As noted in last post – transfer to the apartment went smoothly and we settled in, unpacked etc. ate the sandwiches and cake we had bought for our tea. Apartment was comfortable, all amenities catered for. Nice big fridge, oven, microwave, washing machine and tumble dryer, 2 double bedrooms, dining table, comfortable seating area, good wifi connection, TV (but unfortunately no British channels), outside seating area with table and chairs, barbecue (not that we used it!) and all on ground floor so no stairs to climb. It was just a 5-minute walk from the station with trains every half hour to Thun or to Bern so convenient for our excursions. There was also by the station a small shopping centre with an excellent Co-op so easy to get all our food etc.
Friday 21st. Didn’t get up very early after a long day traveling. Problem with water pressure so phoned landlady (lovely kind lady called Esther) who came out to fix it! Went to Co-op to stock fridge – lots of choice – bought salad veg, cold meats etc. for evening meals, cakes, cereal, bread – all the necessities! After unpacking food went back to village to small Beck café for lunch. Mike went off to look around a bit while I stayed outside café – everyone who went into the shop to buy their bread and cakes while I was sitting there outside said “Grüsse” to me – very friendly place. Went back to the apartment and put a load of washing in as the rain came down – effective tumble-dryer so no need to put washing outside to dry! Chatted a bit more with Esther as she came to see if we had all we needed and that the water was now behaving! Quiet but useful settling in day. Interesting to discover 2 cows in residence in a small field adjoining garden!
Saturday 22nd. Decided to play safe and go to a familiar place for our first outing and settled on Allmendhubel. Trains to Lauterbrunnen first then decided as the cable car to Grütschalp is always very crowded to go the other way up and take bus to Stechelberg and cable car from there. There is a change half-way up at Gimmelwald and as we have never explored there we decided to stop off there first for a while – walked through the village taking photos and admiring views from a new perspective, (we didn’t see anyone with a Rick Steves book, Slowpoke!) bought a few things in an “honesty shop” next to a Beer Garden, and some cheese from an “honesty fridge”!
On way back decided to have lunch in the Beer Garden – simple choice of soup or cold platter – Mike had platter and I had some very tasty cream of vegetable soup. The rather engaging young man (an Aussie!) who served us admitted he didn’t know which vegetables they were but whatever they were it was really tasty! Then we went back to the cable car to continue up to Mürren and walk to the funicular to Allmendhubel. We had just set off in the funicular when Mike couldn’t find his prescription sunglasses! So when we got to top, I sat and admired the views while he retraced his steps to the shop by the cable car, down again to Gimmelwald and Beer Garden but sadly to no avail. At Allmendhubel a couple of ladies from Kambly were helping children to make marzipan animals to put on their Pretzel biscuits! We did the newly set-up flower trail at Allmendhubel (I took photos of all the information boards as many of the flowers depicted were not in bloom!) and got last funicular down, walked through to train station to return via Grütschalp and Lauterbrunnen. A good first outing apart from the sunglasses which will have be replaced when we get home! I coped alright with the walking but find I can’t go very fast so need to allow for that. Spectacular storm of lightning occurred in the evening!
July 23rd Sunday. Another day for last minute decisions! Woke to overcast skies and a not very promising forecast. Decided to go to Interlaken and while on the train I remembered someone saying the restaurant on Harderkulm was good so as we haven’t been up there for quite some time, decided to go there for lunch. There was a lot of cloud cover on the higher peaks so funicular was very busy with other folk having same idea as us. The lady overseeing passengers onto the funicular saw me struggling a bit on the stairs so went into a compartment and said to a somewhat startled young man “stand up” – he looked puzzled so she repeated it, pointed at me and sat me down in his place when he obliged! Another young man then stood up to let Mike sit down next to me. Harder is a bit higher up than I remembered from before and the views down the valley are good - the peaks were still cloud-covered. The lunch was indeed good with plenty of choices on the menu, so worth the trip! They had very nice choice also of fruit and veg smoothies made with apple juice base instead of milk-based so I tried the Kiwi one which also had mango, melon and pineapple – it was very tasty and refreshing – I don’t usually buy smoothies as I don’t like milk so this was a great find. A few more photos then as weather closing in, went back down and got bus back to Thun along north shore of lake. Another good day despite my slow walking!
July 24th Monday. Woke to a rainy start. Went shopping in the rain! We also found some potatoes you can microwave and a good choice of microwaveable meals – useful alternative to cold tea! Also my favourite Mövenpick ice-cream. I had bought a nice Swiss colouring book in St. Moritz so bought pack of pencils in case we had to amuse ourselves indoors if the poor weather persisted! Before we went out there I said I would resist the annual temptation to buy clothes while in Switzerland BUT Co-op had a sale on with some very pretty tops at very silly low prices so gave into temptation! Rain eased off a bit but not enough to tempt us out so I spent some time uploading photos to laptop and writing up some emails about St. Moritz to send to friends.
