Thursday, 29 January 2015

The most amazing mountain views, from the last steam cog railway in Switzerland.

Sunday and the weather is fabulous, we are on the bikes and cycling once again to Brienz. This time we are going to travel on Switzerlands last steam-driven rack railway.
All aboard!

At the base station, the climb up to the summit at 7363feet takes one hour of hard chugging and replenishing of the cooling water half way. To do a return trip on the 25% gradient, which includes ten tunnels, the locomotive will require 350 kg of high grade coal and 2,000 litres
of water, all at 9 kms an hour.

As you climb you have wonderful views of the Brienzersee.

Ever higher you start to leave the trees behind.

Chugging to the top.

The station at the summit.

Looking towards the Grimsal and Furka passes and our onward journey tomorrow.

Looking north towards Alpnach where we were yesterday and it is still shrouded with cloud.

This really is breath taking, as you turn from this view to what is behind you, just amazing!

The high Alps in their  full glory, although the weather up here is changing by the minute.

We can see Jungfraujoch the Eiger and many more of the big peaks.

What looks like black and white is taken in full colour.

Taken through a large telephoto lens, the ferry boat heads back to Interlaken from Brienz.

The shadows are extending and it is time for us to get our return train.

Just fabulous in the late afternoon sun.

We leave our railway station in the sky.

Higher tomorrow and this time it is in the camping car!

The Bernese Oberland, High mountains, the Brienzersee and Sherlock Holmes!

The road from Bern leads us out into the Alpine heart of Switzerland. Passing Lake Thun we start to admire the classic Swiss scenery, those high peaks. A short visit to Interlake and we continue to Meiringen, where we shall spend a few days surrounded by the mountains. 

The misty blue Lake Thun and high mountains.

The old town of Meiringen, Sherlock Holmes, the museum of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle and the Rieichenbach falls, its all here.
The falls are above the town and the best route up is the wonderful old funicular.

The Reichenbach Falls are best visited in Spring with the snowmelt, from higher glaciers.

Was he really a Blonde?  Elementary my dear Watson!

We walk higher through the forest to the village of Zwirgi at the beginning of the dramatic Reichenbach valley.

The gentle funicular above Meiringen.

Riding our bikes along a beautiful cycle track to the Brienzersee, there are farm houses selling local cheeses, which are delicious, so we stop and buy, but are always in awe of the surrounding mountains.

 Sitting in peace and quietly sipping our coffee, a mute swan crashes on to the water, rather waking us from our reverie.

On the return cycle ride through the meadows, once again we are caught in natures moment, a Peregrine falcon snatches a Wood Pigeon away to our right.

We stop and watch as it devours the prey, not wishing to disturb it's supper, we move along quietly.

It's Saturday and across the mountains at Alpnach, the Swiss Airforce are having a small celebration  for 50 years of their military airfield here.
 The weather could not be worse but we go and join them.

Despite the drizzle and mist we have a thoroughly good time.

They really do no how to fly around the mountains and forests.

Thats what we need high speed police response, Swiss style!

A Cougar deploys its chaff, like a firework display.

A great day out, tomorrow the Brienz Rothorn Railway.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Bern Switzerland

We drove around Friburg twice on our way to Bern, the trouble was we could find no parking, so there it is, onwards to the Swiss capital, Bern. We will have to do Friburg another day from Bern, by train.

With the expected efficiency of the Swiss public transport system, this time a bus that discharges us at the main railway station. It is a short walk to the Old Town which is UNESCO-protected. The feeling of a distant past surrounds you. There are few European City's with architecture essentially unchanged since medieval times.

The Zytglogge is a must sight for us with it's history, prison for prostitutes who made their living serving the clergy, later burnt to the ground in the fire of 1405. It had until this time been constructed of wood, then was rebuilt using stone.

As we continue our stroll down Kramgasse, we come to the ornamented fountain with an armoured bear. The bear is holding a standard of the City's founder, Berchtold von Zahringen and dates from 1535!

Relatively speaking, it is a short walk to the Einstein-Haus. The famous scientists house and work place. He developed his Theory of Relativity in Bern, in the year 1905.

The Arcades, seen here and on every street and both sides, are said to be the longest covered shopping promenade in the world. When you enter the arcades you are faced with a different world, in here are all todays stores and consumerism, for me the street, for Linda the arcade!

Bern's statue of Samson.

The axe wielding carpenter of Bern.

Street scene with ever more arcades and shops, there are more shops below ground, entered by stairs built into the old service hatches, (visible behind the lady in grey).

We took our leave from the interesting city of Bern and took the road the road to Interlaken
and onwards to Meiringen, where we have an appointment with a certain famous detective at
the Reichenbach Falls.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Montreux at the head of Lake Geneva

By the time we arrive in Montreux via the impressive Chateau de Chilean and a leisurely lunch in Evian, it is early afternoon. At the border we also stopped to purchase a vignette, so that we are able to use the Swiss motorways.
The camping car stop, that we are night stopping on, is adjacent to the Lac and a easy stroll to the centre of town, (remember to purchase a ticket).

There is a lovely lake side walk along the Territet water frontage, which we use to visit the town. The impressive Montreux Palace hotel and one of the beautifully maintained paddle steamers.

Montreux is not huge but there are some very nice shops (for Linda) I head back to the water front. Finding Freddie Mercurys flamboyant statue,  patience is needed to photograph it, as fans and tourists  envelop it.

The many park benches allow you to sit in the afternoon sun (patchy sun)and enjoy the view, out across the water to the high Dents-de-Midi.

As we enjoy a early evening drink (expensive) outside one of the many cafes, unfortunately a light rain sweeps over the lake and darkening mountains.

A lone Kayak passes.

The sun sets across lake Geneva.

In the morning brilliant sunshine on the lake.

Lovely to see young Red-Breasted Mergansers out on the water.

Also young Grebes and tufted ducks are seen

Next stop Fribourg and Bern.