Our cruise along the length of the Thunersee proved again the usefulness of our First Class Swiss Travel Pass. It allowed us to go upstairs on the schiff and so to have a better view of the scenery passing us by. Also, the boat was very crowded on a busy summer’s day and those of us upstairs didn’t have the crush of people getting on and off the boat at each village dock. The Swiss annual holidays had begun, the sun was shining as it hadn’t done for a month and the Swiss were out in force to enjoy it while it lasted. We had our own table upstairs and were able to wander out onto the deck or back inside at will instead of trying to find a good viewing space on the crowded lower deck.
We had a table on this schiff because this was a luncheon cruise… and we learned a valuable lesson about ordering food in Switzerland… one that I had forgotten. What we ordered was a fresh garden salad to come at the same time as our cooked fish meal of fresh local perch, ‘eglifilet’. We got the salad OK but the fish did not come and we gradually realised from watching others that the fish would not arrive UNTIL we had eaten our salad. Just like in the US, salad comes first. So – not until our empty salad plate had been returned to the kitchen was our fish cooked!
I noted that many passengers had the same idea of ordering ‘egli’ for lunch. This delicious white fish dish is served simply with boiled, herbed potatoes and is a well known Swiss specialty. It’s always been a favourite of mine. But I did wonder just how many fish were needed to supply so many well filled dishes of fish fillets. I was assured that the fillets come from a fairly large fish that flourishes in the calm and vegetation rich waters in Switzerland’s clean lakes, brooks, rivers, and mountain streams. It begins life as a ‘vegetarian’ but as an adult, it’s a ferocious carnivore.
While waiting for our meal, we watched the scenery slip by – and saw others enjoying meals in restaurants along the foreshore. One such place was “Schloss Schadau”. This castle, built between 1847 and 1854, now belongs to the city of Thun. It has a fine restaurant where people can enjoy wonderful scenery as well as fine food. It also houses the Swiss Gastronomy Museum said, in the brochure, to contain a ‘trove’ of cultural relics, interesting cooking devices (some now used again in modern cooking) and unusual recipes. Could be interesting!
Cruising further down the lake across this stunning blue water, we noticed these young sailors under tow. They not only made a great photo but they also reminded me of many years of small boat sailing in Australia with Em when we enjoyed teaching young people the art and joy of ‘messing about in boats.” On this day the lake was very calm – not enough breeze to fill these small sails. But it’s not always so. When the wind funnels through between these hills, small boat sailing can be quite exciting to say the least. And that water is cold, very cold; so it’s best not to capsize!
Getting home up steep slopes like these keeps one very fit! I know. To get home to our house in the village of Walchwil required just such a steep uphill walk especially as our car was garaged down by the lake. Unlike Walchwil, this village has not been spoiled by modern architecture – there’s not a flat roof in sight. And that’s probably because this is an area where snow lies thick in winter. It’s a dormitory area for the many ski slopes around here.
The area between Thunersee and the mighty mountains of the Monch, the Eiger and the Jungfrau was a favourite ski area of ours; Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, Grindlewald… all of them just over that hill. And it’s a fantastic place to hike in the spring and summer when the wild flowers are out. And in the autumn, this area is sublime in its beauty. Wonderful memories.
The schiff calls in at the tiniest of villages like this one. They are often the starting points for walking tracks in the hills. Hikers get off the schiff to walk to the next village – village people get on to cross the lake – it’s all part of the great Swiss transport service.
Watching these paragliders float through the air while we waited for our next train at Interlaken station made me think that perhaps we all need to dare to dream, dare to do, dare to take opportunities that come our way, in order to help make our lives rich and rewarding. These are tandem flights – a professional taking a ‘dreamer’ with them, someone who has dared to dream of floating way, way above the stunning scenery below.
While a desire to paraglide has never been a dream of mine, this trip back to Switzerland reminded me of two young people who dared to dream and have goals for their careers – and we went about achieving those goals, worked hard, had fulfilling lives and were not left wondering ‘what if!’ I guess it’s one reason why, now that I’m retired, I’m still so passionate about encouraging young people to dare to dream, to take opportunities and work to achieve their goals.
The next train cut short my thoughts. We climbed on board and proceeded onwards with our day, visiting yet more places that brought back a flood of memories of so many days spent in this wonderful Swiss countryside… for Switzerland became like a second home to Em and to me… a place we returned year after year for both work and for holidays… and it was so good to come back yet again.
Photography © JT of jtdytravels