Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cows, car and crackers

Waking up to mist over the mountain before the sun rose, just magic.
Then waking up again after the sun has risen above the mountain, showing as a massive ball through the mist, priceless. I'm being slowed down by a cold, so it was a late breakfast before we made our way up the mountain in a cable car.

The pure magnitude of the mountain was breath-taking on the way up and once at the top, it was doubly so. Standing on the top of a mountain, wild flowers everywhere, tingeing the fresh mountain air with scent, the sun shining in the blue, blue sky, the gentle, albeit out of tune clanging of the cow bells, the mist rolling in, outcrops of white stone amongst the luscious, green grass - it would have been hard to get any more scenic. We made our way down to the cows via the difficult route (note to self, when Lee chooses the direction, put the camera away - you'll need both hands).

We came back to our hotel for another delicious meal before setting off for Interlaken. We spent a fair amount of time in the car today, with a few minor detours. The interesting part was that we were able to see the next step in the silage process. After cutting, the next step appears tone drying the grass out. This involves either turning it over with a spreader/rake behind a tractor, or by hand with a pitch fork. Once done it can start to be raked together. By hand it was with a wide rake that was bent toward the person at the end. Both of these manual steps appeared to be done by women and children today. Mechanically, it was tractors or small ride-ons that basically rake the width into a canvas barrier at one end to bring the spread clumps back into clean lines. The clean lines are then picked up by a conveyor(?) front-end that packs it into a following trailer. I found the whole process fascinating - as you can probably tell.

We went from scenery that was hilly with either grazing or being processed for silage, to the same hills covered in trees, to a mix of corn and pasture in the flat valley, then we were either in a tunnel through the side of the mountain or next to a lake (at least that was my impression when I was awake). All the way along there were wood houses with stereotype curtains in the window and masses of red and pink flowers in window boxes. There was at least one house where I don't know how they could see out the window through the flowers! There was one farm where I was really tempted to stop - selling butter by the side of the road!

We reached Interlaken an hour later than scheduled to catch up with Fabrice. We had met Fab and Alice in Melbourne, where Fab became well known for his ability to drink beer. Since then Lee has played with the Swiss frisbee team Wizards at 2 Paganello tournaments thanks to Fab and Alice who now live in Geneva. Today was Swiss national day, and more importantly, Fab's birthday. We celebrated with a BBQ on the Thun lake shore with a full spread of Swiss produce, as we watched the sun go down. The tradition of Swiss national day is to let off fireworks by the lake. At our BBQ spot what we viewed was more INTO the lake than over the lake. We arrived at our hostel in Inseltwald (just along the lake from Interlaken) in time to watch the traditionally-dressed band and lantern-bearing children progress along the main street followed by the official fireworks on the lake. It's now 11:30pm, and there are still keen beans letting off their fireworks all the way along the water. What a fun way to start our holiday!

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