Goat Tracks, Castles and Torquoise Lakes


Goat Tracks, Castles and Turquoise Lakes

Beatenberg, Schmocken, Thun, Sigriswil

Location – Lake Thun

Maybe it was the fog. Maybe it was the cold mountain air outside (our room was toasty warm) or maybe it was because we had no where in particular to go. For all, or none, of these reasons we surfaced slowly this morning here in Beatenberg and, in particular, Hotel Gloria.

The very comfortable beds, the almost “impossible to extract yourself from” pillows and the silence pervading the hotel made for a wonderful night of sleep on so many levels.

When we did rise we took our time to get ready then headed down to the hotel dining room for breakfast – a delightful “spread” that would satisfy a team of hungry footballers. These two “bench reserve” team members didn’t need too many carbs or calories to satisfy them after the delightful meal we experienced in the hotel’s restaurant last night.

The view from the dining room window seat was not too appealing – rising fog, an obscured Thunersee (Lake Thun) and absolutely no sight of the mountains to the south. The balcony 5 feet away was about the extent of our view for breakfast. The sight of The Princess opposite me however was spectacular and, in reality, would have made even the most sensational view pale into insignificance!

Over breakfast we thought about the advice that Bernhard gave us last night and decided that we would take the precarious “back road” to Thun and spend the day walking this historic town.

After our light but fulfilling breakfast we prepared our cameras, the video camera and our warm weather gear and headed out for the day.

Despite our talking GPS trying to take us the “sensible” way to Thun we ignored his protestations and headed west along the narrow mountainside road. In reality, we were well prepared for this short trip having spent time negotiating the precarious roads around Lake Como when we arrived in Italy. Indeed the lack of Italian drivers (and drivers in general) made this road very enjoyable to drive along.

At one point on the journey our GPS took us on an interesting side step (or maybe we were too engrossed in the scenery) and we ended up driving down a lane that was barely wider that the car. In fact, the side mirrors were caused to retract by themselves at times! However, we know that “surfer dude” (as he is known) never lets us down and the views from the goat track that we drove on were spectacular.

After our short diversion we reentered the road west to Thun and felt like we had entered a motorway. We passed through several picturesque villages before arriving in the small village of Schoren – home to the lakeside Castle of Oberhofen (Schloss Oberhofen).

The weather at “lake level” was relatively clear so we parked the car in the not so full carpark and spent the next 90 minutes walking around the castle and taking quite a few photographs and some video. In addition to being able to view this beautifully maintained castle, we were able to enjoy the arrival and departure of the original paddle steamer that plies the lake’s waterways. Indeed, at one point the sound of the steam whistle (announcing the steamer’s departure) made us jump a couple of feet! A beautiful sound when you are expecting it.

From Schoren we continued our drive along the lake front into Thun – a short trip that took around 10 minutes.

Despite it being Saturday (market day) we were able to find a parking spot close to the city centre and, after sorting out the parking fee, we arranged our gear and set off to explore Thun.

It didn’t take too long for us to spot some things to take photographs of and so our day in Thun began.

As I mentioned above, today was market day in Thun and the streets were quite busy with tourists and locals alike. However, the weekend foot and road traffic didn’t stop us from taking in the feeling of this beautiful town.

The town is “split” by two watercourses that flow from Lake Thun and west/northwest to the city of Bern and beyond. These two watercourses form an island in the middle of the city and we spent time walking along the pathways that line either side of the watercourses.

Beautiful old bridges cross the two “channels” and historic buildings line the streets that front the banks of the channels. The Saturday afternoon market atmosphere, the turquoise blue water running swiftly through the channels and the beautiful old buildings lining the streets provided us with plenty to digest. What a wonderful way to experience Switzerland.

We enjoyed walking the markets and wandering past the many stalls that were setup on the “pedestrian only” mall. There was plenty to look at and buy but we were “good”. Indeed, we only walked away with memories and a few photographs.

From the market place we took in some more of the small inlets that Thun is built around. It was easy to find quite isolated places to take in the sheer beauty of the town and the lake despite the crowds that seemed to be in “town”. It was nice to stroll along almost deserted lake front walkways and appreciate the architecture of the old buildings that had “prime real estate” positions on the stunning lake. One could spend weeks in this place.

One of the main attractions of Thun (other than the lake) is the beautiful castle built on the town’s highpoint. From the lake we made our way back toward the castle, along the old cobble stoned streets, and up to the cathedral that is located near the castle.

We took photos from quite a few vantage points along the way and enjoyed experiencing some different parts of Thun.

Unfortunately the cathedral was closed when we arrived however, we both enjoyed the deep sounds resonating from the cathedral’s bell tower. The sounds rang out across the town below and seemed to go on for 20 minutes or more! A wonderful soundtrack to some of the video we took.

From the cathedral we took a short walk to Schloss Thun and viewed it from the outside as it too was closed. Schloss Thun, like Schloss Oberhof, is beautifully preserved and being near it makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Short of guards and men on horseback the castle seemed to have a pulse. It felt very much “alive”.

With the temperature dropping in the late afternoon/early evening air we headed back to the car and set course for “home” – Hotel Gloria, Schmocken.

We opted to take the shore front drive back toward Interlaken then up the mountain road to the hotel. We were not disappointed. The road back along the shore line of Lake Thun was beautiful. We passed through some tunnels that must have been made back in the 1800′s (not lined or seemingly touched in anyway) and viewed some stunning scenery. The sun was getting lower in the western sky and this meant new arrangements of shadows and colours. Perfect.

The steep and winding mountain road up to Schmocken did not have too many cars on it so this meant that we were able to make good time back to hotel.

We arrived back at “Gloria” around 7.15pm and we were welcomed back by the Jacky (co-owner) as we entered the main door.

I ventured out on the the balcony to take in the cool mountain air while The Princess prepared for dinner. Jacky called our room to let us know that the restaurant was busy and asked if we could delay coming down for around 15 minutes. A very nice touch! We were not in a hurry so the delay in dining worked well for us.

After a little bit of “surfing the net” we made our way down to the dining room and took up “residence” at a window seat. The view from this place is superb and dining with a “bird’s eye” view is very special.

Tonight we sampled Bernhard’s cooking for a second time and, again, it was spectacular. We shared a mushroom risotto and a mediterranean salad and there were many “eye rolling” moments as we savored the meals. The preparation, presentation and taste of the meals at Hotel Gloria are something that must be experienced. Exceptional. The excellent service compliments the superb meals.

With our ‘bellies topped up to “just the right” level we made our way back up to the room and retired for the night.

I will finish up this blog then sink into the beautiful bed next to The Princess and make acquaintance with the inside of my eyelids.

Tomorrow we are aiming to head up to Niederhorn – the mountain behind where we are staying. We are planning to take the cable car up to the top of the mountain then hike back down.

A special request has been submitted to the Interlaken weather Gods so we are expecting high to nil clouds and warmish temperatures.

We will let you know if our request was accepted when we blog tomorrow night.

Gut Nacht!

Paddling The Lake
[Map]
See You Thun – I’m Schlossed
[Map]
Pondering Brass
[Map]
Princess Opening Her Castle
[Map]
Crossing The Bridge
[Map]

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