Happy Wednesday, everyone! Here’s part two of my two-year tripaversary! You can read part one here!
The 22nd dawned overcast and muggy, and soon we were making our way to Clapham Junction to catch a train down to Salisbury.Once in beautiful Salisbury, we found the bus terminal where double deckers were leaving for Stonehenge. We boarded and I quickly made my way to the top level of the bus, excited that I was riding one of these for the first time.
Driving through the English countryside was so wonderful. Everything was lush green and softly rolling fields, and occasionally the sun would peek out to shine golden bands across copse and meadow. I was struck by the sheer beauty of the landscape, and I knew then that I wanted to see much more of it.
We disembarked at the Stonehenge bus stop, just outside the visitors’ centre and a good clip away from the site where it stood solemnly against the hazy sky. We dipped into the visitors’ centre to get our portable audio guides, then we lined up to board a vehicle that drove us up.
A circular path gives a wide berth around Stonehenge, and we couldn’t go up to the stones. I would have dearly loved to have touched them! There seemed to be such ancient energy whispering between them, and the ravens who walked there secretively eyed us. It was very humbling to be next to something so ancient, something I’d only ever seen in pictures and television. Around me, shutters were snapping and everyone was very quiet, perhaps because of the awe of these silent stones that had been placed so long ago.
We left the path and laid down in the grassy field for a while, with little sound other than Jon’s heartbeat under my ear and the occasional ribbon of conversation from tourists on the path. After we’d rested our feet for a bit, we started the walk back to the visitors’ centre. We were sticky and hot by the time we got there, and we were so thankful for AC!
When we rode back to Salisbury, I wanted to explore the town a little bit, although as it was a Sunday most things were shut and the place was very quiet. The River Avon rushed along and it was all so tranquil as afternoon slowly sank into evening. The cathedral pictured holds part of the Magna Carta, and Jon and I really quite wanted to see it.
We ducked into The Slug and Lettuce and had burgers and cider. The place was quite modern and rather feminine, with a lot of pink and orchid touches and stylish seating. I tried some Hobgoblin, which is a dark, chocolatey ale that I decided I only liked if it was very cold.
And after our dinner, we returned to the train station and rode back to London.
The next morning we were very rudely awakened by the fire alarm. I quite nearly fell out of bed by the shock, as I’d been in a deep sleep! We threw our clothes on, I grabbed my passport, and we ran downstairs where only a couple other people had bothered to come down. The receptionist told us it was a false alarm, so we were very relieved as we headed back upstairs.
After fully waking up and getting breakfast, we headed out to explore Oxford Street.
We went into Hamley’s, a multi-storey toy shop. There were so many awesome Lego statues around, and we sat and had milkshakes to cool down; mine was peanut butter Nutella, and Jon’s was a custom one made with a few different chocolate bars. The place made me feel like a kid again, although I suppose I never truly grew up anyway! 😉
After that, we wandered around a little more and found Carnaby Street…
And then after resting in a Carnaby Street pub, we went on to the British Museum. I didn’t take any photos inside the place, although a lot of people were doing so, but it was a truly marvelous visit and it was the first museum I’d been to since I was seven years old. Our feet (and Jon’s back) were screaming and we had to sit down a lot, but it was still so wonderful. I’d really love to go again with happy feet!
I was SO glad to get back to our hotel room! I wish I’d had a fitness tracker, because I can imagine I was logging well over 10K steps per day in London alone.
After resting, we started packing up for Switzerland. Jon showed me what Swiss francs look like, and I was fascinated by how colourful they were. And I’d thought Canada’s money was impressive!
I felt sad to leave London, but I knew we’d be back for a couple more days after Switzerland. And SWITZERLAND! I’d dreamed of going there ever since I was a child, and some of the stories I’d written had had landscapes inspired by it. So I let myself get ridiculously excited, and then I could barely sleep even though my body needed the rest.
The next morning, we checked out and ate at the Wetherspoons in Victoria Station. I enjoyed a full English breakfast and fell in love with it! Then we took the Underground to Heathrow, and before we knew it we were on our small British Airlines flight to Basel.
I’d chosen the window seat because I felt I could handle it, but I was so nervous I was shaking. Knowing my fear of flying, Jon kept his arm around me and tried to calm me down. I couldn’t look out the window for some time once we took off, and finally it was some vodka and orange that fully soothed my nerves.
Hello, coast of France!
I’ll admit that I wasn’t very knowing about the entirety of the Swiss landscape, so I kept scanning the horizon for big mountains and wasn’t seeing any. When we landed in Basel, there were low blue mountains in the distance. Jon and I realized very quickly that we had no idea what stop we needed for the train station, and we decided that our lack of German was definitely a bad thing at that moment as we eyed each other on a green-trimmed bus that looked almost identical to the Viva buses here in the York Region.
We ended up getting off near a train station, but it wasn’t the right one. We eventually figured out the map and boarded the next train, which had come from France and all of its wording was in French, and got off two stops later at the right station.
Our train arrived, and then we were officially on our way down to Interlaken, where we would catch a train to Lauterbrunnen, where we would take the cog train up to Wengen. We’d lost a few hours due to US being lost, but we remained hopeful.
We passed by Bern:
And from there the scenery quickly began to change as the sun set pink and gold. Eventually I noticed a huge, pink-hued cloud bank covering the horizon, and they were quite different to the rest of the clouds in the sky. I had read in the Bernese Oberland book we’d gotten from Stanfords that the Alps tend to create their own weather, so I wondered aloud if the clouds were hiding the mountains.
Under and within those clouds rose bulky, forested mountains, dark grey-green with wisps of mist and fog combing through their ridges and folds. The evening darkened and I stared at this gorgeous landscape, awed and moved by their beauty. When Jon got up to get us a small dinner from the cafeteria portion of the train, we curved around the long Thunersee lake, where the clouds had broken and the sun was setting spectacularly over the water and silhouetting the mountains.
By the time we arrived in Interlaken, it was dark and starting to drizzle. As we checked the train schedule, we realized with horror that we’d missed the last train into Lauterbrunnen. And Jon couldn’t use his phone to call the hotel since we were in another country. We found a map that showed local hotels, which were lit up either green or red depending on their vacancy, and we found one a ways up the road. So we began the trek through the warm rain until we came across Hotel Interlaken and secured a small room on the top floor.
The rooms on that floor had one shared bathroom with no shower, so there was no bathing for us. The room itself was beautiful and spare, done up in green and white with shuttered windows looking out onto Interlaken and the mountains, which we couldn’t see due to the darkness.
We passed out for the night, beginning our adventure anew the next morning to sunshowers and a huge buffet breakfast included in the hotel price.
Stay tuned for part three on Saturday!