Saturday, 30 January 2016

Magnificent Murren

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We saw very little on the 3 hour train journey to Murren, until Lake Thunersee, near Interlaken. The lake is surrounded by alps and they were snowcapped. At Interlaken we changed from the fast train to the delightfully slow, tourist motor rail train, for the journey up Lauterbrunnen Valley to Lauterbrunnen. At the station, we walked less than 100 metres to the Gondola that would lift us almost vertically out of the valley to Grutschalp, in 6 minutes. We then joined the small mountain rail train, for the half hour journey along the rim of the mountain to Murren, gasping as the views were revealed through the swirling fog.
Yet again the 'happiness' barometer was rising rapidly and remained at elevated levels for the next 5 days.

Entering the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
The Gondola ride begins.
Village of Wengen, across the valley. How lucky were we, that snow had fallen in the previous 24 hours?
Climbing higher.
Almost to Grutschalp.
Snow getting thicker on the ground.

This is the train we now joined to transport us to Murren - the village without cars. The photo was taken the following day.
Views from the train.

View from the entrance to Chalet Boebs, our accommodation.
View from the lounge and our bedroom.
Window open. View to the right.

We arrived at our Chalet at 3.30 and had to dash up to the one small supermarket before closing time, at 4pm, for milk and a few other items not bought in France. Once our purchases had been made we took time to explore this charming village with its stunning views. It was the end of the summer season and already many of the village facilities had closed, not that this was going to worry us.

The Eiger, shrouded in cloud.

The fog was playing games and was constantly swirling and diving into the valley. In the Distance is the Eiger - 3970 m and closer, The Jungfrau - 4158 m.
Autumn leaves and snow - wow!

The sun trying to hold its own with the clouds.
Typical village chalet decorated for Halloween.

On our return Kitty and Albert [our hosts] invited us to join them for coffee, cake and schnapps. We now fully understood why our friends had recommended Chalet Boebs to us so highly.

Once the fog lifted late the following morning, we witnessed many parachute jumpers, floating down into the valley, from high above our chalet.

It was a steep climb from our chalet to the village proper. Puffing just a little, the camera was a good excuse to stop and rest from time to time. Why hurry when surrounded by such incredible beauty.

The Schilthorn - 2970 m.
Closer with my zoom.

Our aim for the day was to walk the trail to Grutschalp and back - 14 kms.

There was a high bank beside the trail and I just couldn't resist making a snowman. It was quite difficult, as the snow was icy and and set hard before I could really shape it.

Glimpses through the trees, across the valley.

Had to pinch myself sitting here!

One of my favourite views taken on the return walk - such majestic splendour.

I was delighted to find my little man still enjoying the views from the bank.

I had been fortunate enough to have visited Murren on 2 previous occasions, but both a fleeting day visit. I fell in love then, but could only imagine her beauty on a perfect day.  Perhaps today hadn't been 'perfect', but for me the fresh, crisp mountain air and breathtaking vistas had me enchanted.

Dreams do come true! I would love to read your comment.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Annecy, Perouges and Lyon

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During our stay at Les Serraz, our Friends Kit and Mike, wanted to show us as much of their beautiful area as possible. One day we drove to Annecy, a medieval, alpine town, about a 1 1/2 hour journey from the farm. The old city is built around a 14th Century Chateau and is broken up by small canals and streams that run out of Lac Anncey. The Lac's waters are clear, fresh, a beautiful azure colour and overlooked by wooded and often snow capped mountains. The old town is charming with its cobbled streets, archways, pastel coloured buildings, winding canals and arched bridges.

Pont des Amours - River Thiou [shortest river in Europe - 3.5 kms]
Walking along the Pont, this is the beautiful view one is greeted by - Palais de I'lle. It had been a very dry summer, so the water level was quite low.

Giant Sequoia tree in the park beside the Pont.

It was decided to spend a night in Lyon to give us more time to explore this wonderful UNESCO, World Heritage listed city. 

A detour was made midway into the journey to Lyon, to explore the tiny, medieval walled town of Perouges. It is perched on a small hill, overlooking the vast plain of the Ain River. Its lovely cobbled streets and stone houses were astounding. Looking for a carpark, Mike accidentally drove through the main archway into the village, so we had a marvellous, but bumpy introduction to the village.

