A full day riding the train to Interlaken

Yesterday we left the hotel early and boarded our train. It was a spectacular journey. We were served our lunch of chicken stroganoff and apple pie at our seats as we tootled along. David is not enjoying being served chicken all the time so somehow managed to get himself a salad and a frozen yoghurt.

We changed trains a few times which was no problem since our luggage had gone separately. We went through a 15km tunnel through the mountains. Building that would have been interesting! David was impressed.

This is a remnant of the ice ages.

When we arrived in Interlaken, we walked the 500m to our hotel and then organised ourselves for the three nights here before going down to dinner at 8. The tomato soup starter was better than Heinz Big Red and it was followed by a piece of pork served with mashed potato and green beans. We didn’t wait for dessert as we were too tired. We were all weary but all we’d done all day was sit on the train. It was a long 10 hour day!

I was very distressed last night to learn that I wouldn’t be able to go on today’s excursion- the train to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station as there are no toilets on the train. Our tickets meant that we all had to travel as a group. There were two changes of train and toilets on the station but each stop was only five minutes. So that situation was unsuitable for me. David decided to stay with me in Interlaken. A few others also decided not to go.

Last night we cancelled our lovely five days in Montreux on Lake Geneva which also upset me but we are way too tired to manage our luggage on the three little trains we would need to use to get there. There’s no luggage storage areas on the train. We tried to organise a transfer by car but it would have been well over$1000 to get to Montreux and back to Zurich to fly home. Instead we have booked a place in Bern from the 22nd to explore there for five days. There’s just one train and then one to get to Zurich so we think we will be able to manage.

This morning was wash day so after a very leisurely breakfast, we set off to the laundromat which I’d found. Google Maps sent us astray ( it wasn’t my fault at all) and after a few hours of waiting around, the washing was done and we followed Apple Maps back to the hotel

Our lovely depot for coffee whilst we waited.

I definitely think it’s time for a rest before we go to buy our train tickets for the last part of our travels.

Free day on tour AKA Rest day for us!

Today we took it very easy. Slept in until after seven, enjoyed a relaxed breakfast with time to ask the chef to make me an omelet and then came back to the room to read the paper.

Before lunch we had a relaxed stroll around the town. There was still some snow lingering on the mountain tops but by mid afternoon it was all gone as the sun shone brightly. Many places were closed until the winter season on the first of December. A few were open but we just window shopped.

Prices here are very expensive but we enjoyed both our lunch sitting outside in the sunshine and dinner in the restaurant across from the hotel at Hauser. There are some pretty views from town and here are a few.

David having a few minutes rest during our walk about town.
You can still see the snow in this one.

Wonderful ride on the Bernina Express

We had a great day yesterday. We’ve been so lucky with the weather. I hoped we’d see snow and we did! The sun shone brightly as well! What more could you ask?

The Bernina Express is a very comfortable tourist train and we just had to walk down the hill in light snow to catch it. On the way we were given a glass of Swiss bubbly , a miniature replica of the train filled with Swiss chocolates and a poppa of iced tea. The journey takes about 2hrs and 45 minutes and ends in Tirano in Italy where we had three hours to fill.

We did some shopping as we needed to replace my travel bag which had broken and David’s bubble coat which had sprung a leak. We managed to do that before the shops closed for their afternoon siesta. Then we had some difficulty finding a cafe which was open but when we did we enjoyed our lunch of pizza and ravioli. I had to have a gelato as you can’t go to Italy and not have a gelato. It was so creamy.

Our return train was just an ordinary train and not so luxurious but it was OK. The train before ours broke down so the unfortunate passengers had to come onto our train and stand for the remaining hour of the journey. We felt for them but were very relieved that our train hadn’t broken down. They were French people on a four day travel through the Alps so I had fun trying to understand their chatter but, of course, they spoke much too quickly for me.

The scenery was stunning and I took heaps of pictures. Here’s just a few of them:

We had dinner in our hotel, Schweizerhof. We’ve had to choose early each day what we would like for dinner, usually pork or chicken, pork or fish but last night we could have goulash which was very popular. The hotel is very nice but there are a couple of ‘different’ things about it. You have to pay for the tea or coffee you make in your room with the kettle or coffee machine provided. Both are 4.5 Swiss franks or about six Aussie dollars. In every bathroom there are a set of scales. We all agreed that we are on holidays so we do not intend to weigh ourselves. Interesting!

Today, Sunday is a free day. You can ride a fenicular or a chairlift or go hiking etc but we are going to take it easy. Tomorrow we are off to Interlaken, our next stop, but our luggage is going separately. Thank goodness.

Chaos and Stunning Beauty

Yesterday morning we could have had a guided tour of the Innsbruck Old Town but since David had done so much walking and I had wandered the Old Town already, we decided to give it a miss and leisurely pack up ready to move to St Moritz.

The move was a debacle. We all had to get our luggage down and then Sara organised us into taxis with our luggage. It was Chaos! Why couldn’t a bus pick us up and take us to the station? Then we had to get all of us and our luggage into a carriage. More Chaos! There wasn’t enough luggage storage. The others helped us a lot so we were ok. After a couple of hours, we arrived at Sargans where Sara had managed to organise a vehicle to take our luggage. There was no lift so we had to push our luggage up two steep slopes to the vehicle but it was such a relief to be rid of it. We had to change trains again at Chur.

