London is a hot mess. It’s an ugly, sweaty, hectic, and exciting collaboration of the contemporary and the historic. This is wound over and through music, people, fashion, art, culture and business.
This weekend a year ago was one of our first weekends in London together at the Notting Hill Carnival. But while the colourful carnival celebrations turned in to a bank holiday battleground, resulting in arrests and stabbings, we headed to the hills to get some respite from the London heat.
We arrived into the Euro Airport: the international airport for Basel (Switzerland), Mulhouse (France), and Freiburg (Germany). Turning right, we were in Switzerland. A novelty for two people from a country with 2000kms separating us from our neighbouring nations.
With train tickets that cost more for the one-way journey, than the return flights from London, we boarded a train to Grindelwald. Sometimes, beauty has its price. And the second that the clock hand hit our designated departure time, we pulled out of the station.
Rolling through the countryside, a high-speed blur of Swiss chalets and green pastures, we decided that we could make a quick trip down the Aare to take a dip in Lake Brienz (German: Brienzersee) when we changed trains at Interlaken Ost. With the midday sun in the late 20s, there were surprisingly few families scattering the small pebble beach we found looking out to the Augstmatthorn in the distance. Boys swung nets to catch tiny fish off rocks, while girls rode Shetland ponies through the lake’s shallower waters. As for us, we slid down over the slippery rocks into the crystal blue water.
The train from Interlaken to Grindelwald was the quickest 30 minutes of the trip, snapping picture after picture of the looming mountains as we came closer. We had arrived. After taking in the view of the mountains surrounding us, and valleys below, we found our way up to Gasthof Panorama – our home in the hills. Before we could do much more, the sun began to illuminate the clouds with warm pink shades, contrasting against the darkening grey and green rock faces.
As the sky went from pink to black we headed down to the centre of the town for dinner. A friendly local heard us debating what we felt like eating and gave us a couple of recommendations. The first place was full to the brim, with a waiting list that extended past closing time. So we headed to the second, the restaurant at the Eiger Selfness Hotel. We sat on the street front and ordered the traditional Swiss dish: Rösti (grated potato with your selected topping). One three-meat for the carnivore, and one vegetable and cheese for the vegetarian, served in a frying pan.
Finishing the Rösti with a lion’s share of meat and a block of cheese in our respective bellies, we debated why the Swiss are all so slim over a large glass of grappa. For those who are unfamiliar with the Italian liqueur, it consists of grape skins, seeds and stalks that are left over from the winemaking process and is supposed to help with the digestion of heavy meals. With a 20-minute hike up hill to our guesthouse, we were ever so hopeful that this would be the cure to our meat/cheese overdose. At the top, on the terrace, we finished off a second glass of grappa (for good measure) and the day was done. Tomorrow, we were going up – way up!
As you may have seen we are welcoming a new contributor to Cultured Kiwi. Jan and I have been friends since the first day of University many moons ago. Since then we have both developed a love for travel. I chose to document my travels with photos and videos, Jan has always kept a well drilled diary.
So after much convincing she has agreed to do some writing for Cultured Kiwi so long as we plan some more travel. That I can do!
You can get in touch with Jan here:
I have but one ask of you: Please have a good read of Jan's write-up above and let us know what you think in the comments below. We would like to produce more rich content like this in the future and constructive feedback really helps a lot!
Jan / Ben - Cultured Kiwi