Wednesday, June 15, 2016

To Bern And Grindlewald

Here's a 1/2 Franc for you!
I think it's hilarious that it says 1/2 Fr rather than 50 Rappen, but then we discovered that the pieces of Francs have different names in the three different languages of Switzerland, so it would have to be labelled as 50 Rappen (German), 50 centime (French), AND 50 centisimo (Italian).
That's a lot of writing for a small coin!

Here's what I wore on our first full day in Switzerland: 
jeans: Style & Co from Macy's
shoes/socks: Target
blouse: Calvin Klein from Ross

 Today we were headed from Zurich to Grindelwald, where we stayed put for five nights.
While walking from our hotel to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), we saw this outdoor mirror ball!  I thought maybe we need one for our patio!

This fix-it truck had a sign that said, 
"Freundlich kommt man in Zurich besser an."
("You'll get along better in Zurich when you're friendly.").
I agree!

"Links gehen, rechts stehen" 
walk on the right, stand on the left.

Good reminder! 

Found the right track.

Me with luggage.  The blue backback on top of my black roller bag is Greg's backpack.
I carried his backpack and he carried our groceries.

This train station was fancy and had a screen with arrival times and track information.
We were going to Bern on the train with ending station of Brig.
Can you discover what time our train left the station? 

Greg downloaded the SBB (Schweizer Bundesbahn = Swiss national trains) app and was able to find train information from his phone throughout our trip, which was VERY helpful and comforting to us, who were always thinking about how to get where we were going.

I love riding in trains!
. . . as long as I'm traveling facing forward.
Traveling backward makes me queasy.

Switzerland has great internet coverage.
There was even great internet on the train and I was able to send the above photo to my friends and parents.  It was extra fun to share our trip as it was happening!

Here are some video clips of our travel to Grindelwald:

Newer trains have these displays, telling the originating station (Bern), the final station (Brig), and some of the stations the train stops along the way (Thun, Spiez, Visp).  This sign also tells you that this train is an IC (InterCity Express), and that there are five cars in the train as it is currently arranged.  The green WC above the sign tells you that there is a toilet behind the door and that it is currently unoccupied.

There we are, happy to be going through a dark tunnel!
There are a LOT of tunnels in Switzerland.

When we weren't going through tunnels, the scenery just got prettier.

Eventually, I had to have lunch. 

When we got to Bern, we stowed our heavier stuff in a locker and set out to explore the city.
We couldn't check into our apartment in Grindelwald until after 5 PM, and we had to check out of our apartment in Zurich fairly early, so we had a nice amount of time in Bern to scope it out a little.

The lockers were large; we fit both our main suitcases (though they were carry-on sized), our heavier rain gear, and our groceries in there.

The Bern city center area is beautiful and old.
Can you pick out Greg (blue shirt, black backpack) amongst the Swiss?

There are memorial fountains everywhere.

The city made good use of the cellars of old buildings;
there's a door in the sidewalk, and when it's open, the store in the cellar is open!

When it's closed, it's locked with a padlock and looks like this:

There were streetcar wires everywhere.
They're pretty against all the very old buildings.

This medieval clock tower was fascinating and beautiful.
In Germany, this would be called an Uhrturm (clock tower),
but in Swiss German, it's a Zytglogge - so adorable!
Swiss German is relaxed and full of different spellings and completely different words, and even the vowels are different in a way that makes it a challenge for my High-German-speaking ears to grasp.  Sometimes I was completely at a loss, but much of the time I understood snippets.

It tells the time, date, season, astrological sign, and more.

It was hard not to walk around with our noses pointed at the sky, looking up at the buildings.

Here's the Zehringer fountain, a tribute to the founder of Bern,
Berchtold Von Zaehringer.
It's a bear in full armor with a bear cub at his feet.
The Bear is the symbol of the Swiss canton of Bern.

In pedestrian zones, the only vehicles that were allowed were delivery vans and these adorable little mail carts.

We saw a number of Cubes (like mine!) in Switzerland. 

I always like to poke around as many cathedrals and churches as possible.

The first one I found was "the most beautiful New Gothic church in Switzerland,"
St. Peter and Paul church. 

The door was certainly beautiful!

As was the interior. 
Many churches are dark and difficult to photograph, but this one was full of light.
This picture would make a great artwork, huge on a canvas on a wall.

There are often books in European churches for writing prayer requests.
This one was more amazing because it had a book for writing down things people are thankful to God for!
I wrote the last entry, which says, "Danke fuer meine Freunde und Familie und dass du Hoffe schenkst" = "Thank you for my friends and family and that you give us hope".

I loved this pillars, which are topped with writings about God's power and sovereignty out of Scripture in a variety of languages.
This one is from Revalation 10:10 (talking about how God's Word is as sweet as honey):
"Ich nahm das Buechlein von der Hand des Engels und verschlang es und es war suess wie honig"
"I took the little book from the hand of the angel and ate it and it was sweet like honey".

So much light and tranquil, colorful beauty!

Here's the altar area:

Here you can see the English part on the right hand side ("Manmade gods of stone can not eat or smell") and the German part on the lefthand side ("Ein baum hat hoffnung wenn verschont tot ist das er wieder gruent vom Geruch des Wassers" = "A tree still has hope even after death that it will become green again from the smell of the waters" - interesting way to say it, but I think it's meaningful!)

