Untours Cafe

(2) Swiss Heartland Untour 2014 (Day 3) Orientation

Swiss Heartland Untour - May 6 to June 4, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I was up at 6:00am.  Eleanor followed at 6:30am.  Outside the skies were sunny to partly cloudy.  As soon as I got the coffee pot going, I headed to Cafe zum Stein.  My purchases included a loaf of fitnessbrot, 2 apple turnovers and 2 nussgipfeln (nut-filled pastries).    The gipfeln seemed much smaller that what we used to get back on our last trip in 2004. 

We later found out that the original baker moved his business to a different town after the 2005 Sachseln flood.  This was a new baker at Cafe zum Stein.  One of my favorites, Black Forest cake, was nowhere to be seen anymore in Sachseln.  What a disappointment.  Ten years ago I used to scoot into town and return with a dessert that was a pleasure to our eyes as well as our mouths. 

Coronet mit rahm (sugar coated cone filled with whipped cream) was another one of my favorites that had disappeared.

After lamenting the change of events at Cafe zum Stein, we settled down for breakfast: Orange juice, coffee, fresh strawberries, apricot yogurt and nussgipfeln.

We needed to catch the 9:28am train to Meiringen.  We left the chalet at 8:50am for the walk to the train station.  The walk only took us 10 minutes.  While sitting trackside a couple walked by and asked if we were with Untours.  It was Carol and Ivan from La Mesa, California.  They were staying in the Britschgi Spycher chalet next to ours.  They joined us on the 9:28am train to the orientation.

The train arrived in Meiringen at 10:25am.  Angelique was already there with the rest of the Untours group.  Among the topics covered initially were open and closing hours for Tourist Information offices, banks, stores, etc.  She also told us about the Migros and COOP stores, where groceries could be purchased and inexpensive meals eaten in their cafeterias. 

She then explained how to interpret the information displayed on the Wanderweg (hiking trail) signs.

Our group then headed for the train to Interlaken Ost.  But we would be getting off at Brienz for the remainder of the orientation on a lake boat.  Dwayne and Carol from Phoenix, Arizona were our seatmates during the ride.  This was their first trip to Europe.  I gave them a copy of day trip options that I had prepared for our trip.

The day trip options also displayed the best days to visit the sites and the days to avoid.  For each numbered day trip I had made up a packet listing all the information we would need for the day trip including what trains to take.

Angelique looked at my list and immediately indicated that Planplatten Alpine Tower was closed during our visit.  So that could be crossed off our list.

I also mentioned to her that we hoped to be able to walk the Grandmother's Walk.  She said that it was scheduled to open on May 17th.  That was great news.

Eleanor took the opportunity to alert Angelique about her serious problem involving a month supply of Lipitor that was left at home.  She had just filled the prescription before leaving home.  So our health insurance company was not likely to authorize filling another prescription so soon.  Angelique suggested that we stop in a pharmacy in Interlaken West.   I was not optimistic that we would have a positive result.

Upon arrival in Brienz, we all walked over to the Lake Boat dock.  Angelique checked the posted schedule and discovered that our boat wouldn't arrive for an hour.  So she took us on a walking tour of Brienz.  First we walked along the beautiful shoreline with displays of gorgeous flowers and sculptures of bronze and carved wood.

After a leisurely walk along the shore, we stopped for coffee or tea at Seerestaurant Sternen.

After our break at Seerestaurant Sternen we began to make our way back to the boat dock via Haupstrasse.

 A brief stop on the way at Jobin Woodcarving gift shop was interesting.  No photos are allowed in the gift shop.  Even the smallest items were very expensive in my opinion.  We soon left without making an purchases.

The lake boat arrived about 12:20pm and offloaded its passengers.  We were soon on board and on our way by about 12:30pm.  Passage on all lake boats is included with our Swiss Rail Pass.


Angelique conducted the orientation in more detail.  The "Welcome to Switzerland" pamphlet listed a number of events and things to do during the following two weeks, including some optional culture trips and information about the Untours Party at Hotel Wetterhorn in Hasliberg on May 19th.  We decided to attend the May 13th culture trip to Habkern to visit a young alphorn maker's workshop followed by a light lunch at a nearby restaurant.  The cost per person was 25CHF ($28.25 U.S. dollars) each.  We also told Angelique that we would be attending the Untours Party. A horse-drawn carriage ride through the countryside around the town of Weggis looked interesting.  It included coffee and cake served at a local farm.  It was up to us to call the Weggis Tourist Office and make reservations.  The cost would be 29CHF ($32.77 U.S. dollars) each. 

