1. Journey To Blofeld's Hideaway

    By Charles Helfenstein on 2005-03-30

    written by Charles Helfenstein

    – for all pictures click thumbnails to enlarge –

    Blofeld’s laboratory at the top of the Swiss Alps is on every Bond fan’s “I hope to visit there someday” list. While others head for sun & sand during spring break – CBn members Doublenoughtspy and Stromberg decided to head for icy peak of Piz Gloria.

    Helfenstein Castle

    After a short visit in Trier with Tim007 (see this
    , we headed back to Saarlouis where we were joined by CBn member Lotus Esprit. StechelbergThe next morning we made good use of Autobahn and headed towards Geislingen Germany, the location of my own Piz Gloria – Helfenstein Castle. The villagers did not greet me with waving torches thank goodness and we had a great visit. Afterwards we drove another 5 hours to Stechleberg Switzerland, the small village that is the base of the Schilthornbahn cableway that eventually leads to Piz Gloria. This is where Irma Bunt says goodbye to the girls on Christmas Eve.

    Cable View

    The next morning we got the early cable car to Gimmelwald, then Gimmelwald to Murren, Murren to Birg, and finally Birg to Piz Gloria. The 4 cable car rides
    are relatively quick, and the views are incredible. Stromberg and I were the only tourists on the cable cars – everyone else was in their ski and snowboarding attire along with their gear. We stuck out like a white guy in Harlem.

    Piz Gloria

    The terracePiz Gloria is more spectacular than words or pictures, or even a short movie can describe. The terrace was a wonderful way to see the Swiss Alps, and one of the birds that harassed Campbell posed for Stromberg. Our meal was delicious, but unfortunately they no longer serve Steak Piz Gloria. The Shish Kabob Piz Gloria (beef, pork, & veal) was a great substitute.

    During the meal, I called CBn member TheSaint. Stromberg and I wanted to call Zencat & Athena – but unfortunately the time difference would have meant waking them up at 3am. We decided to let them sleep.

    The Panorama TheatreAfter our meal we headed for the panorama theatre, which is under the terrace. At the press of a button – shades lower across all the windows and 10 minutes of OHMSS ski, bobsled, and avalanche footage are shown. After the show the shades rise and you can see the Alps again. Stromberg had to practically drag me away – I just kept pressing the button to see the film again.

    Various features from OHMSS still exist throughout the structure – such as the gold rings (my head wouldn’t fit), some decorations, and of course Blofeld’s Coat of Arms.

    OHMSS muralBond photographs and logos are everywhere -especially in the gift shop. (Bond, Tracy, Blofeld). There is also a picnic area with a nice OHMSSmural. After making our purchases we saw an internet terminal in the gift shop – and we were excited to post to CBn from Piz Gloria. Unfortunately Blofeld’s bully boys had somehow sabotaged the terminal – and so we had to wait to post from a miniature cable car terminal in Mürren.

    Cable ViewCable View

    After one more visit to the terrace, we got on the cable car back down to Birg. There is a restaurant there as well, and we took some more photographs of Piz Gloria. “There’s a sports club up there – I’ve seen it advertised.”.

    We then took the cable car down to Mürren – where the cast and crew stayed during the filming of OHMSS. Cable ViewThe Palace Hotel was a real treat – great views, and wonderful food and service. I can see why Peter Hunt chose to stay there.

    Cable View

    The next morning we left Mürren for Stechleberg again, picked up the car – and headed to an area half way between Stechleberg and Lauterbrunnen. Here they filmed the ice race. As we left – Stromberg said “We didn’t even stop for the prize.”

    Next stop was Lauterbrunnen – for 3 Bond locations – Bond in the phone booth, Sir Hillary Arrives at the train station, and Campbell follows Bunt & Bond.

    Cable View

    Then we made a quick stop in Grindlewald – where they filmed the Christmas celebration and ice skating scenes. It’s now a parking lot.

    Cable View

    Next we made a detour to Meiringen, famous for the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes falls to his death fighting Moriarity.

    Then we headed for Bern, the capital of Switerland, and multiple OHMSS locations – the bearpits & bridge where Bond, Tracy & Draco come into town, and the Schweitzerhof Hotel – which housed Gumbold’s office. We parked and ate at the train station that was being constructed during the filming.

    We explored Bern for a bit, found a hotel, had some dinner, and watched ‘The World is Not Enough’ on German TV. The actor who dubs John Cleese was the only one who sounded remotely like the person he was dubbing.

    The next morning Stromberg dropped me off at Zurich Airport ("proceed to Zurich and land!") and he headed back to Germany. On the 9 hour flight back home I reflected back on a spectacular trip and the kind of friendships CBn makes possible.