In July we joined Big Art (Arthur's Father), and Marji (Arthur's wicked stepmother) for a delightful trip to Switzerland with all of their children, spouses, and grandchildren. We based ourselves in Meiringen, a delightful village south of Luzern. Over the next days and weeks I will share my journal, photographs, and other goodies from our trip.
We quickly have breakfast and then meet a bus at the Bahnhof. Today is a bustour of four passes in Switzerland. We leave Meiringen and head east to Innertkirchen, where Marianne, and Peter live. We will come back here some hours later. In doing this we will be in four of the Kantonen: Bern, Valais, Ticino, and Uri.
Before we arrive at Grimsel, we climb to a vast dam with a guest house sitting on an island in the middle of the resulting lake. It is a scene in grey, with low clouds, the massive dam, the forboding guest house, and the cold. Scary! Two men are hanging onto the cable grip of a cable car that runs from the island to the eastern shore. Maintenance? Or is it something more mysterious. The scene pulls at my fantasy.
At Grimselpass we confront the cold. We've neglected to take jackets, so at the top of the pass it is cold. There is a little chapel at the pass, which we visit. It's very 60's and Roman Catholic; comforting! Nice stained glass, chunk glass in epoxy resin. We go down to the restaurant and have a hot coffee. The pass is at 2165 meters.
From Nuffenen, we work our way down to Oberwald, passing lush forests and shrines to Saint Christopher, along with a cog railway. We are moving toward the pass at Unfeuen (?) 2478 meters. Again it is a scene in grey in both directions. It is here that we abegin to move into Kanton Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton. There are subtle changes to signage, flora, and buildings. Villages are more dense, with buildings fronting directly upon the street. Churches are definitely Italian, with porticos, and a exterior section in total disrepair.
In Airolo, we stop to have lunch. We avoid the restaurants crowded around the Termini and instead go down the street to Il Forno, albergo e ristorante. It is a good choice. I have a salad and vitello tonnato while Arthur has maiale con fungi with potatoes and vegetables. For dessert there is a wonderfully heavy mousse of ciocolato con cerise. Best meal we've had! The town has a memorial to those who built the St. Gotthard Pass and several hardened fortifications from earlier wars, defending the pass.
The actual pass, 2108 meters, used to be the "king of passes", but is no longer as strategic since the opening of the tunnel that avoids the entirely by going beneath it. There is a statue honoring some ambassador (Google isn't even helpful with recovering this information) that used it. On the way down from the pass we see signs for Milano and Zurich. Also noticeable are huge air vents serving the tunnel that courses below us.
From there we go through the Schöllenenschlucht Gorge, truly spectacular, with towns and transitways hovering over the rocks and rushing waters. There is der Teufel's Brücke a death-defying bridge over the gorge.
We go on to Sustenpass (2224 meters) with its 25 bridges
and tunnels and the Stein glacier. Then back down to Innertkirchen, and
finally Meiringen. We do some shopping for dinner (veal stew with sage and
white wine, fingerling potatoes, zucchini, and peaches for dessert. While
I cook Arthur works incessantly on how to get a train to Einsiedeln
the promise for tomorrow.