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Berner Oberland A Month in Switzerland, 2023

The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.
Sunday September 24
Sunny and cold 46F

We had intended to drive around the valley today but we both decided to do nothing instead. It was cold out but sunny so we were able to sit on the terrace.

This apartment is a beautiful modern design but with some annoying features. The floors are polished concrete but the have wood thresholds on the floor in the doorways between rooms and the wood is an inch higher than the concrete, so perfect to trip on and we both have. The light switches are mysterious. The kitchen works well but has an under the counter fridge. Fabulous bathtub but one of those tiled showers where you are positive you are going to slip and fall, but I didn’t.

The apartment house has a wellness room with sauna, steam shower, showers, relaxing area, and a supply of herbal teas. I used it yesterday and it was lovely.

BOOKS I am still reading The Covenant of Water. This is an epic family saga set in India so far from 1900 until 1950.


View from the terrace. I searched for ibex with my binoculars. No luck.
Didn't know Vittel was Swiss or owned by Nestle.

Another Nestle brand to boycott to add to Nespresso.
Didn't know Vittel was Swiss or owned by Nestle.
Vittel is in eastern France, not Switzerland. We stopped there on our way to Switzerland.

Nestle also owns Perrier (France), San Pelligrino (Italy), Acqua Panna (Italy), Buxton (England).

They don’t own Volvic which comes from volcanoes in central France but another food conglomerate owns it - Danone or Dannon.


You will also have avoid Smarties and Kit Kats! Nestle owns them, and much more.

What a world we live in!
Monday September 25
Sunny and warm 60F

We walked out in the morning to the bakery for gipfel and bread and it was cold. Frost on the ground and I could see my breath. The sun doesn’t hit the town until 9am and doesn’t hit our apartment building until after that.

When we went out again for a hike we wore layers - thin wool sweater, heavy fleece, puffy jackets, with wool caps and gloves in the pack.

We took the chairlift up from 1800m (the town) to 2300m (Alp Languard). I love chairlifts and was excited about this one. We get to ride it for free and I thought we might take it several times. But this chairlift is nothing like the one I love near Lenk. This one is terrifying. It is much less substantial than the Horneggli ride, is much higher above the ground and is much longer. I didn’t time it because I was too terrified to move! The worst part is when you get to a big tower and it takes a sharp turn to the right. The car is yanked to the new direction and then it sways quite a bit. Even Steve was freaked and he is very calm about these things.

The top of the chairlift, Alp Languard, is above the tree line. There is a restaurant and fabulous views of Pontresina and St Moritz. You hike back from the chairlift station into a big valley surrounded by mountains.

I really felt the altitude and the sun. It was not as cold as we thought it would be and we took off our puffy jackets. We walked very slow to start but finally got used to it and walked a normal pace, but I could not do the hike I had planned. There would be too much climbing and I was feeling the sun and the altitude. We walked out for 45 minutes, had lunch, walked back (2 miles).

No Ibex. We scoured the mountains with our binoculars. One hiker we talked to said they are deep in the mountains.

They sure make you think you will see Ibex here, on the tourist website and in their advertising materials, but the only time you will see them is in May when they come to the fields above town for the new grass. They also do this in Cogne near Aosta, another place we stayed in late September looking for Ibex and that would be the best place to see them I think. Easier to get to. Next year!

We saw several marmots.

When we got back down I realised my face was quite red from the sun even though I had sunscreen on. We used to live at 7,000ft (2100m) in Santa Fe so you would think I would be used to it but I wasn’t. It made me realise how much I like living at sea level.


I managed one photo on the chairlift when we were taking it down.


Restaurant at Alp Languard with St Moritz in the view.


Lots of hiking up here but all wide open, above the treeline.


We hiked into this valley.


This is as close as we will get to Ibex.
Tuesday September 26
Sunny and warm 64F

St Moritz is a 20 minute drive from Pontresina. We were last there 20 years ago, on a day trip from Davos. It was very jet-set then, but now - over the top! Lots of people (including Brits, Americans and Japanese), lots of construction projects, high apartment building, rows of designer shops - and that’s all we saw in 5 minutes walking through the center before we decided this was not for us and turned tail.

We started by parking in a large underground car park that had escalators to the center of town and a viewing platform of the lake. We started with the lake and walked around it - 2.8miles in just over an hour. The path was good with lots of benches where people were eating lunch. We had our lunch too. Great views of the town (best admired from afar) and mountains.

The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot.

Then we road the escalators up and up to the town center, did our 10 minute tour and left. We drove further up the valley - more lakes, more built up towns, beautiful views.

Next we drove up the Pontresina valley to the Morteratsch glacier where we plan to hike tomorrow. Lots of parking so we are set. Everyone was coming off the trails.

Two more days here - we leave Friday. We had big plans to extend the trip - stay here a couple more days, spend a few days in Baden-Baden on the way home - but we’ve left it all too late and places are booked, so we will do our usual 2 night drive home - Pontresina to Colmar to Arras to home. Long drive. But I’m looking forward to getting home.


Walking around St Moritz lake.
Wednesday September 27
Sunny and warm 65F

We did a wonderful hike today! We drove up to the Morteratsch Glacier parking, only 8 minutes from here, paid 5CHF for 5 hours (only needed 4 hours), and did the 2 mile walk up to the terminus of the glacier (or the snout as they call it). It was a steady uphill going out (425ft ascent). 4 mile walk, 2 hours.

