It’s my last day here in the Alps. I fly home tomorrow. I spent another day walking on prepared snowy paths in Central Switzerland. I joined my friend Kathrin on the train from Meiringen and we travelled just over the Brünig Pass to the village of Lungern where I worked in the hotel for the summer of 1975. The family I worked for at the Hotel Rössli became great friends of ours and the niece and her family that visited me on Sunday. The hotel is long gone and has been replaced, sadly, by a bank branch. The train journey took just over twenty minutes and we soon arrived at Lungern station. After a twenty minute walk we were at the totally new cable car station, only opened last year.
A walk along the Hasliberger Dorfweg (Hasliberg village trail) is like a 1960s geography lesson brought to life. Just as I did yesterday, I took the crowded cable car from Meiringen/Alpbach to Reuti at one end of the trail. In school we learnt how to draw a Swiss chalet and the practicality of the design. We learned about transhumance and how self-sufficient each farm needed to be and about diversification. In physical geography we studied glaciers and valley shapes and the importance of communication routes. The evidence is all to be found on this walk.
Hooray! This morning the rain had stopped and the sun came out and it was time to head up, up, up to the nearest peak and make my way back down quite a bit of it on foot.
Yesterday one of my teeth broke whilst eating lunch with my friend Barbara in Bern. She made an appointment for me to visit a dentist in Lucerne this afternoon. It’s a lovely journey from Meiringen on a train with picture windows which winds its way up and over the Brünig Pass out of the Bernese Alps region and into Central Switzerland.
There are probably other places in the world that have a claim to fame not from being the birthplace of a famous author but from being the location of the death of a character of fiction. But the ‘Borough’ of Meiringen in the Bernese Alps, as well as being the birthplace of the meringue, is also well-known throughout the world as the location of the dramatic ‘death’ of fictional English sleuth Sherlock Holmes, maybe the most famous. The Sherlock Holmes Museum is housed in the former English Church right opposite my hotel.
During November Milady was called to the Jury at Leeds Crown Court and those two (harrowing) weeks were followed by a week busy visiting family and friends in Norwich, London and Surrey and last week preparing for Christmas – writing cards, shopping and buying presents – and planning and packing for THIS week in Switzerland!
In addition to the Barry exhibition at the Bern Natural History Museum there were several other setions which attracted my interest. By the way, re-reading my post of yesterday reminded me that I’d seen a real live Barry on the Gornergrat a few years ago. I thought he was having a day out just like me but apparently he’s part of the scenery.
A St Bernard poses for the camera
Like most Natural History Museums the world over the museum in Bern has its fair share of mammals from around the world but these were not of great interest to me. I prefer something of more local interest.
The Planggenstock Treasure has been on display in the Museum since 2011. These quartz crystals and crystal clusters were discovered under the Planggenstock Peak in the canton of Uri in Central Switzerland in 2005.
The largest group of crystals weighs 300kg.
Smoky Rock Crystals
The oldest objects in the collection are three rock crystals found in 1719 on the Vorderer Zingenstock.
As time was limited I left the collection of minerals, crystals, diamonds and rocks and moved on to the section featuring dioramas of the wildlife of Switzerland. Here was diorama after diorama of birds and animals in their settings. I was particularly interested to se all the different types of deer. I would call a deer a deer but in Switzerland they always distinguish between roe deer and chamois and red deer and ibex.
Gemse = Chamois
Chamois feeding at Innsbruck Alpine Zoo (2010)
Ibex at Innsbruck Alpine Zoo
The Alpine Ibex is known at the Alpensteinbock in German. Chamois are Gemse and Reh is roe deer and Hirsch are Red deer.
Red Deer or Hirsch
Mountain Hares in Summer
Mountain Hares in Winter
And finally … Please take me home!