Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Swiss Train Car

Thought you'd like to see a Swiss Train Car in action! 

It's very hot here in Arizona lately, and I find myself daydreaming about being in the mountains
or being on a train just like this, zooming through the fantastic Swiss countryside with my favorite man (Greg!)

Hope your summer is enjoyable and that you have many exciting adventures
(even if they are everyday adventures rather than international ones!)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Eye & Brain Vacation

Short little post today with some video of the ridiculously awe-inspiring view
of the Lauterbrunnen valley.

Enjoy the vacation for your eyes and brain!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cuddles & Cuteness

As a little break from the travelogue,
here are some videos of cuteness and sweet fuzzy faces for you!

Evening reading session with cats:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Meiringen: Reichenbach Falls


Reichenbach Falls!

We hadn't known until a few days before that we'd be visiting Meiringen, but it turned out to be one of my very favorite days.  Greg found the Sherlock Holmes museum online while browsing "attractions in your area" on his phone, and the museum and Reichenbach Falls came up.  It sounded great to both of us, so we scheduled it in!

We were excited about the little car up there.
Here we are, all ready to go!
There was no one in the car except us and the driver.
It was raining and very chilly, and this car was open on all sides.

As we got closer, we could see the falls and one of the viewing platforms.

Here's the station at the top.

There's the first viewing area right outside the little station.
There's a little wooden fountain and a bench.

I am very attracted to water, especially flowing water,
and I can hardly resist moving towards it at top speed.

I was stopped by this hilarious cut-out of Sherlock Holmes.

If you click on the photo, it will get bigger and you might be able to see my face in Sherlock's hat.

Here is is empty.

Here's Greg, pondering the difficulties of the case . . . 

"Hmm . . . how shall I defeat Moriarty, my nemesis?"

We decided to walk up the path to the top of the falls,
and it was a beautiful, winding, drippy and green hike.

The valley was down below.

It seemed very much like a place fairies and dwarves (trolls? gnomes?) would live.

It made it more magical that it was a chilly rainy day and there were barely any other people at all.
We saw two other people (together) on the whole walk.

Everything was dripping and rushing with water.

And around each bend in the path was a new and different view of the falls
- from higher up!

See that little metal walkway above the falls?
We went across that!!!

There were little posters, explaining a bit of the storyline of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Story, "The Final Problem," and the way Moriarty and Holmes supposedly died together, falling to their doom over the falls.

That building (with the square black top) is the station at the base of the falls,
and if you look closely (click on the picture to make it bigger), you can see the red train car coming up.

There were a couple of warning signs, but mostly the Swiss aren't as paranoid as Americans about physical dangers.

Greg didn't even think the bridges over the falls/river were that scary (he doesn't really like heights),
even though they looked extra terrifying from down below.

We saw a little stump shaped (carved?) to look like a mushroom.

Or is it something else?

And then we turned a bend and had made it to the restaurant at the top!

There were chickens in the front yard.

This one was crowing a LOT.

There were lots of paths available, but we chose to go back the way we came.

Towards the Reichenbachbahn!
It says that Meiringen (where we were staying) can only be reached with the Bahn (train car).

We noticed that snow was falling in the mountains slightly higher than where we were.

Back over the bridges and through the woods.

This is a high water mark from 2004.

The bridge that seemed scary from above.

Not scary!

Stairs with only treads and no backs are much scarier!

Thankfully, there was a bathroom at the station (and it was headed and comfy!)

Here comes our train!

The station had a looping video from an old movie of "The Final Problem," playing where the two are seen tumbling over the falls.  It was very clear that the "people" (Sherlock and Moriarty) were dummies.  Apparently there is an annual reenactment of this mythical event.

They also had Reichenbachfallsbahn items - GRATIS!
That means free!
We could choose any or all of these great free items.
The t-shirts turned out to be for midgets (very very boxy and short),
but the umbrellas are sturdy and even had wooden handles!
Great memories for us, good advertising for them.
Little did they suspect I would come home, blog about our adventure, and tell everyone I know to go do this fun activity!

They also had these really well-made and useful cross-body hiking bags.
Better than a purse for a man, but lighter and easier to access than a backpack. 

Greg got this cool cap!

We could view the workings of the car through some windows.

Then we were headed down again.

We saw some pretty gray cows on the way down.

And a fortress I decided we needed to explore.

On our way back to the hotel to dry off and warm up a bit, we stopped for some groceries.
Cayenne peppers = peperpocini!

Look at the WALL of chocolate!

Here's what we bought:
bananas, dried plums, dried mangoes, jam, baby rice cakes, chocolate covered rice cakes, braided bread, and chocolate.

We found a little restaurant attached to the grocery store, and got Greg some food there.
I was able to snack from the items we'd just purchased.
It was nice and warm and we got all toasty.

"You may surf free here".

He got a huge pile of fries (pomme-frites)!

And there were real live roses on each table.

This place was a cafeteria style restaurant.
Here's where you'd take your dishes back.

An here are some teensy carts for kids to help with grocery shopping!

Then we were off again!

