23.07.2013 - 23.07.2013 30 °C
With Austrian music still playing in our minds from last night, we left the Marmota Hostel in Innsbruck and began our final exit of Austria. We definitely are fond of this country. Our liking for this land is not for any one particular feature but rather an accumulation of traits. It is country of quaint towns and historic cities that are well groomed and cared for. The hiking trails are numerous and the fresh air and mountain scenery picturesque. It also is one of the few more northerly western European countries that is not too hard on the pocket book. Take all those traits and add the nonstop sunshine we experienced and you get a winning combination.
Our journey to Switzerland took us right back through the Austrian town of Imst; home of Europe’s longest Alpine Coaster. We couldn’t just pass through and not relive the 3.5 kilometer thrill ride. There was also some unfinished business to attend to. Ever since we rode this track a month and a half ago, Muriel has been insufferable in her stories about her superior coaster skills. Her eldest daughter has been corrupted by this poor modelling behaviour and also has exhibited some tendency to brag about her own prowess, even going as far as to say that she could go much faster than her father.
In this second run down the coaster let the record show that Muriel was the first of our party to go down the hill and posted the slowest start of any of the riders in the previous 20 minutes. Hannah was the second to leave the gate and trailed her mother by 18 seconds (this being loudly reported by Muriel at the finish line) by the end of the 3.5 kilometers. The ever humble and quiet yours truly was the third to head down the track. Since there is only one track it was not possible for me to reveal my true potential as I needed to repeatedly apply my brakes for the last third of the run so as to keep the requisite 25 meter distance from the coaster in front of me. In case it is not clear, it was Hannah who was in front of me. Abby followed a minute and a half behind me.
If Muriel or Hannah were writing this post, they would either have written nothing on this entire subject out of sheer embarrassment for their previous unseemly boasting, or they would have written paragraphs of excuses to explain their lackluster performance. Fortunately, it is not their turn to write today. I will just let the facts speak for themselves as to who is the better faster and humbler coaster driver.
After enduring a bit of a subdued atmosphere in our car after riding the Alpine Coaster (I was feeling great) the slower members of our travelling group made their peace and became more cheerful as we approached the Swiss border. I think everyone was looking forward to being on neutral ground.Until a couple of weeks ago, Switzerland was not in our travel plans and we thought we were done with new countries on this trip. We have decided that three nights in Switzerland was better than no time at all and made the decision to do a little extra driving to fit it in.
Our first bit of time in Switzerland was all about sticker shock. We had braced ourselves for higher prices and were not disappointed. A Swiss vignette (road toll sticker) cost 37 euros. The price of groceries is at least a third higher than other country we have visited so far. Our accommodation also cost at least one third more than similar accommodation anywhere else in our travels. From what we have seen so far of the Swiss who dwell in the smaller communities we suspect that they find these prices a bit stiff as their homes seem no more commodious then any of their neighbouring countries.
Our hosts have been very generous with their time, help and conversation. We learned that they have lived quite adventurous lives having lived three years in Israel, a couple of years in Ghana, and 12 years in Cameroon. They were support workers for Wycliffe Bible Translators. While our host, Chris, was in Ghana he learned beekeeping and then began to train bee keepers in Cameroon. He has continued as a beekeeper in Switzerland and now is a part time advisor and inspector of hives for the Swiss government. He has offered to show us his hives tomorrow which I look forward to. I think the girls are still not too sure whether adding a potential bee sting to their travel adventures is such a good idea.
To celebrate our arrival in Switzerland we decided to commit a Swiss dining faux pas and have a cheese fondue at the height of summer. The only chiding we had to suffer was from our hostess who raised her eyebrows and said “the Swiss only have fondue when it is very cold out.” After getting over the shock of such a concept she quickly offered up her fondue pot so we could celebrate out of sight of the rest of Swiss society. We waited for the cool of the evening before feasting. We felt a bit sad for everyone else who will have to wait until December.