Day 11
June 10, 2000


Switzerland - Day 11, Saturday, June 10, 2000

One of our readers wants to know what a "Migros" is. There are two major grocery chains in Switzerland, Migros and Coop. Migros is the closest store to the apartment so that is where we buy our groceries.

Migros seems to be the Walmart of Switzerland. They are in many businesses but each business is physically separate, not in the same building like Walmart. One exception is that they have cafeterias close to most of their larger grocery stores. There is one above the grocery store that we go to here in Spiez.

We have seen Migros gas stations and Migros banks. I'm sure there are other types of Migros stores.

Coop doesn't seem to cover such a wide swath. We think the name is pronounced Coop instead of Co-op but we aren't sure.

We headed up the hill about 8:00 AM this morning but had to wait for the 9:02 train to Interlaken. We should have checked the schedule before we left the apartment. Jim made good use of the time however. We were low on food and Migros would close at 4:30 PM, long before we expected to be back. Even worse it doesn't open on Sunday. So Jim made a quick trip to the Migros store for yogurt, bread, cereal, sliced meat, etc. Once out of the store he repelled down to the apartment, stored the food and then quickly hiked back up the hill to the train station.

At Interlaken we changed to a train headed for Brienz. At Brienz we switched to a bus that took us back to Ballenberg. You may remember that we went there a couple of days after we arrived but left in disgust because of the disorderly "queue" for tickets.

Today there was no line for tickets. We went right in with no delay.

Ballenberg is an Open-Air Museum sort of like Williamsburg but much better done. This is much more authentic. Buildings from all over Switzerland have been dismantled, brought to Ballenberg and rebuilt in a natural setting.

The guidebook we picked up says, "Representative houses of the different farmhouse styles of Switzerland make up, however, only apart of the museum. Gardens, fields, pasture and meadows set up according to historical models surround the farmsteads and houses." The oldest house here was originally built in the early 1300s.

There are craftsmen working in some of the buildings. There are over 250 farm animals spread across the 66 hectares (about 165 acres) that the museum occupies. We saw two huge bulls, a large sow with a whole herd of piggies, several cows, goats and some chickens. The chickens were cute with their heavy pants on. (Lots of feathers on their legs. You can't see their feet.)

We entered the site at 10:29 AM according to our tickets and left about 4. Just outside the gate we saw a bus waiting to take us back to the train station but Carolyn wanted to visit the gift shop. After spending 10-15 minutes in the shop we found out that the next bus wouldn't come for another 50 minutes.

Once we finally got to the train station we discovered that the last train for the day had already departed but there was a boat leaving in about 15 minutes. So we crossed the tracks to the ship station and boarded the boat. It took 1 1/2 hours to zigzag its way across Lake Brienz to Interlaken Ost where we caught a train back to Spiez and arrived at the apartment about 8:30 PM.

Our evening activities including washing another load of dirty clothes. It takes about two days for the clothes to dry and we have to give up our checked bags on Tuesday so we dared not delay washing any longer. Since Geri and Jim are flying on to Istanbul instead of home they wanted to have mostly clean clothes when they arrived in Turkey.