During the orientation, we had the option of getting just drinks or at our cost ordering a meal.  Eleanor and I along with Dwayne and Karen ordered a meal consisting of a salad followed by fresh water fish with rice and carrots with a cost of 25.50CHF ($28.81 U.S. dollars) per person.  Eleanor and I also had a glass of Rugenbrau beer.


I am not a big fan of fish.  But this meal was delicious.  We were glad that we had our lunch on the boat.

After circling the lake and making various stops, we arrived at Interlaken Ost at about 1:50pm.

Angelique invited the group to walk to Interlaken West along the Aare River.  Dwayne, Carol, Eleanor and I joined her.  The rest of the group went their own way.

 So we followed Angelique along the path until we got to Casino Kursaal.


Finally at Casino Kursaal our walking tour ended.  Before parting ways we posed for some photos.

Our primary objective was to get to the pharmacy and check on the possibility of purchasing a month's supply of Lipitor for Eleanor.  So we headed downtown on Hoheweg until we saw the familiar green cross (the symbol used for pharmacies).  There were a lot of Chinese tourists.  We picked the first of three pharmacies in town.  When we walked in, a nice young lady greeted us.  We explained what had happened.  Eleanor showed her a copy of the Lipitor label which also displayed the generic name.  She said that there should be some in the back.  Out she came with 30 tabs (20mg each) of Lipitor.  The cost was 36.25CHF($40.96 U.S. dollars).  We explained to the young lady in no uncertain terms how important this was, and thanked her profusely.  Eleanor wrote in her journal: "Took one minute to obtain.  Hip Hip Hooray!"  What a relief that was.

Our next objective was to visit the store called Buehler at Bahnhofstrasse 10.  That was where we purchased our Swiss Army knives on our previous two trips to Switzerland.  But there was an obvious change.  It was now called EdelWeiss Shop.  We found out that the current store had been in business one year. 

The Swiss Army knives were still for sale.  But the selection was limited.  I left my old Swiss knife back home.  I wanted to purchase a duplicate.  However, I couldn't remember the model.  So I picked the one on display that looked like the one back home.  I found out a few days later that I was wrong.  It was the next lower model.  To make matters worse the saleslady wasn't knowledgeable about the knives.  When we finally made our purchases we were again disappointed to learn that this store no longer has an engraving machine.  So engraving our names and the date on the knife handles was not a possibility.

By now it was 3:30pm.  We decided to head back to Sachseln.  By 3:40pm we were at the train station.  The 3:53pm train took us to Interlaken Ost, arriving at 3:57pm where we were required to switch trains.  To catch the train to Sachseln we had to rush from track 8 to track 4, which involved 2 flights of stairs down and 2 flights of stairs up weaving through crowds of people.  We made it before departure at 4:04pm.  Then we could relax.  This train would take us all the way back home to Sachseln.  At 4:12pm I decided to eat my nussgipfeln.  Eleanor's mouth was dry.  So she decided to wait and eat hers later. We arrived in Sachseln at 5:29pm.  

During our walk from the Sachseln train station to our chalet we stopped at Gasser's hardware store.  Eleanor wanted to find a container to carry water in during our day trips.  I found some insulated commuter coffee cups.  A pretty young girl came over to see if I needed some help.  She spoke only German.  I said to her "fur Wasser" (for water).  She took me over to another shelf with metal containers with open/close caps.  They were decorated for kids.  They didn't have any other kind, but they would work.  So Eleanor picked out three.  In addition she also picked out a peeler, 2 kitchen knives and a wine stopper. 

At 6:00pm we arrived back at out chalet.  We used the rear entrance because Eleanor had an easier time with those stairs.  After entering the chalet we checked the front entrance for our suitcases.  They were there waiting for us just outside the door.  Emptying the suitcases and organizing our clothes, etc. in the closets and drawers occupied our time until 8:30pm, when we finally decided to have dinner.  Dinner consisted of wine, salad with cucumber slices & cherry tomatoes, Italian dressing and fitnessbrot from Cafe zum Stein.  We really liked the fitnessbrot. 

At 9:20pm we finished with a little bit more wine and an apple turnover. 

We were thinking about returning to Interlaken the next day and spend some leisure time there. 

By 10:05pm we were both in bed.

The high temperature that day was about 70 degrees Fahrenheit

Total miles walked that day:

Bill 6.28 miles  Eleanor 3.72 miles

To be continued.....

Views: 733

Comment by Tom Haas on July 17, 2014 at 6:27pm
Bill and Eleanor, I love reading of your travels to Switzerland. I have been waiting patiently for this second story of your trip. Your enthusiasm for life and travel make me happy. I travelled to Switzerland in 2008 with my family. Our Untour was really nice as we stayed in Reuti. Since that trip we have travelled several times to Europe on our own. Thanks again for posting your travel stories!


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