“The dangers of Alpine travel may be divided into two classes, the real and the imaginary, and in the retrospect it was found that ours all belonged to the latter.”
Miss Jemima’s Journal 1863
When Miss Jemima Morrell embarked on Thomas Cook’s inaugural visit to Switzerland and undertook to keep a diary of her adventures, she could hardly have imagined that 150 years later that diary would provide the itinerary and background narrative for Switzerland Tourism’s Anniversary celebrations.
Along with extracts from the journal of what Miss Jemima saw in 1863, this is what she would see today.
“That short stroll gave us a more faithful impression than did the one in the blazing sun next morning, of the war-like position and feudal character of the old border capital. Its elevated castle and old Convent with Church each crown the summit of a rocky slope.”
“Some good specimens of bold ironwork were visible in gratings, and sprays stretching from the house fronts or decorating a building or balcony.”
“Turning through an aperture of a verdant mountain wall, we reach Leukerbad, the summer town of baths and chalet-hotels, screened by the vast amphitheatre of the Gemmi that casts a shadow of 3,000 feet upon its green slopes.”
“Further to relieve the monotony of such an existence the ladies and gentlemen bathe in common and may be seen sitting around the bath, engaged in the various pursuits compatible with their adopted element.”
“This lake of dark water is only fed by melted snow and is walled round by ‘sere and naked limestone rocks that seem too barren for even the hardiest lichens”.
“It was a positive relief to see the solitary inn of the Schwarenbach in the distance and to see some signs of human habitation. At this little inn we halted and partook of a noonday tea”.
“Those two glaciers at Grindelwald, known as the upper and the lower, are extraordinary creations as they come streaming down between the perpendicular Wetterhorn and Mettenberg.”
The glaciers have long since retreated from Grindelwald’s door, but the north face of the Eiger continues to loom over the little town.
“…a stalwart member of the other Alpine Club passed us, in climbing costume, en route for the Jungfrau. He was attended by two guides bearing provisions, faggots, rugs and appliances for a night on the snow.”
Miss Jemima did not make the climb to Junhfraujoch, neither did we, choosing instead to ride the Jungfrau cogwheel train on an epic journey to the land of eternal ice.
“The Giessbach is one of the prettiest of falls, about 500 feet in height. There is nothing wild about it; indeed, with its immediate surroundings of green turfy knolls and dark woods, it had the effect of a park scene.”
“We had but four hours in Lucerne, and in those four hours a respectable dinner had to be taken in a respectable manner, the Cathedral to be done, the gabled frescoes of the Bridges to be examined, the feudal wall and its four watch towers to be inspected.”
“There cannot be a more beautiful picture of fidelity and resignation amid heroic suffering than this. The colossal lion is represented as stricken and dying, and grasping with its paw, as if by instinct, the lily of the Bourbons.”
Today, many aspects of Miss Jemima’s remarkable journey have changed beyond recognition, like the poverty she encountered amongst the Alpine villages, but the beauty and drama of summer in the Swiss Alps is as awe inspiring today as it was in 1863.
Until 2nd October, Inntravel are offering a Swiss Alps travel package based on Miss Jemima’s itinerary: prices from £1,740 pp including 12 nights’ B&B, 9 dinners and travel within Switzerland. For further information on Switzerland and rail travel, visit Switzerland Tourism and for flights to Switzerland visit swiss.com.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+