Monday 20thJuly 1908
We rose to find the skies as grey as ever at 7 a.m. We were very
sorry to hop out, one and all of us. Breakfast was at 8 a.m. and we all got
down in good time. Phys and Nan were the exceptions to the above rule and came
tripping in late after a great scramble to get dressed. By this time the rain
was pouring in torrents and our excursion to Beatus Hohle had to be put off.
Very disappointing indeed after having paid our monisch. We are all
singing Oh why left I my hame and trying to keep cheery. The P.C.
place was doing good trade this morning. The scenery around here is very lovely
and not unlike our own Scottish hills, but not quite so lonely. The little
chalets with their little handkerchiefs of cultivated ground take away the
lonliness. The small boy in these quarters, who is desirous of helping himself
to his neighbours fruit, has no obstacle to overcome. The consequence is that
nobody ever thinks of stealing other peoples fruit, apples, pears, cherries,
walnuts etc grow along the road-sides as if they belonged to no one. Every
available space is covered with vines.
Small as Spiez is, it can boast of electric cars. The hotels are
all lit with electric light and at night the lights look very picturesque. The
small boats on the lake resemble sabots; they go up at the bow just like a
canoe or the toe of a wooden shoe, and go down quite straight at the stern. On
the whole they are more like canoes than our own small boats, the latter being
much stronger in build. Each boat has a little chalet of its own on the
lakeside, in which it stays while not in use. Lunch at 12.30 was a pleasant
break. It interrupted a game at towns etc at which we had a good deal of fun.
After lunch we read, played games or took stock of the other
members of the party with whom we are now becoming a little better acquainted.
We have two very select ladies in the party, who eat at our table and stare at
all we do, with superior smiles on their faces. The father of the younger lady
is not so bad and is rather friendly. The other two get rather the cold
shoulder, as we cant stand their side and all the
eying in the world does not hinder our having fun.
After a time I began to feel sleepy so I went upstairs to have a
nap. Aunty Phemie soon followed and went right into bed. At dinner and after,
we had a novel entertainment. A Swiss peasant and two girls dressed in all
their finery sang and played to us, for a consideration of course. The man was
a great tall strapping fellow, wore short green embroidered pants, funny
stockings with no feet (huggers in old Scotia) shoes turned up at the toe,
white shirt, green tie and soft alpine hat with a feather. The girls wore
rather a peculiar headdress of black gauzy stuff standing up like a spread
peacocks tail. Their dress consisted of velvet bodices with white
chemisettes, laced down the front, dark skirts and coloured silk aprons. The
man played solos on his zither and accompanied the girls when they sang. We had
duets, solos and trios. The man and the younger of the girls went through a
Swiss dance. This was rather a peculiar performance, distinguished by leaping,
howling and love making on the part of the man. At one part he lifted the girl
right up and swung her round. This greatly shocked one lady of the party at
least. In appearance the man was rather Italian-like. He was decidedly nice
looking & had a very pleasant face. The girl was very graceful in her
movements. By and bye they departed and we prepared for bed.
The notion to have a bath seized Auntie Phemie and she summoned
a maid, who was no other than little Ha ha. We of course had to do
the talking. We took the precaution of asking her this time if she spoke
French, to which she replied in the affirmative. She understood what we wanted
and all went well till we asked the price, which was 2frs. Auntie Phemie
considered this preposterous, so we had to tell her, that that was too dear,
and enquire the price of a cold bath. Poor little Ha-ha did not know, but said
she would demander downstairs. Back she came with the news, that it
was 1.50, so we settled it at that, and, with a Bon Soir Mesdames,
Ha-ha departed. We scrambled through this transaction very well for the maid
spoke slowly and we could understand what she was saying quite easily.
Tuesday July 21st.
