Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Murren and the Schilthorn
Views from outside our room. I could wake up to this everyday!
First off, this is my second attempt at writing this blog entry. I originally worked on it in Word, then cut and pasted it into my blog. Then, I worked on adding pictures while 'saving' it many times through the process. I only had four more pictures to add, then I was going to post the blog. Unfortunately, this morning when I opened my laptop all was lost - even from Word. So, here is my second attempt:
We woke up at 8am this morning and got ready for the day. We headed down the 70 steps to the restaurant for our breakfast buffet of cereal, milk, juice, tea, hot chocolate, bread, cheese, yogurt and meats. Very tasty.
Brandon outside of our apartment.
After breakfast we walked to the other end of Murren to catch the tram to the top of the Schilthorn. In Murren we were at 5,000+ ft, about 2000 ft above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We had to take two trams to get to the top of the Schilthorn at 10,000ft: One to the Brig transfer station and a second to the top.
Elevations at the two tram stations.
Brandon enjoyed the views on the way up.
The tram heads back down.
Above the clouds.
We caught one of the early morning trams thinking it would help us have clear skies and less tourists - Katrina's idea. She was right!
The Schilthorn is a world famous Swiss Alp because of its location and because of its claim for fame with James Bond 007. Construction began on the Schilthorn in 1967. For various reasons, including some financial, the Swiss had some troubles completing this tram. This is where Hollywood stepped in. They were looking for an alpine set for the James Bong movie, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. The production company agreed to help finish the mountaintop structure if they could use it and various area locations for the movie. They filmed the movie in October - December of 1967 and the Schilthorn, with its rotating mountaintop restaurant opened to the public in 1968.
It was sunny with blue skies when we arrived at the top. We immediately headed to the 360 degree terrace. We could see for miles in every direction. Swiss Alps surrounded us. Katrina took a bunch of pictures, as did I.
Views from the top of the Schilthorn.
Watching the clouds form in the valley.
After a long time checking out all the views, Brandon wanted to head inside the Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant. The restaurant has two tiers that slowly revolve, offering 360 degree views. The top tier was not moving, so we waited for a lower tier table to open up. Brandon eventually spotted one and we ordered some snacks. Tea for Katrina, cake for me and ice cream for Brandon.
Piz Gloria, the solar powered revolving restaurant.
After our snack and after revolving one full time around, we went downstairs to the gift shop and then to the film presentation which highlighted the Alps and the James Bond movie. After the film, we went back up to the terrace to view the mountains while we waited for the next tram.
It was fairly cloudy by the time we headed down. We stayed at the Brig station for a few minutes to check out the views, but the station was mostly in cloud cover. As we descended back down the Murren, the sun began to peak through and was full and bright by the time we arrived.
Leaving the top.
It was very cloudy in Brig.
Aerial view of Murren.
We walked through town on our way to the funicular.
Brandon wanted a picture inside this ski lift/internet station.
Our plan was to ride the funicular train to Allmendhubel. This is a low foothill to the Schilthorn and is only a short ride of about 10 minutes.
At the top is a restaurant, a playground and the starting point to many different alpine hikes. The first thing we did when we arrived on top was to check out the Swiss dairy cows. It was sort of interesting. They are free ranged on the Alps, with fences only to keep them out of the chalets, restaurants and any other places they are not wanted. It was almost as if they were free and we were fenced in. Anyway, the cows are famous for their milk which makes Swiss alpine cheese and chocolates, and for their cowbells. Brandon cracked us up when he said, "I like the cowbells, they sound so welcoming."
Brandn played on the swings and slide while we ordered lunch on the deck. Brandon and I had bratwurst. Katrina had hashed browns with swiss cheese melted on top. It was a great lunch, although it would have been better had I remembered to order 'still' water, not 'bubbly' water.
Brandon enjoying the playground...with the best view I have ever seen.
After lunch we headed out for a hike. There was supposed to be a great family hike, but it turned out to be a gravel road heading down into the farmland. We wanted a hike in the woods. We found another trail, the Flower Trail. This was a nice hike through the woods and along the cliffsides.
Partway into the hike, near a ravine crossing, we had what Brandon would later call "The Swiss Cow Incident". First of all, I never would have imagined hiking in the Alps and having to step around cow patties. There was an intersection in the trail near the bottom of a ravine. One trail went down to Murren and the other followed the hillside a bit farther before heading down to Murren. We chose the longer route. There were about 15 cows grazing in the brush near the trail intersection. We stopped to take some pictures when they suddenly started 'talking' to two other cows heading down the mountain on the trail we wanted to follow. Those two cows up high on the trail and across the ravine started answering back. We didn't think much of it, so we headed over to a gate we had to go through to cross the ravine and head up the hill on the narrow trail. When we crossed the ravine and started the head up, the two cows coming down met us on the path and we had a standoff. We agreed to move off the trail to let them by for two reasons: they were bigger and they both had horns. After we moved off into the grass, so did the cow. So, we moved back on the trail and started to go up. The second cow moved out onto the trail, in our way. Katrina and Brandon decided to head back towards the gate. I stepped off into the grass again. At this point both cows moved down the trail, 'talking' back and forth with the other cows who had now moved to the ravine to watch. Neither cow took their eyes off of me as they walked on by, heading toward Katrina and Brandon, who retreated up higher in the grass.
The herd of cows that started the Swiss Cow Incident.
The other half of our problem.
Brandon and Katrina happy we were able to safely move on.
After all the cows had moved on by, Katrina and Brandon joined me and we continued on our hike. The flower trail followed the cliffside then turned and headed down to Murren, coming out near the train station and our hotel.
Near the end of our hike.
The Eiger Guesthouse hotel. Our room is on the hill above and behind this building.
We were tired and in need to some refreshment. We went up the 70 steps to our room, freshened up a bit and headed out again. Katrina grabbed her book, I grabbed my laptop and Brandon grabbed his cats. We headed to a viewpoint in town, stopping for some ice cream bars along the way.
Ice cream break.
View during our ice cream break.
We probably sat at the viewpoint for almost an hour. Brandon wanted to go play at the playground that he spotted last night, so I took him up there. Katrina stayed at the viewpoint to enjoy the last few moments of sunshine, then she joined us at the park.
I did some more work on this blog while Brandon played. The park had a cool rope climbing structure that spins and has round little seats to sit on while spinning. Brandon wanted us to try it out with him. Katrina went first and had a blast. Then all three of us tried it and really got it spinning. After a break, we did it again before heading back down to the main street to find some dinner.
Playing in the park.
Brandon spotted a Chinese place and wanted some soup. Katrina and I stopped at a different restaurant. Katrina got some apple streudel and I got a hamburger. We took it all back to the room and chowed before calling it a day and going to bed.