We travelled through absolutely stunning countryside. This is what we came for – to travel through the Swiss mountains on a train. Everyone agreed over dinner. They came for this – not for huge walking expeditions. Here’s some pics to enjoy:

Before arriving in St Moritz, we travelled through very steep mountains. It was amazing and is a UNESCO World Heritage Railway. My photos out of the train window don’t seem to do it justice. When we arrived here, we walked across the road, through a building onto three long steep elevators which brought us up to the town and our Hotel Schweizerhof which is lovely. We had time to unpack and shower before a delicious dinner in the hotel. We’re here for three nights. It’s a bit cool here: it’s 3.8 degrees now at 6:30am.

The view out of our hotel window.

Today we ride the Bernini Express to Tirano in Italy. Really looking forward to that!

Neuschwanstein Castle & Zugspitze Mountain

On Thursday, David went on an adventure to Neuschwanstein Castle & Zugspitze along with the other 22 people on our tour. It was a lot of walking and many steps to climb but he said he managed to do it all. He said no wonder King Ludwig went bankrupt as inside was very opulent but he ran out of money before it was finished. He loved Wagner and gave a lot of money to him for his music. This is said to be the castle that Disney used as a model for his Sleeping Beauty castle.

They went up to the top of Zugspitze,the highest mountain in Germany in a cog train and came down in the chairlift. Unfortunately they could not see the amazing view as the top was completely shrouded in cloud.

David is not too keen on taking photos but with the assistance of one of the guys, Michael he did take a couple of shots. Of course, there was nothing to photograph in the cloud at the top of Zugspitze.

Our visit to Herrenchiemsee

Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on Herreninsel which is the largest Isla in the Chiemsee Lake in Bavaria. It’s about 60k SE of Munich. So yesterday morning we packed up all our gear and left Salzburg by coach about 9am to head to Prien am Chiemsee where we caught a boat across to the island. It’s just a short 15 minute ride. (By the way, masks are still required on public transport in Germany & Austria- seemed a bit strange when we sitting on an open top deck of the boat.).

Another beautiful drive on the way to the lake.

King Ludwig built a palace on the island to rival Versailles. David & I did not do the walk to the palace – we’ve seen plenty- so we enjoyed a quiet, peaceful time sitting in the gardens, gazing into space and reflecting. It was very pleasant. Of course, we visited the restaurant for coffee and cake too. Those who walked to the castle said some rooms were even more ornate than Versailles. How could that be possible?. What a waste of money. It seems he ran out of money so it couldn’t be finished. He spent 10 days on the island and mysteriously drowned in the lake.

Check out my Apple streusel at the restaurant overlooking the lake.
Out coffee spot!
A view of a section of the Palace Gardens

After the boat ride back, we caught a little steam train up the hill where a different bus collected us to bring us here to Innsbruck. We got in at a very civilised time of 4:30 but unfortunately our luggage didn’t make it until 9. We were compensated by being served a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant. The first included dinner that has been really delicious.

Our little steam train

Today’s itinerary was a bus ride to the famous castle, Neuschwanstein Castle which is said to be the inspiration for the famous Castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Then, having bought your lunch yesterday, you had to eat it on the bus whilst driving to the station to catch the train to the highest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze. In order to do all that, departure by bus was at 7:30 and arrival back at the hotel was expected to be at 7:30 pm. Both excursions necessitate a lot of walking and not easy walking.

My medical issues mean that I can’t possibly have that early a start so I have stayed in Innsbruck but I did get up early & wave them all of this morning for a huge day, especially for those in their 80s. I’m hoping David is ok!

Instead, I’ve had a very pleasant wander around the old town, a delicious morning coffee and cake and sushi for lunch. It was meant to rain and be very chilly on the mountain but the top looked clear earlier so I hope the views from up there are amazing.

Coffee and cake in the old town of Innsbruck.
Very tasty sushi for lunch
Amazing old steps in the Art Gallery I wandered into – Ferdinandeum
Will it be fine up there? I hope so.

Now to read my book and rest.

One of the great reads by Fiona McIntosh. This one’s set in York. She always does extensive research so the background is fascinating. Fiona is currently visiting Wiltshire, doing research for a book set there. I wonder if any of our Alley places will get a mention.

Beautiful day in the Austrian Lakes District

On Monday night we found a very pleasant Italian restaurant for a relaxing dinner which was followed by an early night

Yesterday, Tuesday, we set off on a bus tour and our first stop was the summer hunting lodge of Franz Josef and his wife Elizabeth aka Sissi. It was by palace standards quite restrained but on the walls were hundreds of trophies of his 75000 kills. Not pleasant at all. We were not allowed to take pictures inside. The lodge is surrounded by 14 ha of gardens.

