Note: This is a catch-up Blog from September 2015 (We’re slack !!)
After riding many Swiss Alp roads we had a change of pace and headed for a couple of Switzerland’s natural wonders high in the alps. The Matterhorn was our first destination, and as it turned out the ride to get there was an unexpected adventure in itself…… and fun to look back on now. Accommodation and general living can be quite expensive in Switzerland, so our accommodation was an old hotel (with character) joined to a motor park. It was a little way from any village but they did have a small bar come restaurant, so eating wasn’t going to be a hassle except ….. it was Monday and wouldn’t you know it, we turned up only to find out it’s closed on Mondays! Luckily though we’d been conditioning our bodies to go a night without food :-)….. and Jo always has a chocolate stash …. somewhere….
A continuation of the Blog Titled – The Road to Switzerland
The Matterhorn 10/09/15
Up reasonably early we had ourselves a small breaky, then it was time to throw the leg over the scooter for our day out at a natural wonder called the Matterhorn. From our little hotel just east of the small village of Visp, it wasn’t going to be a long ride. What it lacked in length, it certainly made up with beauty. Zermatt is the village from where the cog train slowly heads skyward.
We travelled through a few small villages but one that stood out was called St Niklaus, just magnificent with mountains over 4,500 meter’s one side and 4,000 the other. Kept an eye out for the fat fella sunning himself but no cigar, nowhere to be seen. Swiss villages are kept so immaculate and clean, it’s such a pleasure to slowly cruise alone trying to soak it all in. It’s a place where speed just doesn’t fit in with your surroundings. Parking is tightly controlled in this area but found a spot for the bike outside a closed Tourist Information building, very handy we thought. Off we went on a small train ride to the starting point of the cog train that would take us deep, up into these magnificent mountains. The cog trains aren’t fast but deliver scenery and views that are so spectacular, and in someways indescribable.
Back down the mountain after a most spectacular day….. when we made it back to the bike there was a little note carefully taped to the seat! It kindly reminded the owners that “Australian” motorbikes have no more priveleges than local bikes and shouldn’t be parked in this location……Oops !
The ride back to the hotel was quite uneventful after ‘quietly’ slipping out of town. A lovely Swiss couple Adolf and Margret were in the room next to ours and on their annual wild mountain berry picking expedition which would last for quite a few days. These are no ordinary berry’s, they are very small (tiny), orange and used for healthy fruit drinks. They are only picked once a year during a very small window of opportunity. It’s wonderful to talk to people who live different lives to ours. When they had their berries picked it was off home, but not before they showed their thoughtfulness in giving us a copy of the the New Testament and wishes for safe travels ahead, how lovely.
The next day saw us heading towards the beautiful Swiss town of Interlaken. A quick look at the map and it appeared to be a straight forward ride along some great roads and a long mountain tunnel, which is on the other side of Switzerland’s highest mountain range from our lodgings. Well it wasn’t quite that simple! After riding deep into the mountains we stopped at a booth, suspecting it must be the toll for the tunnel. After parting with some cash, we were handed an information pamphlet, thinking that’s a bit odd, just to go through a tunnel?? Off we go only to be stopped again shortly, along with all the other vehicles…… now this isn’t what we were expecting! Well there is a tunnel, but you have go through it by train !! In sign language, instructions were given to go to the front of the line and wait, hell this wasn’t in the script !
The train arrived and we waited patiently while vehicles unloaded. We were then told to go to the rear carriage (which was a normal covered type) and ride in though the side door and park. We had no idea where we were heading, but did notice some ropes inside so figured the bike should be roped down for the trip. Being the only motorbike onboard there was no one to ask where we might be heading? The cars drive onto open carriages, in front of our, and the occupants just stay in their vehicles for the trip.
The trained moved off so we had time to kill. Out comes the iPad for Jo to catch up on some trip notes, and a map book for me to help identify where the heck this train is heading!
The train came out of one tunnel for a glimpse of some lovely scenery, then back into another long tunnel, where finally exiting we came to a stop. Only having side windows all we could see was some nice country side, nothing special. It was about this time the pamphlet we received earlier was dragged out, with no english on it we figured we must be at the end of the trip?? While waiting for an attendant to open door and instruct how to exit the train, we slowly untied the bike and stuffed about….. no hurry. No sign of an attendant, and time was dragging on, so started looking around. Jo noticed a sign on the double doors at the front of the carriage that kind of said in sign launguage “You have to let yourself out”.
On opening the door, there was not A vehicle insight along this very long train! Panic set in because the next load of vehicles we thought would be driving back onto the carriages from the far end blocking our exit! Picture this…. the jackets and helmets were just thrown on and stuff going every where so we could get out and on our way for the ride along the open carriages, check the video out and you’ll see what we mean…
Glad to be off the train after learning a thing or two, we set off for Interlaken and the surrounding area’s of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen. The countryside is so neat, even the paddocks looked groomed as we headed for Lauterbrunnen. When riding into this village the first thing you see is a beautifully placed waterfall right above the main street, what a sight to see. We continued the ride through this unique valley until we came to a boom gate that put an end to this journey.
While having a look around an english couple came over. We started talking and when finally getting around to introducing ourselves it turned out they where Spencer’s as well! Long lost cousin’s (not really, but sounds good !!) Allan and Cathy Spencer from Dorset, England. After talking about the upcoming game between Australia and England in the Rugby World Cup (which Australia went onto win:-), it was back on the bike to Grindelwald, to catch the historic cog train to Jungfraujoch.
The cog train ride takes around an hour to reach the top station and delivers magnificent views along the way. A group of members from a Swiss mountain band were seated in front of us. In the spirit of the mountains the leader had a box of beer and was handing stubby sized bottles of beer to the musicians. Wouldn’t you know it, he had two left over and offered them to us. With out a blink of an eye we accepted with a smile and a big thank you. As always we got talking and one of the girls from the band loved Australia, so much so that she had Koala’s tattooed on her leg. From here we’ll keep the commentary short and let the pictures do the talking,