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(17) Swiss Heartland Untour 2014 (Day 18) Dining in total darkness

Swiss Heartland Untour - May 6 to June 4, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

We were both awake at 3:03am, couldn't fall back to sleep and finally got out of bed at 5:05am.  Outside our kitchen window at 6:20am the temperature was 61 degrees Fahrenheit with a steady rain.

At 6:25am we had our usual breakfast (fresh fruit, orange juice, coffee and 1/2 of a nussgipfeln each).  The plan was to take the 7:29am train.  So we left the chalet at 6:55am.  As we walked down Bahnhofstrasse it was raining lightly.  Our Gortex windbreakers provided cover from the rain.  Umbrellas in our backpacks were a backup in case of a heavy rain.  Due to the rain, Eleanor didn't want to bring the wheelchair.

We were scheduled to arrive in Zurich at 8:56am.

When we got to the Sachseln Train Station, the sign indicated that an earlier train to Luzern would depart at 7:13am.  We decided to take that train.

That would put us in Luzern at 7:47am, giving us plenty of time to walk from track 14 to track 6 and a distance down the track to 2nd class on the 8:10am train to Zurich and likely give us an earlier choice of good seats.

Arriving in Luzern at 7:47am on track 14, we had to walk down to the front of the train, turn left and then weave our way through the crowd of people to track 6 just as the train to Zurich was arriving.  Once the passengers unloaded, we were able to get on board and find seats close to the WC.  

It rained during the entire train trip.  Once we arrived at the Zurich Train Station, it was still a bit of a walk to get to the main lobby and exit.

Getting to Blindekuh Restaurant, at Muhlebachstrasse 148, required a 2 mile walk.  Not being familiar with the trams running through the city, I was afraid that if I made a mistake and used the wrong tram, we would miss our reservation.  The original plan was to use the wheelchair.  That was what we did in 2002.  That worked fine.  However, on this day the rain resulted in a last minute cancellation of the wheelchair plan.  So we decided to leisurely walk, with rest periods for Eleanor, and do some window shopping since we had plenty of time to make our 11:30am reservation.


At 9:30am we stopped at the front window display of a store called Zumstein at Rennweg 19.  There were some cute miniature grocery carts measuring about 5 inches long that would make perfect gifts for our grandniece, Annora, and great grandniece, Autumn.  The cost of each was 12.90CHF ($14.44).  They were worth it because each worked exactly like full sized Swiss grocery carts including all 4 castor wheels.

At 9:40am there were hints of sun and blue skies peaking through the clouds as we neared St. Peterskirche. 

We stopped briefly at St. Peterskirche for a few photos.  It has one of Europe's largest clock faces (28 feet in diameter).

We crossed the Limmat River via Munsterbrucke.  The Grossmunster dominates the skyline on the other side.

Once on the other side, we made our way to Muhlebachstrasse, and followed that until we got to Muhlebachstrasse 148, the site of Blindekuh (translation: blind cow).  It was 10:57am when we arrived.  Our reservation was for 11:30am.  So Eleanor rested on a short wall while I took advantage of the extra time to get some photos.

There are lockers in the lobby for storing any extra items before entering the dining room.  Two waitresses were on duty, Sabine and Andrea.  Our waitress was Sabine.  The lunch menu was projected on the lobby wall.  Eleanor decided on Roast Barbary Duck Breast in Grand Marnier-Orange sauce with Roman style Semolina Gnocchi Fennel,  42CHF ($47.04 U.S. dollars).  My choice was Aubergine Piccata with Tomato Risoto and Basil Pesto, 29CHF ($32.48 U.S. dollars). That was a bit pricey for us, especially for food we were never able to actually see.  However, this was a special experience.  This place is so popular that reservations had to be made weeks in advance.  I had emailed the restaurant several months prior to our trip asking if I needed to make a reservation then or could I wait until we arrived in Switzerland.  May is off season.  So I was told I could easily get a reservation for the later part of May if I notified them when we arrived at the beginning of the month. 


Sabina had us line up with my hand on her shoulder and Eleanor's hand on my shoulder chain gang style.  She then led us through two curtains, pausing after the first curtain before entering into total darkness.  Once we sat down with Sabine's help and located our knife and fork, we ordered our meal along with a glass of Swiss beer.  The meal was very good.  Eleanor had a little trouble cutting the duck breast in the dark.  We did pretty good.  Neither of us left any food on the table top.  I checked by running my hands over the surface.  Sabine brought us scented warm wet towels for our hands.  I think your first impression is to stick your fingers into the food to locate it.  That is probably the reason for the wet towels.  The plates were large with an outer edge that slopes inward, making it easier to keep food on the plate.  Rotating the plate also helps as you push the fork into the food.  A number of people came in after us.  Before you know it there is a lot of laughter. 