Magnificent scenery as we drove through the Austrian Lakes District.
Everything is so green and lush.
A lovely lunch spot at St Gilgen beside Wolfgangsee.
St Gilgen – a really pretty place.
Views as we cruised across the lake. The boat was fully loaded.
Beautiful chalets and little villages were scattered beside the lake.
The church where the wedding of Maria & Captain Avon Trapp was filmed for The Sound of Music.
Inside that church in the town of Mondee

It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed it very much. We arrived back at the hotel at 6:35 and left again at 7:30 to Walk to an included dinner at some huge hotel where there seemed to be hundreds eating. It was about a 20 minute walk and many of us found it difficult after a full day. Dinner didn’t impress either. The only good part was the dessert. We caught a taxi back to the hotel as we weren’t going to walk at 10pm.

The included dinners have been a disappointment. Perhaps they should reduce the price and let us find our own!

It was a lovely day though. Such stunning scenery!

A very welcome rest day!

Last night we had an included dinner at a Mozart Performance and Sara, our guide said we had to walk there. Everyone was exhausted after all the walking and complained so she booked cabs for us. Thank goodness!

It was an interesting evening. There are 21 of us on the tour and everyone is very pleasant – some from UK, some from USA and some other Aussies. A group of five string players played Mozart and a male and a female singer performed. It was a bit too high brow for me, but it was OK. The music was interspersed with dinner.

A taste of our entertainment

Dinner was supposed to be as it would have been in Mozart’s time. The soup was a small bowl of chicken broth with a dumpling which tasted like stuffing. The main course was a very small chicken leg, a drizzle of potato purée and a few pieces of carrot. Dessert was three peaks of beaten egg whites. David’s comment was “No wonder Mozart died so young if that’s what he ate”. Some people loved the opera and really enjoyed it. The place, an old Abbey, was packed and they have won a few tourism awards.

I woke this morning feeling a little dizzy. Think I was just exhausted so we slept in. Luckily it’s a free day. We went for a very gentle wander near the hotel and dropped our laundry into a place called Norge Exquisite .

Our hotel, Goldenes Theater is very close to a huge rock and a pleasant street of eateries and jewellery shops etc. Of course, David bought me a pretty pair of silver earrings and I also bought a new raincoat even though today has been a beautiful sunny day.

The street built up against the rock.

This afternoon we have rested. We are about to collect our laundry, visit a little eatery for dinner and return to the hotel for an early night. Tomorrow is another day.

Tour not what we expected at all!

So far, we are very disappointed with our Great Rail Tour. We only booked because it had full porterage and we don’t feel up to lugging bags anymore. Well, today we were expected to do a 4 hour walking tour from the station into Salzburg and then to our hotel, all the time carrying our carry-on luggage. In our case because of medical necessities, that’s quite a weight. We left the tour half way through, found ourselves a tasty lunch & found a taxi to our hotel.

It didn’t help that it was pouring with rain the whole time. Our train ride from Munich to Salzburg (about 90 minutes) was fine, we passed through beautiful green countryside and the grey clouds were covering the mountains.

On the walking tour we visited the Mirabell Gardens which featured in “The Sound of Music”. The gardens were beautiful.

Mirabel Gardens , Salzburg

The hotel room is not as pleasant as the one in Munich which even had a coffee machine. Here, there are no tea making facilities at all. I could really do with a cuppa. It’s sorely needed.

Here’s hoping tomorrow proves to be a better day!

Too old to have this much fun!

So we managed to last for dinner but it wasn’t really worth waiting for. The Salmon entree was ok but the rissoles for mains were pretty ordinary (I think of the 12 served to our table of 6 travellers, 10 were returned untouched which is really sad) and we didn’t bother to wait for dessert.

We slept well in a very comfy bed and breakfast was great – everything you could possibly hope for in the buffet. Then we met our guide, Sara McDonald, who had finally arrived at 1 this morning. Think flying from London would have been a much better idea.

About 10, we walked to the subway to go into town to the main square, Marienplatz where we met our local guide for the city tour. It was a typical city tour and we loved the markets.

Beautiful herbs at the market!
Fresh fruit. I bought some very expensive cherries but they were ripe, juicy, sweet and so
delicious!
Such beautiful looking cheeses!

We visited the Jewish quarter. About 10,000 from Munich were killed in the camps. Those who are here now have a new Synagogue which was built in 2006.

The new Synagogue. The Wall resembles The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and people pray here and leave messages to God just as they do in Jerusalem.

Just as the glockenspiel was about to play in Marienplatz, there was a large roar of thunder and the rain poured down. It was very bad timing.

Our Munich Beer Tour started next and we had a great guide. During our walk to the first stop underneath the Beer Museum he told us about Hitler’s early life in Munich and about Kristallnacht or “The night of Broken Glass”. We tried three beers and had white sausages with German mustard which were delicious. This took me back to my childhood as Dad used to like them too. We tried three beers and I liked them too. We decided to have a wander by ourselves rather than continue on the tour. We had to get some cash and little money as you have to pay to go to the toilet here. We also had to buy face masks as you must wear them on the trains – not just any old masks but particular ones. Jobs done, we caught the train back but got a little confused and spent more time on the subway then we should have.

It was lovely to get back to the hotel as we were exhausted. We are definitely not as fit as we used to be!