Sunday, July 22, 2007

CH - Grindelwald

After dropping off my backpack at the SYHA hostel, I made my for town. It is no wonder Rick Steves clearly prefers the neighboring valley’s Gimmelwald: this current town is a tacky and ugly tourist town – though at least relatively small; but sprawling. The countryside and surrounding mountains, however, are just as beautiful as in the neighboring valley of the past two nights.

The hostel is a grand building with a good view and a lovely interior. However, it costs 50% more than the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald, I have to pay for other services which I previously had free, the view is not quite as breathtaking (though it is still pretty), and the atmosphere is not nearly as social. If anything, the social element is ruined by its many rooms for relaxation. At the Mountain Hostel, everyone was either in the tiny tiny hot tub (which we packed like a VW Bug), the compact game room (occupied primarily by a pool table), or in the busy dining area. The sheer proximity forced you to socialize. Here, everyone is too spread out… after dinner (which was tasty and a decent price), I ended up having a large room all to myself. In retrospect, that may have had something to do with my “male hiker” smell.

The reason I smelled so bad was because, after touring town, I had a rather high-speed trek around the Grindelwald area:

1600 – I depart the hostel and walk eastward along Terrassenweg.
1715 – Arrival at the base of Oberer Gletscher. I check the bus schedule, as not one bus passed me on my way there and I was on the bus route the entire walk. I needed to get back for dinner at 1830, so a bus ride had to be in my future. Second to last bus at 1811: next and last bus at 1835 would be too late. I have an hour to scale the mountain and return. I travel the path and approach the base.
1730 – I look over the edge and realize I am climbing up the wrong side. It turns out the sign for the path I wanted was shrouded by trees on the inbound approach. OK, so back down I go…
1740 – I begin a new climb: really steep stairs where each wooden log step is at a different height and angle than the one before and the one after it.
1750 – I was nearly at the top of the stairs when I decided that I had to turn back… good thing I did: going down was harder than I thought, as the crude stairs’ varying depths made going down require considerable thought. At one point, I chucked my water bottle to the path below, then with both hands free I leapt down several dozen stairs at a time by grabbing the rails; but alas, I could only do this once as otherwise I would have very likely lost my life-supporting water bottle (full of cold green tea).
1800 – I’m at the bottom. I bolt along the path…
1810 – …make it to the bus station ten minutes later…
1811 – …and I beat the bus by about a full minute. From a note on the schedule, I thought the bus was supposed to drop me off about 50 meters uphill from my hostel, meaning just a few seconds of downhill strolling. Alas, no: it went downtown and terminated at the Bahnhof.
1820 – I disembark at the Bahnhof.
1825 – I’m at the foot of the steep path up to my hostel.
1830 – Dinnertime, to the minute, I swing open the gate and stare at a large horned bovine blocking my path from the gate to the hostel door. It is rubbing its horns along a wood post, which it uproots and flings to the side. I snap a photo of myself to mark the time, make my way around the cow (which doesn’t even pay heed to me), and triumphantly place myself into queue for dinner… where I stand for 10 minutes.

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