Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Oh, I WISH that I could simply blog from my brain. If I could merely think my posts as I'm going about my daily life and have them magically appear on the blog, I would never be so woefully behind.

We just got back on Monday evening from a weekend trip to Switzerland with Don and Mary. Fred was indeed our Minivan Warrior Driving Man! He logged 950 miles in 3 days--not an easy feat in a country as small as Switzerland.

We headed south on Saturday morning and arrived at our hotel, the Gasthaus Krone in Attinghausen, late that afternoon. Attinghausen is a teeny-tiny little town at the southern tip of Lake Luzern. My parents, sister, and I discovered it back in 1987, and we've revisited it several times over the years.

After we dropped our luggage off in our rooms, we drove over to Altdorf, home of William Tell:

From there we drove up to Luzern and did a quickie driving tour of the city. We stopped long enough to walk across the famous covered bridge and through a little bit of the walking district. Here's our little tour group in front of the bridge:

We were all amazed at how crystal clear the lake water was. The kids enjoyed peering over the side of the bridge to watch the ducks swimming around underwater:

Here's a shot of Fred with his mom and the kids as we walked across yet another bridge:

The paintings on the buildings in Switzerland were amazing. I especially liked this one and think maybe I'll do the front of our house like this while Fred is in Iraq. Don't you think that would go over well with the housing office?

We went back to the hotel for supper that night and then tumbled exhausted into our beds. After a nice 2-hour nap, we were all rudely awakened by some of our noisy neighbors returning in from a night on the (very small) town. Turns out they were an Italian underwater rugby team. Who even knew there was such a sport?

We saw them at breakfast on Sunday morning and then later in the parking lot where one of them was taking a group picture of the rest. I offered (in the universal language of pantomime) to take the picture for him so that he could be in it, and he gladly accepted. So I took photos with his camera and then with about 8 other cameras that they had lying there. Afterwards I got some of the team members to pose with me for this shot (I'm the one in the hot pink shirt in the front row):

We set off on a drive that my father had recommended, from Altdorf through the Klaussen Pass, and over to a little town called Elm, the home of Switzerland's favorite soft drink--Elmer Citro. There was a sign at the beginning of the road out of Altdorf indicating that the Klaussen Pass was closed, geschlossen, fermé, and chiuso. What the heck, we thought--maybe it's open! And off we went.

We drove for a while up, up, up through some amazingly beautiful scenery. But eventually we came to a place where a blanket of snow covered the road and prevented entry into the tunnel. We got out of the car to enjoy the peaceful scenery:

I shot the pictures to make this 360-degree panorama. It may take a while to load, but it's some really pretty footage. Please note that you have to click into the picture and drag left or right to pan through the whole scene.

Thwarted on our mission to Elm, we decided to drive over to Interlaken via the southern route and visit Grindelwald. Unfortunately, that road too was closed, geschlossen, fermé, and chiuso. So we went with Plan C and headed south to Lugano, just north of the border from Switzerland.

Lugano turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I've never been there when the sun wasn't shining, but Sunday afternoon was pretty dreary in Lugano. So we had a quick lunch downtown and headed north again.

When we got back to Altdorf, we decided to explore the eastern side of the lake for a change. So we drove up that side and made a circular tour of the mountain northeast of Schwyz. It was a real E ticket of a ride, and there were lots of places where Fred had to back up the van to let oncoming traffic get around us.

On Monday morning we checked out of the hotel and headed off for Interlaken via the northern road out of Luzern. From there we drove down to Grindelwald and enjoyed the scenery of the Eiger and the Jungfrau. Here are Mike and Annabelle in front of the Eiger:

From there we drove back up to Interlaken and over to Kandersteg, which is where Mike had gone to Klondike with the Boy Scouts in January. He enjoyed showing us around the town, we had lunch at a little hotel on the main street, and Mike bought a Swiss Army knife that he's just dying to try out on something (he was disgruntled last night to find that his corkscrew wasn't needed to open our champagne bottle).

On our drive home, we were greeted by this scene just inside Germany:

It was a beautiful end to a beautiful vacation!

So there--I blogged Switzerland! I still have Berlin to go, but Switzerland is officially blogged.

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