Thursday, 7 October 2010

Grindelwald: Wanderings across Confœderatio Helvetica

As mentioned in the previous post, the true adventure started the next day, on leaving for Grindelwald, a mountain town that i've discovered 'by mistake' 7 years ago when i was forcibly put off the train in Interlaken because of trying to cheat with the tickets (hehe, best damn day of my life :P ).
So Grindelwald happens to be situated in the canton of Bern & lies at quite a high altitude in the Bernese Alps - 1,034 metres above sea level, which makes the ride with "Berner Oberlang Bahn" from Interlaken remarkably pictureseuque.
No wonder that Grindelwald can be found in contemporary pop-culture many times, e.g. a James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) includes a chase through a skating rink & Christmas festival in Grindelwald. Grindelwald's mountains were used as the basis for the view of Alderaan in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). Some of the action scenes in The Golden Compass (2007) were also shot in Grindelwald. And JK Rowling has been quoted to have used the name of 'Grindelwald' in the creation of her character; Gellert Grindelwald, in the Harry Potter novels.
But as all good things in this world - the wonderful views of Grindelwald cost a lot... And although Jungfrau Lodge gets a high-five from me for a reasonable combination of luxury of modern facilities with the local swiss small-town flavourm the 130 EURO bill for one night was quite impossible to forget... Well, maybe only once i managed to suppress it: in the morning when i woke up to a gorgeous view of the north face of Eiger, immersed in milky fog :P
Our touristic goal in Grindelwald was visiting a high (1961 m) mountain pass which connects Grindelwald & Meiringen - Grosse Scheidegg. As the time was limited we took a bus (in contrast to my 4 hour uphill hike 7 years ago ... ah, the sweet things we do when there's no money).
Finding the bus stop was kinda tricky, though, as streets don't have names & the only way to orientate is by adorable & impossible to pronounce house names like "uf em Bühlmättli" or something of that effect. Last time (at the same time of year) when I've reached the altitude of 1'961m it was wonderfully warm & cows were peacefully eating grass. This time over (& some people talk of the global warming :P ) the whole scenery resembled a permafrost desert & there was no sign of even one cow & not even a bit of green grass :P
On safely (but quickly) returning from 'permafrost' @ Grosse Scheidegg we ushered to our next stop, canton of Valais. Due to a minor schedule confusion we accidentally 'won' half an hour for a coffee-break-with-a-view in tiny-tiny (but nonetheless gorgeous) Spiez, enjoyed some spectacular views over a medieval castle in the harbour of Lake Thun & the lake itself & hurried to my favourite destination of this Swiss trip - Zermatt, the impressions of which are coming up next!

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