We rose at 7 a.m. this morning to find it dull but dry. Auntie
Phemie went for her bath and we proceeded to dress ourselves. Before we reached
the breakfast table down came the rain in torrents. We did not put off our
excursion this time however, but as soon as breakfast was over, we proceeded to
get on our things. Some folks got parcels of lunch to carry, and we all tripped
off to the pier to get the boat, about 9 oclock. There was an awning on
deck, and we were as comfortable as circumstances would permit. It was very
cold sailing. What we could see of the scenery was lovely, but it was so
shrouded in mist that we did not see it to advantage. We called at ever so many
little places before we reached Interlaken. Some of the pier keepers were
rather comical. One old pair, husband and wife, were so funnily dressed, that
Mr Lister tried to snap shot them, but he was rather late. We sailed up
the canal to Interlaken, and then changed to the train, which took us to Lake
Brienz. Some of the party got tickets taken by mistake (they were afterwards
recovered) and this spent some time, so we had to sprint for the boat. The sail
down Lake Brienz was very beautiful but was rather spoiled by the rain, mist
& cold. It resembles Loch Goil but the water of the Lake is a sort of
soap-sud blue instead of the dark colour of our Highland lakes. We passed the
Gusbach Falls a very fine sight. We were told they were lit up at night with
electric light and I am sure will look lovely. Soon after we reached Brienz.
Here we had a few minutes to spare before getting the train to Meisingen. The
rain poured in torrents all the way. On reaching Meisingen we proceeded at once
to the Gorge of the Aare.
We saw some very nice shops on the way with the usual things
carving &c. We passed a great number of waterfalls a good many of them
having railways in connection with them. Many of the Chalets on the roadside
are very picturesque in appearance. We were greatly amused and interested at
the neat and tidy way, in which the wood was stored round the base of each
house. The women evidently add to the family income by making pillow lace. We
saw them busy at it in tiny little wooden shops by the wayside. A glass of milk
could be had at any of these for 10c as well as p.c.s, lace &c. Phys bought
some lace and the price did not seem to be out of the way. By and bye we
reached the River Aare a very swiftly flowing river. The rain still continued
as brisk as ever, & by the time we reached the Restaurant at the entrance
to the Gorge, we were all pretty well drenched, though we had our coats
weel kilted beneath our waterproofs.
Before going further we decided to have lunch, and ordered
coffee or tea to take with the provisions we had brought from the Kurhaus. It
was a case of first come first served. We all seized tables and being nearest
the door, we were lucky in being served first with cups. The coffee was
like Royal Charlie lang in coming, so long in fact that we were
finished eating. Mr Gilbert got crusty and seized on the first and readiest
scapegoat, which happened to be Mr Thomas. As he was passing, Mr Gilbert said
in a sort of ordering voice: Countermand the order for coffee at this
table. Mr Thomas wheeled round and in a very dignified voice (for him)
said: I gave no order for coffee. Let those who gave it, withdraw the
order. The atmosphere was a trifle electric.
Phys of course must always be original, and she created a
diversion by her non-appearance. She had a few others to keep her company, and
we thought that they had all got lost. When lunch was about over, they turned
up, (smiling serenely) like the proverbial bad sixpence or whatever coin it is.
By good chance, they had provisions amongst them, otherwise, they should have
gone hungry for the rest of the day. T was inside at the same table
as Mr Lister, his sister and Miss Donaldson. The gentleman incurred the wrath
of Touser by insisting on paying for the coffee. Mr Thomas gave us tickets for
the Gorge, and we went through a gate at the Shop.
We soon came to the Gorge, which beggars description. At this
point the Aare rushes through a narrow channel which it has worn out through
the ages. The rocky sides rise to a great height. On one place I saw 1001
painted on the rock in red. Whether this has anything to do with the height, I
do not know, at any rate, we found out afterwards from a little guide book,
that in some places, the height does exceed 1000 feet. Part of the way is
tunnelled out of the rock with openings through which to look at the river. A
narrow iron bridge with a wooden floor runs along the left side of the Gorge.