Greg looked up the fortress on his phone, and it is the Restiturm.
He mapped it out and we headed off!

Lengemmuur, built in 1734.
A protective wall built to protect the town of Meiringen against mudslides and floods.

In 1733 there was a flood and mudslide that washed away much of the town.  Homes were blocked with mud up to the top of their windows and the church was filled with mud up to the baptismal stone.

On our walk, we saw a gnome carved out of wood.
In this photo, he looks as if he's made of butter!

Around the back of this energy plant, we found a waterfall, a stream . . . 

. . . and sheep!

Such beauty was just lurking there between these unassuming buildings!

These sheep were quite wary.

Perhaps they were GUARD SHEEP!

"Lady, this is OUR waterfall."

There was the HUGE loud beauty of the waterfall,
and this small quiet beauty: a golden snail!

There was a community sign with activities that were coming up, and this one told about night sledding - fun!

The cable car zoomed silently above us as we continued our walk.

The steps had this flat part in the middle to make walking bikes up/down the stairs possible -

And then after a little uphill walking through some more forest,
we found the tower!

This little tiny sign (that only Greg saw) told of how the neighbors would be thankful if the tower is quiet after 10 pm.

"Tower of the castle Resti"

This sign tells of how each part was built at different times, responding to different threats.
Built over 50 years, starting in 1250 by the Peter von Resti and the Knights of Resti, vassals of the Habsburgs.

The lower down parts were built much earlier.

We didn't realize it, but we'd come up higher that it seemed.

There were metal handrails to walk around the side to the entrance.

Which was on the front, facing the town.
And this strong tower was built on a huge boulder!

Of course, I went in!
Unless otherwise marked, most historical things in Switzerland
(and Austria, and to a lesser extent Germany) are open to visitors, independently accessible, and paid for by tax money.

Metal walkways and steps lined the walls in a corkscrew pattern all the way to the top!

The roof was open, so it was still raining in on me.

I love the rain, I love chilly weather, and I love OLD CASTLES, TOWERS, and FORTRESSES!
And waterfalls.  What a day for Christie!

Each "floor" had a sign, explaining when that level was built and was it was used for.
The lowest floor was the entrance and kitchen.

The second floor was the living story.

I could see the big falls from there.
Can you pick out the train tracks, the station, and the little hotel higher up?

The third story was where the roof originally was.

The rain got on the lens of my camera and many photos have a very
interesting blur effect.

This was the weapons story.

And here's the very top!

There's my little noggin', peeking over the wall at the top!

And there's Greg's blue umbrella at the bottom!

The wet metal grate walkways were squeaky.

And I could see through alllll the way down to the ground.

Some of the places between the stones had plants growing.

Greg pretending to be scared:

See the falls again in the distance?

These rectangular holes were for wooden beams that went across to support the wooden flooring:

You can see a long wooden beam in the wall here:


Swiss Deaf Skii Team ad on a car!

Next, I wanted to poke around inside the church;
I always want to poke around inside little churches in small European towns because I almost always find something interesting!

"I wait outside"

Early Medieval windows (1200s & 1300s) were often created by a glassmaker blowing a ball of liquid glass on a rod, then spinning it into a flat sphere, placing it into a metal ring, and removing the metal rod.
If you see these round little panels in windows, it's a good sign the church is really old.

Here's a sign explaining the regulations about the rules in the graveyard.
"We request your protection  for this graveyard and the peaceful state of our dead.
Please treat them in peace and stillness.
Keep the area clean.  Please use the walkways and not the grass, protect the flowers and plants, and do not pick flowers. When you leave the graveyard, please shut the doors."

There's a list of activities that are forbidden and for which visitors can be fined. 

This bell was used starting in 1351.

"To the excavations"

"This church was built in 1684 and restored from 1971-73,
and it is under the protection of the state."

Blurry photo, but the church was simple and calm inside.

We put in some money towards the excavations.

The steps went down underneath the current church.

There were signs (in multiple languages), telling us about pots and other things that were removed and taken to the Swiss museum.

The thing on the left is a censor.

Looks like the very beginning of this spot as a sacred worship site was around 1234.

These ruins were dug up out of the dirt that had been left by mudslides.

The church is dedicated to the Arcangel Michael.
Until 1722, it was only church in the Hal Valley. 

The church bell rang 8 o'clock while we were underneath.
It was an amazing experience to know that people had been seeking and worshiping God there for almost 800 years.

The graveyards are always tidy and beautiful.
Here's why - some silent and invisible servant with a cart is there, cleaning up.

"This tower was restored in 1960 and 1989 and is under the protection of the state."

Probably made of limestone, which is common in the area, and which gets slowly eroded by water.

The street near the church was called "Bei der Kirche" = by the church.

After all those adventures, we went back to our cozy hotel and got all warm and toasty while watching some TV (in German, of course!)

Here is how our electronic charging station looked:

I crawled right in bed with the newspaper and cuddled in to enjoy being warm and dry.
I savored all my lovely memories and experiences from this long, fascinating, wonderful day!

Good night!