The Golden Pass
We took the scenic route to Interlaken this morning, by switching in Montreux and hopping on the "Golden Pass Scenic Rail". The cabins were old school "belle epoque" era trains, fully restored and extremely comfortable. We continued our run of seeing no people - we had a carriage in the train to ourselves! But we did see some phenomenal scenery, as the train worked its way from Montreux to Zweisimmen along lakes, mountains and fields, quaint little villages and plenty of cows.
From Zweisimmen, we had a brief stretch and changed trains to a "panoramic" train, which allowed us to open up the windows to get an even closer look at the countryside. The mountains got bigger and the scenery more spectacular - after a slow start, Switzerland was heating up..
Mind your language
As we headed north, signboards slowly started to become more and more German and less French. It did start to get a little weird when people would end a conversation with "Auf wiedersehen, Merci!"
We're likin' Interlaken!
Our B&B host in Interlaken, Ursula, quickly had us setup with a plan for the next day - a climb up to the Schilthorn peak - leaving us this afternoon to check out the town. Armed with the name of a chocolate shop and a restaurant name, we checked out the old town, and enjoyed a 'chocolate show' (with plenty of sampling), sat in the park with a fine view of the Jungfrau, and had a beautiful hot dinner of Rosti (potato grated and grilled with a variety of toppings) and pizza!
On her majesty's secret service..
Having conquered the marshlands of the Okavango Delta, the Victoria Falls in Zambia, the deserts of Egypt - our next big thing was to rise the nearly 3000m to the peak of Schithorn, high up in the Swiss Alps, to get up close and personal with the three main Swiss peaks - Eiger, Monch, and the giant Jungfrau.
A series of trains and cable cars took us up, and we stopped in Lauterbrunnen, Grutschalp, Murren, and Birg on the way up, marvelling at each new altitude at the sheer and underscribable vastness of the view before us. Remarkably, the environment changed dramatically from a green and yellow field in barmy weather, to an icy white and misty winter.
On top of the Schilthorn peak was a viewing platform, as well as the world's highest revolving restaurant, offering 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. It was the location for the filming of the James Bond film, and they have a presentation showing scenes from the old movie - it's not every day you visit an evil villain's secret alpine lair!
We were told the weather at the peak was "on and off", and as we arrived it was sunny and clear - but it turned around within the hour and soon we were shrouded in mist and in the middle of a snow shower - a far cry from baking in 40C on a makoro in Botswana!
On the way down, we took a walk through the Alpine village of Murren to another at Gimmelwald, taking in the views and the fresh air, meeting some brown cows, and having a bit of fun on a swing set!