Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Day 1: We join the Happy Wanderers

Day 1:We join “The Happy Wanderers”!

We were there at 9.30am as planned. 9.35am and Wilkie came down to the reception of the Hotel Oberland, shaking his head and muttering that it was like getting a party of children ready for an outing. But there were four men, sleeping in the same room. All trying to get into the bathroom at the same time, and all trying to give it some time before they went into the same bathroom, if you get my drift! Wilkie and his friends, Dave Ed and Roger have been coming here for 25years, walking in the mountains, so it was great to be looked after by them, ferried onto trains and gondola-style ski lifts. That’s the only way to get around here. In fact, Wengen, in the high hills, can only be accessed by ski lift, service tracks or on foot!!
We finally get under way, with mutterings about dicky tummies, and tiredness due to a bad night’s sleep. We get the gondola up the mountain-side to Grutschalp, then the railway along the plateau to Murren, and then another gondola to Birg, which took us to 2600m up the Schilthorn. A few hundred metres later we were on the Schilthorn, famous for its starring role in the Bond film, (which bombed) On Her Majestys Secret Service!
With Wilkie waxing lyrical about the scenery, Roger, the hairdresser from Blackburn, cracking increasingly risqué jokes, Wilkie’s son, Alistair, buying the biggest cow-bell he could afford, and Dave Ed introducing us to Roger and Wilkie’s night-time habits, we had a great time making our way down from the Schilthorn. All the time accompanied by the most stunningly beautiful mountain views, on the clearest day, with the bluest sky. Astonishing! This went some way towards taking the pain out of tired knees and blistered feet, that had been softened by bike pedals for some time. We may have gibbed by making the main exertion downhill, but what a downhill! 4500feet of descent!
Unfortunately I had a stinking migraine on the way down, which I can only put down to altitude, reaching nearly 3000m in about an hour on our first outing. But I felt grim! Two migraleve later, and a little rest and I was ready for something to eat! We ate in the campsite café which proved to be great value. I had the local Rosti: grated potatoes, cheese, ham and mushrooms- absolutely delicious!
Slightly easier day planned for tomorrow, but we’d purchased two six day rail passes at 150Euros each, so we were committed to making the most of them during our stay here!
Really cold at night, once the sun’s gone down, which is quite early here in the valley, about 5pm

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