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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

August 15, 2009


I was up early and stopped at McDonald’s for a big breakfast and a coffee – senior, please. I have been having things done in the kitchen so I have no way of making breakfast these days. I don’t even know where stuff is to make breakfast. Mark would have loved breakfast at McDonalds. We both like breakfast and when we are traveling I think it is our favorite meal. My mind went back to one our favorite breakfasts. We were traveling in Europe. It was June 20, 1996. I will quote from my journal. Mark and Kay used to tease me unmercifully about my journals. This is from EUROPE 1996 – Book 1:

Day 31. Interlaken to Schilthorn and back. The weather was beautiful, sunny, cloudy, windy, rainy, snowy and hailing ?
We got up early and left for the rail station to catch the 7:26 train to begin our trip to the Schilthorn. Our connections worked just right: train to Interlaken Ost (east), change trains to Lauterbrunnen where we , changed to a bus to Stechelberg, where we took a cable car to Gimmelvald, where we took a cable car to Murren, where we took a cable car to Birg, where we took a cable car to the Schilthorn restaurant, panorama, etc. I was not terribly comfortable on the cable cars although the little boys with the bikes and others seem to be right at home and enjoyed it.

It was truly a spectacular trip. There were some clouds and a little rain but it cleared up quickly. We arrived at the top about 9 AM and went to the revolving restaurant and ordered breakfast (without the champagne) and we thought it was expensive – 11.50 SF (Swiss Francs) but what the heck! When it came we were delighted – we had five different kinds of bread, cheese, two different kinds of cheese spreads, about eight or ten large containers of jelly, eight or ten containers of butter plus a big pitcher of hot milk. Mark had at least three cups of hot chocolate plus I had café au lait. The breakfast was so generous that we ate off of it for a couple of days. Plus the restaurant revolved and we watched all the mountains as we ate. There was a map on the table so we could identify the mountains as we turned. It was great. We sat until about 11 or so and then we went out and looked at the mountains from the terrace, watched a nature film and a film about 007.

We met a couple of Rick Steves devotees in the gift shop. They were staying at “Walter’s” in Gimmelvald and said it was very steep with stairs. They too have bags on wheels, something Rick Steves doesn’t recommend. It was fun to get a first hand account. They were walking down from Birg and had purchased ear muffs and/or hand warmers.

We left about noon and as we were waiting for the cable car, it started snowing and then hailing. It was about 50 degrees or so – probably colder. We were glad for sweaters. We started down, changed cable cars at Birg and then went to Murren. We decided to walk from Murren to Grutschalp. First we walked part way to Grimmelvald and then went to Grutschalp. It was a lovely, easy walk of a little over an hour except we kept stopping to look at the flowers and the cows and so forth. When we got to Wintergreg (sic – the journal got wet and I can’t read this name) it started raining a little so we opened the umbrella and carried on. It was so lovely with little valleys spread out, little buildings high on the Alpine pastures and the flowers were just lovely. We heard this chorus of cow bells and saw lots of cows grazing and tinkling away. We wondered if the sound of the bells drove the cows nuts.

We walked to Grutschalp. Mark’s arm was pretty soaked by then and we really wanted to find a rest room but as we walked up , the conductor or driver of the funicular was there and urged us onto the car. We had another spectacular ride. It felt as though we were going straight down the side of the mountain. In Lauterbrennan we caught the Interlaken Ost train and walked back to our Pension, stopping and window shopping on the way. We went to the co-op and bought a jar of coffee, cookies and strawberries. For supper, we had cheese and lovely bread (from Piz Gloria – the mountain top restaurant), strawberries and cookies, together with coffee for supper. We walked over ten miles today.

What a lovely day! What a great memory!

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