Happy November! There’s a writing challenge this month that calls for a post a day! Yikes! But I am committing publicly which means I should make it to…14 Nov? I do think that some days I’ll link back to a July date so I can write “new” posts that are trip catch-ups and then my 2022 goal of blog catch-up will be achieved!
How was your Halloween? Here’s a little collection of decorations at my favorite local coffee shop, St. Franks.
I got crafty on Saturday and made costumes for SMS and I. I wanted to be a qtip, which I thought was very appropriate for an ear-focused ENT! In a testament to how obvious my costume was, absolutely no one guessed what I was. Out of similar materials, I made SMS a candy corn costume. We went to a German-hosted party on Saturday and globalization has not hit the candy corn industry since many people didn’t know what a candy corn was. And they didn’t want to try one either, hahaha. As one guy said, “It will ruin the taste of the beer.”
The Western road trip continues! We were really lucky in that Yellowstone was fully opened by the time our travels came around. A large portion of park roads had been closed due to massive flooding in the late Spring. Then, there was a partial re-opening that had alternating day entry based on whether your car’s license plate began with an even or an odd number. I was ready to roll with the punches since we wouldn’t know our rental car plate until the trip started. But then, full entry was restored so it wasn’t even an issue!
We drove up the John D. Rockefeller parkway, which was scenic and brought us right into the park through the South Entrance. Our destinations for the day were along the west half of the lower loop. I used Eternal Arrival’s posts to help plan the trip and I would recommend them as a resource!
Our first stop was at Old Faithful. We thought about taking the short hike to Observation Point, but we decided we’d rather be closer to the eruption. We spent two eruption cycles at the Old Faithful/Upper Geyser basin because we were terrible at timing our location with eruptions. We just missed several of the less regular geysers in the Upper Basin and then, as a result, we missed the first Old Faithful eruption. And yes, there are geyser predictors but everything was going off a few minutes early. No big deal. It was still super impressive and we enjoyed hiking around. It was in full sun and it was pretty hot, but we had water and took our time.
We decided to grab lunch and wait for the next eruption. We ordered some (pretty terrible) chili and sat down on the porch. The porch would have been a good spot, but I wanted to get closer and broil in the sun. SMS is such a good sport that he came along, even though the porch was quite nice.
We hopped back into the car and headed to the Grand Prismatic Spring (GPS). There, we took in the views from the GPS lookout point, about half a mile along Fairy Falls Trail. It was a great viewpoint. I think it’s a better way to take it all in than the boardwalk adjacent to the GPS, but I don’t know this firsthand since we skipped it. We had seen a lot of the smaller pools at the Upper Geyser loop and admired the color gradients there.
After our short hike, we went to our next stop: Fountain Paint Pots. The geothermal springs and variety of activity were so cool! I love the burping mud! It’s hard to pick a favorite site among the Yellowstone sights we saw today, but I would pick Yellowstone as my favorite park of the trip.
After our stops, we headed towards West Yellowstone and our glamping accommodations for the next two nights. We stayed at Undercanvas Yellowstone, where we had a really nice yurt-tent with a bed. There were shared bathrooms and showers, but plenty of them so there wasn’t a wait. The main lobby tent had coffee in the morning and s’mores at night. There were a fair number of activities so it felt a little Summer Camp-y, but we skipped the yoga in favor of more time in Yellowstone.
There was also a small river that I went swimming in, which was pretty cool. Literally and figuratively. Between the bugs and the temperature, SMS passed which meant I was swimming by myself. I don’t love swimming by myself because there are no other people for the sharks to attack. So I didn’t stay in the water too long, but it was fun. We also tried to take a fly-fishing casting class but the instructor was a no-show.
Our next outdoor adventure laid in Grand Teton National Park. Again, the weather was hotter than we anticipated but we couldn’t wait to see the mountains. I had been to Grand Teton as a child, but was excited to refresh my memory since all I really remember is missing the boat for a trout cruise. Is this even a real memory or childhood distortion? Probably the latter.
