny red trains ran up to the bottom of the Eiger before plunging into the tunnel through the mountains to the Jungfraujoch – the highest train station in Europe. I’d been around here before on a school trip, but have to admit once again to not remembering much about the place. I’m pretty sure we went up to the Jungfraujoch and the Shilthorn (from the James Bond movie ‘On Her Majesties Secret Service’) but I was convinced the Shilthorn was on top of the Jungfrau – it’s all very confusing, probably due to too much Swiss chocolate!
After lunch we wandered along the front street of the town closest to the cliff edge above our campsite.
On the other side of the valley a helicopter with a huge flat package below it hovered above one of the cable car stations – looks like someone ordered big from Ikea! Most of the shops and hotels were undergoing their pre-season spruce up, the massage shop had a phone number scribbled on a sheet of A4 if you wanted to book an appointment and a man stacked a huge pile of chopped wood.
A group of people wandered around with film cameras and a contraption which would fly one of their cameras over the cliff edge – it looked like they might be planning to film one of the many para-punters jumping off the higher slopes above us. Just as we were busy nosing at them the sound of another helicopter attracted our attention – that was mainly because it was so close and ended up landing just about five meters away from us.
The wind blew up all the dust and leaves around us and at first we thought there was some sort of a medical emergency. Men in bright orange uniforms jumped out and headed off into the town, a rope was fixed to the helicopter and soon enough it took off again and headed towards the back of the town to a building site we’d walked past earlier.
The men in orange were already there hooking up bags of building materials to the rope hanging from the helicopter so they could be moved across the site. I’m sure a crane would have been much cheaper but with the railway to here being repaired I guess it wasn’t possible.
So, in this ‘car free’ resort, in less than an hour we’d almost been run over a by a couple in a 4×4, stood at the side of the road to let several municipal vans pass, gawped at the electric powered carts with space for a driver on the front (obviously the main way for getting luggage to the hotels) and nearly been blown off the cliff edge by a helicopter. But still I loved it up there, so much going on and such a fabulous back drop.
All too soon it was time to go, we’d only bought a one way ticket as the plan was to walk back down using the wanderwegs and bergwegs (nice and rocky footpaths!). The guide said it would take around an hour and a half, who were they kidding! As we walked back down to Gimmelwald we reached the cloud, the air turned cooler and the sun set behind one of the nearby mountains.
Undeterred by the increased cloud parapunters still leapt off the slopes above us, only they now landed in Gimmelwald – Charlie isn’t a big fan of things in the sky, especially people so his whining increased significantly, still at least he didn’t start barking at them and trying to chase them like he did in Portugal last year!
The hour and a half walk took us two hours and 40 minutes, but that was pretty much my fault as I’ve never been all that steady on my feet and the paths were a tad slippy in places, still we all made it down in one piece. It was a quick march back to the campsite to avoid getting wrapped up with a muck spreading machine that was tending to the fields next to the path we were on.
Dave has never looked so inviting. The clothes were now all dry and Jay quickly got the Gluhwein on to warm up. We’ve just feasted on sausages and rosti (the rosti being a Swiss speciality and one of our new favourite dishes) and I’m now ready for a big sleep, but it’s only 9pm! Still it’ll be a big day tomorrow. We’re heading for the pass over to Italy with a couple more Joseph inspired stops on route – snow is forecast for Saturday so everyone please keep your fingers crossed for us!