Friday, May 22, 2009

Just another day, ya know......hiking through the Swiss Alps!

Yesterday was Ascension Day, a National Holiday in Switzerland, so Nathan had the day off! The Swiss take their Holidays very seriously - we were warned almost everything would be closed (including grocery stores - I think the US should take a hint from this kind of mentality) so we decided to go hiking in the Jungfrau Region. The Jungfrau Region is part of the Bernese Oberland (a mountainous area that rises to the south of two lakes) can be reached via Interlaken (which means between the lakes). Interlaken -the "adventure capital" of Switzerland- is about a 2 hour train ride from Zurich. We of course got on one of the earliest trains possible (you know Nathan) and landed in Interlaken around 9:30 am.

We then took a train to Grindelwald where we bought supplies for lunch and tickets to Kleine Scheidegg to see the peaks of Eiger (13,025 ft), Monch (13,448 ft), and Jungfrau (13,642 ft). From Kleine Scheidegg you can take another train to Jungfraujoch the "Top of Europe" (also the highest train station in Europe). From the Jungraujoch you can see out to the Black Forest in Germany, the Vosges, in France, and south into Italy. On a clear day that is! Today was very cloudy so we decided not to go to the top (it was also another 160 Francs which I compromised with Nathan to say "if we don't go to the top I want to buy tickets to Budapest"). He agreed so we stayed in Kleine Scheidegg - I think I might kind of regret being so close to the "Top of Europe" and not going but it was still an amazing view from where we were and I really don't think the view from the top would have been that great given the weather (at least that is what I'm telling myself). (They do have other touristy stuff up there though if you decided to go - which are probably cool - but whatever :)). Here are our pics from Kleine Scheidegg:
I couldn't resist!:)

View of Junfraujoch

From here we took a train to Wengernalp (6145 ft) to start out hike (we wanted to start in Kleine Scheidegg but there was still a lot of snow at that altitude). So we took hike #41 from Wengernalp to Lauterbrunnen (2612 ft) - straight down the side of the mountain. As in STRAIGHT DOWN the side of a mountain! I thought I was going to have to cut my left leg off at the knee b/c that wouldn't hurt as bad! We actually jogged the last 30 minutes b/c it hurt less than walking and b/c I just needed to get to FLAT land!!! We vowed to only do uphill hiking from now on - that's got to be easier - right? We're pretty sure we ate our lunch in the middle of a ski slope (which we thought was pretty cool - at least I did - I've never seen a ski slope when it was just grass) and I want to go back when we can ski to see the difference! The hike took about 2 1/2 hours and took us through the adorable towns of Wengen and Wengwald. Nathan commented that he had never seen a place like those. So cute and Swiss! Lots of chalets, no cars to be seen anywhere, children playing in the meadows, and lots of cows (and cowbells) - the simple life for sure! From there we hiked the final decent into Lauterbrnnen "the valley of waterfalls" and had a beer to numb the pain!:) Thanks Heineken - we owe you one! Here are some pics:
Start of Hike
View from our lunch spot - first pic is south to the mountains second is north to the valley
Just call me Heidi!
Cute little town of Wengen
View down to Lauterbrunnen

We're finished - let's drink to numb the pain!

Finally we trained back to Interlaken where we walked around the city for about an hour before heading back to Zurich. Walking around Interlaken brought back lots of memories as I had come here before in '98 with my girlfriends Erin, Sarah, and Jamie - good times for sure! We did a lot of the adventure type stuff then and I want to bring Nathan back to do a little of that soon! Nathan's two favorite spots were Hooter's and the Casino - go figure. He even made me take photos!:) We couldn't enter the Casino this time (b/c we didn't have our passports) so he wants to go back!

Front of Casino - they have a water show - just like the Bellagio:)
We were back by dinner - just in time to take SEVERAL Tylenol before going to bed! Another great day in the Swiss Alps!

p.s. - Yes we did wake up this morning with A LOT of pains in our gluteus maximus, quads, and knees. Nathan got up first to warn me so I went back to bed for an hour to avoid it - just thought you might want to know!:)
p.p.s. - So you might see that I have HOT PINK tennis shoes on in the photos. Yes - I know this screams American - oookkaaaaaaay!:) But I have a foot issue and these are the most comfortable shoes I could buy before leaving - so don't judge me:). I do wish they could have been a little more inconspicuous but .............that's not the way I roll!:)

LINK TO REST OF PHOTOS (if you want to see more).

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