We arrived in Jackson Hole around dinner time after a great road trip featuring stops at Craters of the Moon and ERB-1. Jackson Hole was a town that, while nice, was hard for me to wrap my mind around. I don’t quite understand the “posh cowboy” lifestyle brand but trust me, Jackson Hole has it in spades. The main town square has four arches made of elk horns, apparently gathered from horns shed by the elk on the nearby preserve. I don’t know if I quite believe that, but since what I know about elk preserves could fit on the head of a pin, I’ll go with it!
We had a really delicious trout dinner at Local Restaurant & Bar, which I’m sure was a lot more than what my parents paid in the ’80s. Then, we went to Moo’s Ice Cream for dessert which had such ridiculous prices, we almost left. But I caved and had huckleberry ice cream. It was tasty, but really, the whole trip highlighted that inflation was real. Less kindly, I wonder how much price gouging was going on but it’s hard to tell in places that rely a lot on tourist business compressed into the fraction of the year that has nice weather. IDK.
After dinner, we headed into the national park. We were staying towards the North End of the park in Coulter Bay Village. I had booked most of the trip in May, two months prior to our trip. Since a lot of guides recommend booking 9-12 months in advance, I felt pretty lucky to have gotten a spot at all! Coulter Bay was nice and we settled in for the night.
The next day, we headed South towards Jenny Lake. We took the boat across and then hiked to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. We hiked a bit beyond Inspiration Point, then hooked a right to take a (horse?) trail back down to the lake. It was nice to go on that trail because there were far fewer hikers. Jenny Lake is quite popular so it’s nice to get away from the crowds for a small portion of the hike. Initially, I had wanted to hike up Valhallo Canyon but it was too hot. I mean, we would have been ok but it would have been more of a slog than a fun hike and who wants that?!
Both “Hidden” Falls and Inspiration Point were really beautiful. Relatively speaking, there were a lot of people but honestly, it’s great to see that many people out enjoying a national park. It really wasn’t that bad.
We had a snack up on Inspiration Point and our cute lil’ BFF joined us. Look at the picture above on the right- you can see our new friend by SMS’ left hand! Don’t worry, we didn’t feed it!
After our snack, we headed down the horse trail and then started along the shore trail of Jenny Lake. We actually saw a young-ish Grizzly along the way totally noshing out on the underbrush. So many people walked by like absolute morons (ourselves included) but the bear paid us no attention (thank god). A little further down the trail, we came upon the Moose Lake overlook where we saw mooses (meese? hahah, no). We saw two adults and one young one. So cool!
After our hike, we went to Jackson Bay Lodge for lunch. It was a little late and Jenny Lake really doesn’t have any casual options. Apparently, Jenny Lake has a super fancy dining option for dinner but we were a little early for that (and also, not really interested). Jackson Bay had a nice bar where we could grab a beer and burger in a casual place for a reasonable-ish price. Perfect.
The next day, I woke up early to see the sunrise over the Tetons. SMS slept in. Haha, we are pretty opposite on the morning person/night owl spectrum. But we both get to do what we want on vacation so it works out! I drove South to get some nice sunrise views. Then I drove back, picked up some oatmeal, and we ate prior to heading up John D. Rockefeller Parkway to Yellowstone! Hooray!
Road trip! We had a pretty major driving day ahead of us as we made our way from Stanley, ID to Grand Teton National Park. Decisions had to be made. While I really wanted to see Shoshone Falls and take a dip in a few hot springs, we only had so much time and, honestly, inclination towards driving additional distance. I did, however, really want to see the Craters of the Moon so that was the planned route. We found another roadside attraction between CoM and Yellowstone, which was serendipitous and very cool (or hot…keep reading!).
Our first stop was at the Ranger Station where we could get screened for going into the lava tubes. A straightforward screening became convoluted when SMS decided to think really hard about if he had been in caves and, if he had, would he really remember what he had worn? I should have given him a heads up that the screening existed, but it was a moment of tension when I thought the ranger would ban us from the lava tubes. Never fear, we ended up in the clear!
Then, we proceeded along the driving loop on Loop Road (creative!) around the park. It was another 90+ degree day, but we still decided to climb to the top of Inferno Cone. It provided a great viewpoint and the wind made the heat more bearable. We saw the spatter cones from a distance and other lava formations that I don’t remember the exact names.
