Hanging with the locals

I am staying at the very cozy and old (built 150 years ago) Chalet Keller.  Named for Andreas and Iranni Keller the current owners.  DSCN4165

I found this lovely chalet through the online Airbnb website.  This site connects travelers with people that have a room to rent out.  Unlike the other rentals I have done in the past using Airbnb means the owner will be in the house as well.  The Keller’s actually live and work in Bern so they only come up to the chalet on weekend.  This means for the most part I have the house to myself.  A week ago Andreas and Irnanni invited me to go with them on a day hike the Saturday they would be in Gimmelwald.  Of course I accepted.

Bright an early we headed down the hill to catch the cable car down to the valley where they keep their car.

IMG_0963

Our destination was Gelmersee (The Gelmer Lake). To get to the lake you take a funicular up.  It claims to be the steepest funicular in Europe at a 105% grade.  I believe the claim.

DSCN4349

Luckily Andreas had purchased tickets in advance.  We boarded, they lowered a bar to keep us in and UP we went.

IMG_0965 IMG_0967 DSCN4356

The lake at the top was a man made lake but filled with the runoff from glaciers so was a wonderful turquoise color.   And of course surrounded with views of gorgeous mountains.

IMG_0973 DSCN4393

We took a hike that went around the lake.  The colors changed as the position of the sun changed.  Is was a pretty level hike but there were some interesting cliffs and ledges that the trail crossed.

DSCN4374 DSCN4399

It took about 2 hours to walk around the lake and get back to the dam.

DSCN4417

Back at the beginning we hiked down instead of taking the funicular.

DSCN4421

At the bottom the path crossed a cool suspension bridge over to a cafe where we had hot chocolates.  A great hike.

IMG_1003

On drive home Andreas explained that they often just drive around looking for sites to see.  Sure enough he suddenly veered off the main road and started up an extremely narrow road.  When we met another car someone had to back up to find a pull off for the pass.  We came to a little hut where we paid 8 dollars and started a hike, I had no idea what we were going to see.  The hike climbed up to a narrow canyon.  there were catwalks, tunnels that followed the water around waterfalls and pools.  It was very loud as the water crashed down.

IMG_1033

IMG_1038 IMG_1044

It was a great day and certainly an opportunity to see something I wouldn’t have had the chance to do if I wasn’t staying at an Airbnb.

Up, up and away

Posted from Holzhäusern, Canton of Zug, Switzerland.

Yesterday I mentioned that on Thursday I started the day with an adventure.  I had been seing paragliders soaring down from the cliff tops into the Lauterbrunnen valley since my first day here.  I couldn’t resist I had to do it.  I made arrangements for a tandem paragliding trip.  I met my pilot in Murren.  There were 5 pilots.  They each had a huge pack on their backs with the gear.  We headed up the hill.  At the launch site they spread out all of the sails, arranged the lines and outfitted us with our harnesses.  The harnesses actually contained the seat we would be sitting in once we got airborne.  We waited for a few minutes for the wind to come up the hill.  One by one we took off.  I was last.  The pilot told me to start running down the hill.  Were slow at first as the sail came off the ground and held us back. But then we ran faster until suddenly the ground was gone.  I was flying.  It was unlike anything I’ve done before.  Amazing. Here’s the video.

Hiking, hiking, hiking

Posted from Holzhäusern, Canton of Zug, Switzerland.

Everywhere I go in this part of Switzerland there are signs for hiking. They list the name of a location and how long it will take to get there. The signs point the direction to go. Each of my first 5 days I have selected a hike. The weather has been very nice. Totally clear one day, partly cloudy the other days. I take endless pictures of the amazing views.

Sunday – Sprutz, a hike behind a waterfall followed by a place that serves great cakes. While eating the cake a could see paragliders soaring in the air above me.

IMG_0810 DSCN4169 DSCN4170 IMG_0823 DSCN4176 IMG_0829 DSCN4187
Monday – a gondola ride up above Wengen to Mannlichen (or as Emily calls it ??) then a hike down toward Grindelwald with views of the 3 famous mountains, the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau.