We drove through a large camping area, along the river, to get to the hike. This is a beautiful area with tall Swiss pines. There are several hiking trails, all more difficult than the one we did, and bike trails. There were a lot of people but it didn’t feel crowded.

At the start of the hike is a train station and a hotel/restaurant. The path is wide and follows the river up to the glacier. The views are incredible all along the path. It ends under the snout of the glacier.

Walking back was easy and we found a bench with a great view and had our lunch. There are many benches along the path but many were occupied with people having lunch.

When we got back we did another short trail up to a waterfall.

The weather was perfect. We didn’t need sweaters or fleeces. It was cooler near the glacier.

Steve has not liked this area until today. Now he wants to come back when I am doing better to do the longer hikes. I am enjoying my time here, and I love Pontresina, but I wouldn’t come back. I don’t like being at high altitude. It feels rougher here, not the beautiful green fields of the Berner Oberland. It is more difficult to get here for us. I loved seeing the glaciers but now I’ve seen them. There are good spots in the Valais to see glaciers too.

MOVIES We rented “Five Days One Summer” from Amazon and watched this week. It was filmed in this area. It is a corny movie but we both liked it and have watched it twice before. An English couple (Sean Connery) are in a Swiss mountain village in the 1930s. There is a 40 year gap in their ages - the woman is maybe 20. And she is his niece. And he is married.

They came to rock climb and climb the glaciers. Their guide finds the remains deep in a crevice of someone who went missing 40 years ago. He is preserved as a young man but the woman he was about to marry is now an old lady in the village.

This is where the movie doesn’t make sense because the older woman looks to be in her 80s and the movie acts like she is in her 60s like Sean Connery. Anyway the scenery is great. The movie was made in 1983.


The start of the trail.


The glacier in the distance.


The best view of the glacier is before the end of the trail.


Near the end of the trail.


The waterfall.


About the glacier.
Thursday September 28
Sunny and warm 65F (overcast in the morning)

We took a day off from walking and got ourselves organised and the car packed up.

Tomorrow we start a 3 day drive across Switzerland (we are near the eastern border here), across France (from Mulhouse to Calais) and across much of England (from Folkestone to the western edge of Dorset). Two nights in hotels - Colmar in eastern France, Arras in western France).

Temperatures are warmer on our France stops - in the high 70sF. And the weather looks good at home - sunny and mid 60sF.

Thanks for following along!


Morning view from balcony. It looks lopsided because we are on a hill.


View in other direction.
Friday October 13


We both got Covid!! After 3 1/2 years of being very careful we were not as careful on this trip and we picked up Covid on the drive home. We got home Sunday night (nearly 2 weeks ago), I started coughing on Monday and on Tuesday was very sick. Steve followed a day later. Thank goodness for online food shopping (Ocado), although I couldn’t eat anything for several days.

It was one bad week followed by a not as bad several days, but I am still testing positive.

We both got Swine Flu in 2009 (while traveling in Switzerland) and this illness was about as bad as that, but at least we were at home when Covid started.

The last night in France, checking into the hotel in Arras, the lobby was full of a French tour group there to see the WWI sites. They were having drinks and talking, about 50 of them. We were exhausted from the drive from Colmar that day and not thinking straight. I had N95 masks with me but we didn’t put them on. Instead we walked along the edge of the crowd, checked in, back along the edge of the crowd to our room. Struck down by a large tour group, the travel style that I hate! Ironic?

Or maybe we got Covid at a rest area in the UK on that last day of driving. It is raging around the country again. Whatever, I feel very stupid having this happen. We avoided restaurants and museums, and large cities, because of Covid but it found us anyway.

Hoping to test negative very soon!
We too felt pretty stupid, even though we were in a small group, we somehow felt safer. Once one person started feeling bad, we knew we were doomed.

Here in Italy we've avoided large crowds and aren't in heavily touristed areas, but Rebecca (Brigolante!) reminded us yesterday that it's on the rise here as well.

We got a booster at the end of August, but it's not the newest one, which came out right after we left the states. We'll check with our PCP when we get home to see when we should get the newest one.

Hope you both feel better soon. Trying to get back to "normal" is very, very challenging.
So sorry to hear you got COVID. I wouldn't blame yourself though, you don't know exactly where you picked it up and it could have happened anyway. Even walking past somebody in a relatively empty street - a sneeze or a cough in the wrong direction......Take it slowly and I hope you feel better soon
I had my first case in September where I started to not feel right on our flight back from Italy. Next morning I tested positive. A mild case but I still have a bit of a lingering cough.
The problem with waiting is that the UK organises all the Covid vaccines over a short time. I’m not sure we would find one 3 months from now. But thanks for letting me know! Steve finally tested negative a few days ago. We both feel tired from the whole thing.

The UK government says: There is no need to wait 4 weeks after having had COVID-19, provided you are well.

The US CDC says: You should get a COVID-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19. You may consider delaying your vaccine by 3 months. However, certain factors could be reasons to get a vaccine sooner rather than later, such as:
  • personal risk of severe disease,
  • risk of disease in a loved one or close contact,
  • local COVID-19 hospital admission level,
  • and the most common COVID-19 variant currently causing illness.

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