FolkestoneJack's Tracks

A small corner of England (in Meiringen)

Posted in Meiringen, Switzerland by folkestonejack on October 11, 2007

At the end of a day effectively spent wandering around the perimeter of an airfield I took myself back to civilisation by train and visited the small Sherlock Holmes museum located in Meiringen’s English church. It’s rather strange to wander inside and find yourself transported to a victorian room from 221b Baker Street – and then even odder when you step back outside into Switzerland!

Arthur Conan Doyle stayed in Meiringen in the 1890s and chose the nearby Reichenbach Falls as the place that Professor Moriarty would meet his demise. I didn’t manage to make it there but from the dramatic scenery all around I can see why it would capture the imagination of the writer. Apart from the museum there is a statue of Sherlock Holmes and a ‘Conan Doyle Place’ (with a cute ‘Borough of Meiringen’ sign!).

Meiringen’s other claim to fame is that of the place that meringues were invented and today you can find a few shop’s selling endless varieties of meringues, which I didn’t entirely resist!

At the end of the day I packed up and got some sleep ahead of a morning train to Zurich and a flight back to London City.

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Gallery: Meiringen-Unterbach

Posted in Meiringen, Switzerland by folkestonejack on October 11, 2007

I have never really mastered the art of aviation photography but I had some good fun getting a feel for the place and taking a few shots to remember the experience by. Maybe someday I’ll come back and give it another go with a better camera!

There are some great guides to photography at Meiringen – check out the Target Aviation – Photography website and The Scramble Guide to Meiringen.

Meiringen-Unterbach

Posted in Meiringen, Switzerland by folkestonejack on October 11, 2007

The sunrise delivered a gorgeous view of a nearby mountain top highlighted with a pinkish tinge which I took as a good omen for the day ahead. I briefly considered the possibility of going up to Axalp again in the hope of getting a full show but decided that I would stick to my original plan and watch the activity around Meiringen-Unterbach airbase (not least because I didn’t like my chances of hobbling all the way up to the top!).

The walk from Meiringen to the airbase took about an hour along a rural road without any footpath – not great but certainly not the worst that I’ve ever trudged along. In retrospect it would probably have been easier to catch a train to Brienzwiler and walk from there as it only takes 15 minutes to get from the station to the end of the runway at Meiringen-Unterbach. Nevertheless, it was worth the walk.

Meiringen-Unterbach struck me as an unusual place – an airbase tucked in a narrow valley with any number of photographic possibilities to combine military hardware against the incredible alpine backdrop. The rural surroundings make this all the more remarkable – cows munch grass happily, ignoring jets taking off a few metres away!

Unterbachstrasse

I got my first sight of the runway when I turned off Hauptstrasse into Unterbachstrasse. In fact, Unterbachstrasse not only give you a good view of the runway – it crosses it! A level-crossing type arrangement is in place to stop you inadvertently straying into the path of a landing fighter jet, but when clear you can just follow the marked pedestrian crossing towards Unterbach. In the distance a waterfall completes the incredible picture.

I reached the gates to find them already down and it wasn’t long before a Northrop F-5E Tiger II crossed in front of us, heading to the end of the runway for take-off. It was great to spend a little time here watching all the activity. A short while later we were treated to a formation flypast by 8 jets and this was followed by the wonderful sight of the jets coming in to land one by one. Once this burst of activity was over I crossed the runway and experienced the view from a different angle (grabbing some shots as military personnel began their ascent to the Axalphorn by helicopter).

Mind the traffic!

In a quiet spell I took lunch at the Hotel Rossli, though my language skills let me down and I would struggle to claim that the green salad that resulted was the tastiest dish I had ever tried! Still, it kept hunger at bay…

In the afternoon, I watched the jets taxi from their caverns and take off for the display at Axalp. An incredible sight to see so close up though the sound as they took off was perhaps just a little extreme by any reckoning. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything though!