The vagaries of travel

In my last post, I promised to talk about skiing, but first a short travelogue.

On the evening of 6 December I flew to Zurich full of enthusiasm to kick start my season. Early snow conditions were the best for ten years or more and the Jungrau region season was already a couple of weeks old. I was keen to get there.

There are certain things in life which it is reasonable to take for granted. One of them is that Swiss railways run on time, all the time. (We hold this truth to be self evident etc. etc.) So it was something of a shock to the system when the train from Berne to Interlaken didn’t leave bang on schedule. It was a seismic event when after twenty minutes the conductor announced that the engine was broken and we would all have to disembark.

We were directed to another train, which would go as far as Spiez. From Spiez, we were put onto a French TGV which had originated at the Gare du Lyon and was going to Interlaken. It would arrive at midnight, after the last connection to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen, there was the late night train to Wengen, my destination, but that left a small gap to bridge.

By this stage, the train had a Swiss crew; it was certain that SBB would make some arrangements for those who had missed connections. Sure enough, we were offered taxis. There was a little group of us gathered in one carriage waiting for our travel vouchers. A conductor arrived, handed out vouchers for Meiringen and Grindelwald and turned to me saying “and for you we have a hotel in Interlaken”.

My heart sank a bit; well, a lot actually. My luggage consisted of an IPad and a mobile ‘phone. No tooth brush, nothing. Whilst I am not absolutely sure, Interlaken probably doesn’t offer much in the way of 24 hour convenience stores. Also, my destination was tantalising close. When I asked why I couldn’t have a taxi to Lauterbrunnen, the conductor told me the train from there to Wengen ran at weekends only. Now I have mentioned already that technology is not a strong point, but even I can find the SBB website and sure enough, the train was scheduled as I thought. When I pointed this out, the conductor went to see her boss. A minute later she returned and said the hotel was already booked, so I would have to take it.

There seemed little point in arguing, but when the train reached Interlaken, I had a clear forty minutes to catch the train in Lauterbrunnen. As I say, tantalising close. So I made it to the taxi rank before anyone else and asked the driver of the first taxi in line to get me there quickly. Fifteen minutes later and sixty francs poorer, I was on Lauterbrunnen station platform. I always say to people that Switzerland is not expensive, but I am prepared to make an honourable exception for taxi rides.

The train rolled in from Wengen on time, thankfully, and left again on its upward journey also on schedule. I arrived in the village at five minutes to one in the morning. Twenty minutes later, I was asleep. The ski season was almost upon me.

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