September 14, 2001
It is a foggy drive in the Focus through the Alps. It rains a little. It’s really hard to see out the window, which is frustrating, because what I do see is spectacular. Pines and crystal lakes, sheer cliffs, waterfalls. We take switchback after switchback through tiny town after tiny town.
Until we get to our destination: the cable car up the Diavolezza. It’s this massive glacier that it just amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.
That was just one of many spectacular views we got on the way up and the way back down again. The entire place was ours since it was the off-season. The cable-car operator only speaks Italian. I forgot how close we were to Italy. It was our plan to drive into Italy the next day before heading out again.
After that, we checked in at the Palue. Exhaustion is starting to creep in. But we fight it off — there are still two days left, and dammit if we aren’t going to go out. While we are settling into the room, Bren notices that he doesn’t have enough clean underwear to finish the trip. Now, to truly appreciate the humor of this situation, you must understand that he always, always packs two extra pair — even if we are just staying overnight somewhere. Maybe it’s the altitude, maybe it’s my tiredness, but I think this is the funniest thing ever.
When we finally head out to St. Moritz, it starts to snow.
St. Moritz would normally be crowded, but it’s too early for skiing, so there aren’t that many people around. It’s freezing, and neither of us brought a jacket. We are in cashmere country, so I fenegle myself a scarf (only 2-ply). We also buy this terribly cute music box/teapot for Brendan’s mother. She collects teapots, and a music box seems fitting since we’re in Switzerland. It’s the cutest thing, the little mice family that lives inside the teapot do their chores — they sweep, they peek out the window. When we get it back to the room, we take a look at it and discover it’s made in Nebraska. Oops.
September 13, 2001
On the way to our next stop, Amden, we see a brown sign along the highway for some ancient ruins, and decide to stop to take a look. The thing that amazes me the most about this entire complex, which was once a really huge Roman city, is that there are houses right next to it. I can just imagine the directions: take the road past the Roman ruins and we live in the first house on the right with the broken column in the front yard.
The majority of the time, we are just guessing at what we are seeing because the signs are all in German. It must have been a decently large place because there is an amphitheatre (in the middle of restorations), a temple, an aqueduct, baths, and intricate mosaics.
The drive to Amden takes us for the first time into the mountains. We take several narrow roads straight up. The village is on the side of a mountain overlooking a circular valley with a lake in the middle. The weather so far hasn’t been terribly spectacular. It’s been mostly overcast, but today it’s sunny and perfect.
It is so pretty, so picturesque; it’s straight out of a movie.
We get the best room in the hotel. The proprietor paid attention to our reservation form and the tick in the Honeymoon box. Our room has two floors and a balcony that is to die for. The picture above was taken from it. I don’t think it is possible to get tired of that view.
Since we are on a mission to see all the surrounding countries, we take a drive to see Liechtenstein and Austria. Technically, our US drivers licences don’t afford us the right to drive in Austria, but no one seems to care when we cross the border. On the way, we pass some spectacular waterfalls and yet more castles. In Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, we drive by one that says “NO VISIT!” I guess they got tired of tourists like us asking. So I snapped a photo hanging out the window of the car as we passed.
Each time we crossed the border no one seemed to care. We’d just get our passports out and again the guards would see that they were American and would just wave us on through. No stamps, no nothing.
When we get back to the hotel, we ask what’s for dinner. “It’s whatever my wife is cooking,” the owner told us. Turned out to be Swiss steak. At dinner we met a couple about our age from Boston who were biking across the Alps. We talked about home a little and about the craziness. Because the owner was so attentive, he brought us an extra large dessert, vanilla ice cream with fresh blackberries. Oh yes, I forgot, the berries in Switzerland are amazing. They were in season and everywhere we ate. So good. Then he brought us an after dinner drink of this pear liqour. Good stuff.
Since we (the other American couple were exhausted and retired early) were the only guests around, the owner and his cousin (or maybe his sister, I can’t remember) joined us for a long discussion of America and politics and what must be going on at home. He offered us a place to stay if we couldn’t get back. I seriously think we would have come back here, it was that beautiful and peaceful. The picture just doesn’t do it justice.