Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Beginnings

Brian and i are fast approaching our one-year anniversary of being Swiss residents. To start the summer, we have, of course, taken lots of trips!

In June, we took the train down to Florence, Italy, about a six hour ride that connects in Milan. After an epic meal that night, we picked up a rental car the next day and drove to Chiusi, where we had rented a house and met up with Brian's parents, sisters, sister's husband and sister's husband's parents. Whew. We stayed for about a week and had a great time exploring the nearby Tuscan hill towns, relaxing at the house, and eating delicious food (of course). My few pictures are here, but Brian took lots more on his Google+ page, if you are connected with him there.


We left Brian's parents, Harvey and Kelli, to enjoy the house by themselves for a few days and made our way back up to Zurich. Unfortunately, in our absence, a landslide had cut off the northern entrance to the Gotthard rail tunnel for approximately one month. Instead of taking just one connection to get from Florence to Zurich, it instead took five, though we only got in about a half-hour late to Zurich. Harvey and Kelli were less lucky a few days later, getting into Zurich a full two ours late (Swiss train efficiency, where are you?!).

For their visit to Switzerland, we finally had the time and the right weather to go up to Jungfraujoch, the "Top of Europe." The Jungfrau ("Young Lady") is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, together with the Eiger ("Ogre") and Monch ("Monk"). Jungfraujoch is a point reachable by train on the saddle of Jungfrau and Monch, at 11,716 feet (3,571 meters). After about an hour on a cogwheel train through the Eiger, you reach Jungfraujoch. We enjoyed the amazing views of the Alps and Aletsch Glacier, the expensive Swiss food in the cafeteria, and the lightheadedness from altitude. Harvey could only spend a few days in Switzerland, but Kelli stayed on to see more of Zurich, as well as take a day trip to Gruyeres, in French-speaking Switzerland.

Aletsch Glacier

Finally, after a few relaxing weekends, Brian and I hauled ourselves out of the apartment last weekend to go searching for the Matterhorn. Despite our review of the webcam prior to getting on the train, the Matterhorn decided to hide behind a cloud once we got there, but we had a nice day trip around Zermatt and up the Gornergrat summit for a small hike and lovely mountain views.

Matterhorn Hiding