Day 8: Lauterbrunnen, Brienz, Mereingen, Sherlock Holmes and The Greatest Walk Of My Life

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I woke up and threw open the French doors. I breathed in the fresh Swiss mountain air. I looked at the waterfall and the valley bathed in sunlight. I looked up at the Jungfrau as it shone stark white against the bluest of blue sky. The rain is a distant memory. Breakfast was fresh eggs, salami, ham, crunchy, chewy bread, local butter, homemade jam, local cheeses, orange juice, handmade yogurt, tea and coffee. After fueling up we headed for the town of Brienze which is just down the road on the Brienzersee, another incredible blue glacial lake. Mom and I shopped a lot because that is one of my favorite towns to shop in. I found the most awesomest thing to buy for my friends back home. I will share later because I want it to be a surprise to them. But trust me it is totally cool. I bought a ton of other really expensive things. I got a purse, a sweater, a wallet, and some pins. Most of the stuff in the stores are these hand carved statues and figures. I really wanted one of a Swiss man in traditional clothing waving a flag and a mountain goat but even for a four inch high figure, it is $100. I have to settle for the hiking man I already own, until I win the lottery. We went to the school where the people are taught to make the carvings. They are so well done, it is easy to u derstand why it is so expensive. There was also a museum there with cuckoo clocks and music boxes.
While mom and I shopped, my dad had a great time walking the stunning walkway along the lake. We met back up and dad showed us some cool things he found. There was a small park with some art. A banana sitting in a chair, a carved bear and then there was this fun water art thing. You stan on a platform and rock it side to side. That pumps water from the lake I to the air. Then you can over different levers to make the water flow different directions which, in turn, makes things rotate and twirl. I had fun getting splashed and cooled off.
We then drove to a town called Meirengen. We went to a cafe called Tea Room Frutiger where a long time ago a baker was making czkes and had too many egg whites left over so he added some sugar, whipped them up and baked them to see what would happen. The meringue was invented. We each ordered a meringue mit schlag und eis (with whipped cream and ice cream). Dad got the regular and mom and I got the mini. Dad's was HUGE. We each got one plain and one chocolate meringue, huge piles of cream and a dark butter colored vanilla scoop and a strawberry scoop of ice cream. I ate it looking up at the Alps from under a shady umbrella. The sugar gave us fuel for what was to come.
We headed from there to the Reichenbachfalls. This is where Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty got into a struggle and fell to their supposed deaths in Aurther Connen Doyle's famed books. We took a cable train up the VERY steep track to the base of the falls. Because of the rains, the falls were rip roaring. The other people on the train with us had a look around and took the train back down but not us. We took the steep hike up to the top of the falls. There were a lot of switchbacks and bridges. We could see insane views of Meirengen below as well as the whole valley with the little villages dotted on the hillside across the valley. The sound of the rushing water did not cover up the tinkling of the bells around the cows necks down in the valley. When we got to the very top of the hike there was a road nd a restaurant that was closed for the off season. We took the road that lead us even higher into the mountai side.
We were all alone on a little road bately big enough for one car to navigate. The sun was shining, the wikdflowers were bursting with color all over the green, rolling fields. There were brown little chalets with red geraniums spilling from every window sill. Cows and goats all had their bells on so you could hear them near and far grazing on the bountiful array of weeds, grass and flowers. This is the reason cheese and meat tastes so darn good here. Other than the tinkling bells and occasional dog barking there was no sound. The sun was warm and bright and there was a wonderful, cool, light breeze. After a little while we came across a farmer and his wife turning fresh hay. We also walked by several gardens with potatoes, onions, poppies, lettuce and more. One of the little farmhouses had a bunch of school kids running around. I was guessing that it was a farm class or something. They said hello on some sort of German dialect and we reciprocated with a wave and a hello. Then we were alone again. Just the crunching of out feet on the gravel. Every. Ow and again I would OK back up the hill we were heading down to see cute brown cows grazing with the backdrop of the snowy Alps. We came across some cows that were right alongside the road. This is when I discovered I have a hidden talent. Apparently, I can speak Cow with a perfect local dialect. When I mood at the cows they would look up quickly, like: how did she do that? One cow started dancing for me, one came over and sniffed my hand, others came running over.
If you know me, you would know that this would normally frighten me, but not Swiss cows. American cows are mean, lumpy, dirty and scary. Swiss cows are soft, cute, with big floppy, fuzzy brown ears and giant brown eyes with long eyelashes. They are cute and clean and happy. Plus there was an electric fence between us. We came across lots of cows. I four d this to be as Swiss as anything could possibly get. sweet cows munching on wildflowers with chalets and Alps all around. It was the greatest walk I have ever been on. But wait, there is we descended we entered a forest. It was cool, list and dark. Ferns were growing out of the rocks, moss was on the wood and everything was a shade of beautiful green. We walked on into a rocky area where the road took us behind waterfalls and through caves. After a little over an hour of hiking we came across a bridge that crossed the cable rail we took to get up the falls. We fol,owed a ti y path down stone stairs back to the parking lot. I had a couple blisters on my feet by the time we got to the bottom but it was SO worth it.
Exhausted but feel I g great, we drove to Grindelwald for a beer. The normally busy town was pretty mellow and we were able to find a cafe where we could sit by the railing. We ordered drei grosse biers. For the millionth time that day, I filled my lungs with Swiss Alpine air. From the deck we could see, unobstructed by buildings or clouds, the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfru. The story being the names of these three famous Alps is that the Monk in the middle protects the Young Woman from the Ogre.
We shopped some more. Not much was open but I had to get something from this town since I have been here so many times. I found a cool thing you put on your car that says Grindelwald. I am betting I will be the only person at home who will have that. I'm excited to put it on.
We headed home, first picking up some local cheese and a cold bottle of Swiss white wine. We enjoyed that using mom's new wine glasses from Megeve. I mentioned in an earlier blog that mo bought this cool set of six wine glasses, each with a different game animal etched on it. This evening we each got to choose which animal we wanted. Dad chose the stag, mom chose the rabbit and I chose the boar. We sat on my parents' balcony. It could not have been more wonderful. Relaxing, drinking, laughing, resting and enjoying the view, our own, private view.
For dinner we walked a couple places down the road to a restaurant I have actually eaten at before. I couldn't help myself, it is our last night in Switzerland so I HAD to have the fondue...again. I ordered the house special and mom ordered the traditional. Dad got Rosti with bacon and a fried egg on top...and tons of melted cheese too. Mine was really good. I could definately taste the grappa or brandy in it and it had strong flavored cheese. The best yet. Mine came with potatoes and a tray of spices that I could add to the cheese to make it have different flavors. there was chopped onion, chopped garlic, chives, cumin, a mixture of cracked pepper and sliced mushrooms. I chose to put a little pepper and garlic on my potatoes and then drizzled some cheese on that. Like a little raclette. Walking home we were quite jovial because of all the wine we had that evening. We giggled all the way up to our rooms. I slept like a baby log.

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