Then we went to the lava tubes! Two were closed, but Indian Tunnel was pretty neat to walk through. There are lots of natural “skylights,” which is a nice way of saying “partial tunnel collapse.” The rangers said everything has been stable for decades, which I think was meant to be reassuring. I felt better when I realized that most tunnel collapse occurs in the Spring with water freezing/refreezing/moving, which causes the active destabilization.
After about an hour, we felt we had seen a good portion of the park and it was time to continue on. We were driving through some pretty flat parts of Idaho when SMS started seeing signs for EBR-1. We looked it up and thought, “Yes, let’s stop at Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 (EBR) Atomic Museum!
EBR-1 was an interesting place. Picture a lot of young single males in the middle of nowhere trying to harness the power of nuclear energy, aka, blow shit up but not too much. “Operation Weiner Roast,” anyone?
The decommissioned reactor was very interesting and we were able to understand the timeline of experiments and factory layout pretty well. It was a little more SMS’ interest than mine, but it was such a cool, unplanned find. I love when that happens!
After our self-guided tour, we got back in the car and drove on towards Jackson Hole/Grand Teton. Blog post coming soon!
I got home from Europe and had two days to get ready for our “real” vacation. This was the vacation that was a little more planned for the two of us, rather than a quick, last-minute solo trip. Although don’t get me wrong, I love both types of trips!
Originally, we were going to take a road trip up the CA and into Oregon. During the planning process, this morphed to an Idaho/Wyoming/Montana trip that included the Sawtooth Mountains, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks. I didn’t really communicate this well to SMS so while he was excited for the trip, he was also a little disappointed that the Oregon idea had vanished. So, I need to do better next time. The good news is now that we live together again, I can tell him all of my ideas in real time!
We stayed in an AirBnB that was no-frills meets “Is this a slasher cabin in the woods that he inherited from his Grandma?” As some of the lodging later in the trip was expensive, I tried to go cheap in Stanley. While we got what we paid for, it was totally fine and the point is to be outside so NBD.
Although we had planned to be outside, it was hot while we were there which curtailed our hiking plans. Our first day, I had bought tickets for two events at the Sun Valley Writer’s festival. The first artist group was Freestyle Love Supreme, an improvisational comedy freestyle hip-hop group. They were amazing. My favorite part was there they picked an audience member’s story featuring a past regret. Then, they told the story as it happened and as it would have happened if a re-do was allowed via the Freestyle Love time machine. Well, the woman regretted eating the baby Jesus from a manger crèche, but her main regret was that it wasn’t even very tasty. Well, this morphed into a story that involved little baby Jesus that if I told it here, would not really work well so I’m going to skip it but it.was.amazing. The funniest thing is that the keyboardist was dying at how ridiculously awesome her castmates were.
I would strongly recommend seeing FLS if you get a chance. It looks like they are having a Vegas residency this Winter so… They are also famous for having Lin-Manuel Miranda involved in the group, but at this point, I think he does drop-ins only on occasion. The reason I bring him up is that there are clearly themes and aspects rehearsed beforehand that mirror themes of “In the Heights,” but everything is really well done and of course, even improv needs to be somewhat rehearsed and planned for a strong foundation.
We also saw Arthur Brooks, who wrote “From Strength to Strength.” I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a good read as I enter what is (hopefully) the second half of my life. I didn’t love him as a speaker that much, mostly because it felt super-slick and TED-talky and I thought his book was a little deeper than that. But it was a good distillation of the book for people who hadn’t read it. SMS liked it, but I think I somewhat spoiled it by making fun of the author for saying that credentials don’t matter but then name-dropping the fact that he teaches at Harvard Business School about six times (conservative estimate). But at the same time, if he didn’t have those credentials, would anyone listen? Deep thoughts. Maybe I should sit by the Salmon River and think about it!
The next day, we went to the Sawtooth Hatchery. This had been recommend by the rental car counter guy and, since long hikes were out due to the heat, we went there. It was pretty cool! We learned about conservation measures to counteract the effects of different dams along the river system. Interestingly, the fish (salmon and trout) aren’t protected species despite all the work that goes into upping the numbers. So people can still fish. Some have markings that they request get reported in for tracking purposes, but that is a voluntary system.