DSCN4192 IMG_0844 DSCN4196 IMG_0860 DSCN4210 (1)

And I made some friends high in the mountains!!

Tuesday – I started with my cable car transportation to the valley floor, a train ride then a cog train ride up a very steep mountain to Schynige Platte  with views down toward the lakes of Interlochen in one direction and the mountains in the other. Then ending with a beer in Kliene Scheidegg.

DSCN4215 IMG_0895 IMG_0898 DSCN4226 DSCN4230 DSCN4234 IMG_0925

Wednesday – a funicular ride up above Murren then a hike above tree line looking down in the Lauterbrunnen valley.

DSCN4251 (1) IMG_0926 DSCN4254 DSCN4265

Thursday – I started with an adventure I’ll blog about later then a stroll along the river in the Lauterbrunnen valley then a gondola out of the valley and a downhill hike home.

DSCN4306 DSCN4310

Friday – back to Manlicken but hiking down toward Wengen this time.

DSCN4315 IMG_0957 DSCN4325 DSCN4326 IMG_0958 DSCN4335

It only took 24 years

Posted from Lauterbrunnen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland.

In September of 1991 Matthew and I took our first journey to Europe. We met Kathleen and John in Zurich and spent a few days seeing Switzerland , Germany and France. Then we parted ways. They told us to go see Lauderbrunnen, a beautiful little village in an amazing valley. So we went. It was unforgettable. It made me want to see more of Europe and started my many travels there. It would be 23 years before I returned to that lovely valley. 

In July of 2014 Carolyn, Emily and I visited Lauterbrunnen again.  We drank pitchers of beer where the base jumpers hung out. We visited the Jungfraujock. We hiked the alps where we had lunch in a small village high in the mountains. It was Gimmelwald. At first sight I knew this was a place I wanted to spend time in. 

In September of 2015 I returned to Gimmelwald. Perched on the cliffs high above the Lauterbrunnen valley. No access by road only by hiking or cable car. I chose the cable car. Through airbnb I found a very old chalet. I was met at the station by Andreas the owner. He walked me up the hill to his home (actually weekend home). A very old chalet in the middle of heaven. He showed me his place. He told me of  hikes. He pointed out the names of the mountains. The next day he and his wife returned to Bern. Now I’m living in Gimmelwald. 24 years after my first visit. It is more beautiful than ever. 

   

View from behind the chalet  
 Looking down on Gimmelwald. 

Our ability to travel

Posted from Bern, Canton of Bern, Switzerland.

It is 9:00 pm, I am sitting on the roof of a hotel in the charming city of Bern, Switzerland.  

 The air is cool, it is quiet. I can hear a few people on the street and every 15 minutes the bells from the churches I can see. I am looking over the roof tops thinking how amazing our ability to travel is. 24 hours ago I was sitting on my couch, waiting for Stacy to pick me up and take me to the bus. Three bus rides later I’m at DFW. I board a gorgeous 777 and even snag a seat with a comfortable amount of leg room. Two meals, 3 glasses of wine, 2 movies and a 30 minute nap later I’m in the London  Heathrow airport. That place it huge, chaotic and a bit  exciting. Another flight gets me to Zurich. I catch a train and arrive a bit dazed in Bern. I find my hotel (I am carrying way too much stuff, my back hurts). It is mid afternoon. I shower and crash for a two hour nap. I wake up groggy but I know the best medicine is to get outside and see the town. I wander the streets of the old town down to the Aare a River.  

 The town is quaint, charming but also crowded with fancy high end stores. There are few people. I see a building above the river, it is a brewpub and restaurant. I can’t resist. I’m seated at a table with another lone diner. He is an older man with a long thin mustache that is 8 inches long and sticks straight out. I have an excellent beer followed by a sausage and röti dinner. Delicious. 

  

  I make my way back through town to my hotel. I walk up the stairs to my top floor room but see a set of stairs going higher. They emerge on to a roof top terrace. Though it is dark the view is amazing. I’m looking out over the town. It is beautiful. 24 hours ago I was sitting on my couch. The ability to travel is an amazing gift. I wonder where I’ll be in 24 hours?