Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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11: Switzerland - France, 27th June

There's something on this trip I've been looking forward to more than the Reichenbach Falls, more than Lake Garda, more than the Großglockner Pass. In fact I've been looking forward to it since I found out about its existence over a decade ago.

I'm going to Piz Gloria.

The revolving restaurant on top of the Schilthorn features as Blofeld's lair in On Her Majesty's Secret Service - in fact, it was a hefty filming fee that enabled construction to be completed. It's Bond Mecca and I'm wildly excited as Howard pilots the Hyundai to the base of the mountain.

We take a series of cable cars to the peak, looking down on dappled cows and flat little chalets and wondering what it must be like to live in a village accessible only by aerial tramway.

On the last stages we're ascending through wet grey cloud, and at the top it's chilly and damp. The Schilthorn boasts spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, including the Jungfrau and the Eiger, but today they peek fleetingly through breaks in the mist, floating among the clouds like Shangri-La, tourists dashing from spot to spot as they emerge. We see Alpine choughs and a vast bird of prey that may have been a lammergeyer.

Then it's coffee time, in the spot where George Lazenby once wore a kilt and pretended to be Sir Hilary Bray of the College of Arms.

I'd always rather stupidly assumed that the entire restaurant revolved, and I'm disappointed to learn it's only the outermost ring of the floor. (This is very confusing when you pop to the loo and can't find your table again.) It's still an amazing place to be, though, and we make our coffee last an hour as we watch the clouds and mountains go round.

After I've bought my tacky Bond-themed souvenirs there's half an hour's wait for the returning cable car, and we decide to walk down one of the mountain trails to the next station - Birg, marked as an hour and a quarter away. I say 'we decide'; Howard wants to, and I feel I should concede to his wishes as he's been so nice about indulging my 007 obsession, but my thoughts are turning to avalanches, fog, twisted ankles, sheer drops and idiot ill-equipped tourists meeting their deaths. Frankly, I'm scared out of my wits.

We scramble along narrow ridges and over rocks, slipping in mud and trudging through patches of snow. This is really not my kind of thing at all. Yet I'm the one who spots a blob of brown moving along a ridge beyond and above us. We freeze, it freezes, then it barks and gallops up and over the top and away. We've seen an ibex! After this there's one more snowy bit, then a steep slope we take at a run in order to catch the cable car we've just seen arriving.

It's mid-afternoon by the time we've returned to the hotel in order to set off again in our car/scooter convoy. Once again we're lagging hours behind the others, who did their Interlaken sightseeing yesterday, and we toil along the motorway towards France. The high point of the afternoon is a decommissioned Swiss Mirage jet inexplicably displayed outside one of the service stations.

There's no dinner until we cross the border, as we've run out of Swiss francs. Chewy motorway hamburgers eaten, we press on in the golden light for Bourg-en-Bresse. I have gloomily predicted that our Hotel Ibis will be in the middle of an industrial estate. It is, but it's an oasis of green and quiet. The night is warm enough to sit and have a nightcap outside in the dark, with water dripping off the just-watered leaves.

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Tags: bikes, hols, james bond, scooters

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