Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Going to find Heidi in the Alps

This morning we were on the road fairly early as we had a 5 + hour drive ahead of us.  The breakfast was another good one, but we decided to keep on schedule and not dally in France any longer.  
As we drove out of the Loire Valley yesterday and into Switzerland, we noticed a change in the vegetation.  Everything in the Loire was very green and as we moved into Burgundy, the rolling hills became more like foothills and the fields were already gold and for the most part already harvested.  There were also a lot of vineyards now also.  
As we moved into Switzerland and higher elevations, there were conifers mixed in with the trees. 
At one point, we stopped for gas at a station that was part of a Renault car dealership out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.  I went to use the restroom and found the following and had to take a picture of it.  
So what is it?  It's the soap dispenser. So why is it in this blog? I thought it was funny.  It may not be totally evident from the photo, but the recessed area that has the Renault sticker is not a square.  It is more trapezoid shape.  So either Renault has gone into the business of making soap dispensers or they had a specially made sticker made for the recessed spot on the soap dispenser.  Either way, if you've ever driven a Renault, you would think that their time would be better spent working on refining their cars.
Along the route there were a lot of hillside fortresses and chateau that were visible from the road on distant hillsides or on the top of a cliff.  Getting pictures of these buildings was not easy and successful only a small percentage of the time as they involved wrapping the camera strap around the wrist and then sticking the camera out of the window and shooting back over the top of the car.  

The down side is that you sometimes get other objects in the picture that can't be easily cropped out.  This is more to the point that everyone seems to have a historical site in their backyard here in Europe.

Since I'm already on an architectural frame of mind, I thought I'd share some photos of various items that have some really interesting/cool details.  First the two-faced door.
 With the cool handles.
 Most of the houses along the streets as you pass through the little towns have shutters that they keep closed most of the time for privacy, to keep out the road noise, etc.  These windows looked like portholes and had little matching porthole covers.
We arrived in Lauterbrunnen about 3p.  Lauterbrunnen is on the valley floor at about 2608 ft above sea level. Murren, our ultimate destination is just under 5400 ft above sea level.  We had to take a cable car up to the interrim stop of Grutschalp and then catch a little train to Murren.  All told that takes about 40 minutes.  Our car was left in a parking garage at the train station in Lauterbrunnen.  
 A lot of people take their bikes up on the trams and then ride down.

We found the apartment easily.  Grace and Marcel were out on a hike so Bob and I walked down to the Co-op market and bought breakfast and lunch items and then we settled into our new rooms.  For dinner we walked down the street to a restaurant and enjoyed some mighty fine fondue for dinner.  Our seats were at the back of the restaurant and as you looked out the window, you looked straight down into the alley below.  While we talked, we noticed several paragliders below us.  One with an orange sail looked like it was doing some fancy manoeuvers.  The sail was spinning and wavering a bit, but then filled up and he seemed to have caught an up draft.  A minute later, he again seemed to be having the same "fun" but it became apparent to all of us that he was in a downdraft and he began to fall.  He opened his secondary shoot as the primary shoot began to be useless and get in his way.   As he got lower, the sail began to drag on the tree tops.  He eventually cut away the main sail which fell into the forest and he continued his flight with his back up chute which was red and looked like it was heart shape.  

We walked back from dinner and stopped and admired the mountains across the valley.

Here is where we are staying.
The plan for tomorrow is to get moving early so that we can catch one of the first trains up to the top of the Jungfrau.  Mornings are the best chance for good weather at the top.   

Steps count for today: 6,144.  We'll fix that tomorrow.  :)

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