|A storm threatening over the mountains|
We drove into Brienz on the northern shore of the Breinzer See, which is one of the two lakes that Interlaken is ... well ... inter. The rain started coming down with a vengeance. It had always been my plan to stay in Brienz as I had found it delightful when I was there in 1990. Driving through the main street of the town nothing much accommodation-wise jumped out at us. Then we reached what appeared to be almost the end of the town, and there was an Inn right on the lake. We parked in the carpark right next to it and went to ask whether they had any vacancies. Sadly, the answer was no. But as we were coming out a man who had just parked a motor bike asked us if we were looking for somewhere to stay, we said yes, and he took us over the road, where his family ran the Hotel Brienzerburli. I was a little apprehensive at first that we'd be landed with some awful cheap hotel, but it was lovely, and the view of the lake from our room was an added bonus.
|Storm over the Brienzer See|
|Restaurant in the hotel|
|View from our room the next morning|
By the next morning the weather had cleared and we took a walk through the town of Brienz. It's a picturesque place, famous for its wooden buildings and wood carving school, bordered by the lake on one side and the mountains on the other. With all the wooden buildings one thing I shouldn't have been surprised to see where the signs forbidding smoking outside when a strong wind was blowing.
|Carved wooden cow - very tasteful|
|Wooden sign pointing the way to the local scenic mountain|
After our walk around town we decided to head off to Grindelwald. Andy had an image in his mind from his childhood trip to Switzerland of a view of three peaks - the Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau - and thought it might have been Grindlewald from where he saw that view. After a brief drive around a very un-picturesque town, where road and building works stopped any access to a tourist bureau, and where we couldn't find any access to cable cars or trains up to the top of a mountain, we decided to give up and follow the advice of our luthier friend and go up to the top of the Neiderhorn on the other side of the lakes.
To get there we had to drive through Interlaken. As we were doing so, Andy saw a bridge that he recognised. He said "just around the corner there will be a little shop" and there was. Then we came across "Manor Farm" - the camp/caravan site where his family had stayed many, many years ago (not sure that the name really fits a Swiss location). That was a real buzz for Andy, rediscovering the site.
Then we moved onto the location from where the funicular railway goes up towards the Neiderhorn. We caught the funicular and then a cable car to get to the top of the Neiderhorn. It was a beautiful trip up (with lots of cows to see) and lovely views from the top. The advice to visit this instead of the more crowded mountains near Grindelwald was definitely correct. While we were up there, looking across to the Eiger and Jungfrau, our Australian friends whom we had met up with in Lucerne, were up the top of the Jungfrau looking across at us!
|Funicular going up the Neiderhorn|
|View across to the Eiger and Jungfrau|
|Cable cars, which always travelled in groups of three|
|The valley down the other side|
|Alps with a little paraglider|
After we got back to the car we headed off towards Lake Geneva. Andy, of course, was inspired by the lyrics of Smoke on the Water to visit Montreaux. The problem was that it was again bucketing down, and Montreaux is a big city, with no parking, and very expensive hotels. We decided not to stay there, or even get out of the car.
We were looking for accommodation in Booking.com, and were directed south of Montreaux to a mountain resort. Sadie the sadistic satnav obviously didn't want us to get there, because she kept directing us through dead ends and expected us to drive along pedestrian tracks, but eventually we found the place, which was called Hotel le Grand Chalet in Leysin. From the outside Andy wasn't impressed, but inside it was lovely family run hotel, and the hosts were very welcoming. Our room had another marvellous view. It's a hard life. We were now in the French speaking part of Switzerland, so dinner was a very different meal from the Germanic food we had been eating - a sort of mixture - neither pure French or typical German.
|View from our room|
|View just after sunrise|
|View during breakfast|