4 July 2010
Appropriately enough, we were spending the Fourth of July at Hotel Alpenblick, which had a dining room decorated with American flags and various pieces of American memorabilia. The previous two mornings, there had been hardly anyone in the dining room at breakfast, but today the place was full. Apparently some soccer team had checked in the previous night, which was probably why we hadn't been able to reserve a private room for that night.
Today would be a short day of biking. We packed our bags and prepared to head just over Grosse Scheidegg to Rosenlaui. Lisa offered to take the bus up to the top of the pass, bringing the panniers with her. Meanwhile, Piaw (on an unloaded tandem) and I would climb up the pass.
There was a light rain that morning, so traffic was very light— just an occasional Post Bus. Tiny waterfalls could be seen all over the mountain.
Along the way up to Grosse Scheidegg there is a series of cartoons about bicyclists and the Post Bus (Grindelwald Bus). Bicyclists, as well as everything else on the road, are all supposed to yield to the Post Bus, but the roads are narrow and windy and I imagine there are frequent close encounters and lots of incidents that raise the blood pressure of everyone involved.
Piaw's climb on the half-empty tandem attracted some quizzical looks.
We met Lisa at the top of Grosse Scheidegg. Piaw and Lisa loaded the panniers onto the tandem and we descended to Rosenlaui.
On the descent there were numerous unconventional road markings warning cyclists to be careful and watch out for the buses.
When we arrived at Rosenlaui, it was stil too early to check in, so we dropped off our bikes and luggage and started to hike up towards Rosenlaui glacier. The last time Piaw and I were here, we had taken a long loop around Kalterbrunnen to go up to the glacier. This time we figured we would just take the short (read: steep) way up, which was the route we had come down last time.
The rain had just stopped, which made it a great time for flower pictures.
The ascent was quite steep (Lisa turned back before we got to the glacier) but the trail gave great views of the valley and of the hotel.
My first thought, upon seeing the hotel from afar: Did we really climb up all this way? Second thought: Uh-oh. Does that mean we have to climb down, too?
My enthusiasm had waned along the climb, so I stopped at the Engelhornhutte and had a soda. That's what I like about hiking in Europe— it's very civilized, with places to stop for refreshments every couple of hours. Meanwhile, Piaw went the last leg of the climb up to the glacier.
I passed Piaw as he was coming down from the glacier, but I stopped to take some pictures, so he went ahead. Without anyone to follow, I lost the trail in a couple of places for a couple of minutes at a time.
By the time I got back to Rosenlaui, the sun had come out again. Piaw and Lisa were drinking tea at the hotel and gave me my room key.
Being at Rosenlaui felt positively wonderful. I wouldn't say that the hotel is extravagant, but it was much less spartan than most of the places we had stayed in Europe. It was very clean. And this must sound crazy, but one of the best parts was the size of the bathrooms. Just having a spacious bathroom makes you feel like a king. Definitely something to think about if you ever design your own house.
That afternoon, we were reunited with Kekoa and Cynthia, who had just climbed up from Meiringen after spending a couple of days there.
The meals at Rosenlaui were as wonderful as I had remembered. Dinner was four courses, each of which was exquisitely prepared and presented. (Not pictured below: soup.)
Dessert was a soufflé (which has to be eaten immediately after preparation). The server asked us when we wanted to have dessert served, and I laughed when I realized the implication was that he wasn't sure if we were hungry enough to eat dessert immediately. Piaw put together enough German words to convey the sentiment, "If you bring it, we will eat it," which I suppose pretty much describes our entire trip.
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