An American in Switzerland – Day Eight

Awoke this morning to huge snow clumps falling past our window – just lovely. Showered and took the time to catch up on some more travel logs, and then headed to breakfast downstairs. Returned to the room, took far too long to pack, and lugged our two suitcases, duffle, toiletries bag and two laptop bags to the train station.

In Switzerland, most train stations in larger cities like Winterthur have a travel center. For a small fee, they will help you book a hotel, train tickets, entertainment, basically your whole vacation. We had a slightly complex trip ahead of us. We were planning on going to Interlaken (I’ve been misspelling it – it should be Interlaken, not Interlocken), staying one night, taking the train back to Zurich, staying one night, and then catching our flight home Monday morning. I was somewhat annoyed, because I’d hoped that we could have stayed in Interlaken two nights, and taken the early train back to Zurich, but Heath accepted an invitation to have dinner with a different coworker in Zurich, so we’ll really have very little time in Interlaken.

As I type this, I’m on the train to the first stop of Bern, where we’ll have to switch trains to get to Interlaken. Oh, and we’re going through lots and lots of tunnels on this trip. Interestingly enough, your ears pop when you go through the long ones just like on a plane ride. Heath says it has something to do with the physics of forcing a large object through a small space at high speeds; that the air doesn’t have time to catch up or something like that.

We had a brief chilly break in Bern, where I had a pain au chocolat that I accidentally ordered and paid for entirely in French (we’re still in the German speaking part of Switzerland). Heh – the vendor didn’t miss a beat. Lack of sleep, but apparently my French is itching to come forth. I was disappointed to learn that in Interlaken they speak the Swiss German language. I’ve really been dying to practice my French. Anyway… way off track.

Now we’re on the train from Bern to Interlaken with a few short stops. There’s some beautiful houses here, but lots of graffiti too. And sadly, there isn’t as much snow as there was further north. Boo. 😦

Just one more note before I pack up the laptop for the rest of the day. We’re currently on the train from Thun to Interlaken. Oh. My. God. This is indescribably beautiful. To our right are huge mountains. Not hills, mountains. To my left is Thunersee, a huge lake. Just beyond the lake are even more enormous mountains rising sharply up from the shoreline. The geologist in me is eeking out over the visible strata. Ok, time to pack up.

… … …

Holy… cow… Well, the mountains are utterly amazing. I just can’t stop gushing about how beautiful it is. We took a bunch of pictures and short videos from our hotel balcony and the public terrace one floor up.

After checking into the hotel, we wandered the shops, and stopped for a snack at a sandwich shoppe. My sandwich was divine: brie and walnut and lettuce on a very flavorful dark sunflower seed bread. We stopped in some tourist shops and bought some cute little things for family. The town of Interlaken (West) isn’t all that impressive. It is definitely a tourist town. All of the menus are in German, French, Italian, English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. And most people here speak excellent English. Most of the buildings aren’t that spectacular, either. I’m glad I got to see the beauty of the painted frescos of Schaffhausen and the painted houses of Appenzell, and the unique architecture of Winterthur first. The view makes up for the lack of the charm in Interlaken, though.

Tonight we attempted to have a traditional Swiss fondue dinner. I say attempted, because it was the most bizarre culinary experience thus far in Switzerland. The restaurant is attached to the hotel, and of course the hotel recommended it. When we walked in, it was like a whole other world. We’d obviously missed something, because the waiters and all of the clientele (except for two Italians that arrived late in our meal) were Asian. I think the restaurant must have been listed in Interlaken Asian guidebooks, but we also discovered the next day that part of them were with a tour group (but not all). The next thing that was unexpected was the music: very loudly played German or Swiss disco-type music… think David Hasselhoff… blech. The décor was a mix of Swiss kitsch, with bills (money), tee-shirts, hats, and even a Turkish flag all covered in signatures of visitors. We almost ran, but decided to stay. The Grappe (grape liquor) seemed only good for stripping paint off the walls, and my wine was pretty pathetic. We ordered a salad and the cheese fondue. The fondue tasted like it had too much Kirsch in it, and was passable, but I’ve had better. Hell, I’ve MADE better. My mom’s is the best, IMHO. Anywho…

Halfway through our dinner, the music suddenly changed to some sort of chant or cheer type song, and a guy dashed around the large group waving the Korean flag. Dunno what that was about. At. All. We were in a good mood, despite the poor fare, and even did something that I’ve never done before either here or in the US – had the waiter staple a signed dollar bill to the wall of the restaurant (we have a picture, too, of course). And… the dessert of chocolate bread and cinnamon ice cream fell even further below the standards of the evening. Blech. The final blow? It took us eons to flag someone down to get our bill paid.

After the disastrous dinner, Heath let me pay a fee to use the internet in the lobby for an hour. I checked my email, posted what travel logs I’d completed, and attempted to upload pictures, but was only able to get a few uploaded before time ran out. The Flickr Upload wasn’t being very nice.

and tomorrow… well, I’ll write about that later. Lets just say that we’ll be reaching new heights in our vacation, and I cannot wait!

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