In the shadow of the Eiger

Where does one begin? In fact I don’t think I can write about it concisely without going on and on in book like fashion, like the grape story…though I wonder if there is that much to tell or if it just seems so, everything is so difficult to take in and absorb, with things changing constantly, and the Swiss scenery changing with every turn….

The highlight has to have been Grindlewald, where I spent the last three days, and did two big hikes in the mountains. I have read a lot about this area and to actually be here was just unbelievable, for me anyway, plus it turned out to be just I had imagined as I was worried it would be some massive, sprawling city in the mountains filled with bustle and stress. Luckily it wasn’t, has only 4000 population, but I assume the tourist population is much, much higher, even in low season.

The first day I decided to hike up to the Eiger Sletscher (glacier) (which I have probably spelt incorrectly), which is about 2320m or so. On the way I met Sarah, a pretty, blond Swiss girl, who works as nurse in Bern, though originally from Zurich. I did well to keep up with Sarah! She was great company on a spectacular hike, she fed me chocolate and even bought me ice cream at “Eigerland”, (also known as Kleine Scheidegg, think Disneyland on a mountain… a train station, restaurants and souvenir shops a little way down from the glacier, though having said that I was glad for the ice cream! Stupidly I didn’t get Sarah’s contact details – so if you are reading this, perhaps send me your e-mail address!

The next day I decide to hike up to “First” (2100m ish) and “Faulhorn”(2680m) and in the process “Bussalp” (1800m), by the time I reached Bussalp, which came first along the route, I was really tired, and 600m below Faulhorn I struggling to move, 10 steps, stop, 10 steps, stop, part of the sole of my shoe rips off, I lose the trail and can eventually see people on it; MILES away. I carve my own path and make it to the top, I want another ice cream like yesterday and more besides, but there is no such luck here!

I take a short walk over to “First” and then down, down, down to Grindlewald, as soon as I reach the tent my legs become seized and my left knee clicks in pain. I sit there cooking my lovely pasta and coffee, legs becoming ever stiffer, cow bells chiming a merry tune and I think happily over the past days, I think about how I could live in Switzerland and will be very sad to leave Grindelwald. Though I also realise just how lucky I am.

I know also that the Middle East and Africa loom ever closer and wonder if I can put off heading that way any longer!! Though I am delayed by my carnet (a document I need to enter Africa), another story in itself, hopefully I will pick it up near Venice and then there is nothing stopping me, except all the problems I know that will come!

PS nescafe coffee costs about £7. Absurd.