Friday, June 15, 2007

Switzerland Journal: Day 14

Monday 26 May 2007
Murren Switzerland

When I went to pull back the drapes on Monday morning I was expecting to see the glorious Alps shining in the sunlight.
What I didn't expect was to see SNOW!
I looked out our window at snow covering our balcony. Someone had even come during the night and moved the geraniums off the balcony railing and placed them next to our balcony's chair.
It didn't seem possible.
When we arrived it was hot, then it was clear, then it was raining, then this???
I was, and am, absolutely thrilled. It just couldn't be any better...a chance to experience Switzerland in a snowstorm!

The view up the street as seen from our balcony.

It wasn't just a little snow...I took this picture at 9 am, and was later told the snow had begun at shortly after 6 am.

Before we even ate breakfast we went outside to experience the storm. It was such a heavy wet snow you could hear the mini muffin sized snow flakes plopping on your jacket and on the surrounding surfaces.

It wasn't long before we were seeing things that amazed us. Those bright white spots in the picture are snowflakes.

The trees were heavy with snow, and it was still just morning.

Since the trees had already leafed out, there was concern among the locals. Trees were already beginning to break.

The tables that had just been put outside for dining a week ago were no longer inviting.

Some of the trees had already blossomed.

The benches...

...and the outside table continued to fill. I stared out the window as we ate breakfast after a quick walk around the town. Growing up in Southern California, two years in Corvallis Oregon, one year in San Jose, two in Dallas and seven in Houston, I can count the number of times I have been in snowfall; probably less than ten times, and I had never seen snowfall as heavy as this before.

We considered going down the mountain to hike to the one of the falls that we had been hearing about, thinking that down below it the weather might be milder. We soon learned that the trains were not running, nor were roads passable. The snowfall was breaking trees so fast, the road and train track crews could not keep up.
Unbelievable...the famous Swiss railway system was stopped cold in our area.
Some of the local visitors dragged their suitcases through the snow, panic stricken. Others just shrugged, and booked another night.
We were SO glad we had decided to stay another night the very first day we were in Murren. We were able to enjoy a worry free day.
Over breakfast we chatted with a couple who were traveling the world for three months, on their way home to jobs in Denver, after living in Australia for several years. What an adventure they were having before they settled down to have a family.
Walking around, we saw one resident making a snow man with his two small children by his side.
I thought these children were adorable. And could not believe that they were looking at snow like they had never seen it before!

This little munchkin kept falling over like a wobbly toy.

Another view of the village.

The snow was so wet it stuck and piled on everything.

Remember Peter and Heidi's house? Here it is one day later.

The Cross on the steeple of the Catholic church.

And the roster on the steeple of the church we had attended services at the day before.

We walked over to Murren's Sport's center, thinking about taking a swim in the indoor pool. It was closed; this was a holiday, an oddity back to back holiday weekends. Kate had told us there would be holiday weekends, and the locals had warned us to do any shopping that we need to do on Saturday as the shops would be closed Sunday because the are always closed on Sunday and then Monday would be a holiday and the shops would be closed again.

The snow plows were kept very busy throughout the day.

Eiger Guesthouse, our home away from home. We were in the room with the window directly above the sign over the front door, room number 3. Our inn keeper Alan said he gave us that room because it was as close as he could get to 30. If he had had a Room number 30, he would of given us that room, in honor of our anniversary. Isn't that just the sweetest thing? And Alan is a Scotsman...not someone you'd expect to be sentimental.

Well, I am very sentimental too.
When Bernie wasn't looking, I went outside on the landing at the end of the first floor and wrote a message in the snow that could be seen through the glass door at the end of the hallway. Our first evening, we had danced just the two of us on that landing.
(I know my kids are laughing at that, as I dance poorly, but we managed a lovely waltz beneath the Alps at sunset.)
After the snow had filled in my message in the snow, I gave in to the urge to make a snow angel.
The gorgeous red poppies of yesterday had a new flower mid-pop when the storm hit.

From my balcony I watched the snow plows do their job. I later heard that one year they had so much snow that they had run out of places to put the snow. By afternoon they had managed to make the streets stay clear even with the continued snowfall.

It really wasn't cold at all outside. I sat on the balcony and enjoyed the view, and an apple. A bite of apple mixed with a bite of snow is a very tasty treat!
One of the nearby trees that succumbed to the weight of the snow.

Murren got 24 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Bernie goofing around as usual.

