Eiger Sanction

Now that is a serious location for a hotel. One day hopefully we will stay there. Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland. It means minor watershed and stands at 2060m. You get the deepest blue skies here. But when the weather closes in it is magnificent and moody – almost sinister. So many climbers have been taken from us here. You can only get here via the cog railway or by foot. The Hotel is where the Clint Eastwood movie The Eiger Sanction was filmed. Can you believe the movie is now 44 years old. 1975….

1975 that’s the year

  • Home Video tape systems are developed
  • Vietnam War ends
  • Iron Maiden was formed
  • The first portable mobile phone was patented
  • Microsoft was founded
  • First disposable razor was launched

And Britain had been in the European Union for just two years. How times change.

What is reassuring is that in all those years of change this Swiss View will not have changed in the slightest. Hopefully it never will.

Seasons

Same view – different season.

I never asked my partner which view she preferred. One of thousands of questions I never asked. Oh for those 17 years again…. I suspect she would not have gone for the snow version. She didn’t like being cold. To be honest she didn’t like it too hot as well. She was a Spring and Autumn person.

I would definitely opt for the snow version. I have always liked the cold. Maybe it was all those years of sitting watching the most northerly English Premier Football Team. Sat in a black and white shirt in the middle of winter. In summer I would melt. That’s a Yorkshire summer. Lord knows what I would do if I lived in Arizona or The Mediterranean or The Middle East.

Switzerland can get hot in the summer. I remember one really hot day. It was too hot for my partner. After a quick visit to the zoo she stayed in the hotel with our son while I went for a run along the lake. Never been so hot. After 40 minutes it was too much and I just jumped into the lake. Oh the sweet cool glacial waters. And I can’t swim… When I emerged from the lake a sweet old man was walking past shading the sun out with an umbrella. In almost perfect English he said

Grüezi. You must be English. Only someone from England would be mad enough to run in this.”

But I digress. This is Swiss Sunday and it’s not supposed to be about me. That’s wrecked any chance of a free Toblerone from the Swiss Tourist Board.

Switzerland is a special place. A place for special memories. A place where you can visit a valley one trip and it’s deep snow perfect for skiing. The next trip it’s scorching hot and it’s beach soccer.

Unlike the UK these days it still gets distinct seasons. Stunning colours in Spring. Heat in the Summer. Moody Autumns. Proper winters. That is how it should be. Something we need to try and preserve.

Drink it in

Swiss Sunday is here again. Still no free Toblerone from the Swiss Tourist Board – maybe one day.

My partner was super organised. She would book the trip so many months ahead. She would even find my passport with months to go – not sure she appreciated my just looking for the passport minutes before the taxi arrived strategy. However one of her first tasks would always be to book the hotel room. Always the same room. Why?

Every morning opening up the the curtains and this is the view you are greeted with. Get the coffee fix and sit on the balcony and drink this in. It’s truly glorious.

It always made me smile that because of the wonders of Switzerland’s Transport system you could finish your room coffee and hour later you can be sat at the restaurant on top of that mountain having your next drink. In the UK that trip would take days.

Then you could spice things up and look in the other direction.

Simply stunning.

Going back to Switzerland?

It’s Switzerland Sunday again. Maybe one day I will do a Loire Valley post – another favourite place for the two of us before we became a team of 3.

Sadly I’ve not been to that many countries but of the ones I have visited Switzerland has a look and feel like no other. It never fails to take your breathe away. It’s a country which uses all the colours available – no need for filters or photo enhancers here.

After our evening meal we would walk hand in hand along this promenade. Magic memories.

Today this photograph brings mixed emotions. The happiness and gratitude for those times. But sadness. Those days are gone. That feeling is amplified as we are at my partners birthday. I often talk about going back. So many places to revisit. So many new places to explore. But it won’t be those golden times. We also have the practicalities. How to pay for it. Plus something that concerns me. Now it would be just me and our son. What if something happens to me on holiday. What does he do. These concerns at present are pushing the prospect of a return visit further down the line. And that is so sad.

Train journey to the Ogre

It’s Sunday and it’s Switzerland time….

Switzerland is a spectacular country which means its train journeys are often just off the scale. No need to read a book here. Just look out the window and drink the views in.

The trip from from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg is one such experience.

The train goes on further up through the Eiger Tunnel to the JungFrauJoch. Known as the Top of Europe. But that was just too expensive. One day maybe… So we got off at the stop where a short walk takes you to the base of the famous North Face of the Eiger.

On the trip up I remember looking out of the train window in awe with our son repeatedly saying

Mum can you tell me the story about the legend of the three mountains AGAIN”

The legend is that a beautiful young girl (The Jungfrau) is in danger from an evil Ogre (The Eiger). Only a brave Monk (The Mönch) can protect her. They forever stand next to each other in an eternal struggle.

Son loved this story and his mum loved telling him it. On this trip she must have retold it at least 30 times. Another smiley memory. Happy Days and my love keep telling that story.

The view

Looking out into the distance.

Dad that’s a top View. Unbeatable.”

It is. Completely fogged out. Can’t see more than 5 yards in front of us. See kids with Aspergers can do irony.

The garden could be beautifully cut and looking like a football pitch before a major cup final. Wonderfully straight stripes.”

