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Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Category

I’m afraid of heights. I don’t enjoy flying and curse friends who live on high floors in apartment buildings. But when it comes to experiencing the places I travel, I weigh my fears against any potential rewards. Climbing into a cable car to take me high up the side of a mountain required a giant shot of courage for me, but I’m so glad I did it.

The view on the way to Mürren

While staying in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland for a few days, I had the option of going to the summit of Schilthorn Mountain (at an altitude of 2970 m), which is best known as a location for scenes in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Leaving from Lauterbrunnen (at about 800 m, just for comparison), a funicular rode up the rock wall of the valley at almost a 90° angle, ending at the village of Grütschalp. From there, a train ride along the edge of a cliff face took us to Mürren where we caught a cable car to Birg. Finally, we boarded another cable car for the last leg of our journey – this one the most unsettling for me as we were actually crossing over a valley from one mountain to the top of the Schilthorn. I really tried not to look down, but the impulse was irresistible and when I would see how far away the ground was, I’d immediately be sorry I’d done it.

The car that would take me across a valley from one mountain top to another

Once we were there, though – wow. It was such an amazing feeling to be literally among the clouds, looking down on other mountains. I felt so lucky to have had a chance to see something so spectacular. It was worth every nervous butterfly and bead of sweat I may have had during the journey there and back. It was cold and windy and I felt breathless from the thin air, but it was too beautiful to hide inside the visitors’ centre. I took dozens of pictures because the view changed every second as the winds blew the clouds around: one second you had a clear shot, the next you faced a wall of white.

We did eventually go inside and have lunch at the Piz Gloria, a revolving restaurant (where I had spaghetti à la James Bond). As we nibbled on our food and sipped our Bond Girl cocktails, we slowly circled around and enjoyed the panoramic view of the mountains around us as they peeped in and out through the cloud cover.

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When I was little, I remember reading Heidi about a girl growing up with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. There were goats and cheese and lots of hiking up and down the mountain. So, of course, when I knew I was going to Switzerland and I’d be spending a few days in Lauterbrunnen in the heart of the Alps, I was hoping for a Heidi experience.

To my delight, as we were walking along a trail through some fields, we came across herds of cows – Swiss cows complete with cowbells. Beautiful Swiss cows munching on clover in the meadow accompanied by a symphony of cowbells (the Bruce Dickinson would be in rapture). It’s the way God intended for dairy products to be created and the proof is in the pudding (or the yogurt or the cheese).

Then in another field, I came across goats – little baby goats sleeping together in the grass – and my heart cooed and melted at the sight. It’s not that I can’t see cows and goats at home, but they’re usually penned up. To see them free in the fields with the mountains in the background was a beautiful thing. I always knew Heidi had a good thing going.

I even took video, which I’ve embedded below so that you too can experience Swiss cows ringing their cowbells. Whenever I watch it, I smile. To me, it’s about a perfect postcard-ready moment in Switzerland.

 

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