Looks Like We’re Walking Up This
If you are looking down while you are walking it is better to walk up hill the ground is nearer. -Gertrude Stein
Southern Switzerland is hands down one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to, and with the help of Sam as a tour guide, we efficiently visited town after town and different peaks throughout the Alps every day I was with him. Part of the ease in access is also thanks The Swiss Pass, a sot of golden ticket to access all rail services and gondolas either for free or significantly discounted premium services through the whole country. I strongly suggest anyone visiting to get a Swiss Pass, but also pay very close attention to the time tables.
Pictured here is Sam carrying a pack with at least forty pounds of analog camera equipment. After seeing The Eiger earlier in the day, Sam took me to another of the Southern Alps quaint villages, Grindelwald. I was lured here with promises of a gondola ride to the top where we’d have one of the best burgers in Switzerland at a restaurant / hotel and then watch the sun set between the magnificent mountains. Because of the gondola schedule stopping around dusk, we’d have to walk downhill just over a mile on the path to where we parked would be light work, estimated to be maybe a half hour as we casually strolled along.
I didn’t get a wonderful gondola ride and there was no burger to be had.
A misreading of the timetable meant we’d missed the last upward bound gondola by about 45 minutes. Not even six months earlier I had dealt with anxiety and expectations so I wasn’t terribly upset but Sam had it in his mind he was making a photo at sunset on his 4×5 camera and getting a burger. The lovely people at the ticket stand informed us it was possibly, if we hurried, to catch a bus about half way up and we could hoof the rest. Off we went to the bus stop.
Sam grabbed a bus route map from the gondola ticket stand and we started walking to the pickup point. A few minutes later the bus came, we boarded and tried to figure out where we’d be getting off.
Stepping off the bus, it wasn’t terribly easy to put in perspective where the hotel was, but by GPS on Sam’s phone, we knew it was just over a mile away. GPS didn’t tell us elevation changes though.
At a normal pace, a mile walk should take 17-20 minutes, but a half hour in we knew we were in for a much, much longer walk. Determined to make it to the location Sam had scouted months prior, and with the promise of a great meal, we kept on hoofing up, winding through the valley with magnificent mountains surrounding us.
Upon arriving Berghaus Bort was empty, not a soul in any direction. They were closed for the season, which meant no warmth as the sun set, no burger, no real relaxation. We walked up 117 floors according to my iPhone’s Health app by this point. Sam was dumbfounded, hungry and still had it in his mind to make a great image, but we’d have to wait at least 90 minutes for the sun to fall a bit more out of the sky.
The purpose of the story isn’t to talk about the mishaps that Sam and I had, or how cold and hungry we got as the sun set on this spring day in April. Rather it’s to reflect on the long, meaningful conversations we had during the few hours we spent Grindelwald. Had we taken the gondola, I would have never been able to capture some of my favorite images from the trip.
This was captured during one of our lets catch our breath and take in the scenery moments. These little cabins dotted the paved path to Berghaus Bort.
Sam was spot on with his location scouting though, and the golden rays that cut through the heavy cloud cover were simply beautiful.
The countryside in the south of Switzerland is dotted with fountains like this, and it was a wonderful sight to refill my water bottle on the walk down.
Dinner ended up happening around 10pm, we never got the burgers we had longed for and to be honest, I don’t recall what we ended up eating. The slight misfortune in missing a gondola ride turned out to not only put me in a position to see some magnificent views of The Swiss Alps, but also to spend some quality time with a good friend.
Just because a set itinerary falls apart doesn’t mean the journey stops instantly. Just make sure snacks are always packed, just in case 😉