Today was the most amazing day of our adventure so far. We woke up, had breakfast at the hostel, and then packed our bags, leaving them there while we took a cable car up to Schilthorn.
If you’ve ever seen On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the 007 film from 1969 (the only time George Lazenby portrayed as the suave spy), then you’ve seen where we were. Nearly the entire movie was filmed there!
It’s almost impossible to do it justice in words, but essentially it’s a peak in the alps at roughly 10,000 feet with a revolving restaurant on top. It isn’t the highest point in the alps. It isn’t even the highest point I’ve been (I was at nearly double the elevation when I summited Kilimanjaro last year). But it was by far the best view. From the peak you stare out in all directions at the sheer rock faces of the alps which are draped in pristine snow. I go to school in Utah, right along the Rocky Mountains, so I’m no stranger to big, snowy mountain ranges, and although we weren’t any higher than some peaks I’ve been to in the Rockys, the view was incomparable. Not even in the same league. It’d be like comparing an irrigation canal to the Grand Canyon.
And we lucked out with our timing too. We had seen the forecast for sun in the morning and clouds in the afternoon, so we (and about 17,000 Japanese tourists. Seriously.) booked it up to the top. We got to gaze jaw-dropped at the distant peaks and took plenty of photos and videos in the brilliant, snow-reflected sunlight, then spent a few minutes in the gift shop and 007 museum. When we went back outside clouds were rolling in right on schedule. We had just enough time to snap a few more photos before the clouds hid everything and we caught the cable car back down to Gimmelwald. Down below the clouds the view of the opposite side of the valley was incredible. I’ve never had such a hard time saying goodbye to a vacation spot as I did here. I just never wanted to leave! But I know tomorrow it will be rainy and overcast, so it’s better to leave with a good image in my head, anxious to return, rather than trudging through the rain with wet shoes and never wanting to come back.
We decided to make our way to Bern for tonight, and on the way we made a quick stop in the lakeside town of Thune. Francis (our host from Basel) had recommended it, and for very good reason. The lake water was deep turquoise, and far in the distance the clouds would occasionally clear up and offer a glimpse of the alps. I can only imagine how pretty this town would be on a perfectly clear, sunny day. But even with the overcast weather we enjoyed a wonderful walk by the lake and through a lush park, which had a castle in the middle. Yeah. A castle in the park. In the states we’re lucky if our park has a water fountain and this one had a flippin castle!
Rain began pouring basically out of nowhere as we walked back to the station. So we just barely squeezed these places in before the rain returned. And it didn’t stop raining. And still hasn’t.
When we arrived in Bern, with rain still pouring down, we didn’t have anywhere to go. Our couch surfing requests had been declined, and the hostel was far and expensive. So, like in Cooenhagen, we called the local church and were introduced to a lovely young couple who would take us in for the night. But first we had to find the place. We had the address, but the train stop was about a 15 minute walk from their apartment. So we arrived soaking wet and tired, but they were kind and gracious as they welcomed us in. We chatted and got to know them, then watched a movie together before hitting the hay.