Sunday, August 1, 2010

From Evolène to Mürren, July 31, 2010

"If life throws you a lemon, make lemonade."

The trip from Evolène to Mürren was not something I was looking forward to. It involved a bus ride from Evolène down to Sion in the Rhône valley, then one train to Visp (higher up in the valley), a second train to Spiez, on the other side of the mountains, a third train to Interlaken, a fourth train to Lauterbrunen and finally a fifth train to Mürren. With a heavy duffel bag, a heavy pack, a laptop computer (alas, not a netbook) and a camera it did not promise to be fun.

Add to that the fact that almost all apartment rentals are from Saturday to Saturday, and that I was not at the start of the bus line, and the trip promised to be a nightmare.

First off I decided to take the earliest bus, leaving Evolène at 6:50. That would guarantee an easy bus ride, above all space for my luggage in the bus' storage compartment. Second I decided that I would take a break, spending a couple of hours in Interlaken, leaving my luggage (minus the camera!) in a locker at the station.

I left home a few minutes before 6:30. My duffel bag has wheels, but they make a lot more noise than I cared to make at 6:30 in a Swiss village! So I pulled it when there was grass to diminish the noise, and painfully carried it the rest of the way, including the final slight, but painful, uphill.

There are rewards to waking up early on a cloudless day; you get to see the mountains waking up:

Dent Blanche:

Dents de Veisivi:

and, far off at the head of the valley, the Dent d'Hérens:

In Visp (around 8:30) I had my second breakfast at the railway café, a coffee with a croissant.  I decided to have it outside, forgetting that while the insides of cafés are non-smoking, the outside areas are not.  As a result I found myself sitting next to a pair of cigarette smokers.  I survived, and thus fortified I managed to do the remaining train changes to Interlaken, which I reached around 10:00.

There is a myth that everything in Switzerland works all the time. The reality is a bit more realistic: most everything works most of the time. Good enough but ...

That morning many of the coin operated lockers at the Interlaken station were on strike, refusing to accept coins. After much frustration I found a locker willing to accept my money, put all my belongings except my camera in it, and went out to have a walk around Interlaken.

I do not know how many millions of photos have been taken of the Jungfrau across the meadow in Interlaken; I decided to look for less hackneyed pctures to take.

Reigning over that stretch of street is the Victoria Jungfrau Hotel, built when Britannia ruled, not only the waves, but also the Alps:

Its name in gold letters, to underscore its status:

But all is not well, it now has a somewhat less upscale neighbor:

A bit further is a shop which seems to think that time has stopped:

It was a beautiful day, and many para gliders were in the air:

Including one in the process of landing:

On the other side of the meadow, almost opposite the imperial Victoria Jungfrau, more modest accommodation was available:

Returning to the station I passed a memorial plaque to Adolf Guyer-Zeller, founder of the Jungfraubahn (Jungfrau cog railway):

Just before the station I came upon a taxi cab with multilingual signs; one more proof that Britannia no longer rules the Alps:

Back at the station I had to take the train to Lauterbrunnen. It is an interesting train, as it splits into two at Zweilütschinen, half going to Lauterbrunnen and the other half to Grindelwald. Signs on each half of the platform give the appropriate destinations. Once on board the public announcement system is similarly split, and at Zweilütschinen instructions are given to descend if you are still in the wrong half of the train.

At Lauterbrunnen I had to change to a cable car to Grütschalp where I changed to the final train to Mürren. On that final train ride I saw scores of walkers; a wide trail that parallels the railway is one of the most popular easy hikes from Mürren. I finally reached the chalet where I had rented the ground floor around 14:00.

After a quick trip to the supermarket (next day was not only a Sunday, but also August 1, the Swiss national holiday) I explored the village, finding a most unexpected, and welcome, sign (translation: Sunday 1 August open 11:00 - 16:00):

As it was still early I decided to do the walk along the railway to Grütschalp and back, a bit over a couple of hours. I had great views of the surrounding mountains, but there were enough clouds to spoil the photos; in any case I took much better pictures next day (some mountain pictures are on From Evolène to Mürren). Just outside the village I came upon an interesting fire hydrant:

A view of Wengen across the valley:

Signs pointing to an alpine cheese store:

and the store itself:

When you think of domestic animals in Switzerland you tend to think of cows, but if you have eaten their delicious charcuterie you should realize that they raise pigs:

Back "home" I had a well deserved beer, then shower, dinner and to bed.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog, and great photos. Seems like it was a perfect day.

    I was in the Bernese Alps on Friday and Saturday.