Switzerland

The Alps, chalets, chocolate, Alpine lakes and Heidi.

Aloha, Buongiorno, Bonjour and Schönen Tag, our dear friends. We are coming to you from Switzerland.

We were told the people in Switzerland were the nicest, politest and a bit standoffish. We found everyone we met to be wonderful people, open, and friendly. If there’s a bad one out there, we didn’t meet them.

We set out to visit three cities in Switzerland: Chur, Interlachen, Zermatt. Chur is the oldest city in Switzerland, Interlachen is surrounded by lakes and the Alps and Zermatt is home to The Matterhorn.

We departed Milan on the train and went across the Alps to Zurich and then on to Chur.

The rolling hills and broad valleys of Tuscany soon climbed up into some of the most rugged and beautiful mountains in all of the world. We pulled into the train station, pulled our luggage from the train and walked up a wide curving street with trolley tracks and soon found the ABC Hotel. It’s an upscale hotel

The people of Switzerland speak the language of the nearest country. We needed to get familiar with Swiss Italian, Swiss French and Swiss German. Most of the residence of Switzerland we encountered spoke some English.

We left the train and quickly found the ABC Hotel, a modern and upscale hotel that stood in stark contrast to all of the old and impressive buildings in Chur. We were in the modern section, but only steps away from the old town.

In front of one of many churches was this brass model of the old, medieval Chur. Chur is the oldest city in Switzerland.
Fountains everywhere and the local bank looks nothing like the ones we have in Florida.
What’s a medieval town without a clock tower and another statue?

If we thought it was hilly in Tuscany, Switzerland and Chur were even more so. We climbed many stairs into a plaza that had the continually running restaurant from the 1500’s and a gorgeous church.

The cobblestone streets, long stairways, winding roads and plenty of tourists made it an, oft times, busy walk.
This restaurant was first opened in 1522.
The restaurant was small, the woodwork was spectacular and the wrought iron chandelier was a work of art.
The humble servant had a pork chop smothered in gravy and noodles. He said it was very good.
Her Highness, being an adventurous eater tried a traditional Swiss dish: capuns. She was not a fan of capuns.

Capuns is a traditional food from the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, predominantly made in the western part of Grisons. They are made from Spätzle dough with pieces of dried meat, such as air-dried beef, and rolled in a chard leaf.
The church across the street from the old restaurant was spectacular. Just look at the pipe organ.
The stained glass windows were spectacular.
The paintings and frescoes were stunning.
Entryways and doors also received much attention to form and function.
When we left the church and descended the long stairs, we ran into this noisy fellow cleaning the small streets in a specially designed street sweeper. Everywhere we went in Switzerland was clean and litter-free.
After climbing the many stairs and sloping streets, it was time for a short break in a rose garden behind a pastry shop.
Nothing better than a cup of hot chocolate with whip cream. They do not put the whip cream in the chocolate, it’s on the side and it’s delicious.
Behind the rose garden was a river that ran through Chur. It was very cold and crystal clear.
One of the other popular methods of travel is cable car. HRH declined the opportunity as she had a bad experience in a cable car a few years ago.
We saw this beautiful building with its impressive gates. It is the local office of the bus transportation department.
Unique statutes can be found about in Chur. The stilt walker is very whimsical.
There were shops that catered to a higher-end clientele.
Natural beauty abounded at every turn. We couldn’t stop starring in wonder. The wires running horizontally on the roof to the right is how they keep heavy snow from damaging the roofs.
As it was fall, the leaves gave us their show also.

Interlachen

Our next stop was Interlachen. From our hotel we could see the Eiger mountain, a river ran by our hotel and we saw alpine lakes with their beautiful green color.

The mountains from our hotel window.
Our hotel, the Hotel Central Continental.

We were located in a shopping district and Interlachen is an old town founded in 1133 by monks. The streets are small and there is a great amount of traffic. Bicycles are very popular and it is not uncommon to see a mother or father taking their young children to school in a comfy chair pulled by the bicycle.

Poor mom is doing all the work.
When you get out of town, the countryside is breathtaking.

Brienz

We took a day trip to the beautiful city of Brienz. It sits on the northeast shore of Lake Brienz. The town is picturesque, the people friendly and everywhere you turn are astounding wooden sculptures.