We also went to Redfish Lake, where we rented a double kayak. This was not the smoothest couple activity we have ever done, mostly because we disagreed on how to sync/not sync our paddling. Spoiler alert: the engineer knew better than the Navy doctor how to make a boat go forward. I guess being a sailor doesn’t translate very well into self-propelled watercraft. But it was still fun, especially swimming in a gorgeous lake.
We also went to the Stanley Museum. While it may sound like we were really trying to find things to do, it was pretty cool. We learned about what it was like to be a ranger in such a large area that, in the Winter, is very harsh. I enjoyed seeing the medical supplies as well.
On the day we left, we grabbed coffee at Peaks & Perks, which was a small stand with nearby tables and benches. We had a really nice time and I think it would have been a beautiful place to hike in non-90 degree weather. So, I recommend! It was fun to hang out in Idaho, a State I had never been to before.
After leaving Bern, I took the train to Karlsruhe followed by the bus to Flughafen Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden. There I said hello to my surly RyanAir friends and took the plane back to London. I took the Stansted express back into the city. Once again, they were checking tickets so make sure you buy the dedicated airport ticket rather than just swipe through the turnstile with your phone/general e-ticket.
I landed mid-afternoon and had decided that I really wanted to see some of the incredible artifacts at The British Museum. I checked my bag in at a local shop via an app so I didn’t have to deal with it at the museum. First, I went to the special exhibit, Feminine Power: the divine to the demonic. What a name! It was a compilation of sacred objects and fine art from different cultures showing representations of the divine/sacred in feminine form. It wasn’t the largest exhibit, but it was an interesting concept. It was manageable for the time I had, but I also could have stayed longer to take it all in.
Other exhibits were calling though, so I went to other galleries. I saw the Rosetta Stone, which was really neat to see in person. It’s amazing what soldiers can stumble across and find!
I saw the Parthenon Sculptures (née Elgin Marbles). I saw friezes that I had only seen in books and were now right in front of me! The Nereid Monument was pretty wild as it’s a small temple reconstructed within the museum.
After taking in the antiquities, I went to the second floor to see other highlights. I was following the museum map that showed where highlights of the collection were located. I saw the monumental carillon clock, the Lewis chessman, the Sutton Hoo helmet (AD 600s, Anglo-Saxon England), and the Lycurgus cup.
Finally, on the way out, I walked through the Parthanon Gallery again. I tend to like double-backing in museums (much to SMS’ delight) and today was no exception.
The guards herded everyone out and I walked to my hotel (Strand Duchy House via AirBnB), which was a dorm room for a college currently not-in-session. It was quite nice, albeit basic. I quickly headed out towards the Thames, although I did get a nice recommendation to stop at Gordon’s Wine Bar.
I walked along the river. It was a beautiful evening with perfect weather. A heat wave was set to roll in the next day but this day was amazing. I saw a boat turned bar (old passenger ferry) called Tattershall Castle and I went aboard for a G&T. The G&Ts are served in large glasses, which I hadn’t see before. It’s supposed to allow the aromatics to be fully appreciated. I’ve only seen G&Ts in small glasses or cans, but I can learn to appreciate goblet-style!
I was hoping to see 10 Downing St, which didn’t happen. But as I walked towards St James Park, I heard a band performance. A quick internet search showed that it was “The Massed Bands of HM Royal Marines Beating Retreat.” It was super cool and later in my walk, I came upon them again as they marched down the mall from Horse Guard Palace to Buckingham Palace.
Yes, I did see Buckingham palace! Be still, my royal family gossip loving heart!
I went to Gordon’s Wine Bar which, as advertised, had a really neat vaulted cellar that was mostly candlelit. I grabbed some tapas at Port House and then headed to bed. The next day, I took the train to LHR. I left a lot of time, which is unusual for me but I had heard LHR horror stories and I did not want to miss my flight. As a result, I had a few hours before my flight but it was a nice airport. I grabbed a snack and read for awhile. Then it was time to board, head home, and get ready for a major road trip with SMS in just two days!
