Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Switzerland Journal: Day 15 part 1

29 May 2007
Murren, Interlaken, Zurich

It's time to go. Our last breakfast at the Eiger Guesthouse. I'm looking for the word to describe Bernie's expression as he looks at me over his morning espresso. Pensive? Wistful? Contemplative?
I left him to settle the hotel bill while I walked to the other side of the little village to the Ye Old Tourist Trap Shoppe.
(Just kidding, it was actually a quaint souvenir shop. I bought three bandannas, pink, blue and yellow-orange and two hat tack pins.)
On the walk I could see more evidence of the snow storm's damage.
A fog had settled in overnight. It was dense enough that a few times I questioned whether I was on the right street on the way back to the hotel.

I hadn't seen this fire hydrant before! Adorable in the snow, it was probably hidden in grass or something earlier. Glad I decided to make that last minute jaunt.
Our hardworking innkeeper. Her husband had to be gone over the weekend so she was going full tilt the whole time we were there.
My vacation was saved by Alan, her husband, as he had the same camera that I did, and let me use his charger to recharge my camera's battery. Whew!
Across the street we trooped with our luggage to catch the little orange train down the mountain. The flags are the symbols of the cantons or states.

Our view from the train.
The fog was mixed with a light snowfall, and rather like a scene from the old movie "Brigadoon", we watched Murren fade away like a dream as the train carried us away from the magical little town.
Wegan no longer looked like a green summer idle across the valley.
I was delighted by the fog.
Unless I have to drive in fog, I love foggy weather. While I was growing up, near the beach, fog was a regular part of life. Walking in the fog has always been for me a pleasant and soothing experience.

Bernie caught my smile of delight. I've got the window down, enjoying the cold air and the view without window glare.
Occasionally the mist would lift up high and we could see the now throughly snow covered Alps.

Just below the tracks was this rustic shed. The fog lifted for a moment...

...then veiled the scene again.

Bernie was enjoying leaning out of the train to take pictures.
He shot a tiny video of part of our ride, hanging out of the train window. I told him that I thought that having your hands outside the windows would probably be against train policy.
When we got off the train Bernie got a stern and animated lecture from our train driver. The lecture had something to do with having the windows down when the train heat was going, and not leaning out of windows while the train was moving. The train driver looked pretty irritated, he had been most friendly to us on all our other train rides.
Ugly American, that's us. We'll try harder next time we visit.
From the train station we got on the arial tram. My job was to carry the hat box, a back pack and the bottles of water.

Down in Interlaken we watched a group of Japanese visitors debark. The make shift blanket cape was a nice touch.

We had a little layover. One of us would stay with the luggage while the other did some window shopping at Swiss watches and crystals. I must say I have never seen so many variations of orange faced watches.
Bernie caught me having a Nestle Fraiser (Strawberry) ice cream cone. Nestle is a Swiss company, and their frozen ice cream treats are elegant and luscious. The strawberry swirls and whipping cream puffs with a chocolate lined cone was delicious. I had bought one the first day in Murren when it was so hot, and when I saw another one at the train station I had to have it, even if it was cold outside.

Bernie had a bratwurst that smelled wonderful. To give you an idea of the cost of food in Switzerland, I took a picture of the little lunch spot's menu. CHF are worth about 15% more than USD.

Billboards in the station promoting Interlaken. You don't need to sell me; I ready to go there any time!
The marketing to India's travelers was evident.
Bernie thought these billboard ads were interesting, even if we are not sure what was being advertised.

The train trip to our last stop, Zurich, was going to take us across Switzerland, or approximately 3/4 of it. Kate said you can go end to end anywhere in Switzerland by train in four hours.
(Kate: Take the trip to Murren soon! Even if just as a day trip!)
This part of the trip we got a double-decker train. Of course we wanted to ride up top!
All the trains we rode in Switzerland were clean and comfortable. Some of the seats were configured for groups, others two by two facing forward.
A small family took up residence just down the aisle from us, and we watched wide eyed as the two year old ran down the aisle and went between the cars before the parents stood up to corral him. Cute kids, cute parents. Guess they are just more used to train travel than we were!
The view from the train was mostly farm land as we crossed central Switzerland in about two hours on our way to Zurich. No matter where we were, there usually was graffiti along side the train track on the walls. Most of it was quite colorful, and I never did learn if it was merely artistic expression or gang affiliation. I hope it was the former.

