This morning my sisters, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew left for the airport, starting their long journey home. My husband and I met my parents just after 9 am, having packed our things. Leaving the luggage with the concierge we tread back to the Latin Quarter to locate some breakfast, which we fortunately found: bacon, eggs, and the usual coffee, juice, bread and preserves.
My mom, husband and I wandered around the quarter while my dad returned to the hotel. The three of us shopped a bit, and did some sightseeing during our walk back to the hotel. A demonstration of some sort was in play in front of Hotel de Ville; we could not quite hear the purpose, but we praised the French for being involved and committed – unlike Americans, who are much more interested in watching television.
We returned to the hotel just in time to meet the cab taking us to the Paris Est train station. It was a very short cab ride; we could have walked if we were slightly more familiar with the neighborhood. The train station is half old, half new; the new portion offers a combination of swank and sweaty shopping (posh upstairs, greasy downstairs). We discovered McClean, which is a bathroom system offering toilets and showers by the euro (or rather, several euros); there were no gratis facilities. But the McClean was amongst the cleanest of the facilities we visited in Paris, so I was glad to hand over the 2€ (yes, that was not a typo. Deux euros.) to freshen up. All the while we waited, French policeman patrolled in threes, carrying automatic weapons and looking dead serious.
Our train eventually arrived, and after a time we were cordially allowed to board, and it disembarked for Basel approximately 20 minutes later than scheduled. We arrived in Basel only to change trains; of course, we had missed our connection and waited for some time at the station, but this did give us some time for a brief dinner at the station, along with an excellent capuccino.
The train arrived; we travelled from Basel to Interlaken Ost, and from there caught the last train into Lauterbrunnen, a tiny 2-car contraption. I think I missed a transfer in there somewhere – at any rate, we were on several trains in Switzerland, all of which were precisely on time.
We finally arrived in Lauterbrunnen at 10:20 pm, and eventually found the street exit as a steady rain began. My mom called the hotel and received instructions, and we walked the short four blocks from the station to the hotel in the rain – uphill! There are no cabs in this town.
This hotel, however, is much more comfortable than our cute but tiny Paris lodgings. The night concierge, a Swiss-Canadian named Doris, met us with smiles and gracious concern for our long day. We collected our room keys and took a quiet and quick lift to our 3rd floor room.
The room itself is a pretty combination of rustic and contemporary. The door, and the inside cupboards, are secured with skeleton key locks – very old-fashioned looking. A respectable and spotless bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a small anteroom, the perfect place for wet shoes and damp luggage.
The bed is on a platform, which 2 thin but comfortable twin-bed mattresses and topped with one comforter apiece. Two sets of casement windows are opposite the bed. The bedstands are wall-mounted. The pristine wood panelled walls are bare of artwork. The berber is clean and comfortable underfoot.
Everything about the looks of the room tells me this is a clean, comfortable and efficient place. The stairs are wide and though the lift is small it is swift. Much faster and less worrisome, in fact, than the hesitant, noisy, tiny and dank lift at Hotel de Nice.
The night is quiet here. There is no television in the room. My husband is winding down this day listening to my iPod, and I am rushing to record the impressions of the day while they are fresh in my mind.