After arriving in Bern, I headed straight to my hostel, changed into my swimsuit, and headed towards the river Aare. I love floating in the river Aare so much. This time, I skipped the bridge jump and just entered upstream from Freibad Marzili at the Campingplatz Eichholz, which is about 1 km.
In between floats, I had French Fries for dinner. I was really hungry and it was supposed to be a snack but the serving was enormous and delicious! This made my second float a little late and kind of quiet, which was nice in its own way. I think I prefer the bustle of more people at the height of the day. Fewer gnats and yes, safer from a swimmer’s perspective. Overall, I took four floats down the river this trip and it was awesome!
The hostel was nice. I was in the newer building and bunked with three other women. I was barely there, but they seemed very nice. Logistically, it wasn’t the best set-up since one woman came in very late (Spanish) and one woman left very early (American- me, haha) but hopefully everyone’s earplugs worked. I had set everything out and there was a small common area/bathroom compartment that had a door to divide it from the bedroom so hopefully I wasn’t too disruptive. I was trying to save money since I was solo traveling but I think I’m aging out of hostels, slowly but surely.
I took the Bern Marzili funicular during my stay, which was a nice way to avoid climbing a steep hill with my bag. The ride is quite short, but nice to take. Also, covered by the Swiss Rail Pass! At the base of the hill, you look up and see the Bundeshaus, which is quite stately. SMS and I had wandered briefly through the historic city on our last visit but it really does deserve more attention. Maybe another trip!
Good morning! I faced a dilemma- what to do? This was the only day I’d have to spend in Bern, but I really wanted to hike. Since all I wanted to do in Bern was hop in the river, I decided to hike and forsake the other nice things Bern had to offer (the old town is amazing- UNESCO says so!).
I lazed in bed until the sun peeked over the ridge line. I went to the breakfast room and even though Mr. B.O. was not there, I took my plate out to the terrace. I saw two helicopter pallet deliveries, which was pretty cool. No wonder everything is so expensive up in the mountains! I decided to hike to Kleine Scheidegg, which was a much more mellow plan (elevation-wise) than my hike the day before.
I took the Männlichen Aerial Cableway from Wengen. My Swiss Pass covered it, but there was a small supplement for “The Royal View.” This allows the rider to take a small staircase to an open-air balcony on top of the car. Although the views from the inside were awesome, I think riding without any windows would have been amazing. Terrifying, but amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure it out before boarding and it wasn’t worth it (to me) to wait for the next cable car.
The ride was ~5 min and the view from the platform was spectacular. Rather than head straight to Kleine Scheidegg, I headed up the hill on the Royal Walk to the crown-shaped viewing platform. Along the way, there are some excellent informational signs about the geology, alpine climbing history, and knot-tying. At the top, there are incredible 360 views of the Eiger/Monch/Jungfrau (EMJ) mountains, Lauterbrunnen Valley, and Grindelwald. I even saw Schynige Platte. Although it is beautiful, I felt better about skipping it since the hike to Kleine Scheidegg would have similar features along the trail. I would be trading a view of the lakes for a view of the EMJ complex but that was worth it to me!
From the Royal Walk viewing platform, I also saw Bluemlisalp, where SMS and I had hiked on our prior visit. After taking in the scenery for a bit, it was time to hike towards Kleine Schiedegg. It was a very mellow walk with the path cutting through flower-filled alpine fields. I’m pretty sure it’s the traversing trails during ski season but in the Summer, it makes for great walking. There were a lot more people on this trail than my previous day’s hike, but there was definitely plenty of room for us all.
I arrived in Kleine Schiedegg in ~90 minutes. I definitely stopped along the way for pictures, but was otherwise walking at a pretty reasonable clip. I had a mountain-side table for lunch, with great views, good food, and deliciously fresh, clean air (does this make sense?).
After lunch, I decided to walk back to Wengen, rather than take the train down the mountain. It was a great decision because it got me really close to the EMJ. This helped me see the many glacier-fed waterfalls streaming down the side. I also saw Swiss cows, which was nice.
