Swiss Heartland Untour
Planplatten Alpine Tower April 12, 2004
Monday, April 12, 2004. After walking the Valley of the Waterfalls on Easter Sunday, we decided that this was to be an easy and relaxing day for us. Our window thermometer showed 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside it was overcast. For breakfast we had eggs, bacon, 1/2 apple each, orange juice, coffee and a slice of toast. Leaving Chalet Berit at 9:25am, we headed for Cafe zum Stein, where we purchased two gipfelns.
I took a photo of yellow pansies in front of Gasthaus Bahnhof before boarding the 10:05am train to Meiringen.
Our plan was to visit with Barbara Blatter-Streich, and spend the rest of the day at Planplatten Alpine Tower. I had several photos I took of her on our last Swiss Untour in 2002. After boarding the train, we decided to eat the two gipfelns (we couldn't wait). At 10:36am the sun broke through the clouds. We arrived in Meiringen at 10:55am. Barbara was not there when we checked at the train station. The young lady on duty said that Barbara would be in later. I asked her to give Barbara the photos in case we missed her later. At 11:15am Eleanor made a note in her journal of the weather: sunny, 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
At 11:27am we headed up Alpbachallee to the lift, arriving 6 minutes later. With our Swiss Railpass we paid 30CHF ($24 US dollars) each instead of the regular fee of 48CHF ($38.40 US dollars) for a roundtrip ticket to Planplatten. The ticket clerk told us that it was possible to bring the wheelchair with us on the gondola. We soon found out that leaving the wheelchair at the bottom was a better idea. At 11:45am the gondola began the vertical climb.
11:52am at Hasliberg Reuti we transferred to a smaller gondola. Arriving 12:01pm at Bidmi, we stayed on the gondola since our destination was Planplatten.
12:09pm at Magisalp we had to switch to another gondola for the final leg of the trip, but not before making an unofficial "tour" of the facility. After seeing our wheelchair, the gondola attendant pointed us in the direction of an elevator. Unsure of which level to go, we visited the rear of the restaurant, the kitchen downstairs, and the storage garage before being directed out a private door to the gondola station. We may have been riding that elevator for quite some time if it hadn't been for a kitchen assistant that had run up the flight of stairs to signal for us to return down one flight whereupon she dashed back down the stairs in order to further direct us as the elevator doors opened. Then she pointed to the appropriate doors that enabled us to exit onto the terrace.
Finally at 12:25pm we arrived at Planplatten Alpine Tower amidst many skiers. I told Eleanor it was too bad we didn't have a pair of skis for her to hold along side her wheelchair, just to see the look on their faces.
We had read so much about the Crystal Eagle that it was the first thing we checked out. It was much more detailed than we expected.
At 1:00pm we got to thinking about lunch. The self service Panoramarestaurant was our next stop. The lift was out of order. So we had to climb the 21 steps to the restaurant.
The sunshine reflecting off the snow made it too bright to eat outside on the terrace. A sign on the pole indicated that New York City was 6346 kilometers (3943 miles) away.
While I got in line to select our food, Eleanor found a table by an inside window. As I was standing in line, a lady passed me to join her husband ahead of me. They spoke French. I had no idea what they were talking about until the husband gave her a tissue for her bleeding finger. I searched in my pocket and found a bandaid. I tapped her on the shoulder, showing her the bandaid. She accepted it with one word: "Super!" Due to the large meal portions, we had already decided beforehand to order one dish and share it. Two .5 liter beers and a shared plate of Schweinsbratwurst mit Frites came to 28.80CHF ($23.04 US dollars).
After lunch I ventured out onto the snow path and took a photo of Planplatten Alpine Tower.
At 2:08pm we started our journey back down.
Once we were back down in Meiringen, we decided to head back home after visiting with Barbara. Eleanor was still sore from walking the Valley of the Waterfalls. Barbara was behind the ticket counter. As we entered, we were greeted with a smile and a thank you for the photos. She had been stationed at various train stops over the last few months. Meiringen had been her assignment for only the last two weeks. I tried taking photos of her, but the reflection off the window was a problem. She came out from behind the ticket window so I could get a better photo. As we chatted, Eleanor admired the Swiss Railway scarf around her neck. Barbara immediately took it off, and insisted that Eleanor take it. With a kiss goodbye, we thanked her for the gift. The 4:05pm train took us back home to recuperate.
Back in Sachseln we decided to stop at Cafe zum Stein for an ice cream sundae and coffee. With dessert and coffee in front of her, and an authentic Swiss Railway scarf around her neck, Eleanor forgot about her sore muscles. On our last trip in 2002, I had taken a photo of a lady sales clerk behind the bakery counter. I wanted to give her the photo, but hadn't seen her since we arrived. I showed our waitress, Christine, the photo and asked if the woman in the photo still worked here. She said that Marta was on holiday, and would return April 20th or 21st. We could surprise her with the photo then. Two Ice cream sundaes, and two coffees came to 26.80CHF ($21.44 US dollars).
We returned to Chalet Berit and relaxed on our patio with a bottle of wine. Eleanor wrote out some post cards, and logged the day's expenses. I went to bed at 9:30pm, Eleanor at 10:00pm. We both had trouble sleeping, perhaps due to the coffee.
Despite the easy day, my pedometer showed 2.30 miles.