Home > recreation, travel > Countries Starting with S: Switzerland, Part 2 (of 2)

Countries Starting with S: Switzerland, Part 2 (of 2)

12 August, 2007; 12:00 Leave a comment Go to comments

Continuing on with the Zürich trip:

On Sunday and Monday, Sigrun and I headed for the hills…er, mountains, this being the Alps. But going to the mountains in Switzerland is nothing like it is in the U.S.: no need for tents, sleeping bags & pads, camping stoves, water filters, etc. Like Sweden, Switzerland has an extensive network of cabins where you can rent a bunk in a hostel-style room for a night or two, making hiking in the mountains an enormously more accessible adventure. But unlike Sweden, the cabins in Switzerland have hot water, electricity,…even a fully-stocked kitchen that served dinner and breakfast to the overnight guests.


dscf1042.jpgThe journey up was quick: a one-hour train to Lucerne, and another one-hour train (a short segment of which was so steep, the train switched to a cog-rail to slog its way up) to the small ski-resort town of Engelberg, situated in a gorgeous valley. In the photo to left, you can actually make out a para-glider (from the angle, it looks like it’s hanging from the crane). From Engleberg, we took a suspended gondola up one of the mountain faces, which took halfway up to the elevation of the cabin. A chair-lift goes the rest of the way, but we hiked up instead, taking us on a more roundabout path.

The hike first took us past some active cattle grazing land, where the cows all have real cow-bells — so no matter how remote you might think you are, you are always within earshot of the constant jingle of those bells.

The hike also took us past this woodshed, some huge red mushrooms that actually looked like mushrooms do in Disney films, and once the clouds lifted a bit, we caught some tremendous views of the valley below.

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Finally, we caught sight of the cabin down the trail.

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At the cabin, we quickly checked in, got our bunks, and settled in at the cabin. Sigrun went out for another short hike while I took advantage of the extraordinary surroundings to trudge through some of my book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in Swedish (yes, I’m still one book behind, but it’s just as well: the last book hasn’t been translated into Swedish yet). Then after the hiking was all done, we tried out one of the cabin’s “features”: a walk around–and through–a natural pond that had been arranged to demonstrate the tactile sensations of all the different materials of the mountains, as the feel when walking barefoot on them. I took photos of each stage and pasted them together here:

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As you can see, it included a lot of gravel, several walks though patches of icy-cold water, as well as rocks, bark, pine cones, and packed-in mud, moss, and the climax of the experience was the stage with 20-centimeter-deep liquid-mud. The walk ended with a few more walks through water to clean off the mud, then a solar-powered (and hence, only luke-warm) jacuzzi, and then a small fountain for a final wash-off of the feet. Next to the walk was a sauna building with this mural painted on its side.

dscf1109.jpgEvening at the cabin included a wonderful three-course meal, several hours of really horrible schlager music on the house stereo, and several games of Rummikub, but the place went pretty quiet after 10pm. Just as well, because the following day, I had to not only make it back to Zürich, but also to the airport for my flight to Stockholm! Well, so it wasn’t bad: the next morning, there was enough time for a relaxed breakfast with a view…

dscf1111.jpg…and for a quick walking tour of Lucerne, where again we changed trains. So to cap off the trip, a classic view of the old wooden bridge from Lucerne:

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Categories: recreation, travel
  1. Paul Franklin
    22 August, 2007; 8:35 at 8:35

    Heh. I got bogged down somewhere in Harry Potter og Ildbegeret (Goblet of Fire), and never made it past that point.

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