The flowers were being buried in the snow. Our inn keeper's wife explained that the wild flowers will not be able to set seed because of this late snow fall, and next year's flowers display will suffer.

After awhile we decided to take the aerial tram down to Lauterbrunnen.

Bernie took these shots, capturing the style of architectural detail.

Broken trees were getting to be a real problem in that town. We did get on a bus and went down the mountain a bit farther, but then we were turned back even as the snow in that town was turning into rain.

Inside the tram station there was a temperature display. It really wasn't all that cold. We found it humorous that on the ride back up the mountain we got mixed in with a Indian tourist group. They were on their way to look around at Murren. In their saris. Good luck with that! The tour guide lived in London and we had an interesting chat about life as a tourist guide, and living in London. He was excited that his company's next conference was going to be in the USA, Chicago I think.
It's one way to see the world.

Rick Steves guide book had recommended eating on the patio of one of the Murren restaurants. He said it was the absolute best in terms of food and view. We had planned to go there as our last night in Murren treat; looks like the patio option is a n0-go.

The lupin were doing pretty well in the snow.

And here is the sign for the church we went to yesterday. Remember how I had a picture of it in yesterday's blog? I would have never guessed when I took that picture that I would soon be seeing it covered in snow. Remember, all the snow in these pictures has fallen since 6 am, and at this point it is just late afternoon.

Another view of the church. I felt like I got three seasons for the price of one; I had arrived in Murren wearing a tank top and skirt, feeling the heat of summer, two days later we were walking in a gentle spring rain and enjoying spring like weather, and then this day we were in the heart of winter wonderland.

We did go out to eat at the restaurant that was recommended. We walked past the chef hard at work.

Kate had warned us that Europeans often dine with their dogs under their seat in restaurants. I was surprised to look over to see this obedient little dog who wanted to make friends with me. His owner spoke only German, and the dog was pretty disinterested in the commands to stay down. So much for the legend of well trained European dogs!

The restaurant had lots of homey Swiss atmosphere. I had saurerbraten, and soup, I don't recall what Bernie had. I think he had rosti. For some reason I was really tired that night, and didn't take a picture of our meal. I do remember I enjoyed the Swiss white wine.
As we walked back to the Guesthouse, we met up with this big boy cat with a strippie tail, who was purring up a storm. Bernie had to get in a cuddle, and the cat had no objections to being held.
It was finally getting cold as we walked. We were a little sad knowing it was our last night in Murren. It was an altogether memoriable place.
(To view these pictures and a few more in a web album slide show, click here.)


Kate said...

Sooooo glad you got to experience the wonder of a Swiss snowstorm! I think winter is my favorite season here. And aren't the munchkins the cutest? They have wonderful get ups for winter warmth including sheepskins in strollers. That li'l cutie you caught was probably too young to remember snow. Yipppeee!
K Q:-)

Julie said...

Jill, how BLESSED !! can you get??
A summer trip to Switzerland and you end up experiencing Switzerland in winter wonderland??? Better not tell your travel agent or they will charge you for 'two' trips!!
Even though I have grown up with winter snow, I never tire of it! It is always beautiful... but how sad that next year's tourists will pay for your 'snowfall' in terms of wild flowers. That will be a loss!
You never even hinted that you had encountered snow,,,,Sneeky you!!
Today's post was like a surprise birthday party!!
Thank you!

Dawn said...

What a wonderful!!
Thanks for sharing it with us, Jill.

Lovella ♥ said...

Well there goes my ploy to lure you to Canada to see a good snow fall. It's just so interesting that they had such a late snowfall there. On occasion we also have snow falls that cause damage to trees that are already heavy with leaves.
There is something about snow, it's so quiet, and peaceful. I think it is just wonderful that you were blessed with this extra treat on your anniversary.

The pictures are wonderful

Becky said...

My, oh, my! The seasons were backing up just for you ~ summer to spring to winter! You have amazing connections!

I have seen quite a few Indo-Canadians wandering the streets in the cold of winter with nothing but their woollen scarves, and silken suits (like saris). A wee bit of cultural adaptation might be helpful once in awhile.

Thanks for the winter tour, it was lovely! It sort of reminds me of when we lived near Calgary, Alberta. There would always be a Spring Snow storm in May that was huge, last a couple of days, and then be gone and into the warm weather. It causes me to think again who is in control of the weather. So, global warming theorists?

Demara said...

Oh wow Jill, Muran sounds a lot like BC...we often have weather like that you know? Your pictures were very well done and I'm so glad you had such a great time!