We were finished at 12:45pm.  Sabine led us out of the dark dining room out to the lobby.  There was a large group of young school children waiting to be led in.  They got a lecture and instructions beforehand to prepare them.  As we were paying the bill, the kids were led by Sabine in lines of about 6 or 8 spaced a few minutes between each group.  There were two little girls waiting in the next group who had unhappy looks on their faces.  I told them that it is a lot of fun.  That lit up their faces.  No photos were permitted inside the dining room for obvious reasons.  So in the guest book we left an artistic version of what it looked like inside the dining room during our meal.

Total cost of our meal came to 84CHF ($94.08 U.S. dollars).

Rather than walking all the way back into town, we decided to try taking a tram.   At 1:15pm, after walking a short distance to Seefeld Strasse, we hopped onto Tram #4 and took it as far as Bellevue Platz. 

From Bellevue Platz we walked to Teddy's Souvenir Shop.  We wanted to purchase a case for the engraved knife I was to pick up in Luzern on the way back home to Sachseln.  By now the temperature had climbed.  It was very hot out in the sun.

In addition to the case, we walked out of Teddy's with an Edelweiss pendant and a key chain with a miniature bus that opens to reveal a clock.

By 2:30pm we were on the train to Luzern.  Arriving in Luzern at 3:25pm, I told Eleanor to wait at the train station while I went to Weber's to retrieve the engraved knife.  So Eleanor sat down at a bench near track 12, where the train to Sachseln would depart, pulled out her Kindle and started reading..

The store was empty when I got to Weber's.  That was a relief.  I was afraid that it would be filled with customers, and I would take too long to return to the train station.  It was just me and the owner, a younger lady than I expected.  I noticed her looking at my hat, which had "LL Bean, Freeport, Maine" on the front.  She probably thought I was from Maine, but said nothing.  I was very pleased after inspecting the knife and blade.  The whole transaction took just a few minutes.  Before you know it I walking out the door of Webers World.  I walked through Kornmarkt, crossed the pedestrian-only Rathaus Bridge and continued past Chapel Bridge back to the train station.

I arrived back at the train station at 3:53pm,  just as the train to Sachseln was arriving.  By 4:27pm we were back in Sachseln.  As we pulled in, I spotted a mother with two small children.  The one in the carriage was enjoying an ice cream cone.  The mother (who was holding another ice cream cone) was tending to the smaller child as we exited the train.   As I passed her, I said "Ummmm gut!"  She smiled.    

As we walked into town the Wetter-Station thermometer showed 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).  It felt much warmer than that, especially in the sun.

We headed straight to Denner's store.  The main reason for being there was to purchase a plant and a bottle of white wine for the Britschgi family.  They were having us over for a raclette dinner Saturday evening. 

An eye-catching Gazania plant beckoned.  So that became the Britschgi plant.  Our other purchases included some beer and strawberries.  It was too hot to get some chocolate candy bars.  So I took a photo instead.

Cafe zum Stein was just a short walk away.  The thought of ice cream sundaes on a hot day was too much to resist.  Eleanor's choice was Banana Split Vanille.  When the waitress turned to me, I said "Ich hatte gern Coupe Danemark" (I'd like Coupe Danemark). She looked at me, a bit surprised.  I had memorized that phrase long before departing on our trip, and was determined to use it at least once.


Total cost of the ice cream experience came to 22CHF($24.64 U.S. dollars) including a small tip.

We left Cafe zum Stein at 5:25pm, and crossed the street to make note of the open hours for the Bruder Klaus Museum.  Bruder Klaus is the Patron Saint of Switzerland.  We planned to visit the museum before the end of our trip.

When we arrived back at the chalet, there was a vase filled with flowers left for us by Louise.  They were lovely.

Dinner was at 7:15pm : Fresh fruit (pineapple, strawberries and mango), cheese and red wine.  At the end of each day, I tried to take a photo of the purchases that day.  So I laid out the items we acquired, with Louise's vase of flowers in the background, and took a photo.

By 9:15pm, we were ready for bed.  I hit the sack first at 9:20pm.  By the time Eleanor climbed into bed at 9:25pm, I was fast asleep.

An easy day was planned for Saturday.  We wanted to sleep late (if we could), do some shopping at Denner's, wash some clothes, and walk around Sachseln with stops at the church and Bruder Klaus Museum.  That would be followed by a raclette dinner with Louise, Alois and Franz Britschgi at 7:00pm.

Total distance walked that day: Bill - 8.15 miles, Eleanor - 5.40 miles

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