Swiss Heartland Untour - May 6 to June 4, 2014
Saturday, May 17, 2014
We awoke to the sound of the songbird. By 5:07am we were out of bed. Outside the skies were clear. The thermometer showed a temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit. It felt warmer than that. As soon as I was dressed and started the coffee, I was out the door to the bakeries, first Sunnis Bakery, then Cafe zum Stein.
I purchased the following: one fitnessbrot, 2 nussgipfeln, 2 apple turnovers, and 2 lemon filled pastries. Total cost : 16CHF ($17.92 U.S. dollars). To my disappointment, there were no apfelstrudels at Sunnis Bakery.
As I returned via Brunigstrasse at 6:28am, the sun was just lighting up the distant mountain tops.
Even though we were up early, breakfast was later than usual, 7:20am. That was okay because our destination that day was to be Luzern, which is only 28 minutes from Sachseln via the train.
Before leaving for Luzern, we needed to do some grocery shopping at Denner. We headed into town the back way via Edrisriederstrasse past Sunnis Bakery.
As we were getting the grocery cart, our landlady, Louise, entered. She asked how we were doing. After a short conversation we parted to do our grocery shopping. One of the items we purchased was a New Guinea Hybrid Impatiens plant with bright red flowers. We thought that would be perfect for Berit's grave site. The cemetery was our next stop.
At Berit's gravesite we said a few words to her including a sincere "We miss you." Just as we placed the impatiens plant down, the church bells started to ring and continued for 15 minutes.
Back at the chalet at 9:08am, the groceries (fruit) were put away along with a bottle of Gamay red wine. To catch the 9:45am train to Luzern, we left the chalet at 9:20am. At 9:30am the temperature was 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). In the sun it felt more like 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
As soon as we exited the train station at 10:20am it was obvious that we picked the wrong day to visit Luzern. It was very crowded. We don't like large crowds. There were several waves of large Chinese bus tour groups that engulfed us. As I tried in vain to get some decent photos of the Chapel Bridge and pedestrian bridge, Eleanor went to move her wheelchair out of the lane of human traffic. Her brace suddenly unlocked, and down she went. Passersby helped her to her feet. She filled me in on her latest acrobatics when I finally found her in the crowd.
It didn't take long for us to make a decision to go elsewhere. Brienz seemed like a good choice. We could walk the old section of town. We quickly returned to the train station and barely made it on board the Interlaken Ost train which would stop in Brienz. Some Chinese women sitting in the handicapped seats immediately moved when they saw Eleanor and the wheelchair. Once on the train, we made a decision to stop in Lungern to have lunch at the well known Restaurant Bahnhofli. Many untourists have mentioned the unique way cream is served for cups of coffee. The cream comes in a cup made of chocolate. We had never eaten there in our previous trips in 2002 and 2004. This was a good opportunity to try it. After lunch we could continue onto Brienz and spend the rest of the afternoon there.
We arrived in Lungern at 11:51am, just in time for lunch. The restaurant is just across the street from the train station. As we walked through into the solarium, only a few people were there. Once we chose our table and sat, another couple entered.
Daniel was the maître-'d , and server of our meal with help from Lisbeth.
I almost asked for frühstück (breakfast). I caught myself, and asked for mittagessen (lunch).
We were very hungry and hadn't had a steak in a long time. It was a good time to splurge. We both ordered the small sirloin steak, which is served in an old fashioned iron frying pan with green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, bacon and crispy wedge potatoes along with 4 sauces on the side. For drinks we had two large beers.
We ordered coffee which of course comes with cream in a small cup made of chocolate. Eleanor dropped the cup with cream into the coffee. It melted immediately. I poured the cream into the coffee and then popped the chocolate cup in my mouth.
We were going to share an ice cream sundae. But they looked too good. We both ordered Coupe Stracciatella (cookies & cream ice cream and coffee ice cream). Eleanor had the mini size, while I had the regular size.
Total cost of the meal came to 107CHF ($119.84 U.S. dollars) including a 1CHF tip. Tips are included at Swiss restaurants. However, if the service was exceptional, the customer can add 1 or 2 extra Swiss Francs.
When we stepped outside at 1:35pm, the skies were overcast. It was a bit chilly now with a cool breeze. We put on our windbreakers. The 1:52pm train to Brienz arrived on time. The trip was 42 minutes long. Eleanor pulled out her Kindle and continued reading her latest book. She read a joke from the book to me: A lady goes into a bar. "Hey you're really hot!" She looks around. "Is that a new blouse?" "You're looking good girl." Finally she realizes that the bowl of pretzels is talking to her. Ignoring it, she orders a Chardonnay. "Hmm Chardonnay? You're one classy babe." Finally the woman says to the bartender "Hey your pretzels keep saying nice things about me." The bartender says "They do that. They're complimentary."
Once in Brienz, we walked down Hauptstrasse towards to old section of town. Eleanor spotted two Brienz polizei (police) walking ahead of us. Eleanor said "Entschuldigung!" (excuse me!) to them. The next thing I know I'm taking a photo of Eleanor with the two police officers. Eleanor always tries to get photos of local police, as well as a bride and groom after a wedding.
