Day 22: Gimmelwald, Murren and bad breaks - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

June 30, 2012

Day 22: Gimmelwald, Murren and bad breaks

I have been looking forward to today from the get-go; before the get-go, really; I've been looking forward to today for months!

I'm in the Bernese Oberland, famous for some of the highest peeks in Switzerland, including the Eiger (of The Eiger Santion) and the Schilthorn, the 2,970 metre high summit high above it all.

From my campground, Gimmelwald and Murren are only a half a kilometer, or so, away--horizontally that is. But vertically, they are high above the valley, up a sheer cliff, where the only practical means of getting there is by train or a cable car lift.

So, I started early and pedaled a short distance to the start. The morning was magnificent, clear and cool. It promised to be a good day.

The ride to Gimmelwald took about 5-minutes, up a spectacular accent, scenery wise. The lifts not only transport tourists and their money, but regular citizens and even stuff. On the lift I was on were a delivery person with boxes of candy and soda for a store; plus a family who looked like they were moving stuff from one house (below) to another above.

On the cable car ride to Gimmelwald
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Once you reach Gimmelwald you transfer to another car and make your way to Murren, which is a bit higher up.

Notice the cables on top. The ascent to Murren.
Notice those white tripod looking things on the left. They are to help control avalanches.
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Both Gimmelwald and Murren do not have car traffic; a true paradise! Both are stereotypical in what you think of Switzerland in architecture and atmosphere.

The town of Murren
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From Murren I went a little higher. Not to the Shiltorn, which is prohibitively expensive, but just a bit higher up on the funicular rail line, which is an extra steep, well, rail line...

Gimmelwald
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Murren funicular
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As one car goes up, another one comes down. They pass each other in the middle.
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Absurdly stunning views awaited me at the top, along with a cup of coffee. Okay, and also a piece of kuchen, if you must know...

Ain't that about the prettiest cup of joe you ever did see?
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After my coffee I spent some time riding around and taking in the views.

The days first bizarre-o moment came while riding along a little unpaved road, where a large group of Japanese tourist were being shepherded along by a guide. They were in front of me, blocking the way, and when I said (in several languages, "excuse me", to get by) they stepped aside and, seeing me on my semi-loaded bike, started applauding!

I have no idea why they were applauding? I guess it was just me on a touring bike? Maybe they thought I rode all the way up? I don't know? But whatever, it was funny, and for about 3 seconds, I felt like a celebrity.

A few Japanese tourist stragglers from the main group of about 30
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This view is just sick, it's so nice! And it's where I had coffee.
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The Trucker at a crossroads
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That'd be me, and The Trucker
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What are you look'n at, Cow!? Haven't you ever seen a Yank on a Trucker before?
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I had been warned about it; the steepness on the way down. "You need a mountain bike, I wouldn't recommend it," a local told me. But I'm stubborn, or at least stupid, as those who know me can attest...

I started down and sudden realized it was going to be a chore to stop; no kidding. I was squeezing the breaks as hard as I could and barely making a dent. Finally, I came to a stop, felt the hot rims, and decided I needed to just walk The Trucker back down to Murren. Even THAT was hard.

A little advice. When the locals tell you, "it's steep," than it's probably steep.

This could have been about the time my computer was being broken, but that is another story...

Anyway, after that I spent the afternoon exploring Murren and Gimmelwald, both cute as a button.

Gimmelwald. Dang that's a pretty house, don't ya think?
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Murren
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In Murren. It's gotta be right up there as the world's prettiest tennis court. On the left, where that flag is, is a sheer drop down to the valley.
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The little road from Murren to Gimmelwald
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The mountain hostel where I had lunch
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The second bizzaro moment came in Murren, where there was some kind of self defense class going on in the town park. But this wasn't an ordinary ol' self defense class. These guys were learning how to take down armed assailants. For crying out loud, is this this Switzerland or the south side of Chicago!?

Made me wonder what kind of permits they needed to hold a class like this...

No, I'm not kidding. This is in Murren, Switzerland on a Saturday afternoon in June.
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After that is was your normal, ho-hum kind of touring day. Down the mountain, beautiful weather, through the beautiful valley, to my campsite.

What a day!

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Near Murren. There is a sheer drop, down to the valley, about 20 yards down that you cannot see from this angle.
(I like this picture. For one thing, it looks photoshopped but it's not. I saw these cows, clicked the button and this is the result.)
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This was a store in Gimmelwald. No one was there to pay. You just picked out what you want, put your money in a little can, and leave. It's the honor system personified.
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Inside The Honesty store. I'm with you on this one!
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What?
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Today's ride: 41 km (25 miles)
Total: 1,745 km (1,084 miles)

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