Sometimes the river rushes alongside, sometimes underfoot. The
path twists and twines, in and out, up and down for I am sure fully quarter of
a mile. At one part a bridge crosses to the other side. It is reached by a long
flight of steps, and from it a fine view of the Gorge may be had. We climbed,
and had the view, though we were, or perhaps I should say I was, a
trifle breathless, when we reached the top. The camera people took a few
snap-shots, but I am afraid the rain would be against their chances of turning
out well. The rain in fact had been a great nuisance all the time, for besides
making us uncomfortable, we could not look up without having a stream of water
down our necks, - and we really had to look up to see the full beauty of the
place. Having retraced our steps so far, we got under the shelter of an
overhanging part of the rock and were treated to a short lecture on the
formation of glacier mills &c which we had seen as we passed along. The
Aare originated in a glacier so our worthy leader informed us.
On getting back to the gate we gave up our tickets & had a
look at the contents of the shop. There was a splendid stock of beautifully
carved work. The carvers are prize takers, as have been their fore-fathers for
generations. I hunted out a lovely salad spoon & fork, with a design of
grapes & vine leaves. I would have bought them for mother, if she had not
already been provided with that commodity, so Miss Barr bore the treasure away.
We bought a book of views and a little box (1f & 1.20.) The man spoke
English fairly well, but took such a time to parcel the things, that we were
left to the last. We sprinted and soon got up on the others, who were now on
the way to Reichenbach Falls.
We had a very muddy walk, and thanks to the passing machines,
looked as if we had spotted fever, so beautifully were we bespattered with mud.
We went to the falls by rail and had our first experience of a mountain
railway. The cars could only hold one half of us at a time. We were in the
second party & had the pleasure of seeing the first car ascend. The cars
resemble a flight of very broad steps with seats and a covering. One must
ne se pencher dehors or nich.. hinauslehnen. We watched
the car being hauled up by a cable. It looked like a fly crawling up a wall.
The other car descended as the one went up. On reaching the bottom a lot of
water was allowed to escape which the car had evidently brought down as
ballast. I think the descending car helps to pull up the ascending one.
Eventually our turn came. It was rather awesome to look either
up or down, but the view was magnificent. We had glimpses of the fall at
different stages, as we travelled slowly upwards. On reaching the top we got
out to inspect the upper fall. It was a great height and came down with a
thundering roar. The water was dashed into spray on a jutting rock and fell in
funny sharp pointed clouds. We had to keep our umbrellas up for the spray. On
getting down, we found that we were too late to catch the train, and would
consequently be late for dinner, whereat, we all said things about our
conductor, who truth to tell is very easy-osy. Someone said that the station
master was going to try to delay the train a little on our account. A few of us
ran for it. We took a short cut through a field, but it was of no use. This
gave us an hour to spend in Meisingen.
We had a tour round the shops and inspected the knick-knacks.
One large shop had lovely carved photo frames and crucifixes. The carving of
the flowers was wonderful. On our return to the Station we had some fun on Aunt
Lals account. An old worthy sitting on the platform seemed attracted by the
lady and smiled, and did all he could to attract her attention. His efforts
were successful and she shook his paw, though she did not understand a word he
said. Like Oliver Twist he evidently wanted more, and every time Aunt Lal was
in the neighbourhood, he was grinning like an ape. I was telling Miss Gilbert
that she had better keep an eye on her sister. We were cheered after getting
into the train by seeing a decided improvement in the weather. The sun actually
began to shine and we had our first glance at the Jungfrau.
The sail along Lake Brienz was very enjoyable and we noticed on
calling at one of the little places a board with the legend Afternoon Tea
Home baked scones. At Interlaken we found that a walk awaited us,
as the last boat for Spiez had left, and we had to make our way to the Railway
Station. We did not object, as the evening was fine and it gave us an
opportunity of seeing the town. We were all delighted with it. It is very
bonny, and there are a great number of lovely shops. There is a fine promenade
with palms and other tropical plants growing in the plots. From the promenade,
we had a glorious view of the Jungfrau with its eternal snow, looking
beautifully pink in the evening sunshine. The best view of all however, we had
just as we were going into the Railway Station.
