Saturday, August 25 (Day 8 )
Meiringen, then Brunnen
weather: sunny, warm
We just had a quick visit to Meiringen and luckily the weather is working for us. When I had booked just one night here, I was worried weather would keep us from being able to do the Trift hike.
This morning might just be our first hotel breakfast. The breakfast at Hotel Baer was decent enough and we were all packed up and ready to head out. Luggage storage at the hotel was available, but it was simply, just leave your luggage at the un-manned reception desk, so instead we opted to walk across the street to the train station and get a couple lockers there.
Our first stop was going to be the Sherlock Holmes Museum, however we were soon stopped by the sounds of a community marching band and a little market in the village square. The band was made up of people from all age groups from high schoolers to people in their 70s. They played several tunes for us and then moved on to another location.
As it turned out we were already right in front of the museum, and we read the placards leaded up to the museum detailing the history of Sherlock Holmes in Meiringen. As it turns out, Holmes’s final story was based here in the town and at Reichenbachalls. Holmes came here with Watson to visit nature, and ended up being followed by an enemy, Moriarty. On a visit to the falls, Watson was called back to the town, while Holmes went on. Moriarty followed Holmes, and after a fight, both went over the edge of the falls, falling to their deaths in the final story. As it would, be of course, several years later Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decided to write one more story where Holmes came out of hiding and told Watson only the enemy had fallen and Holmes had indeed survived.
The museum is located in a basement of an adorable and tiny church, though it doesn’t open until 1pm. =p So, we traveled on to the Reichenbachfall for a ride on the funicular up to the top of the falls. The ride on the funicular or steep Swiss train, was slow and steady with great views down to the town and up the tracks. The tracks are steep enough that the car is built like a stair case, which the seating on different levels along the track. We had a full row to ourselves so we could slide around on the bench to catch all the views on the way up.
At the top, we were immediately covered in a mist-cloud generated by the roaring waterfall. The waterfall is huge and very interesting-looking. From below, there appeared to be a pinch point along the falls where the water pinched down and then opened back up again. Up close, we could see the pinch point was actually where part of the water was diverted through a hole in a rock to splash out the other side. I’m always impressed by the power of water.
We took our photos at the falls and then continued up a tall staircase that lead us to the actual top of the falls. At each landing, we stopped for photos. At one point we got to a bridge that actually crossed in front of the falls and as I was attaching my Joby Gorillapod tripod to the railing, one of my tripod feet popped off and feel into the raging water below!! Mark and I both stood a little shocked as we stared down into the white water of the waterfall. That was disappointing. I will certainly be contacting Joby soon. In the meantime, my tripod is now missing 3 little sections of one of it’s legs. Boo. It will still work okay for the rest of vacation, though.
We climbed on to the top of the falls and found a hut and the road. It wasn’t so interesting up here, so we turned around and went back down to the train and then back down to Meiringen. We still had some time before the museum opened at 1pm, so we found a place for lunch (Migros Cafe) and then went to a cafe serving meringue (Frutal). As it turns out, Meiringen is known for it’s meringue. There wasn’t a factory or anything to tour, but eating a dessert that included ice cream and meringue was a nice little treat. The village shops are actually full with bags of the large, puffy treats.
Finally, we made it into the Sherlock Holmes museum and picked up our English audio guides. We were happy to find out our Swiss Passes worked to enter the museum and we took the very short tour. The basement is just barely the size of a room, so the tour was quick. Above, we saw a photographic art gallery in the church, and then listened to the audio guide downstairs where many pieces of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia were on display. The audio guide technology was pretty neat, because we basically just pointed the IR transmitter/receiver at the info display at each case and the information started playing in our ear in English. There were 2 cases of trinkets that either related to Holmes or the time period of his life. There was also a map on the wall indicating a route he might have taken when he traveled through Switzerland. Then, finally, there was a full-sized replica of his famous living room complete with the mess and all the little trinkets he might have used. Apparently it took quite a bit of time and effort to out this together as fans studied the drawings in the Strand magazine and scrutinized all the text in the books.
Our tour was short and we were able to depart and make it on the 2:30ish train to Brunnen. We actually had about 2 transfers and 3 trains to get to Brunnen, then a long-ish 15 minute walk to our apartment rental. We actually made it to the apt just in time because about 10 minutes later it started raining! The apartment at Alpina Apartments in Brunnen was perfect for us! We loved it immediately. There was room for a bed, then off to the side was a couch and tv, and further beyond that was the kitchen with everything we might need. Plus, in contrast to other apartments we’ve rented, all the appliances and all the dishes and pans appeared to be brand new or at least in perfect and clean condition. The bathroom was also large and the shower was in a tub, so we didn’t have to worry about the usual European showers that spray water all over the bathroom. Plus we had about 5 windows we could open as windows are the only way of air-conditioning the inside. The host had left us a bowl of fruit and we snacked while unpacking and settling in. We will be here for 5 nights, so I could totally unpack.
There was a break in the rain in the evening, so we took a walk to the grocery store where we decided dinner would be frozen pizzas. The grocery store was also a nice big size with plenty of items to choose from. Unfortunately, the rain started up again once we left the store and we had to dash back in our rain jackets trying hard not to get all the groceries too wet.
The evening was absolutely perfect and homey, watching tv, eating pizza made in our oven, and just relaxing together. This may not sound very vacationy to you, but these normal nights at home are something that we miss living apart, so for us, this was completely perfect.
Tomorrow we’ll work on checking out the rest of the area of Lake Lucerne assuming the rain blows away. Until then, goodnight.