17 Days in Europe – Day 11 Switzerland

By 21st August 2017Europe17

So it’s leaving day and arrival day again.  That part of the trip when you say goodbye to one place and hello to another.  It’s always a bit trashy, but I get excited about the whole thing.  Here are some tips we’ve picked up for travelling from one place to another –

  1.  How far can you travel?
    Well that’s very much up to you, how tolerant your kids are, how long your overall trip is and how adventurous you want to be.  A shorter journey will allow you to still do stuff on ‘travel day’ – great if you are only away for a short time, or really trying to pack lots of things in.  Travel for longer and you can cover more of Europe, perhaps taking in a wider degree of cultures and environments.  We generally work on a Google Travel time of 6 hours.  Obviously you need to add in stops and traffic, so leaving at 10am gets you to your destination for about tea time.  Anything shorter than that is a bonus.
  2. How can you work out where you can travel?
    Most of the time I just play around with Google maps.  Don’t forget that main roads are much quicker than country roads (how obvious does that sound!!).  But what that means is you can often travel further away that you think if you pick places that are not too far from a motorway.  For example, we are currently looking at going to Austria having just visited France.  Really, we can only aim for Western Austria, but depending on which town we want to visit in the mountains, we could almost reach Salzburg – much further over in Austria in the same driving time.  Another good resource is this website – How Far Can I Travel .  It is not foolproof, but stick in a starting point, average driving speed and a length of time and it will plot out a boundary in all directions for you giving you some ideas.  More info on planning a trip is on this page.
  3. How is it best to ‘do’ a travel day?
    We’ve learned not to rush.  At any point.  From packing bags in the morning, speeding along the motorway, toilet stops, right through to unpacking at the other end.  Just accept that your going to do nothing other that travel that day.  If you need to be at some event that night, you are going to get stressed, snappy and not enjoy the whole experience.  Conversation in the car is also really good.  We talk about the things we enjoyed at the last place, would we go again, could you repeat some of those experiences and then move onto what we want to in the new place.  For me, it helps to close off one part of the holiday and pick up on the next.

Anyhoo, back to this trip.  Today we were setting off from Chamonix and travelling about 3.5 hours to Grindelwald in Switzerland.  A nice easy trip.  And it was an absolutely beautiful day.

Breakfast on the balcony in the sun.

And then our last view of Mont Blanc surrounded in some unusual clouds.  A prize for the first comment that names them.

From here it was onwards and upwards, literally.  The road winds up and through the mountains taking us through some beautiful scenery and small towns / villages.  Everywhere has that Alpine feel to it, wooden huts, farms, lush greenery and high mountains.  You catch glimpses of even higher mountains in the background, rising up and then disappearing like waves in the sea.

We cross the border into Switzerland, pass by Martigny and then north to Montreaux on the shore of Lac Leman.  We pull over a few times for the views, spectacular.

Soon it becomes more industrialised as we get onto the main motorway network, doing a u-turn at Bern and then travelling south towards our destination.  As the crow flies, places are quite close to one another, there is just the small issue of getting over, or through the mountains.  Hence driving around them most of the time.

The weather had changed now and the clouds were rolling in.  Most of the distant mountain peaks were covered.  But the forecast for the week was very good.  The major risk with any type of mountain holiday is the weather.  Even if it doesn’t rain, low clouds can take the edge of everything.  We know people who have spent a week here and never see the top of the mountains.  Shame.

Tension and excitement start to build now.  For many of us in the car, this was THE holiday.  The bit that we had visualised, waited for and talked about the most.  Possibly, it’s the most beautiful place in the world that I have ever visited.  And one cable car station restaurant boasts “the most beautiful view in the world” which I can’t argue with.

We turn off the motorway and head towards Interlaken.  As the name suggests, this is a town between two lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.  Both glacial and unusual blue/green colours.  From Interlaken you take a small road that goes directly into the Alps.  “Are you ready for this” I announce as we turn off.

From that moment on, you are surrounded by giants.  You can’t see the tops you are so close and they are so big.  A river rushes between the valley and the road slowly winds through the towns and farms.  We reach a fork in the road – if we turn right we will end up in the Lauterbrunnen Valley – more on that in a future blog.  We turn left and head towards Grindelwald at the foot of the Eiger.

Cameras at the ready, the car falls silent.  The windows are down as we breathe in the Swiss mountain air, and try to capture the smell of Switzerland.  A few hair pin bends later and the Eiger is in full view.  Well, apart from the cloud.

It’s massive, almost 4,000 meters.  Although its 800 meters shorter than Mont Blanc, it has a reputation for being one of the hardest mountains in the world to climb.  The North Face is ruthless.

Having made great time on the road we arrive at our accommodation early, but are allowed in.  This gives us the opportunity to unpack, have a coffee and then spend some time in the town – bonus!

We are all a bit hyper pick out a place for a drink and a chill.

Marcus blows off some energy in the park.

And some time for us to take in the view.

Just behind where that picture was taken there was a Fuseball table that we killed about 30 minutes on.  I got demolished on it.  And by Marcus too!

Then, a short walk to the supermarket to fill up on some stocks for the first few nights, back to the apartment.  It’s amazing how quickly you can knock out a meal when you are hungry.  We even finished off with an Affogato – espresso coffee poured over ice cream. Delicious.  Make one right now.

As the sun went down, the clouds started to clear and we were treated to a very nice sunset.

And then to bed.

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