July 10, 2013 – Interlaken, Switzerland
Good morning from the land of snow capped mountains, cowbells and cheese. We last blogged about Rita’s Aunt Anne and our visit with her in Strasbourg. It made us both reflect on how to live our lives so that they have meaning and purpose at age 90. Certainly, keeping active mentally and physically has to be a priority. Music may be another thing to pursue. In any event, we had to leave Aunt Anne behind, catch our breaths, and plan our next adventure. After seeing Aunt Anne, we went for a short tour of Strasbourg. It is a very old town founded by the Germans and most of its residents still speak German, but consider themselves French, but independent French. Our tour included Petit France, which is built on canals and includes the oldest of buildings constructed with the exposed timbers. See photos for examples.
The next morning, July 8th, we drove to Colmar France to see its old city which has been preserved. The buildings are also on canals and used exposed timbers. Upon our arrival, we were immediately greeted at the exit by a 37-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty!!!! We thought we had made a wrong turn and ended up in New York. But, apparently, the sculptor for the Statue of Liberty was born in Colmar and the replica was there is honor him. In the afternoon, we drove to Ronchamp France. It took us an hour longer to get there than we had planned. We were in hot pursuit of a dream I have had for many years and that was to see Notre Dame de la Chapelle du Ronchamp. Swiss Architect Corbusier and sits on a mountaintop designed the Chapelle. When you approach the Chapelle, it resembles a nun’s habit. It is extremely impressive to see. No previous photos of the Chapelle prepared us for what we saw. It was beautiful, simple, free flowing and remarkable. It was truly a sight that was moving and will not be forgotten. In the evening, we continued our journey from Ronchamp to Interlaken. We arrived just in time to see the setting sunlight light up the top of the Jungfrau, a very tall snow capped mountain, which we can see from our hotel.
Today we explored the mountain towns around Interlaken including Grindelwald, Steffisburg, Wilderswill and Lauterbrunnen. We saw numerous waterfalls; snow capped mountains, Swiss cows, and quaint and charming Swiss chalets. All the chalets have wood firewood stacked around them for the fireplaces. The stacking ability of the Swiss to stack firewood is amazing. See photos for one creative example.
We have discussed our next few days, and have decided to head south to Rome. So, we need to check maps, hotels and what to see in Rome tonight. Never a dull minute.
Before I close, I thought I would mention some things that have caught our attention. In Germany, we observed the wait staff using white gloves to place silverware and wine glasses on the dining tables so that there would be no fingerprints. In England, we saw a road sign that said “Give Way” instead of yield. Smoking is prohibited in most restaurants, which means that all the smokers get the best tables outside on the patios where they can smoke. The Europeans are into bicycle riding, hiking and other physical activities. In fact, we see bike paths everywhere we go. Not only in the cities, but also BETWEEN cities. The Europeans eat much healthier than the other tourists. They eat fruit for breakfast and salads for lunch dinner. We do not see very many Americans traveling. We see quite a few Arabs and so many Japanese that you cannot count them. They show up in buses, travel in groups. Take over all tourist sites and photograph, not only everything that moves, but also anything that does not move. We have even seen them photograph downspouts and take movies while they walk along streets. Movies of absolutely nothing. There are even luxury stores here staffed with only Japanese sales people. Many of the places have Japanese ONLY tourist offices, but most everyplace have menus in Japanese, more so than English. Crazy!
Thanks for your emails and sending us comments and questions. We enjoy hearing from everyone. We love and miss you. Tomorrow we will hopefully be able to answer the question, when in Rome, what do the Romans do??????
Love you. Norm & Rita