We travelled third class to Spiez and were fairly jolly on the
way, hard seats notwithstanding. We had a hurry to dress for dinner, which was
delayed till 8 oclock for our special benefit. Needless to say we enjoyed
our dinner, when at last, we got it. After dinner, we had a jovial minute or
two on the verandah. Aunt Lal and I started to parade up and down. T and a few
others joined us, and before long there was quite a procession of the party.
Afterwards we sat down in a ring and had a few conundrums. Mr Thomas gave
rather a good one. Why is a man about to be married like a gentleman
paying a call? 1. Because he goes to a door (adore). 2. He gives the
bell(e) a ring. 3. He gives the maid his name. 4. He is taken in. Nan gave a
few of her terrors which are funnier than clever. This little spasm over we all
departed to be-bo.
Wednesday July 22nd.
Up practically at 6 a.m. Ts tongue awakened us. Out of bed
at 7 for me. We had some trouble in brushing our clothes, which were in a
terrible state of mud. T was out in the verandah brushing, when the English
male trio went out for a walk. On their return they found me at the same
performance. This provoked them to laughter, so I promptly suggested that they
would be better employed in assisting, than in grinning. Hint not taken. We had
breakfast at 8. am, the day being dry but dull. Thankful for small mercies
We took boat to the other side of the Lake for Beatus
Höhle. We had a good long walk along the lake edge, sometimes being a good
height up with a sheer drop down. Everything suggested one of our own Highland
roads. This road is called Beatus Strasse and in places it is blasted out of
the solid rock forming tunnels. Beery and I were in the van and we stopped at a
large waterfall. This was where we had to turn up for the caves. We climbed up
a winding path amongst the trees, having a very good view of the fall all the
way. Entrance to the caves cost 1 franc. We passed through the turnstile and
gave up our umbrellas, lest we should be tempted to poke the old saints
bones I suppose. We first visited the shrine of St Beatus. In the cell, is a
wax figure with long white hair representing the saint reading the bible. There
is a fire burning in the fireplace and a pot hanging over it. There are nets,
what looked like a bed, and vessels of one kind and another. Outside was a mill
of a sort.
This is a rough sketch of it. I expect it would be used for
grinding grain and is not very large. We lifted the lid of a large wooden
arrangement, and down at the bottom on the ground, saw a collection of human
bones, said to be those of St Beatus, and on that account considered sacred
relics. We next entered the caves. The noise of the underground torrent was
like thunder. The caves are lit by electric light and must be at least half a
mile in length. Sometimes the water rushes alongside, sometimes underfoot, are
[sic] there are times when it quite disappears. At times the passage is very
narrow at others it widens out into grottos.
There are several of these grottos all of which have names, e.g.
The Captains, The Three Sisters, Middle Snake &c. All the funny little
places are lit up, sometimes with coloured lights. The rock formation is
particularly interesting. There are many stalactites and stalagmites, some of
them taking very peculiar shapes. In the Grotto called Walhalla, there is one
called the Shrine, and indeed it looks very like that. In another
place are the Sleeping Bears. These are so realistic that one lady suggested
that perhaps they were really bears petrified. Then there are a
crocodiles head, lizard, the stalactite wall &c. Another part is
called the Witches Kettle and is lit up with coloured light. The name seems
very suitable as the water gurgles and boils beneath ones feet.
We returned as we came, it having taken us a considerable time
to do this. We were told we had only 8 minutes to catch the boat. Not knowing
where the pier was, we asked a man who told us to go forward. Miss Barr and I
scorched, and were afterwards joined by A Miller, Miss Cassels and Miss Bryce.