Back in 2004 we visited Brienz on a glorious sunny day in April. It was one magical day. All the flowers seemed to be in peak bloom. There wasn't another soul in sight. We walked up Brunngasse to Oberdorfstrasse. We weren't disappointed.
As we approached the corner of Krummgasse and Oberdorfstrasse, the air became filled with the sound of a heavenly choir. We soon realized that the singing was coming from a second story open window. We sat down on a nearby bench and enjoyed our own private concert. When the singing ended, I wanted to clap, but was too shy. We later found out from Berit that it was the Heilsarmee (Salvation Army) choir practicing.
That day in 2004 as we walked further down Oberdorfstrasse there was a side street scene that begged to be photographed. I just had to get the composition just right.
I took 12 photos. But the third one turned out to be my favorite.
We wanted to repeat the 2004 experience. So we turned at Brunngasse.
Old Brienz begins to reveal itself here. This is what My Switzerland.com said about Brunngasse:
"The probably most romantic part of Brienz is the Brunngasse which, having once been awarded the title «most beautiful street in Europe», is well-known abroad. Most of the houses in the street date from the 18th century and are decorated with wood carvings."
We turned right on Oberdorfstrasse and walked two blocks to the corner of Krummgasse. The Heilsarmee was still there. The bench was still there. The water fountain was still there. But our timing was not the same. The window was closed. The magic was gone. There would be no private street corner concert that day.
Now it was our task to find the spot where I took the 2004 photo of the distant waterfall framed by tulips in the foreground. I assumed that we would have no trouble finding it even though the tulip season was over. We looked and looked, but were unable to locate the spot of the 2004 photo. It wasn't until we returned home that I looked in Eleanor's 2004 journal and found she had written "Platzlistrasse, Brienz. Flowers and waterfall cascading down from mountain."
At 3:56pm we gave up and headed back to the train station. When we boarded the 4:45pm train to Sachseln, a woman moved out of the handicap seats for Eleanor. On the Swiss trains, when a handicapped person enters the handicap car, anyone sitting in a handicap seat is require to give it up. However, that isn't always the case. By 5:48pm we were back in our chalet at Sachseln. Storing pastries in the backpack had become a problem. We needed to come up with a way to pack the pastries without them becoming flattened by the time we ate them. Eleanor eventually used one of the plastic fruit containers from Denner to solve the problem.
At 6:25pm we had a quick dinner : pastry, cheese, 1/2 banana, green grapes and red wine.
Eleanor was in the wheelchair most of the day to conserve her strength and prevent muscle or tendon damage. Back in 2008 in Paris, she suffered a stress fracture of her foot from too much walking. So pacing herself was the objective.
At 6:35pm Eleanor called to confirm when to meet at the concert that night. Rosemarie answered. They planned to arrive at Mattlisaal by 7:30pm. We were to look for her and Albert inside at 7:45pm. There was no admission fee, although donations would be accepted.
Once at Mattlisaal, the concert began after a short delay due to a problem with the lights. The concert ended at 10:15pm with an intermission at 8:50pm. Albert said that Vance Roy and a couple, Everitt & Karen, would be joining us for dinner on Sunday. Everitt and Karen rent Chalet Berit, where we stayed in 2002 and 2004. Vance rents the floor above them. His wife, Barbara, was away in the States
We enjoyed the concert very much. I recorded one of the pieces played that evening.
Afterwards we joined Rosemarie and Albert downstairs for drinks and a sausage/cheese platter. It was Rosemarie's treat. I accompanied her to help bring the food and drinks to our table. When we got the bottle of wine, there was no corkscrew. So I pulled out my Swiss Army knife and removed the cork. It was the first time I had ever used the knife to remove the cork form a wine bottle. It only goes to show that you never know when the trusty Swiss Army knife will come in handy, especially in Switzerland.
Elisabeth, and Guido joined us at the table. Then we were introduced to Albert's grandson, Dominik, who played drums in the concert.
Albert told us a story about when he and Rosemarie were invited to the party celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Maxon Motor, where Albert was once the Plant Manager. It was a breathtaking event. Before Albert left, the owner of Maxon Motor presented him with a gift, a top of the line large Mercedes Benz automobile worth 127,000CHF ($142,240 U.S. dollars). However, that valuable gift presented a problem for Albert. The car was so big that it was difficult to park. He was afraid that when people saw him driving around in such an expensive car, they would assume he was a "Big Shot." Finally, after 5 years he sold the Mercedes and purchased a Hyundai.
We finally headed home at 11:40pm. We couldn't remember the last time we were up that late at night. I went to bed at midnight followed by Eleanor at 12:15am.
The forecast for the next day was very good with a predicted high of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). We were thinking of taking the train to Sarnen, and walking back to Sachseln on the shore path along the Sarnersee. It would be a good day for a picnic.
Total distance walked that day: Bill - 7.93 miles, Eleanor - 3.90 miles