Leaving Bangkok airport is never really a trial as we can book in for a Thai Airways massage. I chose to have my legs massaged in preparation for the long night flight and David had his shoulders and neck done. We had an eleven hour flight ahead of us to Brussels en route to Zurich. David takes up the story:
“What a nice surprise there was in store for us when we boarded our plane which was to take us from Bangkok to Brussels. It was a B777, listed as just the same as the one that took us from Melbourne to Bangkok. The big difference between the two was their age; the first plane being 7.6 years old and the second one only 8 months old. No real difference except the seats. We each had our own cubicle on the newer plane and the seat could be converted into a fully 180 degree flat bed. Bliss for a better night’s sleep compared to flat beds at a sloping angle. There’s no difference in price paid, so I’ll take the 180 degree flat bed every time. And, sleep I did as it was an all-night flight which left Bangkok at half past midnight. It had been a long day already!
The other obvious difference was the use of lap and sash seat belts. These were to be used during taxiing, take-off’s and landings. The sash part of the belt could be detached for the rest of the journey. What a good idea and as this type of belt has been compulsory in motor vehicles for decades, why has it taken so long for them to be used in aircraft where the forces in extreme situations are even greater?
On arrival in Brussels, Immigration and Customs formalities were necessary as we were entering the EC for the first time on this journey. We had a 2+ hour transit time between arrival and the change to a Swiss Air flight to Zurich. This time was spent in a lounge which was all but empty when we arrived at around 07h30. Eventually, we boarded the last of our flights, but the ground crew, whose responsibility it was to load the belly of the aircraft with our bags etc., were late to arrive. We missed our take-off slot and sat around for an extra 30 minutes waiting for a new slot to be found by the guys sitting in the control tower. It was good to finally get underway.
The most important thing to do on our arrival in Zurich was to get some Swiss francs and to activate our two month Eurail Pass. This was all achieved with little fuss and with lots of help from a very friendly Swiss Rail adviser. SBB really does provide an excellent service in every way.
We found the right train and headed for Zug which is where Jennie lived for a couple of years arriving in 1969. We had to change trains there for our overnight destination of Brunnen, a half hour further south on the Vierwaldstattersee, the ‘lake of the four states’. Each area calls the lake their own and gives it a colloquial name!”
I’ll interrupt David’s story here for a few photos taken with my new TZ 60 camera.
The 800m walk down to the lake from the train station, the Bahnhof, gave some insight into this small Swiss village. It is not large or touristy and we were greeted warmly by locals as we wearily walked, pulling our bags and toting our back packs.
And we were warmly welcomed at the hotel and shown to our room which has a small balcony ….The one straight above the main balcony. The cream hotel and the grey one are run as a joint family concern, with three generations of the family all doing their part to make the business flow smoothly including both B&Bs and a small restaurant.
What a view from our room! It could be no where else but Switzerland… a restored paddle wheel steamer just leaving Brunnen pier and the first row of the Swiss Alps as the background. We just sat on the balcony and drank in the clean Swiss air and that view. It was well worth the long journey to get to this well remembered part of the world. This area of Swiss lakes had been my home away from home in the late 1960s and I had returned many, many times over the years. But I had never actually stayed in Brunnen before. I have not been disappointed with the choice this time!
Every time I return to the lakes area of Switzerland, one thing I really look forward to is a feed of lake fish. David continues:
“In an attempt to keep things simple, and after a long day, we decided to eat in the restaurant attached to the hotel. Although we were confronted by a fairly comprehensive menu, we both chose a fish dish. The young waiter, Patrik, was able to tell us that our fish was local to the very lake our hotel is situated beside. He told us we would be getting fillets of fish and that they would be served with boiled potatoes and that a mixed salad would precede the main dish. The salad arrived dressed with a light creamy dressing – and was fresh and delicious.
Next, of course, came the main offering which consisted of five fillets of fish and three elongated yellow potatoes which had been tossed in finely chopped parsley. On plunging a fork into the first fillet of fish it was obvious that the Swiss chef had found a way to bloat the fillets of fish to make them look very much bigger than they actually were. I reckon these fish must be on the endangered fish list, either that or they are very thin fingerlings. The only discernible flavour, I think, came from the oil the fillets were fried in! The meal was nonetheless quite enjoyable, but we did decline dessert when we saw one delivered to a neighbouring table in a large open glass stemmed dish. It appeared to consist of very little, with who knows what in the bottom, topped with oodles of aerosol dispensed whipped cream. We tried a coffee instead… Lots of froth not a lot of coffee. Then came the bill. The meal was truly expensive by our standards, but then everything is horrifically expensive in Switzerland. We knew that. When Jennie lived here in the 60’s, one AUD bought five Swiss franks. Now it will not buy one Swiss frank.
The day had been overcast and during the afternoon the sky became even more menacing. During our dinner the skies opened and down tumbled a heavy deluge. The only thing missing was thunder and lightning. It was time to go to bed and sleep to the sound of rain and hope that it would clear by morning.”
And clear it did. This was David’s first view of the world very early next morning. Beautiful. He enjoyed it while I slumbered on.
It was still a little misty when I joined him, camera in hand. I decided to give that 30x feature in the TZ 60 a bit of a trial.
I zoomed out about 10 x on the nearest hill across the other side of the lake. It became clearer that there are a few farm houses and what appeared to be a largish building on the left of the photo.
At 30x zoom, the building could be identified as a monastery .
By the time I was showered and dressed, a few weak rays of sun were filtering through the mist. The Weggis was already at the pier waiting for its first passengers of the day. We were ready to get out and explore but not by boat. The weather was forecast to turn wet again and these boats are expensive. We decided to leave venturing out on the lake for a sunny day and begin our day by exploring more of Brunnen on foot. Then we would use our train pass to take us first to Zug and then to Lucerne for David to experience two of my favourite places in this lakes area of Central Switzerland.
More of that anon.
Jennie and David