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Day 16: August 12th 1999 (Berner Oberland, Switzerland).

I woke with a headache.  Maybe I should cut down on the wine next time.  We caught the 7:34 train to Levanto and ate breakfast at the Levanto train station.  I was told that the toilet facilities were scary (Turkish squatting toilets) but did not partake of them myself.  We then set off on the longest drive of the tour – 9 hours to the Swiss Alps.

Not only did I have a hangover, but I was also coming down with a cold.  The motion of the bus did not make my head or stomach any happier.  It also rained all morning.  When we finally stopped at a gaudy bulbous orange rest stop I was feeling a little better - the longer off the bus the better I felt.  We stopped for lunch across the border in Switzerland and everyone immediately noticed the difference in food prices.  It was almost double for lunch what we had paid in Italy.

Back on the bus and through a disgusting 14-mile tunnel full of exhaust fumes.  It was almost unbreathable, but Don gave us candy pacifiers to calm us down during the passage.  We decided to take the bus via the scenic route and climbed the twisted roads to 7,000 feet, where we stopped to make snowballs and cool off in the fog.  It was 50 degrees.

Our next stop was Interlaken, a tourist town at the entrance to the Berner Oberland.  For the first time in the tour, rain significantly impacted us.  It was pouring and we had an hour to kill.  We split up and visited the various cow bell and Swiss army knife stores.

We drove to the base of the Gondola to Gimmelwald and took the 100-person flying bus up to the 5,000-foot high ridge.  The rain had now dropped to a drizzle.  There was a 1,000-foot waterfall above us that was shaped like a horse’s tail.  Some say the horse of the apocalypse.

The Gondola was very fast at getting us 3000 feet higher.  There’s an elbow in the cable near the top, where it felt almost zero-g for a moment.  We dropped our bags in a waiting truck and trekked up the steep hill to the hotel, mindful that we had 25% less oxygen at this altitude.

The hotel was indeed rustic but cozy.  One bathroom for each of the 3 floors, and a bar and dining room at the bottom.  My roomie was Ian again.  We had dinner almost immediately after we arrived.  It was spaghetti and green beans.  We had Heidi Cocoas (cocoa with peppermint schnapps) afterwards.

Later there were ghost stories, but I was tired and wanted to rest my cold, so I retired early that night.  I heard later that many of the stories ended with something about a “hook.”

     

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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.

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