As a general rule, I’m the kind of mama that strives for routine and rules. Up at seven in the morning, breakfast and play, nap at half nine for two hours. Lunch, more play and then a lovely afternoon nap for another two hours before dinner, bath and bed (without protest) at seven in the evening. A full twelve hours sleep and then repeat. Of course, someone failed to give my girl that particular memo because that has happened exactly never. But because I have it in my head that we should be a structured kind of family, I generally balk at anything that might upset said routine, no matter how fictional it may be.
Tim, on the other hand, could not be more laissez faire when it comes to parenting. ‘She’ll cope’ is pretty much his mantra, whether it’s about a lunch we want to go to, a nap she might miss, a train she might lick or paper she might eat, or – say – a move to Europe. I love his approach in theory, but of course it’s the complete opposite to mine and therein lies many a challenge. We discussed this ad nauseam when contemplating the move here and we agreed on what we thought was a happy medium: ‘routine’ during the week, and aim for a weekend away once a month. Of course we fantasise about Paris, Milan, Barcelona and the like, but to to be honest even if it’s around the corner we’ll be happy.
However, when he suggested that said getaway occur this weekend, I was hesitant. We’ve been on the go for weeks now, and it seemed so unfair to move her again when we were finally getting close to something that might one day resemble my dream routine above. (Of course what I meant by this was that I don’t want to miss any more sleep, or deal with a testy baby, any more than I need to.) One of the main reasons we came here was to capitalise on seeing the world together, so I am trying to lose some of my rigidity and become a little more carefree. So, despite my lame arguments, Saturday morning saw us running to the train station to head a few hours away to Interlaken. (One of Tim’s other travel goals is to learn to pack light. This is the total baggage for the three of us for the weekend, including baby cot and assorted paraphernalia…and apparently we need to trim it down further. Yikes.)
We had our first sight of fog, a sign Autumn is descending. It was beautiful, and the slight chill that comes with it refreshing, but I am slightly nervous about the winter that lies ahead.
Interlaken means ‘between lakes’. It’s a small town about two hours from our home, known for its scenery, proximity to the Alps and outdoor activities (hiking, paragliding, rock climbing and the like). The town itself is, as the name gives away, flanked by two large, ice blue lakes which are bordered by mountains. The train ride in was breathtaking.
We moseyed around town for a while to get our bearings (and to help the baby get some some cobblestone-induced sleep. No dice, sadly. But the tongue made many more appearances).
Tim actually gasped when this popped into view. (Given how majestic it is, I’m not sure how it surprised either of us, but it did.)
I gasped when I saw the brave (slash crazy) people jumping out of the sky.
It was a gorgeous clear day so we decided to head to Grindelwald, and from there take a cable car up to First. As we were leaving Interlaken we realised the Jungfrau Marathon had started that day. Said to be the most beautiful marathon in the world, we thought it must also be one of the most difficult as the runners had to climb to the highest peak of the Alps. We were too late to see the start, but the next day we saw many people hobbling around town as testimony to its ferocity. We were pleased (although very much humbled) that our endeavours were merely by train.
However, we were happy to be there (and one of us tried to eat her shoe to prove it).
There were a few ways down from the Alps. Adelaideybird and I took the cable cart. Hotel saw the flying fox and, despite my pleas on behalf of our potentially fatherless girl, embraced it wholeheartedly.
As we descended the mountain, I kept hearing the clanging of bells. I initially thought it was a hideous tourismo gimmick, that alpine sounds were being pumped through the cable cart and would subsequently be available for purchase with matching knits in the guest lounge at the end. However as we looked around, it turned out the clanging was from bells on the necks of cows grazing on the fields below us. Grazing to enable my cheese and chocolate feasting at a later date, I hope.
We made our way back to town, grabbed dinner and had a quiet night in. We’re still trying to work out how to juggle the baby’s sleep in a small hotel room. Luckily we’re both reading good books (this for Tim which I loved too, and I just started this, because I love me some detective fiction) and between whispered conversation, red wine and chocolate we did just fine.
Today’s weather wasn’t so great. We knew this would be the case, so decided to head to Trummelbach Falls. About an hour away from Interlaken, they are a series of glacier waterfalls inside a mountain. I’d love to be able to tell you more about them, but it turns out they are not suitable for children under four years of age so Laidey and I were not welcome, and killed time while Tim checked them out. To be fair, we had a grand old morning.
As did Hotel. He likened the falls to a powerful old tap – you know the ones. Dull silvered metal, with a valve that pinches your hand when you turn it. When it finally relents, the water that bursts forth is unchecked, powerful, frenzied.
Our train ride home was the most beautiful I’ve been on – we rose past the lake and through the mountains for miles. We had no time to take snaps though, as we were passing our daughter between the carriages of other tourists who wanted a cuddle (and having a cheeky wine for the road). We’re now back at the place that’s starting to feel like home, and she’s tucked up safe and sound in bed, leaving me little excuse to decline any further ventures out of my comfort zone.