Swiss hiking tip: if there is a destination sign with two routes (bike and ped), take the walking path. The bike routes tend to be wide and are fine to walk on, but the ped trails are narrower and meander a tiny bit more. The payoff is that it is much more of a nature trail than a semi-paved road. Part of the trail was bike/ped, which was great too! Overall, my route was pedestrian trail out of KS, bike/ped road after the cow fields, and then a ped route through the forest to Wegen (prettier and needed shade).
The forest trail paralleled the edge of Lauterbrunnen Valley, although the edge was only accessible at viewpoints/BASE jump sights. The sign above was warning BASE jumpers to call the helicopter launch site below before jumping. Never fear, SBA, I will never be making that phone call.
Getting to Wengen took a little longer than I thought, but no worries. The days are long in a Swiss Summer! I took the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen, followed by a transfer to Interlaken and then onto Bern. I made it to Bern for a few floats down the river, but that’s for the next blog post!
So, the prior night, I searched different hikes to find out which one I wanted to do. The Jungfrau.ch company has a great marketing website for its private railways that link to a lot beautiful sites. I’ve never cared about getting to the top of Jungfrau, but I was almost swayed by the marketing for Schynige Platte. It looks so beautiful. There were also some nice write-ups by different bloggers. But ultimately, I realized that I had traveled to Wengen to see the Lauterbrunnen Valley so why would I backtrack almost all the way to Interlaken? [Also, please keep in mind I had two days to work with! Too short but way better than nothing!]
I did some more searching. And, on a trail running write-up, a woman mentioned her lunch stop at Berghotel Obersteinberg, a restaurant in a dairy farm. As I read more about the area, I read about Schmadribachfällen, which is a gorgeous waterfall (that seems to be several waterfalls in series) that is difficult to see without hiking to it. I was sold. My perfect Lauterbrunnen Valley hike was set.
As it turned out, although there was a lot of signage on the hike, it wasn’t always complete. What I mean by that is that the farthest destination might be listed but there were actually several ways to get there. As a result, I accidentally cut across the loop I meant to do. I had meant to include Oberhoresee, which is a beautiful mountain lake according to Google Images (see farthest right picture above). I wasn’t too disappointed since it meant I hiked to the base of Schmadribachfällen rather than view it from the top. It also saved me several hundred feet of elevation and really, I had plenty of it that day! Also, I discovered Tanzbödeli along the way, which was the highlight of the hike. All in all, my loop is approximated by the yellow highlight in the far left picture.
The next morning, I had a delicious breakfast at the hotel. The spread was amazing and, after being seated near a family in which the dad had horrific B.O, I took my plate outside to the terrace. This was a total win! Thanks for driving me outside, weird-outdoor-dude-with-unexplainable-B.O.-since-shower- access-is-available-at-a-hotel-and-you-have-no-excuse-first-thing-in-the-morning.
Then, I took the train down to Lauterbrunnen. I bought some snacks at the Coop and walked around while waiting for the bus, which I took to Stechelberg. Next, I took the gondola up to Gimmelwald where I started my hike. As on previous hikes in Switzerland, I feel no shame in saving some time and altitude gain with a well-placed gondola ride. Bonus, it was covered by the Swiss Rail Pass!
Gimmelwald is beautiful. It is a big favorite of Rick Steeves, whom I used to think I was way too cool for to take any of his advice. But, with age comes wisdom and while I’m not signing up for his tours, his website is helpful.
I set off for the Berghotel Obersteinberg (which I just realized also has the abbreviation of B.O. Excellent). I had saved directions on my phone, which was a safe thing to do even though I’m pretty sure I had signal the entire time. It was a translated webpage, which was a little confusing since it talked about “Bosom Fire,” which refers to the near-heart explosion that occurs a few miles in as I climbed up Busenbrand. It was very steep. Also, it made me happy I was going from Gimmelwald to Stechelberg rather than the other direction since that particular section was so steep, it would have been a little treacherous as a downhill.
After I finished that section, I walked through a forest-y field with cows. I drank some water through my LifeStraw and continued. Eventually, I came upon a sign for Tanzbödeli. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but I went for it. Then I wasn’t sure if I should do it because it looked like a steep rock scramble that would be safer with ropes. I decided to be like John Muir, meaning that I should walk up mountains that would probably be safer with a little gear. But, never fear. One, I am alive and typing this. Two, it actually wasn’t that bad step-by-step on the trail. It just looked intimidating.
