Day #11,040: Like all last days of vacation, this one had a twinge of that Sunday Night feeling. When you start mentally prepping for a return to real life and making checklists and generally acting more serious than being on vacation should merit.
To combat this, Mr. M & I went on a morning hike on one of the many trails cutting through Wengen.
We ended up happening upon a whole bunch of wildflower-strewn meadows, a farm cat stalking some sort of prey in the grass, a fox, and a herd of cowbell-wearing sheep (one of whom let me rub his nose in exchange for a juicy blade of grass).
It had me thinking that living in Wengen would be quite the wonderful existence: eat a lot of really good cheese… go for a mountain walk… take a scenic train… rinse and repeat.
For the first time on our trip, we missed one of our train connections and actually had to wait (gasp and horrors) for one to arrive. I think we were just a bit tired from the breakneck pace of the trip. It’s a younger man’s game. :) Nonetheless, we made it to the medieval city of Bern, a little hot, a little tired, and a lot excited to see the sights.
Bern is actually Switzerland’s capital, which was surprising because it’s cobblestoned and could easily be a city from like, five hundred years ago if you ignored the (frequent and efficient) trams and buses.
We stowed our luggage at the train station, then took a walking tour of the Old Town.
The city really is gorgeous, but having just come from the Wonders of all Wonders in the Swiss Alps, I was admittedly a bit jaded. What, no mind-blowing Alpine views? No world’s highest this or scene of a Bond movie? I was impressed by Bern, but it did come at an unfair time in our itinerary. And it was HOT. Mr. M had heard that on warm summer days, locals went tubing down the milky blue River Aare, which runs through the city. I was secretly hoping for a little tubing action, but alas, it seems the day wasn’t quite hot enough for water play cuz we didn’t see anyone taking a dip.
Instead, Mr. M & I crossed the river and headed uphill to the Rosengarten, a beautiful park and… surprise, surprise… rose garden overlooking the city. With plum tart & colas in hand, we enjoyed the view and our last day in Switzerland… and tried to keep thoughts of returning home from creeping in.
From Bern, we returned to Zurich for one last gut-busting Swiss dinner. We were seated next to a seemingly very nice man from Japan who had no idea what fondue was or how it was to be enjoyed. He seemed super confused when the bowl of melted cheese came out with nothing but a fork and a mound of cubed bread and puzzled over the situation until the waiter came back to show him how to dip it. He seemed so astounded by this culinary revelation that Mr. M & I couldn’t help giggling about how our dining companion’s email back home might read (in Japanese, of course… I’ll leave you to translate): “You’ll never believe what I ate today. Traditional Swiss cuisine consists entirely of bread, a vat of melted cheese, and a mini pitchfork to marry the two. Wonders never cease.”
As the sun set over the Limmat River, so did our most amazing- and impromptu, thanks to last-minute flight deals!- trip to Switzerland. I had one final task before jetting back home… and I actually didn’t think it was gonna get done.
I get a little souvenir from every country I’ve been blessed to visit, and after finding out that all Swiss livestock really do wear cowbells around their neck, I knew that had to be my rememberance of the country.I hadn’t seen one that I liked and was “worried” we’d just have to come back to Switzerland another time. ;) As one final gift from the Travel Gods (who had already more than paid their dues giving us a peek of sunshine in the Alps), we found an adorable shop in the Zurich train station… and my bell.
On the plane ride home, Mr. M & I played our traditional end-of-travel questionnaire game, and I thought I’d put some of the results here. Bottom line: Switzerland was Mr. M’s favorite trip ever, and it was my favorite of the non-adventurous variety (I love feeling really lost while traveling- it makes me feel like I’m experiencing something completely different- and Switzerland made everything so easy! Weird thing to dock it for, right?). The country is beautiful, and if you ever get the chance to go- we’re looking at YOU, last-minute flight deals- take it!
Favorite Moment of the Trip: Our hour-long snow hike in Jungfrau to the mountain hut… it was just so magical.
Place Most Likely to Return: Zermatt! We kept talking about how beautiful it would be in the winter. Getting back to the Hotel Coeurs des Alpes may have something to do with it, too…
Most Surprising Part of the Trip: How quaint and charming the big cities of Zurich and Lucerne are! We were expecting a bustling metropolis and found something much more lovely and accessible.
Favorite Eats: Mr. M really enjoyed his bratwurst in the Jungfrau Mountain Hut. For me, eating fondue under the Matterhorn couldn’t be beat.
Biggest Bummer: Not getting to see the peak of the Matterhorn.
Details of the Day:
Tips & Tricks: If you’re flying out of the Zurich airport, learn from our ignorance. Departing flights are organized into three distinct check-in areas, NOT by airline. (So, for example, Swiss Air flights depart out of all three check-in gates.) Look up your check-in gate ahead of time, or just look for the large screens posting that information before security.