It took me hours to pack my bags. It felt very strange to be setting off for a holiday with no Carol to see me off. No-one to give the contact details to.
I went on the Grand Central train from Halifax to King’s Cross. I sat with a couple of actively retired vicars from Halifax. They told me about their 4 sons. The wife vicar was Swiss and delighted that I was travelling to Switzerland!
I walked to my hotel on the edge of Russell Square in the heat. My room was on the top, 7th floor and was even hotter than outside, no air con but noisy from lots of huge air con units in the courtyard below. Also smelly from frying in the kitchen.
The first thing I noticed in the room was that a person could climb out of the window. Not a good way to go.
I got on the bed and promptly fell fast asleep.
Then I went to Waitrose in the Brunswick centre to buy breakfast. I have to leave too early to get the hotel breakfast.
Back for more dozing then out to Carluccio’s for beer, cheese and pea salad and veggie balls with hummous, broccoli, tomato and a very thin crispy bread thing. All very nice. This ended up as the best dinner of the holiday. They asked me if I had any allergies. Guess this is after the Pret mess.
If I ever do anything like this again I’ll book my own hotel, a Premier Inn would have been fine.
I was too hot to sleep well. Got up at 5 and took a taxi to St. Pancreas. The driver was way too chatty for so early.
Met the tour leader, Philip and some of the party of 31. First of several reminders to be vigilant, a lesson from being gay for 40 years is that you always have eyes in the back of your head and assess situations quickly, at least I do, survival.
Sat next to Jim from Kansas. Ate my fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Once at the Gare du Nord we walked round to the Gare de l’Est. I bought a salad in M&S which I had on the TGV, still sitting next to Jim.
Arrived mid afternoon in Strasbourg. Nice clean and cool hotel Mercure opposite station. The room was on the 4th floor and was even easier to fall out of than the President in London.
I went and looked at the cathedral which was heaving. Got told off for not taking my cap off. I suspect God has better things to worry about but of course I apologised and took it off. I find people taking selfies more bothersome. Some people had gone in just to sit and fiddle with their phones.
We went to a restaurant very near to the hotel called Le Dix. I sat at the wrong table with an 80 year old bigot. What fun. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who found his opinions didn’t go down well. He was anti vegetarians and vegans. Kept repeating the same “joke” endlessly, about 10 times. Made unsatisfactory comments about queers.
For my dinner I had veggie quiche, aubergine tomato cheese thing, would be great on cold winter day! Fruit tart. Small glass of beer courtesy of my new Welsh friend Adrian.
Nice buffet breakfast. Fruit, yoghurt, rye bread, cheese, tomato, juice, coffee. This turned out to be the best breakfast of the holiday.
Trotted off to Les Ponts Couverts which I expected to be enclosed but they were not. Perhaps they had been in the past. It was nice walking before it got too hot. I tagged onto a random tour group briefly. At a bakery the leader said this is where I buy my bread, it’s very good, there was a queue out the door so I got a sandwich from them which was ok.
Returned to hotel to reconvene. We got on a very comfortable train to Basel, then crossed on foot into Switzerland at last, got stern looks from the frontier guards.
Train 2 took us Interlaken Ost. From there train 3 to Lauterbrunnen and then the smallest train up up up to Wengen. No vehicles are allowed in the village except for the electric truck that took all the bags and some of the less mobile people up to the Grand Hotel Belvedere which is grand to look at. They let a few small vans in but no private vehicles.
My room is on the top floor, fabulous views, top notch for cleanliness, lovely clean air, smell of woodsmoke. I actually felt something like happy. The first time. The windows are the worst yet for safety.
Dinner was a help yourself buffet, I had salad, pasta and creamy veg, cheese and dark bread. Ok but not haut cuisine.
Breakfast buffet, I had fruit (tinned, WTF?!) and yoghurt, cheese and bread and coffee.
I walked through the village, getting cash on the way. The co-op for salad and a nectarine.
I set off for Wengernalp but it was hot so I got halfway and hopped on the train at Allmend. Had a conversation entirely in German giving some directions to an elderly woman. At Wengernalp (1880 m) I wandered about until I found a quiet bench to eat my salad. The salad was very boring, needed a dressing. I found the dressing sachet at the bottom of the box, so the last third was ok. I started to walk back down and chatted to a Swiss woman keen to practise her English. Then I met a young Canadian who was an absolute delight. We took photos for each other. She restored my faith in humanity. I got back to Allmend and got the train back from there.
Bimbled about. Lipton’s apple and cinnamon tea in my room.
Dinner: salads, quiche and gnocchi and green beans, fruit mousse.
Went with Jude and Chris to sit near the church and watch the sun go down on the mountain. Popped in church, immediate feeling of calm and peace. Watched hang glider come down off mountain in rapidly failing light, bit scary to watch but we think they landed ok.
After breakfast of fruit and yoghurt and a boiled egg, we went up to Männlichen by big cable car from Wengen. I then walked another 100m of ascent to the peak at 2345m. Back down to the village to catch the train to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen to Zweilütschinen, from Zweilütschinen to Grindelwald. I popped in the co-op for another salad and then through the village to the small but very long cable car rising from 1034m to 2168m. I had my picnic at the top, did a bit of the “cliff walk” a metal path dangling over precipitous drops and then back down, getting a car to myself. As I got into the car an alarm went off and a man ran across to the controls. The alarm stopped and I went off down the mountain. A car coming up contained Tony and we waved at each other. He later told me that on his descent, there was an announcement about a problem and that passengers were to remain calm in the cars. The upshot of this story is that nothing further happened and he was safely brought to land without having to dangle. However this is one of my worst nightmares!
Back in Grindelwald I had my first ever iced coffee, it was ok, not sure if I want lots more of them but it worked well in the heat.
Too hot so I, and others from our party, took the train to Kleine Scheidigg and then another back to Wengen.
Salad, goulash, mousse. Sat with Adrian and Mark outside.