Nom de Plumage

March 26, 2012

The Hills Are Alive………..With Cow Bells!

Filed under: Travel Journal — nomdeplumage @ 9:15 pm
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What makes Switzerland so recognisable to the world? Mountains? Cows with bells around their necks? Well today, I was to see and experience the REAL Switzerland and it blew me away.
Winter approaches must faster here in Switzerland than it does in the rest of Europe. It creeps up slowly and catches you unawares. Slowly the hints have been recognised as the suns rays become weaker and the temperature plummets and thick fog descends. So, as the last days of the warm weather is upon us, today is the perfect day to explore the true alps. With a name like Maria, so synonymous with the classic movie “Sound of Music”, it only seemed appropriate that I should attempt singing on top of a mountain.

The mountainous region of The Aplensee is only an hours drive from Nadine’s home. We left home just before 10 am. The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun just sparkled. I was disillusioned to think that we would be the only ones going for a hike. But the closer we got to the alps, the traffic became heavier. We arrived at the parking area at the entrance of the Alpensee, only to struggle to find a parking spot. It seemed like the whole of Switzerland had the same idea as us. It felt like we were attending a concert, it was so packed. I had no idea how serious the Swiss people are with hiking. Just as we arrived, a cow was literally giving birth to her calf in the meadow, much to the fascination of many onlookers.
     
So with our walking boots on, sandwiches and water in our backpacks, we begin our walk and I almost turned back. Straight ahead at the very beginning, is a daunting 45 degree hill that just kept on going. Parents with either babies on their backs or children in tow, would pass me with ease as I struggled. My legs went into shock and I could not catch my breathe. Nadine was not impressed and joked about not having mountains in Australia? We do, but compared to these monstrosities, they are ant hills in comparison. So to my utter humiliation, I begged Nadine to leave me behind and allow me to climb, groan, whinge and puff my way up the mountain at my own pace.
     
Was the pain worth it? You be the judge, for my amateur photos’ do no justice to the stunning scenery that lay before as I reached the summit. Nadine sat on a large boulder nearby, patiently waiting for me. She begrudgingly accepted that I was not as fit as herself and therefore altered our hiking adventures to something more modest, much to my relief. We continued walking and what lay before us was just magic. Jagged snow capped mountains surrounded a pristine lake of cold fresh water. Small wooden cabins dotted the meadows, much to my envy of a beautiful and serene way of life. Nestled high up on a hill, was of all things – a restaurant. Yep, the Swiss do not believe in bringing own food for a picnic. It must be a cooked meal prepared by someone else and washed down with a beer or two. The location was stunning as it overlooked the alps. We decided on stopping at the restaurant to sit at the outdoor dining area for a drink. At first it was a great idea, but then the weather cooled down quickly, so we went inside. After a beer and coffee, we went back outside to find some sun to sit under and eat our packed lunch.
     
We walked to the base of the mountains and nestled in the valley, we found a perfect platform of green thick grass to lie down on and soak up the sun. Warmth penetrated deep into my cold bones and lying nestled deep in a lush carpet of grass, laziness overwhelmed me and I dozed and relished the perfect serenity of the place. It was here that I discovered that Nadine is very vain. With her camera in one hand, she was constantly posing and taking a million close-up photo’s of herself. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head.
Ok, so how about these cows? Farms lay beautifully situated at the base of the alps and the cows are given free rein to wander the lush landscape in search of food. As they move from one lush patch to another, their bells ring to the rhythm of their gentle sway. The sound was music to my ears.

A quick and final drink at the restaurant before we began our descent back to the car via a different route. This time it was all down hill, but on a more treacherous and painful path. Large white sharp rocks lined the track and with each heavy step, they would protrude deep into the soles of our boots. To make matters worse, the descent was steep and many times we would literally run due to the momentum and steepness of the road. But it was all through stunning scenery and all worth the pain. Okay, so you want to know, did I sing? No! But I felt alive, free and happy and that was enough to contend me. Sorry to disappoint!
Tired, we arrived home late and ate a light dinner of potato soup. Afterwards we watched “The Dark Knight” movie in German, much to my amusement. But the night did not end well. Nadine’s pet rabbit Lucy was not well and so my friend became tense and very concerned for her beloved friend.

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