It was mid afternoon when we arrived in Zurich's huge train station...I tried to get a shot to capture the feeling of the place but failed miserably. It was clean yet old looking, with lots of people walking briskly or pulling rolling luggage. Shops with flowers and travel needs were scattered through out the station.
We were not sure where our hotel was in relation to the station so Bernie called for a cab. The cabbie was not thrilled when in turned out he only needed to haul us a short quarter mile, even if it was raining.
We checked into the Zurich Marriott, another elegant and modern hotel with lovely staff to assist us. They even called Heidelberg for me to see if they had my battery charger. (They didn't have it, I must have left it in Milan?)
We decided to take a walk around Zurich to see what could be seen within walking distance. As we headed out the doorman offered us each a large umbrella. I was so impressed; later I realized the umbrella had MARRIOTT emblazoned upon it, turning us into advertisement on the hoof. Oh well, at least we were dry.
As usual, I window shopped. Take a closer look at the gentleman's fashion display above.
The shoes. The striped pants. The fabric.
Um. No. Interesting, but no.

We didn't go far before we were looking at a colorful collection of "high rise" buildings.
From anywhere in Zurich you can easily see St. Peters Kirche with its 28 ft. wide clock face, the largest clock face in Europe. Above the clock you can see little windows; there used to be a town watch man who lived above the clock face and who would sound an alarm in case he spotted fire any where in the city.

We were headed to Fraumunster, with it's 13th century building, a nice Gothic church. In the 1970 the artist Marc Chagell had been commissioned to create windows for the presbytery. Below is one window; the windows each had a color theme-yellow, blue, green and so forth. I was not moved, and wandered the building, more taken by the angels adorning the pipe organ pipes in the rear, as seen in the picture above.
The Jewish Chagall was an interesting choice of artist, and he did a respectful job of positioning Christ in the the series of windows.
I just found his artistic sketch style made me feel restless.
Fraumunster's iron door was gorgeous though. At least two stories tall, and horse and carriage wide. Wonder where and when it was made? Anyone know a good research librarian who can find out for me?
From there we crossed the Limmat river to see Grossmunster, the twin domed church in this picture. I'm the person in the lower left, holding the Marriott umbrella as I gawk.
The building with the arches over the water is the Haus zur Ruden, a 17th century guild house. Next door to it, with the red top oriel window, was an 18th century building. Pressed for time, we didn't get to visit either bulilding.
Nor did we get to visit the Wasserkirche, built on the site where Felix and Regula were martyred in Roman times.
Now there's a story for you: Felix and Regula were said to have been members of the Thebaic Legion, a legion which because of it's Christian beliefs had been massacred in Valais towards the end of the 3rd century. Felix and Regula fled to Zurich, and suffered a martyr's death.
(Are you ready for the rest of the story?)
"After the execution they were said to have picked up their decapitated heads and to have ascended 30 yards to the place where they wished to be buried."
(Now there's grit and picky behavior all rolled into one. Like, was the view all that much better 30 yards up the hill?)
"Later, the legend has it, that Charlemagne, being on a hunting expedition, pursued a stag from Aachen (northern Germany) to Zurich. Over the graves of Regula and Felix his horse stumbled; and at this site, Charlemagne founded Grossmunster."
Grossmunster is a hugely important place. I will post the pictures and commentary about Grossmuster on Switzerland Journal: Day 15 part 2 tomorrow, or maybe even later tonight.
I want to do Grossmunster justice by giving it it's own separate post.


Lovella ♥ said...

I can see why Bernie was looking as he did in Picture #1. I'd not be smiling at the idea of leaving that fairytale place either. You really did a fantastic job of convincing me to visit that gorgeous place.

I'm more amazed after every post at how much you were able to take in while you were away. No wonder you were training.

Too bad you didn't take a picture of Bernie being scolded. Would have been funny after the fact.

Kate said...

I LOVE fog too - especially here in the winter. It freezes and makes everything even more fairyland-like than snow. Yes, we'll be heading to Muerren soon too. You've convinced me!
K Q:-)

Marie Christopher said...

I love fog, too - unless I'm driving in it.
The little movie by Bernie was super.