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The Filthy Lucre Tour
Domestic bliss
16th May 2006 - 17th May 2006
Interlaken; Trummelbach falls

After driving around a little in our newly repaired motorcar, we upped sticks and moved to "Manor Farm", the campsite near Interlaken that we were aiming at sometime around a week ago. In some ways it's been a handy reminder to avoid places that say "popular with Brits" in the guidebook, as the buggers are all over this place. I think around half of the cars parked here have British registrations, which is something we've not been used to over the last few weeks and somehow makes us feel a bit less impressive about how far we've gone. On the upside, though, they had a convertor to change our power cable to a Swiss one and they told us where we could get our UK gas cylinder filled up. Gas cylinders on the continent not only employ different connectors but also pump gas out at a different pressure - it always amuses me that pretty much the only power connector that's homogenous throughout the world is the car cigarette lighter, which clearly was never an electric socket to start with.

We were very pleased with the size of the pitches here, until we realised we'd used two by mistake. After correcting this we discovered that there are little drains you can poke your waste water tube into to save you carting the stuff across the site, which is rather neat. Or perhaps we've been caravanning for too long.

There are two main tourist areas around here, so being tourists we went to them. To the South-East, Grindelwald is a ski town not dissimilar to Chamonix and faces directly onto Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn and the Eiger - three of the most impressive mountains in the Berners Oberland. The Eiger is doubtless the most famous, its North Wall ("Eigerwand") having been centered upon by Nazi Germany in the 1930s as a suitable objective to prove its might. After a few teams tried and failed, Heinrich Harrer finally managed it and then wrote about it in his book, "The White Spider". He also wrote a more famous book called "Seven Years in Tibet", which is about something else. I haven't read either of these books but I do own a copy of TWS and I thought I had it with me, but I don't. Partly because of this lot but mostly because it has places to get pissed in, Grindelwald is pretty popular with Brits.

The second local tourist trap is the Lauterbrunnen valley, headed by the Jungfrau - one of the more spectacular Swiss 4000m peaks. The valley itself is steep-sided and contains legions of spectacular waterfalls which drain the surrounding peaks of snow and carry off the water from the glaciers Kiki and I are permanently melting by zooming around here munching fossil fuels. About two thirds of the way down the valley are the Trummelbach Falls.

The Trummelbach Falls have to be one of the most impressive ways to see the raw power of falling water. They have eaten through the rock to such a degree that they're now tens of metres underground and for eleven Swiss Francs you can see them by walking through a network of tunnels that some enterprising people have dug. Presumably because of variations in rock density, they take a rather curious path including at least a couple of sections where they seem to corkscrew back on themselves. Once underground the noise and spray is quite incredible and viewing the falls is really a surprisingly visceral experience. The most spectacular parts are in the rock maybe a hundred metres or so above the valley floor, so the enterprising Swiss people have made a rather pointless underground elevator to get you up there, instead of the perfectly good steps that you use on the way down anyway. The elevator has completely glass sides to it, presumably to impress you with the engineering work involved in making an underground elevator because there certainly isn't any view. It must be amusing for the chap who operates the lift, seeing all of the tourists peering around the place during the journey waiting expectantly to see a giant waterfall out of one of the sides of the elevator, when in actual fact they're just going to see a rock-hewn elevator shaft. I can only assume they got some Swiss equivalent of lottery funding. "We'd like to apply for a million Swissies to dig some holes under the Trummelbach Falls. What's that you say? Five million minimum? No, that's fine, I'm sure we'll think of something".

Whilst getting the camera soaking wet, I was amazed to see the difference between my flash and non-flash waterfall photographs. It would appear that the flash reflects spectacularly upon the mist coming up from the falls rather than the waterfall itself - there's an example of the difference in the photos below.

Whilst in Grindelwald we decided to come back and try to climb Kleine Scheidegg, a 2000m peak which sits above the town and below the face of the Eiger. Well, I say "we decided", but it was more an act of persuasion on my part, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do when it turns out there's not a Mulberry factory outlet on the top. Fortunately for Kiki it poured with rain right on cue as we woke up the next morning, so it's been postponed to the following day and I'm now sitting in the caravan writing this instead.

Oh, and talking of sitting in the caravan, last night we had a game of Command and Conquer in the awning. Because Kiki insisted on working from home until about an hour before we were thrown out of the flat, we failed to ship our broadband equipment to the US and, after some trouble working out which plugs would fit where, we eventually got the networking stuff to work here. The game CDs were in both laptops, so we sat in the awning in the pouring rain to the familiar sounds of "missile launch detected", and such. We have to play against the computer rather than each other, in the interests of marital harmony, but it was quite a fun throwback to life in London. I can't see us doing it very often - we're living quite an outdoorsey life at the moment and I've no doubt there'll be plenty of time in future for peering at computers, both at work and at home. Having moved the television onto and off its stand every time we pitched up for the last month we've eventually extradited it to the boot of the car, because we've not yet switched it on and it's looking increasingly unlikely that we ever will. I can't say I miss it, though I would rather like to have Radio Four back...

Distance travelled: 4960km car, 1115km train
Books read: C:2, K:6
Bottles of wine remaining: 4
Countries visited: 5 (UK, France, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein)

Next: Book Review: Under The Frog (Tibor Fischer)
Previous: Conclusion of the car stuff

Diary Photos

Domestic bliss

The top of the Brünig pass

Our pitch at Manor Farm

Caravan curtains

Wireless networking

The average awning

View across lake Thun

Fall 6 at Trummelbach (with flash)

Fall 6 at Trummelbach (without flash)

The Lauterbrunnen valley

Trummelbach falls

Jungfrau from the Lauterbrunnen valley

Trummelbach falls

Kiki heading into the Lauterbrunnen valley

Kleine Scheidegg from Grund

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