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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Big Sis in a Small World
Lake Geneva and Wengen, Switzerland

The last time I visited Switzerland (20 years ago) I got into trouble for accidentally letting an ice cream wrapper blow away from me. So, to enter their country, I figured there would be a lot of rules about cleanliness, and they would be keenly checking all my car documents as well as every item of ID I had on me. But it was the complete opposite - I had to give them 40 Swiss Francs and they let me through without even checking my passport (why does that sound dodgy?).

But I like driving in Switzerland - the roads are well maintained and clean (not an ice cream wrapper in sight), so what better place for me to stay whilst on a road trip, than a car-free mountain resort at 4,000 feet...

Wengen was the place, and following my instructions, I had to get to Lauterbrunnan to dump my car and catch a small train.

However, having not seen a chateau for a couple of days, I felt it was time one featured on my journey, so I made a detour via this specimen on Lake Geneva en route to the place of no cars...

Back to the journey, my GPS found Lauterbrunnan (but then it was also able to direct me to Wengen, which is odd) but it told me I had to catch a ferry for the last five miles. As this is a place in the mountains, I checked out my guide book. It told me that the quickest way was to put my car on a train to Lauterbrunnan. As the book was last updated in May 2010, I decided to follow its advice.

So off to the mountains I went, as I followed the guide book's instructions. After driving through mountains and valleys, I arrived at the car train place (fortunately, the pictures of cars on trains provided guidance). My German is non-existent, but by pointing to my guide book and Lauterbrunnan, the woman then directed me back to names of places I recognised from the GPS instructions. The GPS was right for once. Worried I would now miss the last real train, I sped through the mountains and valleys, pausing momentarily at Interlaken (the area's answer to Lake Geneva)...

... before continuing for another couple of hours. I found the train just before dark, ditched the car and headed up to Wengen.

Wengen was indeed very beautiful and I awoke early the next morning to go hiking and visit a monument to Felix Mendelssohn. I had to compose myself when I found out he died at the age of 38.

My early start was just as well because by 10am, Wengen was covered in cloud. So having waved goodbye to Mendelssohn, I orchestrated a cable car ride up another 7,000 feet in an attempt to find sun. It kind of worked, until the cloud caught up with me...

I gave up, left Wengen and descended to 1,000ft to escape the white fluffy stuff.


Phil said...

And you've conducted yourselves perfectly.