Where we drove.

Amazing buildings

The restaurant L'Hostellerie de Perouges in the central square of Perouges, is a beautifully kept building with old exposed beams, ancient, wide floorboards and waitresses attired in black dresses with lace mob caps and frilly white aprons. The hot chocolate served was just what we needed to warm us up on this chilly day. There were photographs of Bill and Hilary Clinton dining here. 

The stone buildings were amazing and I couldn't stop taking photographs of the doorways and chimneys. 


Lyon is the 3rd largest city in France. There was no feeling of this however, as we wandered through the old city. It was founded by the Romans, so it has many preserved historical areas. The Roman amphitheater was impressive and the architecture of so many of the buildings was fascinating. Again there were narrow, winding cobbled streets to explore and endless cafes and restaurants to tempt us. Interestingly it is the birthplace of cinema.

Our accommodation was in the tiniest hotel room I have ever been in, but right in the heart of the old city, on the Rue Victor Hugo. It took great patience to navigate our way to it, from the carpark under the Place Bellecour, a vast unimpressive central square. Louis the XVI is mounted on a horse surveying the square.

The squares one redeeming feature was the views to Fourviere Hill, also known as 'the hill that prays' because of its numerous churches.

The Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere was built following a cholera epidemic in Lyon, in the 1870's, as a tribute to the Holy Virgin and to thank her for saving the people of Lyon. 

Crossing the Saone, we took the funicular up to the Basilica. On such a cloudy day, the views were limited, but the vast sprawl of the city was obvious.

Croix-Rousse Hill [nicknamed - the hill that works] was the centre of the silk weaving trade in the early 19th C. As a result 'traboules' or covered passageways were built to move the silk fabrics between buildings without them getting wet. We didn't have time to walk in this area, but Kit was a super sleuth in finding examples near where we stayed.

Roman amphitheatre - a short distance from the Basilica.

The decision was made to descend from Fourviere, via Parc des Hauteurs [translated - Hill Park] and Rue de la Bombarde, to the Palasis de Justice footbridge crossing the Saone. 

By this time it was time  for a beer. Mike introduced Frank to the Belgian Kwak beer. The beer is poured into the glass resting at an angle, being careful not to make too much froth. The glass then changes position in the framework, leaving a wooden handle to lift the drink with. Great care had to be taken when reaching the dregs in the base.

A pleasant walk across the Rhone then followed to a Thai restaurant, that Mike had found  using an app on his phone. On arrival the restaurant was empty of patrons, making us a little tentative re entering. It had had excellent reviews and by the time we were halfway through our meal, we were ready to add to them.

The lights of  Fourviere, seen as we crossed Place Bellecour on our return journey, were twinkling brightly.
After croissants and coffee the following morning, our day was spent walking and exploring.
The confluence of the Rhone and Saone was our first destination, via the shoreline of both rivers.

Rhone  Saone

The Musee des Confluences - a science and anthropology museum opened in 2014.

We took a bus back to Place Bellecour and visited a market on the banks of the Saone, before crossing it to find the 'traboules'. 
I was astounded by the variety of mushrooms. Kit bought a selection and on our return to Les Serraz cooked them for us. Such amazing flavour.


Sculpture - The Weight of Oneself. 
"Not celebrating a hero, nor pursing a goal, or trying to achieve something. It's the story of someone trying to save himself."

                              Upper levels


Theatre Guignol
This French puppet show was created sometime after 1769. Its creator was a dentist. Pulling teeth was free, but the medicines to ease the pain were his means to make a living. To attract patients he set up this puppet show in front of his dental chair. 

Gnafron - a wine loving cobbler.        Guignol - a silk worker

We didn't have time to visit the theatre, but Kit was chuffed to find two of the puppet characters depicted in a shop window.

Typical street
Autumn - how beautiful are they?

Its been so difficult to cull my selection. Each town had its own charm, history and architecture and 
had me captivated. If only there had been more time!

I do hope you get to enjoy these places sometime in the future. I would love to read your comment.