It’s time to head off to Munich and on my way I have plans to stop at the Eiger and visit a former high school exchange student in Luzern. It’s been 15 years since I last saw him and I am eager to catch up and meet his family. First, the Eiger.
The GPS lady was finicky on my way out from Lausanne.
Therefore, I took a detour through Vevey before figuring out how to ‘fix’ her. There are really nice highway roads all the way to Interlaken and decent town roads all the way to Grindelwald. It wasn’t obvious where to go once I got there but I found a large parking lot and parked. At the first obvious tourist ticket office, I asked for directions to the tram that goes up into the Eiger and found that I was actually a 3 minute walk in the opposite direction of the train station. Purchasing my ticket was a painless Visa experience of nearly $200 USD, but since it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, I paid the roundtrip fare and minutes later boarded the train. This train will take me all the way to Jungfrau where there are more touristy things to do but more importantly where it is home to a UNESCO heritage site where weather and atmospheric research and monitoring takes place. The train will take about an hour to go up, 30 minutes to Klein-Schediegg and it will go straight into the Eiger mountain where passengers can break up on the North Face to take in views from windows carved out of the mountain. These windows also serve as escape routes for climbers on the mountain. I reflect on the many stories I’ve heard about climbers and this mountain and I snap a few photos to the East and West. It’s a great day and the views vast and crisp.
At the top, there are restaurants and a café. I have a coffee and a sandwich, enjoy the views and buy some postcards before setting back down the mountain. My roundtrip took me 4 hours and I didn’t do much up at the top. There is a lot to do there, however, so a few tips would be
- Plan for some time at the top to do some hiking and exploration
- Bring a jacket or coat because even though it was 30 C in the valley, it was frigid in the mountain on the way up. You will be waiting in line at the top to board for the descent and that’s really where you will wish you had that extra layer.
- Buy a postcard or two and mail it from the top. I didn’t know this at the time, but there are collector’s postal stamps that can only be had at the Jungfrau post office. I wrote my cards on the way down and mailed some from Luzern and almost nearly forgot to mail the rest at the airport in Geneva. I left them with a cashier to mail on my behalf, that’s how close I was to forgetting!
After many photos of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks, I head off for Luzern.
Lorenz and I have been penpals since High School and I have really appreciated that. I have always wanted to go visit him, but never had the opportunity. Last year at the Munich competition, it occurred to me that Switzerland wasn’t too far and I could have planned a visit had I considered it prior to the trip.
This year, I thought ahead and made it a point to make the stop, especially since I was driving in that direction for Munich. Thanks to the handy GPS, I made it to Luzern without incident and just in time for dinner. Lorenz’s oldest, Naomi, welcomed me with a sign that read ‘Welcome to Horw Audrey.’ A sign that marked I was in the right place.
Lorenz and his wife, Sandra, have a beautiful family and a beautiful home and when it’s not storming, a beautiful view. We dined on bread, various cheeses and a bit of meat. It was perfect. Still grappling with jet lag and with the onset of a big storm, I opt out of driving to Munich that night and enjoy a bit more time with Lorenz and his family.
The youngest is set to bed early but the elder three request I join them to watch Tom & Jerry, in English. I try to suggest we watch it in German but they insist. Two episodes later and they are off to bed, too. It was a cozy way to finish the night and I started to appreciate what Lorenz and Sandra have built. Naomi is ill with a disease that killed her kidneys when she was a baby. She’s had a transplant since then but her disease came back and killed those, too. Even though she is sick, she is happy and despite her life routine, she appears to be like any other ordinary 10 year old. I found myself humored with her because she reminded me of my niece and the day I recognized how very much my neice was like every other 10 year old girl. Because of Naomi’s strict routine, the family is more homebound than not and I suppose it is a good thing that they love being a family. There is a lot of laughter and respect in the household and of course, as hosts, they were very welcoming. We reminisced about life in Lorain and caught up a bit on life since. The next morning, I set off for Munich. It was another warm, sunny day to enjoy the Swiss, Austrian and German landscapes.
I arrived in Munich with plenty of time to get lunch and prepare for the competition later in the afternoon. Fortunately, another US team member registered me the night before or I would have been driving for nothing. I was slated to go out late in the order, near last, so I had a lot of time to pass in Isolation. I finally slept, which helped me feel refreshed, though my brain was only semi-functional during the actual comp. The competition qualifying round was set better than the previous year. I actually could have seen myself completing the problems despite my actual outcome. In the end, I finished a disappointing last. For perspective, it was only the 2nd boulder competition I’ve done all year. I saw this event as a stepping stone on my way to October’s competition. Still, I had thought I would have done better and I was sooo close to doing better that it was difficult not to get down on myself for not pulling it off. In the end, I was thankful to have come, to have competed and to have put myself out there. Results like this only motivate me more and maybe even feed my obsession. Someday, I feel I will get my moment. I only hope it’s soon.
Back to Lausanne for a final night with Galen and Mary and I’m back enroute to Vegas. I’m looking forward to the return, spending some time in one place with Mike but always keeping my eye on my next ambition: Boulder in October. I can’t wait and I hope I will be ready!
More photos can be found on my webshots photo site.