Switzerland, where you can set your watch by the trains. If are trying to catch the 8:47 train and you arrive at 8:47 and 30 seconds, you will be waving goodbye to the train as it pulls away and catching the next train. Switzerland truly challenged our ability to schedule our time run. Fast.
One morning we sent Chris out first with the stroller and the girls (because the kids & stroller is the slowest) and had him head to the bus stop. We’d gotten off the bus at this stop multiple times. Then me and my mother-in-law and father-in-law grabbed the last few items and headed out. We knew we had to hustle to catch the bus, and as we were speed walking, we heard the bus coming — so we broke into a run. We had to catch this bus in order to make our connecting train, and Chris was probably hopping on the bus right now. So we booked it! That is the fastest I have ever seen my mother-in-law and father-in-law run, and impressively, like a scene from a thousand different movies, we made it onto the bus! I quickly looked around to spot Chris and the kids who I assumed would be near the front of the bus…… Chris? CHRIS?!?
I looked out the bus window to see Chris waiting on the other side of the road. That’s where we usually get off the bus, but this time we needed to go the other direction, toward downtown. We caught the bus, but Chris did not. All our running was for naught. We called Chris; he crossed the street and waited for the next bus. We hopped off at the next stop and waited for Chris’ bus to arrive. We felt totally dejected until we realized that, if we hustle, we might still get to the train station on time. But only if we run to the train station. Bus doors opened. More running. We hopped on the train and let out a huge sigh of relief. Huzzah! Isn’t that the best feeling ever?? Now to find a seat…
We headed into the Berner Oberland (Rick Steves’ and many other people’s favorite place on earth — and for good reason). The Berner Oberland is a region nestled in the middle of Switzerland and includes beautiful lakes, hiking trails, waterfalls, and majestic mountain peaks.
I mentioned trains in this post because to get from our apartment in Bern all the way up to Murren, a city on the mountainside, we had to switch trains 3 times and then take a cable car. But like a well-oiled machine, once you get off your train, the next train is there and waiting. It leaves about one minute after everyone has a chance to hop on. There is no standing around waiting for your next train, hoping it comes; it is right there waiting for you, ready to go.
When we started our European adventure, Lucy didn’t really like sitting in the stroller. Oke, that’s an understatement. Lucy hated being in the stroller. We thought since we will be doing this same routine every day for the next three months that over time she would grow to at least tolerate the stroller (though we did have high hopes that maybe she would one day willingly hop right into the stroller with a broad smile on her face). As you can see from this picture, the answer is no. She still hates the stroller. The only time she will sit in the stroller is when we bribe her with a “chocolate treat” (something like an m&m or small piece of candy). Even with a bribe, on numerous occasions, she will still refuse to get in the stroller crying, “self! self!” or “walk!” We have had to strap her in, kicking and screaming, more times than I would like to count. Whenever it is not necessary that she ride in the stroller, we often let her walk all by her “self” (with us prodding her along “come on, Lucy! Put the rock down! Let’s go! There are more rocks up ahead! Let’s go get them!)
Luckily, Charlotte is almost always willing to hop right into the stroller. She has figured out the system: Hop in the stroller = Get a treat. Even without us asking her (or wanting her), she’ll jump in the stroller, ask for her treat, and jump out and go play. Whatever — at least it works when we need it to. If it weren’t for Charlotte, we would be pushing around an empty double stroller way too often.
The weather while we wandered around Murren was absolutely gorgeous and the skies were clear. This can be quite rare up this high in the mountains. The cable car that takes you up to the Schilthorn leaves from the Murren station. We decided that, while not part of our initial plan, the beautiful weather made it a rare opportunity to head to the top. We grabbed a quick bite for lunch and then headed all the way up to the top of the mountain!
The Schilthorn was used to film the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, so everything about the Schilthorn is Bond themed (even the bathrooms). There’s clips from the Bond movie showing in a theater, a whole James Bond museum, and the theme song playing nearly everywhere.
Bathroom entrance and stalls were Bond themed. They even had movie sound clips play when you flushed the toilet and turned the water on to wash your hands.
Charlotte had fun flying this mock helicopter with an interactive video display.
This interactive display was definitely the highlight of our James Bond museum tour. You hop in the bobsled and then you are shown a clip of a bobsled going down the track. You are supposed to recreate the classic bobsled chase scene from the Bond movie by turning and shoot when things pop up on the video. You are, of course, just on a green screen and are being watched (and laughed at) by other people. My father-in-law really got into it. The video clip that puts it all together was pretty entertaining.
It was pretty cold way up here at the top of the mountain, and the wind was blowing fairly hard. We stayed out as long as our fingers and toes could handle it, then we went back inside to warm up. It’s such an amazing view that after warming up for just a bit inside we headed out again to take one last look before heading back down the mountain. We really lucked out to have such beautiful weather!
Lucy and Charlotte posed and (almost) smiled for the camera… I think their lips were just frozen in this position.
“Now give me the treat you promised, Dad!” (Yes, we sometimes bribe them. How else did you think we ever get them to smile for a picture?)
This little overhang sticks out over a cliff hundreds of feet high. The glass paneling and glass flooring gives you a fantastic view of the mountains morbid view of the end of your life. Now before you all congratulate me about overcoming my fear of heights, you should know that I backed up into this spot with my eyes looking straight at Chris holding the camera. I know I look like I’m having fun, but I’m really just smiling through the pain of the white-knuckle grip I have on the railing. I never looked down until I was back on solid, non-transparent, concrete.
We hopped on the cable car and headed back down to Murren. You can see the city perched on what looks like the edge of a cliff. I’m not sure why anyone thought that would be the best place to build a house, but perhaps not everyone shares my abhorrence of cliffs.
We all had a delightful early dinner in Murren, which of course included classic cheese some fondue. Everything was delicious!
Two steps off the cable car in Gimmelwald and what do we find?? A park! The highlight of Charlotte’s day. (True story: At the end of this day I sat with Charlotte on her bed before turning out the light. I asked her, “What was your favorite part of the day?” “Umm…. the park!” How appropriate. We enjoyed beautiful views, rode many cable cars, flew a pretend helicopter, rode a bobsled, watched clips of James Bond, stood at the top of one of the tallest mountains in the Swiss Alps, and her favorite part was the park.)
Charlotte was too afraid to try the slide (it’s actually a super steep slide), so Chris did it for her. We were very short on time because we needed to catch the next cable car down, so Ivan and Ramona stayed with the girls at the park while Chris and I took an 8-minute tour of Gimmelwald. It’s a small little village perched on a mountainside, so the highlight really is just sitting and basking in the views and enjoying the quaint small-town feel. Perhaps we’ll have time for that tomorrow.