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08/22 Flims, Switzerland

Today is a layover day in the popular ski resort, mountain biking and hiking area of Flims Switzweland. We're high in the Alps, yet we're still surrounded by high peaks -- mostly green, but there are many areas where the slope is bare because it is too steep to hold any growth.

After two hard days of riding the Alps, we had a leisurely, sleep-in morning. Of course, we missed breakfast at camp (usually not a great loss) so we walked down to the small commercial center to find something to eat.

We found a little cafe. I had a coffee and a REALLY TINY spinach and cheese quiche. Lisa had "something" made with shrimp and some kind of sauce.

Then we continued walking down into town. We found that everything except the restaurants and beauty parlors was closed between 12 and 2. Since we had already been to a restaurant, we stopped at a beauty parlor and got some shampoo. Then we headed back up the hill towards our Zimmer.

We knew that there was a bank about two blocks past our place, so we decided to walk up there to see if there were also stores that might be open in the middle of the day since they weren't downtown.

We didn't find any stores but we did find a little cafe with sidewalk tables overlooking the mountains, so we stopped for lunch. We had the house specialty of vegetable and lentil soup, and a salad of tomatoes and big slices of mozzarella cheese.

By then it was 2:30, so we headed back along main street into town. Now the main drag is a two lane road that clings to the side of the mountain. The downtown consists of stores, also clinging to the side of the mountain, and the station of the main ski tram that serves the surrounding ski areas.

And the ski areas are all around you no matter where you are in town. Every direction you look has spectacular views. On many of the ridges you can see ski lift towers marching ahead. What a great ski and winter recreation area this must be!

We stopped at a sport store checking for unique bike jerseys, and we found one! It says "Flim" on the front. We can't wait for someone to ask where we got them :-).

Love to all,
David and Lisa

08/23 Switzerland, Flims to Andermatt to Raron

It's our driving day but L&J suggested we declare it a non-riding day because they didn't like any of the riding options for the day. No problem with us.

We jumped in the car about 8:30 and headed up through the mountains. We drove for miles through really beautiful mountains and really charming and quaint towns. We drove up switchback after switchback to get over Oberallpass at 2046 meters (a little over 7000 feet). There we met and traded stories with some tourists from Wisconsin.

The drive continued through more fantastically beautiful mountain valleys and small, interesting and unusual villages. Then we headed up many more switchbacks to get over Furkapass, elevation 2431 meters (over 8000 ft.)

We stopped there, had a cup of tea on a deck overlooking many mountains and several glaciers. We met Andy and Ursela, friends of Waltee (Walte and Anna from Switzerland). They were meeting Walte there at noon. Nice people!

They told us about a fantastic view from Grimselpass, just a few miles off our route. We convinced Larry and Joan to take the side trip for the recommended views.

Were we disappointed :-( The climb was quite a challenge -- steep and full of switchbacks -- but the magnificent views didn't materialize. I wonder if we're getting jaded from all the fantastic scenery we have been experiencing?

We stopped in the village of Muenster for lunch. We sat on a deck under umbrellas surrounded by spectacular views of the mountains, valleys and villages. BUT, Muenster did NOT have Muenster cheese -- but they DID have a wonderful baked sandwich with cheese, tomato, onion, eggs and ham.

Something unusual we see in every little town and village here in the Alps. That is, buildings made from lumber that is very dark and weathered looking. They are built from very heavy lumber that has interlocking notches -- much like Lincoln Logs -- and they look like they have been weathered for at least a hundred years, maybe two or three.

We continued on to Raron. Arrived about 4:30. Larry and I secured a room in the hotel right across the street from the TK&A campground. As luck would have it, the hotel was also serving the Odyssey dinner tonight, so we were right there.

Lisa was antsy from riding in the car all day, so we changed and went for a run. We ran along a river for about 30 minutes. Then we came to a very small crossroad that led to a town on the far side of the valley. We decided to jog over and see the town.

WHAT A FIND! The name was Niedergestln. We don't know anything about it, BUT . . . WAS IT INTERESTING!!

As we approached, an old woman wearing a housedress, rolled down stockings and a babushka came out of the field just in front of us. She was pushing an old two-wheeled cart. We followed her until she turned into a driveway of one of the few newer houses.

Most of the buildings seemed to be very old -- hundreds of years. But then there was a modern-looking bank squeezed right between them. And fairly new cars. We saw a man looking out a window of one of the very old buildings, who looked like he was 100 years old. Seemed somehow fitting. Right out of Norman Rockwell.

But then we saw a young guy who looked like he might have lived in Manhattan. Very strange mix of people.

There was a very old church on the hill over the city. And in the cemetary behind the church, which we thought was very old, the gravestones were all dated in the 1980s and 90s!

We've seen many old, charming towns in Europe, but this one was really different. Difficult to put into words. We're going back tomorrow with the camera!

We had a nice run along the river back to our hotel. We showered (in our room), toileted (down the hall), and went to dinner. After dinner we had a nice evening just reading our books.

Love to all,
David and Lisa

08/24 Roran, Switzerland to Abondance, France

Today was our driving day. We decided to go to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn, then stop back in Neidergestln, the town we jogged to yesterday.

We drove back to Visp, then up the mountain to Tasch. We took a train from Tasch because cars are not allowed to drive to Zermatt.

Zermatt is a typical large ski town with a Swiss village look. It is full of tourist shops, ski shops, tourist shops, sport shops, tourist shops, boutiques, tourist shops, restaurants tourist shops, hotels and tourist shops. Today it was half-full of tourists and half-full of hikers.

We strolled through town up to the tram and ski lift departure point. We got several good views of the Matterhorn. (It looks just like every picture we've ever seen of it.) Of course we took a picture or two. :-) Zermatt is at 1679 meters (about 6000 ft) -- the Matterhorn towers to 4599 meters (almost 15,000 ft.)

We stopped and had coffee and a pastry in a sidewalk cafe. The cool, fresh mountain air was exhilarating. The views in every direction of green mountains close by, backed up by snow-covered mountains peaks, was delightful. We watched hang-gliders slowly floating down off the mountains as we waited for the train back to Tasch.

Back on route to pick up J&L. The route today was beautiful. It wound through valleys and hung on the sides of mountains as we traveled through miles of Swiss wine country.

Finally we left the valleys and climbed the mountain to cross into France. The French Alps are equally beautiful, and, for awhile at least, equally Swiss looking.

Love to all,
David and Lisa

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