Sorry for the delay between posts. I haven't been at an actual computer in a good while. This one comes all the way back from mid-Oct. Right now I'm in Barcelona, and have quite the stockpile of backed-up posts which I'll have to take care of. Anyway, I think I last left off in Austria.
I caught a night train in Vienna and arrived in Zurich by 7:00am. After a couple train changes, I was in Interlaken, then Lauterbrunnen, and a Gondola lift and train ride later I was in Murren, Switzerland.
My first impression of Switzerland was the efficiency of their trains. There's nothing a traveler appreciates more than dependability. Two minutes after pulling into the Zurich station I was on my way to Bern. Another two minute layover and I was enroute to Interlaken. Their arrivals and departures were spot on to the minute. I felt like I was on another Colby road trip with old head coach Tom Austin. His travel itineraries were always planned to the minute. "9:52 -- Arrive at Williams. 12:05 -- Specialists depart. 3:42 -- Victory #1!"
Murren is a genuine Swiss village halfway up the Alps. It caters to skiiers during the winter and hikers in the summer, so mid-Oct was a great time to arrive. I knew I needed to see the Swiss Alps, but the reason I chose Murren was because my Aunt and Uncle were staying there for a week. They had an apartment that they rent annually and I was thrilled to be able to check it out for a few nights. Three nights in the Swiss Alps, catching up with relatives, some of the most picturesque hikes in the world.... life was good.
Of course my Aunt and Uncle spoiled me rotten while I was there. Weisswurst, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chicken and potatos, and some killer lentil soup.... I was in Heaven. The way my Aunt cooks, I was better off with them than at a restaurant.
My first day they took me on the Northface Trail, their favorite, which took us across the rolling countryside with spectacular views of the Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch peaks.
The next day I hiked up the Shilthorn. It's summit is at about 10,000 ft, but Murren lies at about half that, so it was only a two hour climb to the top. The building at the summit was built especially for the James Bond movie, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and it offered incredible panoramic views.
I decided to take a different route back down to Murren, and the hike down took longer than the ascent. Well worth the effort, however. One of the best days of my trip.
My third day we hiked from Grutshalp to Murren, and then to Grimmelwald and back. Once again, I was spoiled with the scenery, weather, and company.
My time in Switzerland felt brief but well spent. A definite placement on the Mt. Rushmore of my trip. Next I have a travel day on my Eurail Pass to get all the way down to Naples, Italy, the ninth country on my trip. Pizzas, pasta, gelato and cheap wine await....