Yesterday we left our very comfortable apartment in Bern and caught the Intercity train direct to Zurich. The journey seemed to be similar to the one between the Gold Coast and Brisbane- built up nearly all the way so it wasn’t as pretty as our other train trips here but it took only 52 minutes.
It’s wet and chilly here in Zurich. After we checked into the Hotel Bristol, we wandered off in the rain to find lunch. The cafe we chose looked just like a coffee shop but turned out to be a Sri Lankan Restaurant. David was not impressed but the lovely waitress took special care of him and he had samosa, rice and vegetables and was very happy. I had a madras curry so I was also happy.
We went wandering through the streets after lunch. It was wet and miserable but we did find another amazing chocolate shop where we treated ourselves to a couple of delicious Swiss chocolates.
After a nap (sorely needed as we have head colds – not Covid) we went looking for dinner but it was so cold and wet we went into the first place we came to. We had kebabs, quite tasty too. We can’t really complain about the weather as it was kind to us in the mountains – even giving us some snow.
Really starting to think about home now. We are ready and keen to get home to the family, including our lovely little dog, Snoopy.
We managed to get ourselves to Bern quite easily. It’s just 52 minutes from Interlaken by train and we took our time at the hotel this morning. We dawdled over breakfast, had a wander up the street, finished our packing and caught a cab to the Interlaken OST train station for our midday train.
We had lunch near the station and caught a cab to our AirBnB where our landlord, Jürg, met us. It’s quite comfortable but there’s no washing machine and no TV. We haven’t had the TV on in our hotel rooms so we won’t miss that but a washing machine would be useful
David had a nap while I unpacked and then we walked around to the Coop where we stocked up. So tonight we had our first home cooked meal since we left Wiltshire. Tasty, it was too.
Early night tonight, I reckon. This time next week we will be up in the air on our way home. We will be ready for it.,
Yesterday evening we wandered down to the station at Interlaken Ost to buy our tickets for Bern and then Zurich so we are organised now for our remaining eight days in Switzerland. On the way back we went into a Chinese restaurant called Bamboo. It was very busy and we enjoyed our prawn dishes.
Today we decided to go for a wander through the shops in the old town and, of course, we stopped for ☕️ and 🍰 at the famous pastry maker, Schuh’s.
We then caught the funicular up to Harder Kulm which is 1323 m above sea level. It took about eight minutes to reach the top and seemed to go straight up. We had a perfect day for it! Actually the weather has been wonderful the entire time. We had lunch at the restaurant there – a burger for David and fish and chips for me – both true to form. Both very nice.
The view of Jungfrau from there was incredible and I loved it .
Being someone who finds going down on an escalator scary, I was worried about coming down in the funicular. I didn’t get a seat but I gripped the railing very hard and even managed to look down as we slowly moved back to ground level. I was very brave!
I let David go on ahead and went to spend a few minutes of calm in the Japanese garden next to our hotel. It is lovely and if we open our window we can hear the waterfall.
Rest time now before our final dinner with our friends on the tour.
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.
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
I definitely think it’s time for a rest before we go to buy our train tickets for the last part of our travels.
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.
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.
Today we ride the Bernini Express to Tirano in Italy. Really looking forward to that!
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A very early start this morning as we needed to be across to Heathrow by 6. Getting through was pretty fast and we were soon having breakfast.
When we checked in, the attendant asked if we would like to check in our carry-on for free but since it contains our medicines and my stoma gear we declined. They announced at the gate that you could have only one piece of hand luggage so we shoved my handbag and David’s man bag into our carry on. What a joke! Some people had three big pieces and, of course, by the time we got on, there was absolutely no space left in the luggage rack.
The flight attendant said we’d have to put them under the seat in front. That meant we had no legroom. It was really uncomfortable. I don’t recommend flying with Lufthansa!
We had a medical emergency on board. Not me, this time. They were calling for a doctor or medical professional to assist. It sounded serious but we had no idea what was happening.
Munich airport is quite large so we had a long walk to customs but they were very efficient and we were out very quickly. The cab provided by the tour brought us to our hotel, The Steigenberger, where we headed to the restaurant for a delicious lunch
This afternoon we have rested. Our tour guide is coming by train from London and is not here yet so our introductory dinner is not until 9pm. I’m not sure we will last that long but we will see. We are certainly looking forward to our Great Alpine Explorer Tour.
This morning it was time to pack and make sure we left our lovely Freshford home clean & tidy.
Firstly we farewelled George and Graeme who walked to the little station down the hill at Freshford to train to Bath & then Paddington then Kings Cross then to their new home in York. I’m pleased to say that they made their fast changes and arrived safely.
Then Ben loaded up the car with our luggage, dropped us off at the Bath Spa Station & returned our car. Then the four of us sat in the station lounge until our train to Paddington at 13:13. Once there we hopped on the Heathrow Express and then cabbed to the Ibis Styles Hotel where we are staying the night.
We’ve just had a very pleasant dinner in the hotel restaurant with Kay and Ben & have said our goodbyes. It’s a long way from Canada to Australia. Will we see them again? I certainly hope so. I’m feeling very sad that we have parted once more.
Queen Elizabeth’s death was announced whilst we were having dinner. I think Australia should be a republic and have our own flag but I still feel sad. She was a great lady who worked long and hard and I admired her for that.
Tomorrow we are off to Munich bright and early so now it’s time to sleep.
We are so lucky to have spent this week with our extended ALLEY family; to have met new members and to have explored the places where our ancestors lived. It’s been absolutely great. Thanks everyone.