Lake Brienz (Brienzersee in Swiss) displays beautiful turquoise and emerald hues, colors often associated with shallow Caribbean waters. However, Lake Brienz is not shallow, plunging to depths of around 800 feet. Its beautiful colors result from glacial particles known as “rock flour” that reflect the blue-green sector of the light spectrum.

We took the bus into Brienz which gave us a great chance to see the countryside along the lake as we traveled from Interlachen. Nestles against the shore were Swiss chalets, churches and wherever possible, farming and gardening.

Our first stop was at a lovely bakery for hot chocolate and a danish. The small outdoor dining area looked down Lake Brienz. A most delightful spot for a snack.

 Brienz has a longstanding tradition of wood carving and has both wood carving and violin making schools.

The village showcases its talents on the Brunngasse, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful streets with 18th century wooden chalets and wood carvings.
Spectacular homes with flowers everywhere. We were ready to move.
The backdrop is beyond belief.
The woodwork is stunning.
As we walked past the school for wood carving, we spotted this church on a hill overlooking the lake.
This is the view of the same church across the lake.
This is from the street below the church. If you wish, there is a stairway up the side of this hill.
The caption under the sundial on the side of the church reads:
Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your steadfast love!
This picture sums up how we felt in Brienz.

Zermatt

When we first discussed going to Switzerland, the main reason was to see the Matterhorn. We ended our Swiss adventure in Zermatt, which sits at the foot of the mountains that is topped by the Matterhorn.

Zermatt is one of a number of ‘no cars allowed’ cities in Switzerland.
Trains and buses bring you to Zermatt and then its walking or a very-few small electric carts for taxis and delivering luggage and goods to the stores.
The narrow streets are packed with travelers from all over the world.
Every turn displays a very old house or structure. The roofs are made from slate that is over an inch thick. Flowers are everywhere.
We stayed at the Hotel Butterfly, just a short walk off the main thoroughfare.

After having all of the unbelievable food in Tuscany, we tried authentic Swiss fare and found it wanting. In Zermatt we ate well by depending on the tried-and-true foods we all love: Chinese, chili and slaw dogs and cheeseburgers.
We discovered a pub not far from our hotel that made an acceptable hot dog and burger, the fries were to our liking. The pub was crowded every evening and it was a delight meeting and talking with folks from all over the world.
To see the Matterhorn, you take the Gornergrat Train.
Even though it was October, we needed some warm clothing up on the mountain.
Our princess even crocheted a special cap to wear on the mountain.
Gornergrat is the top of the mountain overlooking the Matterhorn. There is a hotel, restaurant, church and observatory. The elevation is 10,132 feet.
You can spend the night at this hotel and after 7:00 pm, you have the whole mountain to yourselves.
This is the reason we traveled to Switzerland: The Matterhorn.
Here’s our Princess and her humble servant.
An island girl never forgets here roots.
One view from the restaurant’s outside dining.
Of course there are glaciers.
The landscape on the mountain top was barren and dusty. In Zermatt it was easy to see who just hiked or biked down the mountain, they were covered in brown dirt.
You can ride the train back down, but for the more adventurous, you can mountain bike in 2 or 3 hours.
You can always descend the mountain the old fashioned way and walk. It’s possible to walk from one station to the next. There are four stations, so you don’t have to hoof it all the way down.
Before you leave the mountain, have a piece of the bread pudding with vanilla sauce and a cup of hot tea. The pudding and sauce is to die for.
You can also purchase a chocolate Matterhorn in the gift shop.
The train ride down allowed us spectacular view, like this waterfall.
As we got closer to Zermatt, we could see how large the town was and so spread out in the valley.
After a trek to the Matterhorn and then back to our hotel, we toasted a success trip to Switzerland. We are ready to go back.
We ventured out again on our last night and Him, our humble servant, ran into this fellow. The shop keeper in the background seemed amused.

Tempus Fugit, we ran out of time way before we ran out of adventures. Soon we were on our way back to Milan via bus and trains. The evening before we flew home we met a group of other crazy Americans and also the worst bartender in Europe. We hope to one day return.

Au revoir and aloha

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