Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CH - Brienz

After breakfast, I departed for Schynige Platte (pronounced like an Irish “Shih-nih-gih Plat” rather than my initial thought: “shnikey”), which I knew would be full of tourists right from the start: the train up was packed and some actually did nto make it on. Fortunately, the sheer amount of places to go helped scale the crowds down to an acceptable level. The Alpengarten was pretty, but not as spectacular as I was expecting. I did, however, see and touch Edelweiss right at the entrance to the garden. This was one of my must-do activities for this trip.

The allure of this area lay beyond the garden: the views from the nearby hiking paths were magnificent. While up here, I finally espied the fighter jets I had been hearing frequently echoing about the mountain valleys for the past several days (including a distinctive sonic boom whilst transferring trains in Interlaken, on my first day in the area), buzzing the two seas from their base near Meiringen.

I spent more time on Schynigge Platte than I intended, catching the last boat back to Brienz and therefore missing out on Giessbachfälle – though I did feel that I got a good view from the boat. I dined at a pizzeria en route to my hotel from the train station, where I not only received spectacular service, I also had spectacular pizza. Brienz has been quite the island of hospitality.

Whilst riding the boat back to Brienz, it occurred to me: this is the first place I have ever been to that, geographically, seems to have pretty much everything I want. Mighty mountains such as the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau; beaches along the Thunersee, Brienzersee, and numerous other smaller lakes; small towns such as Gimmelwald linked with major cities via efficient transit; warm summers, snowy winters, and a bit of everything in between through each day of the week. Hey I like a little rain: it cools things down and keeps the landscape green, flowering, and beautiful. The tourist presence can be felt, but it can also be avoided. I can hike, ski, swim, and relax in a café – all in the same day. The Jungfrau region may have just made the top of my list of places I would like to live.

With my shower tonight, I successfully managed to flood the room. Seriously, it was like Britain here… First, the shower curtain was this flimsy little thing that didn’t even close in the open shower area. Second, the pressure coming out of the nozzle brought back memories from Madrid from seven years ago. The pressure was so strong that it pushed the shower head up, pushed me back, and stung when it hit the more sensitive skin. Ahh, it was among the best showers ever: like getting a massage. However, I got out and noticed a shimmer on the floor.

Now, I’ve flooded bathrooms before… heck in the days of my youth, a bath with Mr. Bubble virtually guaranteed a mess outside the tub. Or even sans Mr. Bubble, my G.I. Joes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also made for a splashtastic evening. Hey, the G.I. Joes had naval missions: itw as life or death and the bathroom floor was part of the collateral damage of this patriotic and heroic task. So anyways, I step out into a pool rather than a puddle. A moment later I realise I flooded the entry, too, which requires about half an inch depth to overcome the lip of the doorway between the bathroom and the entry. Fortunately, the main room (and carpet) were spared, as the entry did not quire fill up. If I showered for just another minute or two, I bet I could have made it to the carpet. I mopped up a bit with towels, but left the rest for the warm night.

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