Stacy had enough. Sitting in the house every weekend had reached a peak of "unacceptableness". We were doing something this weekend; I don't care what. We're getting out of this house.
She scoured the Internet for the greatest of the Summer available adventures. The kids whimpered that they needed to stay home to play video games and be sloth-like. Stacy would have none of it. Many trips were presented to Captain Grouch-meister himself: Jake. All were summarily rejected save one. Kandersteg.
Jake had just previously spent a week with school in the town of Kandersteg. The school's program is called "Landschulwoche" which really means "getting out of the classroom for a week so that the kids can have fun together in a class-like setting. This seems almost unheard of in America.
We set out of the house around 9-10'ish, and got on a train from Gümligen to Münsigen, where we changed to a train to Spiez. Once at Spiez, we travelled direct to Kandersteg. We arrived around 10:30. After walking around for a short while, we found a restaurant that was empty. In my stay here in Switzerland, I have learned that the Swiss are many things:
- Very sensitive to noise
- Have a very narrow time in which they must eat lunch. If you stray outside of this time, you will go hungry or end up waiting until it is the correct time.
The waiter started speaking German with us, Stacy and I spoke back in German. Once the waiter heard our kids speaking to each other in English, they decided to switch the language to English. (OK with me!) I enjoyed the Lötschbergerröschti: potato pancake with grilled veggies, and two slabs of cheese not unlike Raclette cheese. Jake enjoyed the expensive steak (he has figured out that we will always buy him steak. We should stop buying him steak). Stacy had a sandwich with too much mayo, and the three younger kids all shared a large bowl of sauce-less spaghetti.
Our tummies full, the kids played in the playground right next to the restaurant while I paid the bill. After a short pause, time enough for a few pictures of the mountains and the kids playing, we were off to the hills. Just in time: The Swiss all punctually showed up hungry for lunch precisely at noon.
We rode a chair-lift to the top of the local hill and marveled at the sights to be seen. There were mountains that were still snowy. One of the local peaks had a glacier that looked like it was ready to break off to the hills below. I enjoyed the ride up with Joey, who asked constant questions about the chair lift, scenery, etc. He pointed out trees ,rocks, and cows along the way. Below the chair lift I noticed a path for the cheap-skates to walk up for free. Since the ascent is a non-trivial 450-500 meter climb, I think the chair-lift was a better idea. Each time we do some sort of hike, I end up carrying Joey.
Finally: The destination we had been looking for: The summer sledding. Since there was no more snow at this altitude, there was no way to do the sledding on snow. This was a small park with metal tracks, kind of like what you expect to see with Olympic bob-sledding. We purchased one ride to make sure that the kids would like to do the trip. After an enthusiastic first run, the kids begged for us to buy the 10-pack.
The minimum age for a rider was 8, but you could have two go through if the riders doubled-up together. We ended up getting more trips for everbody, by having Cecilia go with somebody. I usually went with Josh or Cecilia; Joey usually went with Stacy. Oftentimes Josh would go with Jake.
The trip was like most roller-coaster rides, a slow trip to the top of the hill, and gravity took you the rest of the way down. At the end of the ride, you woudl take a ride half-way back up the hill to exit the ride.
Here is a video of the ride:
Here is a slideshow of the day:
(Slideshow: click to view the pictures more closely)
On the train ride home, a pair of Americans got on-board the train. We didn't talk to them, but we did overhear their conversation. Judging by their awful twang and broken grammar, there was doubt, they were from the southern United States. I had almost forgotten how horribly southern accents grate my nerves. Now I really don't want to go back to the United States.