The Busriders join with Dr. Kataria and the new Laughter Yoga Teachers for the 7:00 a.m. session of Breathing and Solo-Laughing Exercises, augmenting the refreshing feelings. Everyone meets together in the villa for a hearty breakfast, punctuated often by robust laughter. The Geneva/OC sisters (Sarah and Elisabeth) bid a sorrowful farewell – they have to take their train back for classes the next morning. We do some Busgroup photos with Dr. K and other new friends before the morning training begins (we anticipate departing before they break for lunch). There’s a hint of rain – perhaps two minutes’ worth – but this is not enough to deter us, lightly laden with umbrellas from the villa, from our planned morning adventure. The Laughter Club Bus group (now seven in number) takes the pleasant five-minute walk over to the ruins of the ancient Unspunnen Castle/Fortress, where we clamber about the decayed stonework and set up many dramatic and fun photos.
Returning to the villa, the Teachers are on tea break so we get a chance for some more playful interaction, laughing together - and another batch of “farewell” photos. By chance, a group of men is doing an Alpine Horn rehearsal next door; several of the Busriders stroll over and gaze, transfixed, at the “foreign” sight and sounds. Anne and I check out the villa’s Meditation Room and are delighted to see that it is large enough to hold 20 to 35 people – enough for a smaller-sized workshop at some future date. The tea break ends and we get serious about getting our bags over to the bus. Next destination: GrandHotel Giessbach in the nearby village of Brienz (about 20 minutes’ drive away).
Soon we discover the handicap this huge bus represents. Once we are off the main roadway, the bus is too large for some of the smaller streets. Guided only by the destination address and his talking Navigation system, Driver David takes us up winding roads which get ever-smaller; he is getting more and more anxious that he won’t find a place where he can turn around, and the idea of maneuvering our huge bus-beast downhill, backwards and in reverse gear, is not a pretty prospect. We get to a turn-off for the parking for the hotel (and waterfall), but David won’t take it – there may be no way to get out. The riders get out and walk about 300 yards to a parking lot, but this lot appears too small. Fortunately, a hotel representative (with a small van) drives up, and just as Driver David arrives to check out the scene, this hotel driver advises (in German!) that we can manage it. He moves some markers, instructs a few folks to relocate their private cars, and in a few minutes a Parking Space for our gigantic transport has been arranged.
The whole gang walks by the majestic waterfall and then down winding paths to the magnificent, restored fairy-tale castle. We go inside to a salon where I am allowed to play some Chopin (and Briar) on their grand piano, but for our snack break we opt to go outside since the weather is so nice. The sun drifts in and out between the clouds as we sit between the tumbling waterfall, snow-lidded mountaintops above sprawling tall trees, and a majestic lake. We sample from the menu: the tomato soup is extraordinary, the pastries delightful. Life is good.
After this snack/lunch, we hike back up to the bus. A few of the more daring walk underneath the waterfall – there is a little bridge and if you are careful you can manage to barely get wet. In the parking lot, the bus is turned around (blessed relief!) and ready to manipulate the descent facing forward. Our arrival at the main highway is met with applause.
We now travel through the Alps, the bus gliding smoothly as the stunning views of mountains, glaciers and lakes pass by. Many of us nap from time to time, to be occasionally awakened when someone “Ooos and Ahhs” at the imposing vista when we turn a corner around a gorge or mountain pass. At a rest stop we see a sizable group of bikers (motorcycle riders) in black leather jackets. Half of these boast of a Swiss bikers’ organization; the other half, the familiar Harley Davidson. We stop in Vaduz, Lichtenstein for a few minutes (postcards, anyone?) and are astonished to see prices even higher than they had been in Switzerland! With wallets barely opened, we continue on – past one of the few Border Control Stations we saw that was still operating. They didn’t stop us – as they were more likely to be wanting to stop people smuggling things from (relatively cheap) Austria to (pricey) Switzerland.
Well before sunset we cross the border into Austria and arrive at the Hotel Lowen in the city of Feldkirch. The streets are sufficiently wide-bus-friendly that we can park without incident. We dine al fresco (in the open air), serenaded by the local church bells as the sun sets and the dark of the evening arrives.