Monday, July 20, 2009

EU trip (Swiss Alps - Interlaken and Jungfrua Area), Day 11 -12

DAY 11 - 12
When we got up in the morning the clouds were still there but quite high in the sky so it was quite a bright morning and no rain but it could come back any moment. We were to drive to Interlaken today, so we rushed to the bathrooms for early morning jobs and got ready to pack up. We got lucky again as due to the break in rain we were able to clean and pack up or tent and other stuff into the van before it started raining again. We paid our dues at the small camp office quickly and moved out of this town. Interlaken was the next stop a couple of hours away but again through very scenic route. We kept following the GPS directions and ended up at a toll station that claimed 25 franks and we got loaded into a train unknowingly. This turned out to be quite an interesting experience as the train went through many tunnels and made our trip shorter by 30 miles and saved us about an hour roughly. But we came across some very nice areas and water falls falling from great heights, I can’t explain that really. We just sat in our car during this time and enjoyed the scenery or the darkness of the tunnels. As we came out of the train the drive was not much as the lake started on our left.

Interlaken is sandwiched between two lakes, the surroundings are really cool and lush. We had a couple of tough nights so thought of staying at a hotel for a day or so to do some laundry and rest. So we found the information center that told us that there was no place available in any budget hotel or hostel, however he pointed out a tent village where we could rent already erected big tents for the night. So we drove to the booking place that was a hostel too. It was full of young people. The facilities were great with kitchen, laundry, play room, TV room etc. etc. Without any hassle we got a tent with six beds reserved for us for 106 franks, it was quite reasonable owing to the fact that most of the hotels and hostels were packed up. Village was not far from the town and just 1 km from their hostel. We could occupy it not before 4 pm so after getting our place all set up we came back to the main street on bus leaving our car at the tent village, and had a complete round of the city and discovered that due to some local festivities there was a big fireworks at 10 pm. The bus pass was included in our tent rent.

We had a nice lunch / dinner at a Turkish Halal place that we found during our city tour. Food was awesome and filling. When we decided to go back to the tent and bring our car to see the fireworks we got to know that there was no bus available at that time. We got stranded but then saw a taxi, which took us back to the camp while Sajeel and Waseem stayed in the city, as they couldn’t fit into the taxi. I went with my wife and Iman and Hassan back to the camp and drove back to the city. Luckily we found a good parking spot not far from the site of fireworks. The night had become cold, and the fireworks started at 10:30pm but it was a real nice one. It was a treat by this city, and we saw fireworks in the mountains for the first time.

Late night we made it back to our camp. This is when we received call from my elder bro that they were also reaching Interlake but without any kind of booking for the night. It was about 1:30am when their train arrived, Waseem had to go pick them up. He got a tent booked for them from the hostel as well, but when they came the same tent had people already sleeping in it. Finally at 2:30am the attendant from the hostel came himself and sorted it out for us. We slept close to the morning for a few hours only.

Everyone started getting up early morning out of excitement of meeting each other. Now we had my brother, his wife and their two kids with us and they would remain with us for the next four days. This was amazing because there was no plan of meet up or for staying together when they left for EU 10 days ahead of us.

Anyhow we took showers and then prepared breakfast for everyone and had a hearty meal. The famous area of mountains in this region is Jungfrau and is pronounced as yunfrao. Jungfrau is the tallest mountain of this area. From Interlaken there are several routes of mountain trains, which take you to different mountain towns, some are car free zones like Zermatt. So instead of going to one top of the mountain train we took a circular route, which would cover Grindelwald, Kl. Scheidegg, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen. At each of these towns one would have to change the train and hop on to another color of train those are marked for different areas. These are smaller size trains with powerful engines because they have to climb mountains, when you see them from far while going uphill these seem like colored warms moving slowly on the ridges. Our train was not too crowded as it wasn’t the weekend, so we all got seats on the windows. Kids had their cousins so they were over excited anyhow. The development done in Swiss has no words to explain and admire. Their infrastructure is absolutely world class and so is the beauty given to this country by the Almighty.

And the most important thing is how they have preserved it so well. People here are very fond of flowers and plants and you see a lot of different colors of flowers and several types of trees and plants.

We got down at Grindelwald first and had a nice walk in the main and only street of the pollution free town. We also had the lunch break here, and our lunch consisted of fresh bread bought from the bakery eaten with honey, cheese and jam. Breads were very delicious in France and Switzerland and I never had such amazing tastes of breads anywhere.

We hopped on to the next available train to Kl. Scheidegg, going further up into the mountains. This was a small village with lots of man friendly goats on the station itself. What else our kids wanted, they spent a lot of time playing with them. We had a small trekking expedition from here into the green pastures offering abundance of greenery and prettiness. The walk was very easy while going downhill and was difficult uphill. The surroundings were full of fresh air, wet mountain soil, peaks, plants and flowers. Iman made some nice bouquet out of numerous colored flowers growing on each side of the small trek snaking deep into the mountains. We passed some nice water streams and freshened up ourselves with crystal clear chilled water. Temperature kept dropping as we went up into the mountains.

Our last train going back from here was at 5:30 pm and we also had to make another stop so we turned back and came to the station. We wanted to stop at the beautiful town of Lauterbrunen that is the last drivable town in the region. There was one amazing campsite named as Jungfrau Camping, what an amazing natural setting it is sitting in. There are waterfalls visible from where you camp; this was one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever seen in the last several years of my camping. This town was very nice and was surrounded by several other waterfalls, 72 to be more precise. A walk in the town was worth it. We came back to the station to catch one of the last trains going back to Interlaken after finishing our excursion. And from Interlaken station we had to make two trips to the Tent Village to transport all of us to the village.

We assembled and then started to cook our dinner, we cooked some rice and daal/channa/lentils combination. It was a weird combination but we loved eating it. The night was interesting. It was not that cold and staying out and cooking was a fun. After the diner we thought of crashing after a hectic day.

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