Now he is in full irony mode. It’s more like a cow field at present.

Since we don’t have a view to look at we have license to make our own one up. I’m seeing Whitby Habour on a stormy day.

Dad I’m seeing one image. Do you remember that day when I stood on top of the world. I loved that.”

I so do. He was about 5 and we ventured onto his first mountain. A beautiful Swiss one. Glorious blue skies. Fresh alpine air. Surrounded by dream like peaks. The two of us having a crazy snowball fight. My partner and her mum happily sat in the mountain top restaurant having hot chocolate.

A beautiful moment.

This can be such a wonderful life if we only just give it a chance.

The Last in line

The Last in Line is a brilliant rock album from Dio.

My partner was always prompt. She loved to arrive early and be first in line. She was never last in line. Imagine how annoyed she was to be beaten to the front of the lake steamer queue by 4 feathered friends….

It shows you how untidy the house and filing systems are that every week more long lost photos are found. Long forgotten memories. Lake trip to Interlaken. A lovely trip on a beautiful Swiss Lake. Baking hot August day. We managed to get the very front window seats. Took us back to being kids and that feeling of excitement when you get the top front seats on a double decker bus.

We sat at the front and a waiter arrived offering wine. When we said 10am was a little early the waiter said in perfect English ‘nonsense never to early the English need to relax a bit’ and brought two large glasses anyway.

I remember the boat meal. My partner ordered lunch in her really good German. It helps that she had a little bit of Germany in her DNA. We both were veggies and our little boy was on a balanced diet of Jus de Pomme, Fries and Ice Cream. When the meal came it was a revelation. Son was happy – his balanced diet arrived. One veggie (me) was happy as my egg salad and fries arrived. One veggie (not me) was less pleased as a Aufschnittplatte arrived. A huge cold meat and cheese plate. Not quite the plain green salad. Being very British we decided not to create a scene. I lost the ensuing arm wrestle and had my first meat meal in 14 years. To my eternal damnation I milked my moment of chivalry to the full. Not admitting that the meal was rather nice. Sorry K. xxxx

Amazing how a single photo of 4 birds can bring back so many memories.

Now to play my Last in Line cd and bring back memories of a stellar concert at the Newcastle City Hall many moons ago.

Up or Down

It’s been a few days since the last bit of Switzerland. Time to correct that. Still nothing from the Swiss Tourist Board…… maybe if I threaten to release a photo of a Swiss train being one minute late.… Or maybe I just cut to the chase and threaten to release a photo of me semi naked on top of a snow covered Swiss Mountain.

My partner was the clever one. I was the dim one. My partner was practical one. I was the one who tended to get things the wrong way round.

My partner had a very sensible approach to walking in The Alps. Catch the train or bus or cable car to the top. Have a bite to eat and drink. Then walk down. Finally have a Swiss Beer on the train.

My approach was to slog my way to the top – usually taking the wrong path several times. Collapse in a heap at the top. Have several Swiss Beers to numb the pain. Then roll down to the bottom. Collapse onto the train and watch the steam explode from my clothes.

Strangely I was usually overruled….

The above photo was one of those entirely sensible days. Carried to the top by public transport and walk down. But this one had a slight twist. We had a 5 year old with us. A 5 year old who wanted a piggy back – all the way down. So our son loved his 2 hour decent. My back and neck – not so much. It’s a good job the Swiss do make exceptionally nice paths. But at least the several Swiss Beers on the train helped numb the pain.

Now to find that semi naked photo…

Aare Gorge

 

It’s Sunday so it must be time to visit Switzerland memories again. Still no free chocolate from the Swiss Tourist Board – I’m not stopping until I get something from them….It’s never going to happen…..

The Aare Gorge is close to the beautiful town of Meiringen.

For about a mile the River Aare cuts through a limestone rock mass.

At times the gorge is about 100ft wide but narrows to just a couple of feet.

Looking up at the sheer rock faces which loom over 150ft above. The almost orchestral sound of crashing water. It does feel like another world. Certainly a place for dreams and losing yourself.

Being Switzerland at the end of the walk you can enjoy a hot chocolate….

We had a breathtaking family adventure. Its only a mile but you come out feeling absolutely exhausted. It’s one of those places you need to try and visit once in your life. The place gets into your soul. My beautiful partner needing two hot chocolates before we headed towards the train. I remember a young son just falling in love with the place. Dreams of Viking Gods, Trolls and ancient times. These photos don’t go anywhere near capturing its magic.

Alpine sunset

This photo was taken on the last night my partner had in her beloved Switzerland. During a stunning sunset. Watching the moon rise over the Alps was just the most wonderful experience.

Little did we know that she would be gone 12 months later.

This is a photograph I can look at and still smile. Other photos bring tears but not this one. Don’t know why. In fact the more I think about it this was probably the last Swiss Photograph. It really should bring tears. Strange.

That night we racked our brains trying to work out ways of emigrating here to retire. Drawing up plans for spending all of our long life’s together. So many plans. In reality just pipe dreams with no chance of coming to fruition. The one thing we never factored in was an early death. You never do probably.

A few days ago I walked behind an elderly couple who had been shopping. They walked slowly hand in hand. Behind them a broken man walked sobbing his eyes out. In our pipe dreams that was us in thirty years.

I can’t tell how much that hurts.