We wandered some more and found the City Hall (Rathaus).
I will go in almost any cool space that's not locked.

Greg stays outside if he thinks it's iffy.

It's weird that such an obviously old building still holds regular business stuff!

We found the Nydeggkirche and explored around it a bit, going over the beautiful old bridge and watching the GREEN river. 

Again, beautiful doors!
These were sadly locked. 

Here's more info about the church - or you can read about it here.

The houses are all tidy and lined up along the river.

It was trash day almost every day somewhere.  They don't use barrels, they have blue bags distributed by the city that people put on the sidewalk or in community bins.  Can you see a blue bag on the ROOF?  Do the garbage collectors pick up rubbish from ROOFS, too?!

Switzerland is so pretty that many of our photos don't even look real.
It's like fairyland.

This is the roof of the Nydegg church.
I think it looks like dragon scales!

This is the Zehringerdenkmal (Zehringer memorial) and it made me laugh a little - there's a bear playing in his helmet!  He died in 1218, but this statue wasn't installed until the 1800s.

It was in Latin (I don't know much Latin, so I had to come home and learn more about him on Wikipedia!)

There are bears all over the canton of Bern in lots of ways.

Here's another one of those little shops in a cellar, and this one I went in because it was an organic and health foods store.

We found a market on our wanderings, and it was right in front of the Bern Parliament buildings. 

These little pots of succulents made us desert-dwellers feel right at home!

I finagled Greg a crepe even though my German skills were still stumbly.
I obviously need to get to a German-speaking country a little more often to keep my skills sharp and to learn new things!

They also had gluten-free and vegan crepes, but I had lunch with me and I wasn't really willing to ask them lots of questions about the preparation methods yet (sleep-deprived, language skills not quite up to par yet, etc.), so I ate my lunch.

Here's what I ate - and it was tasty!

There were tables and chairs in the middle of the market -
it was a really hot day, though, and we stood in the shade instead of sitting in the sun.

And then, back to the train station, back on the train, and on to Grindelwald!

We started to see mountains, covered in snow.

We went through Interlaken and changed trains there.

The Interlaken train station is really cool because the lakes are close by and we could have hopped off the train and onto that boat right there!
(In a future post, we do just that!) 

Interlaken is situated at the intersection of two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

The lakes are an incredible glaciery-green blue color.

The train tracks were right on the edge of the lake at one point.
Close enough to see how crystal-clear the water is.

Our table in the train car was a map of the main routes in the area;
the red line shows the train we are riding.

This train car had a luggage rack above our seats.
There are a variety of different train cars from different years and some are more modern than others.
The modern ones are really fancy and fun to ride.
Even the older ones are fun to ride!

The landscape got craggier. 

And the barns were COOL:


And then we reached Grindelwald!

There were trains in the station with this special insignia (I had to come home and look that up, too!):
"On the 100th anniversary of the WAB
1993 Grindelwald Community"
WAB = Wengernalpbahn, a specialized train for going up the alps.

This ibex with stars is the symbol of the town of Grindelwald.
So not only cantons, but administrative districts (Grindelwald is in the Interlaken administrative district) and individual towns have their own flags and symbols.  Confusing!

We were only 1034.4 meters above sea level
(3393.7 ft).

Here's where a person with no rail pass would buy tickets or find out more information about times.

There goes the train on which we arrived!

Grindelwald is on the smallish side, and there weren't very many tracks at the station to confuse us.
Hedi, the wonderful sweet owner of our rental apartment, picked us up from the train station and drove us to our home away from home. 

This is the glorious view from our balcony at Chalet Gletschertal (= glacier valley)!!!

Here is our little apartment!

There were sheep on the hill behind our apartment: 

We got information about the bus schedule and took off for the city center to see what we could see and to get Greg some dinner (all our treks were about natural beauty or food).

It was raining a bit, and expected to rain more, so I whipped out my new rain hat to give it a run.
It worked great keeping my glasses un-spotted!

It's hard to believe, but this was taken as we were just walking along a main road to our bus station.

And the Rothenegg Garage was our bus stop!

This little roundabout was the reminder:

The roundabout even had one of these cute little mirrors so drivers and pedestrians could see each other and be safe.  See that truck?  Don't cross right now!

Lots of places had ibexes because that's the town symbol.

Here's the city center.
Most things were already closed because it was about 6 PM.
Small towns in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany often close around 5 PM in the evenings.
They are usually closed on Sundays and Mondays, too.
And sometimes they close from 12-2 or 3 PM for an afternoon break and then open back up for the dinner time shopping rush.

We did find a place to feed Greg and we did find some hats!

I had already been sad that I forgot to pack my sun hat (that I wore all the time in New Zealand), but I quickly found an equally wonderful one. 
And I proceeded to wear it all the time while we were in Switzerland!

Cute and subtle Switzerland flag on the back.

What a busy day that was!
We enjoyed falling into bed that night and we were looking forward to the next day, when we planned to go up to the the Jungfraujoch!

Check out our adorable rental apartment and its glorious site!


  1. Scenery is unbelievable...The mountains are just like the pictures :) Apt was cute and all those kitty pictures...

  2. What a comfortable little place with the best view ever. I wouldn't have been able to do the long day, though, but you two did GREAT!!!