July 25th Tuesday. Woke again to heavy rain so had to abandon planned excursion. Eased a bit but kept stopping and starting. Mike went to Thun to get new batteries in our watches and get some fresh apricots from lady by the station! He gave some apricots to Esther who had dropped by! Amused ourselves for rest of day, puzzles, photos, colouring etc. Enjoyed the microwave meals for tea – very tasty! Hoped for better weather next day.
July 26th Wednesday. Overcast but dry so not a day for the high peaks. Decided to go to cheese factory at Affoltern – easy trip from Uetendorf – just one train to Hasli-Rüegsau then a bus so not too much walking involved. Had a good look round in the dairy, bought a few postcards and a small book of Rösti recipes as well as lots of cheese and some chocolate! Had an excellent lunch in the restaurant before wandering round their herb and vegetable garden and taking a few photos of village and views across valley. Came back by slightly different route for a change of scenery. Esther had left us an apple and apricot tart!
July 27th Thursday. Woke early (by accident!) so plenty of time for today’s planned trip. Trains to Bernthen Frauenfeld and bus to Stein am Rhein. Quite a long walk to the old town from the station but worth it. Walked through the pretty old town, taking photos. Had lunch by the river in a pasta/pizza style restaurant. Mike decided to tackle the walk up to the castle (he takes issue with Lucas’s estimate of how long it would take!) – not for me so I found a spot to sit by the river and watch people go by! Was entertained at one point by a pair of grebes on the river doing a courting dance ritual! Mike was pretty exhausted after walk – he’s not as fit as he’d like to be either so we need to be less ambitious! Train to Winterthur, then to Bern but Bern train was held up by another train either going or coming from Basel – didn’t catch which on the intercom announcement so we missed our S-Bahn connection to Uetendorf. Nearly missed next one as well as they changed platform at last minute! So we were tired when we got back – rushing up and down stairs in Bern station after a day involving quite a bit of walking!
July 28th Friday. Some confusion over where to find fresh bed-linen – Esther came and sorted it and while she was there we paid bill and arranged for her to give us a lift on the 9th to take cases to Thun to send ahead and do check-in and get boarding passes – saves a lot of hassle at airport on travel day. Then eventually went off to Interlaken. Did a bit of shopping (found more nice colouring books!) had late lunch there and got boat back to Thun. Wrote postcards – now ready to post. Had hot quiche and potatoes with our salad for tea. I love Swiss food – wish I could stay longer to try even more!
July 29th Saturday. Plan for today – Weissenstein – Solothurn’s “home mountain”. Bright sunny morning – up quite early. Posted postcards on way to station. Caught 10.13 train direct to Solothurn. Then my careful time table plan fell apart because a train I expected at 12.04 didn’t materialize! Enquired at ticket-office and was advised next one at 12.32 would take us to the valley station for Weissenstein at Oberdorf – which to be fair it did. Great views from the top and there were loads of trails for “fit” people which sadly no longer includes us! Had lunch in restaurant – not brilliant as it got cold rather too quickly though tasty enough at start. It was a bit too hazy to get good clear photos but it was nice to see the views. We people watched for a while – it was hot despite altitude. There were clouds over the highest peaks but we got some good views of Bielersee and the river Aare on the way down in the gondola. Return trains no issue but we decided changing in Thun was less hassle than Bern so used that route instead. Got back by about 7 p.m. so time to do a bit of laundry. Had long chat with Esther while she was waiting to welcome visitors to her upstairs apartment.
July 30th Sunday. Funny old day! Had discovered there was to be a Vintage car rally in Adelboden so that was the plan for today – no rush to set off as rally not till afternoon, so stopped off in Thun station to get information about when to send luggage to airport. Train to Frutigen (very busy even in first class where some people had to be requested to take their bags off the seats to allow people to sit down!) then bus to Adelboden. Found what looked like a nicely placed restaurant for lunch but service was painfully slow though food was good when it came. Could see cars slowly processing down the street from our table but suddenly the heavens opened, thunder, lightning and heavy rain. In the end we had to dash inside to finish our meal. The cars had been parked up and down the main street though for people to wander up and down, take photos and talk to their owners so when the rain stopped we did that. There were also craft stalls up and down the street – bought nice crocheted shawl. Second storm suddenly hit us – hailstones this time! Sheltered for a while before looking at more cars then as weather looked like closing in again, decided we’d been wet enough times and headed back to apartment, getting in at about 6. No rain back in Uetendorf apparently! It was a really good day despite weather so glad we had found out about it – a completely different experience.
So to sum up the first part of this stay – been to several new places, had mixed bag of weather, not too much rushing about (can’t manage too much physical exertion, either of us not just me!) we liked the apartment and its location so all good so far.
To be continued……….
first group of pictures from Gimmelwald and Allmendhubel