Saturday, October 31, 2015

Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch

One of the lakes between Interlaken
On leaving Zurich we drove through beautiful scenery and across the Brunig Pass, through Interlaken to the town of Grindelwald. There were 40 of us in the group and our ride was a very comfortable Mercedes bus .... with wi-fi!
Wandering around Interlaken

In Grindelwald we stayed at the Sunstar Hotel where our room had a balcony overlooking the valley and mountains. Gorgeous!

A buffet dinner was included that night and then we hit the sack, prepared for our trip up to the Jungfraujoch the next day (October 8th). At 11,333 feet, the Jungfraujoch is Europe's highest railway station. The summit of the Jungfrau was first climbed in 1811 and the rack-railway was opened in 1912. 

The day dawned cloudy but we were told it was clear on the mountain. When I traveled to Europe in 1966 the visit to the Jungfraujoch was one of my most memorable days and I was looking forward to sharing that experience with Jerry.

We took bus to Lauterbrunnen and then the train  to Kleine Scheidegg station where we changed for the train that would take us to our destination. Of course beautiful scenery along the way.

Seven of the nine kilometres of the railway are in a tunnel cut in the rock of the Eiger and Mönch. The train makes two five minute stops along the way, where you can get out and look over the valley through windows cut into the side of the mountain.

Unfortunately, this day everything through the windows was cloud covered.

But we arrived at the top to gorgeous sunshine. Things have changed a lot since I've been there. There is a gift and coffee shop, a restaurant, an ice palace and a Cinemax movie. There were plenty of places for views from inside, but with the good weather our goal was to get outside as quickly as possible.

The sun was warm and there was no wind. It was beautiful. Just couldn't get enough of it.

The area for 'outdoor snow activities' had canvas chairs available and we sat there to enjoy the sun and the view. I had made sandwiches at the breakfast buffet and it was a spectacular place to sit and eat them. And to lie back and enjoy the sun.

Too soon we had to take the train back the Kleine Scheidegg where we picked up the train for Grindelwald, making a complete circle for the day. From there we walked back to our hotel and then headed across the street for a dinner of pizza and wine, toasting the end of a great day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Princess Cruises Tour Swiss Splendors and Mediterranean Cruise

Just returned from a Princess land and sea trip. We decided to take this trip based on our experience with Princess' Alaska land/cruise that we took in May. (To read about that trip, click on Alaska in the Index.) We thought that was handled pretty well but, then again, Princess is an expert in Alaska. So wondered how they did elsewhere.

Interesting to discover that the land portion of our trip was sub-contracted to Globus. The trip started in Zurich. We went in a day before so we had the whole next day to do Zurich on our own until the Welcome Dinner that evening. We spent a week traveling with some pretty great people, heading basically south, finishing up the land part in Venice.

There we boarded our ship, the Island Princess. After an overnight stay on board ship in Venice, what followed was a 12 night cruise that took us to Istanbul, Mykonos, Athens, Naples, Corsica, Toulon, Livorno and Rome.

I hope to do a more detailed report on each port of call but I need to get through some of my pictures as I'd like to include a few in each post. So hang in there .... the posts ARE coming  :)


October 6, 2015

Four hours. Did it, done it.

We stayed in the Movenpick Airport hotel, within easy walking distance of the train and tram into the main Zurich train station.

We took the 8:26 a.m. train. In retrospect, probably should have taken the tram as then we could have trammed around town. But it really wasn't a big issue as we had nice weather and Zurich isn't really that big.

We stopped for breakfast in a station cafe. Morning special of small coffee and chocolate pastry for CHF6.50. The pastry had chunks of chocolate in it and the coffee was strong. Easily lasted us all morning. And we walked and walked and window shopped and sat by the lake and walked and window shopped. We admired some of the buildings and saw the Chagall windows in the Fraumunster church. We climbed some hills in the old town and walked along the river that splits the city.

Stopped at a cafe to buy sandwiches and beverages to take back to the hotel. Also popped into a chocolate shop to buy some chocolate bars to bring home. And after a short stop in a supermarket in the train station, caught the 12:20 p.m. train back to the hotel.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Flying United

We flew United out of EWR as part of our Princess Cruises flight arrangements. The Princess air itinerary was perfect with a mid morning flight out of Rochester and an early evening flight out of EWR .... 6:30 pm which meant a decent hour for dinner and then right to sleep.

What we didn't count on was a maintenance delay. One bathroom sink was dripping and the issue was that it was dripping water out of the fresh water drinking tank. If not fixed, we would run out of drinking water 1/2 way across the Atlantic. Not that I thought this would be an issue since they serve water from bottles anyway.

So 3 1/2 hrs later we finally took off.

Dinner served right away ... ravioli or turkey meatloaf. Farro salad and roll. No greens and no dessert. Morning snack was a croissant with jam. Altogether, the food wasn't exciting and we've been in more comfortable seats. And that was in Economy Plus with extra leg room.

As for overhead storage space, pax with regular sized rolling bags had trouble getting their bags into the bins. I think they were the smallest we've ever seen. This United equipment should have been retired.