On enquiring, we found that there would not be a boat at this pier till 3
oclock, so we had to scorch back as we came. We grudged to climb again
the hill from the pier. However we managed, and tore along the road at no
snails pace. We got up on the tail end of the party, before they reached
the pier. We were all pretty tired and hungry. We said a few things about Mr
Thomas allowing us to be late for meals again. Miss McNeil nearly fainted. Miss
Donaldson and T. departed to try to find a glass of water, and Mr Lister ran
and dipped his handkerchief in the Lake and brought it to Aunt Lal, who was
emergency nurse. T. and Miss Donaldson got the water after some little trouble.
We got our lunch when we arrived, late though we were.
The afternoon excursion to St Beatenberg was now off, as we were
so late, and the cars on the mountain railway hold so few. We went to Thun
instead. A few of the party went to St Beatenberg by themselves. I think
somehow the mist would spoil the view, but we have not yet heard how they got
on. We enjoyed our visit to Thun. We had a nice hours sail down the lake
to this quaint old town. The streets are very like those of Chester having
terraces in front of the shops, though they are not covered like those of the
English town. After a walk through the town, we paid the old church a visit. We
had to view it from the outside. The porch was rather interesting and evidently
very old. The roof is arched and has figures painted all over. They suggested
the Maid of Norway to me. From here we passed on to the promenade
round the Castle. As both Castle and Church are on a hill very fine views can
be obtained from them. The country to the westward is flatter than in the other
We wanted to get into the old castle, and spying an old wooden
staircase, we mounted to find three doors, but one and all were shut. We
retraced our steps and saw a direction to the Historical museum. We followed
the directions and found an entrance to the old Castle. (Charge for the party 2
frs). It suggested Dover Castle to me. There are two large halls one above the
other. The floors are made of whole trees, and look very very old. Both halls
are filled with curios of all kinds, furniture, china, armour, fire arms
&c. There were several old fashioned cupboards, some of them beautifully
carved. Some of the sideboards amused us. We were not quite certain whether
they might not be wash stands, as they had a peculiar tap and basin arrangement
for wine. The labels of course were all in German, so we were rather at a
disadvantage. We had a splendid view of the surrounding country, and the whole
town itself, from the windows.
We went back very much as we came. We thought that things were
much dearer here than in Interlaken. In one of the Squares, there is a nice
fountain. We got two little kiddies to stand and Miss Cassels took a photo.
Some of the folks went off and had tea, but Miss Barr, Miss Miller & I
trundled on to the pier. Poor Mrs Harvey was done up, & Mrs Smith took her
forcibly into a tea room and made her take tea. Her husband and daughter were
grateful, as they had been quite unable to persuade her to do so. The tea quite
revived her. The Selectositees were also visiting Thun, in all their war
paint of course, and, of course, gave us a wide berth. The
R element also were on their own peculiar travels.
We all met on the pier and travelled home in time to have the
usual scurry, before dinner. Mr Thomas was with us most of the time. He gave
lots of cheek and was paid back in kind. We all reached [the] dinner table
looking like peonies. A band was provided for the evening and we all went on to
the Balcony, to listen. The evening was very pleasant and the music ditto. We
did some writing the while, but most folk trundled off to bed being all very
tired after a hard days walking. T. and I paid a visit to Nan & Phys before
going to bed. As we were preparing for be-bo Aunty Phemie told us a little
tit-bit. When toiling up the path to Beatus Höhle this morning the
cheeky man stepped in front of her in his usual style. Said she:
For your cheek Ill just take hold of your coat tail, and she
suited action to the word, and held on like grim death, till they reached the
top. Good for Attie [sic] Phemie!!!
Thursday July 23rd.
We were up betimes this morning breakfast being at 7.45. The
morning was lovely so I donned a linen dress and departed downstairs to find
myself first in the dining room! We got into the wagons after breakfast, with
all our traps, and without much ado started on our way to Kandersteg. Ours was
the first machine. It held 24 counting the driver and had a covering overhead,
for which we were afterwards thankful. T and Nan sat beside the driver and
pestered him with bad French, mixed with worse German, and English. He was very
good natured over it. We had a suspicion that he perhaps understood more than
he admitted. The drive was lovely indeed. We circled round the
Diesen?, which looked grand in the morning sunshine. A railway is
being built to the top of the mountain and very steep it looks.
