Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bernese Oberland Trip: May 2

After some late night googling I was able to find several alternative sights for us to visit since our Jungfraujoch plans were shot to hell. So, at 10:30 pm, I rolled down to the hotel desk and told them we would be checking out a day early. Then it was time to try to get some sleep since Betti would be up soon for a bottle.

We woke up Saturday morning, packed up our things, had breakfast, and left Grindelwald. First stop on our new agenda: St. Beatus Hoehlen.
We weren't sure what to expect exactly since the information we had on this place was limited. However, we were not disappointed.

We parked on the road in front of the caves and immediately saw the very long walk required to get to the cave entrance. There was a gorgeous waterfall at the center of the walk which kept Marion going. She managed to walk the entire way up to the entrance. Brian and I were shocked.

Some gnomes and other statues met us along the way.
Let's play find the toddler!

Gorgeous entrance, high above the street. This was taken on one of the many bridges crossing the waterfall on the hike up.

Marion was going strong but Mommy needed some help towards the end.

Luckily there were some benches nearby for a short rest.

The entrance to the caves. Really picturesque and with a lovely view over the Lake Thun (Thunsee).

Dogs get free water after their walk. Humans are expected to buy a bottle of water if needed.

St Beatus' grave and a model of how he lived in the cave are at the beginning of the tour. Then you enter the cave. Pictures were not allowed inside the cave. But rest assured it was gorgeous- another highly recommended spot. The tour of the cave consists of a one kilometer walk into the cave with three stops for some history. After the tour is over, you walk the one kilometer back out.

We had a quick lunch at the cafe outside the exit to the cave. There is also a restaurant near the entrance of the cave. Afterwards, we walked down the mountain, pausing for a family picture before going back to our car.

Our next stop was the Ballenberg Museum. However, Marion fell asleep on the way there so we took a detour through the town of Brienz, stopping briefly to get a picture of the Brienzersee.

We finally arrived at the museum's west entrance.
Note: there are two entrances to this museum. I did not realize this and so we just went to the closest entry that Garmin listed. However, the things I wanted to see were closest to the east entrance so we will definitely be going back. So the lesson here is to know that Ballenberg has two entrances and to plan your trip ahead of time by looking at the map. However, this place is fantastic and you really can't go wrong either way.

Ballenberg reminded me of a working Williamsburg. The open air museum consists of buildings taken from around Switzerland and rebuilt at the museum. There are homes, farms, you name it, from various centuries. The interiors are set up to show how life for the people that would have lived in the home during that time period. In addition to that there are animals all over the place,

a building where meat is steamed, and a large herb garden among other things.

The herbs from the garden are used for making teas, soaps, etc that are sold in one of the buildings.
A chocolate factory is also on site (that is on the list of must sees for our next visit!).

We spent a lot of time at a hands on building for the kids. Marion tried her hand at hammering there.

She also tried on some hats and played the piano.

Afterwards, she met a bull.

I noticed something interesting in one house we went into. Remember the interiors were set up to demonstrate life in that building and during that time period? Well, in one kitchen a large serated knife sat on the kitchen table.

Nothing was in the way to prevent someone from touching this knife. Nothing to prevent children from picking it up.

I love the sense of personal responsibility here. This would never, ever happen in the States. And if it did and someone got hurt, the museum would promptly get sued and put out of business. Ahhh, home sweet home.

We spent the rest of our time there walking around the museum. It turned out to be a very nice day and the museum is a great place to walk around and enjoy the weather and scenery.

Towards the end of our walk we found a store selling all things made at Ballenberg. We walked in and immediately noticed the sweet smell of smoked meats. Oh it was good. So good that Brian walked over the counter and said to the woman behind it, "What smells so good? I want whatever smells so good."

We walked out with some sausage with garlic in it. And it was goooooooooood. Really really good.

After we finished off our snacks, it was time to head home. It was a fun day. Thank goodness for wireless internet and Google!


Anonymous said...

Sounds really really cool! I especially LOVE the pic of Marion with the Bull. So cute.
Keep the pics coming!
See you all soon!

Hoppy said...

What a great field trip!!! I'll bet you guys were tired! Love to all!

Auntie Erin said...

Pics speak 1000 words! Looks like a great time!!

Love you!!!

grammie said...

What fun.....nothing like exploring

Love to all