When I got to the top, it was spectacular. The trail had been gray, sedimentary rock with flecks that looked like shale. But the top was a grassy plateau filled with wildflowers. It was a wonderful surprise. Translated it means, “the dance floor” and I felt like running through the field like Heidi although I would stop at the edge. I stayed for awhile to take it all in. It was so beautiful. I also got my first real view of the falls.
But, I had to get going! My next stop was the Obersteinberg hotel. I ordered a beer and an Alpkäse sandwich, which was two slices of bread, a huge hunk of alpkäse, and a knife. Unexpected presentation, but delicious!
Upon leaving, I messed up and missed the fact there was another Ober*** (Oberhornsee) destination. So, no lake for me. But I was happy that I took the valley route to Stechelberg because of the gorgeous waterfall views.
I took so.many.waterfall pictures. I also enjoyed the mostly downhill second half of the hike.
I eventually got to the Hotel Stechelberg. I had 30 minutes until the bus came, so I decided to grab a beer and a snack. Well, I missed the bus and waited a total of 90 minutes because the service was so.slow. But it was beautiful, I was sitting down after a long day of hiking, and it really felt amazing.
On Monday morning, Dad and I met up for breakfast in the hotel. The buffet was quite good. I love bread, cheese, jam, yogurt, and muesli for breakfast. There was also excellent coffee, which is key for combatting jet lag.
After breakfast, we walked to Tartes Cézanne, a French bakery that Dad swore had the best quiche. We had tried eating lunch there yesterday, but it was closed on Sundays. Today, we had better luck! Initially, I turned down Dad’s offer to buy me a quiche for the road because, honestly, it sounded a little gross. I’ve never thought of quiche as a “travel well” food. Well, chalk another one up for Dad because I did accept his offer and it was delicious! It was so tasty and fresh. I wrote to Dad and said it almost tasted like a health food, which I’m pretty sure quiche is not. I think it’s a “sometimes” food.
I was sad to leave Dad, especially since he was there for another day and our visits are always too short. But, although he would miss me, he encouraged the visit to Wengen since it would otherwise be difficult to experience given my own short timeline. So, away I went!
The visit was very smooth. I am going to write a more logistics-focused post (maybe I’ll get more followers!) but once again, Google Maps and its public transport directions option are stellar. I ended up buying a Swiss pass for convenience and the fact that I was traveling pretty far on two of the four days. I don’t think I saved a ton of francs, but I saved a few and again, just getting on the train without the hassle of buying point-to-point was worth it!
My main goal of the trip was to have an extended stopover in Bern and go swimming in the Aare. It was one of the highlights of my last Swiss trip and I definitely wanted to do it again. The train station is pretty close to Freibad Marzili, a complete free pool complex that is fed by the river waters. There is also a path that people walk down to get longer floats in the river. It is awesome, and Swiss taxes are worth it if this is the result!
I ended up floating twice. First, I jumped off the Schönausteg, a bridge known for people jumping off into the river. Second, I walked a bit farther to the Eichholz campground beach (very rocky). It was awesome! In between floats, I stopped for a beer at a riverside bar where about 1/4 of people were in bathing suits, including me. After my second float, I changed at Freibad Marzili and stopped for some gelato at Gelateria di Berna. SMS and I had been there before and it still has delicious gelato and semi-long waits. Worth it!
Then, it was time to get on the road. Even though I love Bern, I knew I’d be back in a couple of days and I didn’t want to get to Wengen too late. I took the train along Interlaken, which is a beautiful train route. Then, I transferred to the train heading for Lauterbrunnen.
The final train was the one to Wengen. I was so excited because I think one of the most beautiful views in the world is from the train window along this route. When SMS and I were here last, I was distracted by getting my ticket out for the conductor so I really wanted to take it all in this time. It was amazing.
I checked into my hotel (Bernerhof) and then went to the Hotel Schönegg, where Dad had stayed and recommended it for the view. I had a cheese plate for dinner while the setting sun lit up the mountains. It was a great end to the day.