Our first real day out on the county Guides Switzerland 2014 trip was to the sights of the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Stop One: The Trümmelbach Falls
I’ve spent a lot of summer holidays in Austria with my parents and one thing we do quite often is visit a gorge. This was just like that but vertical. The water falls through the mountain, which almost has a corkscrew carved out of it.
You take a very industrial lift two-thirds of the way up and then you walk up through the mountain to visit Falls 7, 8, 9 and 10. Then you can walk back down and get the lift to the bottom or you can take the steps and the path down the outside of the mountain to see Falls 1-6.
This is where the high average group age came into play. We had two people who went up in the lift, sat by the lift and then went back down again, having seen approximately no waterfalls. I think I was the only one to walk back down and still got back to the cafe before three-quarters of the group. Once everyone had arrived, we had to have a cup of tea and piece of cake and then we had to go and look at the souvenir stall. We’re Guides. We bought a lot of badges for our camp blankets.
We travelled to and from Switzerland in full uniform and we went to Our Chalet in full uniform but every day, we wore our international neckerchiefs. I really liked mine! I’d watched a YouTube video and had very carefully tied a friendship knot in the end of it, so every day I made sure it was twisted correctly and lowered it carefully over my head. I bought an orange t-shirt at Our Chalet and I wore that a few times – a red neckerchief with blue and white borders looks… um… exotic worn with an orange t-shirt. I can just about get away with the yellow t-shirt and blue-and-green buff here.
Stop Two: The Schilthorn
Next frustration. We’ve only just had tea and cakes but now it’s lunchtime and we must stop to eat our packed lunches. In the car park, at the bottom of the cablecar. This is the sort of thing I’m talking about. Why can’t we eat on top of the mountain? A meal with a view. An extra half an hour on top of the world. We were getting a group ticket so going up on my own wasn’t even an option.
The rest of us got our tickets and started our journey. Up the cable car to Murren, up again to Birg and finally to Piz Gloria, the restaurant from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. We’d already left someone at the bottom and now we were at the top, two more decided it just wasn’t interesting enough up here and they were going back to Murren for a cup of tea.
Not interesting enough?! The view alone was interesting enough but if you were really bored, there was the James Bond exhibition, the revolving restaurant, the cafe, the shop and the viewpoint. Not interesting enough.
When we’d all frozen enough (note that it’s cold enough for me to have put on my orange mittens), we gathered at the cable car and descended to Murren, where we picked up our errant members. We were going to walk through the village, via every souvenir shop, for more blanket badges to get the train to Grütschalp, from where we would descend by funicular railway to Lauterbrunnen, where Bill and the bus would meet us.
The trouble was that the minibus wasn’t waiting outside the door of the valley station. Following the signs to the car park, I discovered a walkway under the road to the car park, where the minibus was parked but this is another problem with travelling with pensioners. Either they refused to accept that I’d found the way or they just plain refused to walk. We had to stand outside the station in the rain until the driver made his way round to pick us up.
Not fancying another night watching them all drink red wine out of a box and sing campfire songs (I wouldn’t mind if they sang them well but they sounded drunk before the wine was even opened), I opted to walk up the road and take the train sixteen minutes up the valley to Grindelwald for a swim. This epic expedition earned me much the same response as if I’d announced my intention to climb the Eiger – a sort of disbelieving but proud “good for you!”