Our drive took us along the shore of the beautiful Italian Lake Como and then back to the southern tip of Switzerland, and Lugano, where we spent the night. Next morning we took a ferry across Lake Lugano and into the elegant little Italian town of Stresa on the shore of Lake Maggiore, where, surprise, surprise, they had palm trees, which I never expected to encounter on an Alpine trip. It seems that vegetation south of the Alps is Mediterranean, so
in addition to the palm trees they also have chestnut groves, vineyards, olive and fig trees ... only two or three hours away from glaciers.. .I've learned to expect the unexpected on these trips.
After crossing the Simplon Pass into the Swiss Valais, we finally reached Tasch and boarded a train for an "overnight" in Zermatt. This lovely little town is a mecca for skiers, mountain climbers, hikers, etc. and there are only electric
wagons, here, to take your baggage to your hotel or inn. No cars. You are expected to walk. So, Kay and I felt we were quite lucky they took pity on us, (Kay with her bad foot and me with my bad knee) and let us ride up the steep hill to our
chalet. It was raining, off and on, while we were in Zermatt, so we skipped the $50.00 train ride over to a glacier to view the Matterhorn. We were right to do so. Those who went did not get to see the Matterhorn, as it was socked in with rain clouds.
Instead, we did a little shopping in town, and took the opportunity to purchase souvenirs
and gifts for friends and relatives back home. At the appropriate time, we settled down at a table, on the balcony of a cafe, with our coffee, to watch the local goat herders, bring their goats through town. Now, having raised Toggenberg and Alpine Goats, fifteen years earlier, I had expected to see THOSE types of goats, coming through the town. But in Zermatt, they raise Blacknecks! I had never heard of them. The front half of the goat is black and at the middle, the coat changes to white. Just imagine this. As the herd approaches, you see a black herd of goats, and as it leaves, you seem to be looking at the rumps of a white herd of goats. This was, indeed, the surprise of the entire trip. And, every single goat in that herd was marked the same. They must cull out the ones that are born with different markings.
Several unavoidable delays brought us into Lake Geneva late. Tired, Kay and I settled into our room, while the rest of the group went on the see the famous Chillon Castle. But we had such a lovely view of the lake, the French Alps on the opposite shore, and the sun set, and it was such a peaceful moment, we felt we had chosen the better deal. No regrets!
Next day's drive took us through beautiful Bern, the Swiss capitol, which was just as I had imagined. Charming. We stopped only for pictures. At Interlocken, a pretty little town, Kay, our new friend, Ann, and I took a delightful horse and buggy ride through town during our lunch hour.
After going through the Brunig Pass, we arrived in lovely Lucerne early enough to take a ride through the city, visit the transportation
museum and view their Swiss-a-rama movie. We also stopped to see "The Lion", a bias-relief, carved in the side of a cliff--a memorial to the men who were killed, after they had surrendered to
Napoleon with the promise they would be spared and returned to their homes. Perhaps it was the tone of our tour leader's
voice, but I found it very moving.