Sunday, July 8, 2007



SWISS ROLL DAY 12
28-06-07
Thursday

Drove away from Interlaken today along a bank of Lake Brienz to the small town of the same name. First stop was a long-standing woodcarving workshop in the town. We had an impressive guided tour and were shown everything from valuable masterpieces (photo) to little knick-knacks.

The major stop was at the folk park of Ballenberg (photo) where full size (actual) Swiss buildings from different styles and eras are situated (having been moved from their original locations).

It covers some fifty acres and includes animals and plants (some varieties a blast from the past). We even met a young man who had come with his mother to see the family home that had been donated to this vast outdoor museum.

Following lunch in Ballenberg and some time watching a dozen or so hang-gliders performing over the high hills nearby, we head for Engelberg (the mountain of the angels) but first a stop above the picturesque lake of Lugern for some photos. We continue through “William Tell” country, passing through Lucerne and then up the valley to Engelberg.

Check into the Ramada Hotel. After a short break, we are bussed to the local Benedictine church, a Baroque Rococo building that contains one of Europe’s largest pipe organs (which is being tuned in, somewhat noisily as you’d expect, during our visit).

Now we take horse drawn carriages (photo) through the quiet outskirts of the town. It had been billed as a wine tasting but turns out to be a slow paced drive to an outlying bar-restaurant where we all have a drink before retuning to the town and a visit to the Benedictine monastery where we are given a guided tour.

First though, calls of nature must be answered (after the beer and wine). The gents are directed to a facility which has St Barbara over the door but the ladies restroom hasn’t been assigned a saint and is marked simply WC.

The local guide explains the monastery was inadvertently burned down by students in the early 1730s and rebuilt in the following years.

The handicrafts of the monks are on show. One is an accomplished painter but the star is a craftsman called Columban whose specialty was woodworking.

An inlaid chessboard was one of his gems but he is best remembered for marquetry and one full room, all four walls decorated by him, gives ample evidence of his skills.

No dinner included this evening. The town is very quiet by comparison with Interlaken and most eating-places are closed – it probably comes alive in winter. SM recommends a Pizzeria (Bierlialp) near to the hotel and, for 78.50 SFR, we enjoy two pizzas (Hawaii and Quarto Stagio), a 50cl bottle of red Dole and desserts.