We drove right into a typical Swiss valley, with towering
mountains on either side. All at once the Blumbs alp, a beautiful snow-clad
peak came into view. The sight was so lovely that we could not help singing
I to the hills & I do not think that it was ever sung more
heartily or thoughtfully by those present. It kept us company for a very long
time. As we went further into the valley, the hills became more cliff like and
wild, but we never felt that we were far from the haunts of civilization. There
were always Châlets even in the most inaccessible places, and very often
there were bonny brown children running about, who waved to us as we passed.
The Swiss children round about here are very polite, and always say in passing
Gruss, which means greeting.
There are many fruit trees growing along the roadside. Sometimes
the covering of the brake caught in the trees and knocked off some of the
cherries. We had quite a hot few minutes, in which the Eves were trying to
point out to an Adam, the sin of pulling the fruit off the trees. Adam
maintained that the fruit was wild, and therefore to be plucked by all and
sundry, but the Eves were better informed and tried to enlighten the youth by
stating that the contrary was the fact. Adam was cussed and would
not give in. Our driver however would not touch fruit that had been pulled from
the trees, and told us that it belonged to the proprietor of the land. We heard
that one of the Poly party had nearly been imprisoned, for taking what he
thought to be wild fruit.
When we reached Fruitegen? We had travelled half way. This was
a much bigger village than we expected it to be. It can boast of a considerable
number of fine Hotels and Pensions. We drove through the main street and had to
go down a very steep hill, with a turn midway. The breaks were put on very
firmly, and the screeching against the rough stones of the street was
ear-splitting. We survived it however, and were soothed by a drive through a
nice avenue of trees. The avenue was short but was the first of the kind that I
have seen in Switzerland. I think the trees were chestnut trees, but am not
quite certain. They were certainly tall and different from the usual spruce and
Some distance from Frutigen is the Blue Lake. When we reached
the entrance to this wonderful place we dismounted and were allowed an hour in
which to inspect it. We paid 1 fr. each for our tickets and followed a little
path through a pine wood. This led us to the famous Blausee. The colour of the
lake was astonishing in its beauty. It looked like a jewel in a lovely setting.
The hills behind tower to a great height and the lake is surrounded with
beautiful woods. The reflections in the water beggar description. We had a sail
round it so that we might see the petrified trees of which there are a great
number. The depth is very great, but so beautifully clear is the water, that
the bottom can be seen without difficulty. While we were here, we heard a
tremendous noise, rumbling like thunder amongst the mountains. We were told
that the sound was that of a falling avalanche. The snap-shotters
all have one photo at least of the Blausee.
We had a walk round the lake and a few blaeberries
in the by gaun before writing our names in the visitors book
and taking our departure. We were all sitting in state when T appeared with
Miss Abbott. The latter had not been well and was very much done up. We had
another long drive, the way gradually becoming steeper and steeper. At one
part, the road winds up the hill forming a series of loops. Here the young and
spry had to get out and walk, and they were very willing for the poor horses
sake. We took short cuts and got to the top of the hill before the machines.
The view of the road from the top of the hill was very interesting and not a
trifle curious. It looked like a great white snake lying between huge cliff
At length we reached Kandersteg. We passed two black gentlemen
with tile hats. We thought we had stumbled upon nigger minstrels, but on closer
acquaintance, we found that they carried brushes, and were neither more nor
less than sweeps. They rather took our fancy, the more so as they waved their
brushes to us as we passed. On the right we saw a house in the process of
erection. At the angle of the gable a young fir tree was fixed, and two bottles
were dangling by gay coloured ribbons. Was this the baptism?
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