Monday, October 10, 1983

Niesen (10/8/1983)

Saturday, October 8, 1983
I was up as usual at 7:30. Since I didn’t expect any phone call, I went downstairs to put my laundry in the washing machine. Everything was all set, but the machine would not take any coins. I banged, punched buttons, slammed the door, but no go. So I walked down to hospital reception to have them tell maintenance. The receptionist was Pagani who told me to call maintenance myself. Then she asked if I got my telephone call. She said it was the same voice who called me yesterday. Already?!
Herr S finally came so I could tell him about the washing machine, then I ran to the Personalhaus/staff residence to call Kent back. He was ready to go! I told him I would meet him at the car as soon as I could. Panic! I went to get the clothes out of the washing machine, ran upstairs and quickly threw things into my backpack including the picnic lunch. I almost forgot my camera! I trotted down to Jan & Kirby’s apartment where Kent was waiting in the car. I explained I had brought a lunch, but did not have a drink for him, thinking he might want to bring a beer. He went to see if Jan & Kirby had any juice, but they didn’t. So we stopped at a corner store to get a couple cartons of apple juice.
It was about 9:00 as Kent drove us towards Bern. There was a high cloud cover, but the sun was peeking through. The clouds covered the Alps. Last night I had given Kent a choice of places to eat, and today I gave him a choice of places to go, knowing he would have to do a lot of voting with Jan & Kirby! We left it up in the air. Approaching Bern, we ran into traffic. Oh, no! I was thinking we’d have this all the way to the Alps. But it cleared soon after we left Bern. The sky cleared a bit and we could see the near Alps, and the snow-covered ones just barely.
We decided to go to Niesen and turned off at Spiez.
Niesen brochure 1 4
Niesen brochure 2 3
We wound up a green valley to the base of the mountain that had a crown of clouds, but the very top was clear. About 10:15 we arrived at the Niesenbahn station in Mülenen. We had to wait for the next funicular, and Kent was glad that it was this kind of cable car and not an aerial cable car! I confused him, telling him it took five hours to go up Niesen, and he assumed I meant with the funicular. I meant to hike up! The conductor got off the car that had descended and went to mow the grass while the ticket seller raked! When they were finished they came to the ticket window. The price of tickets was reduced for the fall season, so Kent’s ticket was only 11.60 CHF/$5.50. My half-price ticket was 7.20 CHF/$3.50.
Niesen funicular ticket
We had purchased one-way tickets so that we could decide at the top how we were getting back down. We had the options of hiking down, riding the funicular back down, or riding the funicular halfway and hiking halfway. The conductor punched our tickets and closed us into the first compartment. We started heading up the mountainside at 10:33, going around a curve and through a tunnel after passing the other car. At Schwanndegg, the halfway station, or a little more than halfway as Kent’s sense of timing told him, we changed to another funicular. This took us through a couple tunnels, and we were above the clouds and above the tree line. The entire Alpine panorama lay before us!

Alpine panorama from Niesen
Not much snow, but spectacular nevertheless. Kent doesn’t wear a watch, but has a good sense of time. Despite a time change and latent jet lag, he was usually correct, give or take 10 minutes. The funicular arrived at Niesen-Kulm at 11:00. We walked along a path, passing a group of Japanese. Kent could recognize some of what they said, having spent his last two years of high school in Tokyo, Japan, as a service kid/military brat. We found the Wanderweg/hiking trail sign, and all the paths were designated red and white for the more strenuous mountain trails. The usual trails are marked in yellow. But first we climbed to the top of Niesen for a 360-degree look around. In the center of the peak stood some unidentifiable poles, perhaps a survey marker, and another Kent guessed was to measure precipitation. Probably a weather station. There were no panorama guides.
View W
View SE to the Alps
View E on Thunersee/Lake Thun
View N down at Wimmis
To the one side were the Alps, and to the other was the Thunersee/Lake Thun. The Seeland/lake country to the north disappeared into clouds beyond craggy hills. At the top it was windy and cool. We walked around the restaurant-hotel and started hiking down. Kent had us headed to Mülenen, three and a half hours away! It was hard to believe someone else in this world would want to hike down that mountain. I was in heaven! It was going to be a great day!
The ground was rather barren and many of the plants were brown, burned by the frost Kent said. The trail led us around to the Seeland side, and we lost sight of the Alps.
Trail along a ridge
View back at the peak of Niesen
Aster alpinus/Alpine Aster
Trail marker
We followed the red and white markers along a ridge, passing through cow gates, and dodging old and dried cow patties. The cows have already gone down to their winter pastures. We had to hop over a cable twice as we zigzagged. We came around to the Alps side.
Niesen trail
Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau in the background
I was hungry at 12:00 and suggested a stop for lunch. We passed through a bowl of grass where kids with their mothers were picnicking. Over the next rise we found ourselves a flat rock to sit on. I had brought salami and ham sandwiches, Swiss style, and mustard, and bread and cheese. I had grapefruit juice for myself and it turns out Kent likes grapefruit juice. I should have just brought enough for both of us! I haven’t been guessing very well about him!
Niesenbahn track
Niesenbahn funicular car
View from below the tree line on Niesen
View from Niesen
Avalanche barriers on the mountainside
Niesen funicular
It was very silent up on the mountain. Occasionally we could hear the children’s voices…
(This is where the journal ends, since a package I mailed from Switzerland was lost, and it contained the notebooks I used during my trip to India, as well as a hand-embroidered pillow that Marsha C had made for me.
Apologies to those who like to know how long it takes to get from one place to another, or the means of getting there, how much things cost, and exactly what I ate!
Based on letters to my grandmother, I do have a few more details.)
We hiked for four hours, then drove back to Biel for dinner. Back at Jan & Kirby’s we played cards. I felt really comfortable. I left and he was to call the next morning.

Sunday, October 9, 1983
This time I was ready for an early call, but nothing. It was just as well since it was raining and I was having my digestive track problems. But I was at the hospital at noon and heard someone did try to call! It was too late as it was time for Kent to go pick up Jan & Kirby. I ended up going to dinner with the three of them, and saw them off on the train as they started a week’s vacation in Italy.
I know that Kirby is trying to set me up with Kent and I told Kirby that hopefully my life is leading me to more exotic places than Providence, RI to spend my life with a divorced man with two kids. But now that I have met Kent in person, I sometimes think it’s too bad my life is going in another direction!
Marsha C has been more and more upset about her living conditions, and we have been suggesting that she move out. Finally she called her parents and got reassurance from them about moving out. She also gave notice at work, so when she goes home at Christmas, it will be for good!

Monday, October 10, 1983
I received a letter from Kent who said he would always remember this weekend, and that it’s harder these days to meet “good people,” and now having met me, he would like to keep in touch! Wow! Maybe Kirby’s dream of our becoming pen pals will come true!
Monthly Half-price Pass

Monday, October 17, 1983
On Kent’s suggestion, I was invited to join him and Jan & Kirby for dinner at a Wild Spezialität/venison restaurant. It was Kent’s last evening before going back to the States. He invited me to visit him in Providence, RI. I would like to see him again.

No comments:

Post a Comment