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Posts Tagged ‘switzerland’

When we asked the woman at the hotel in Rothrist how far away Zurich was she looked at us funny and said we shouldn’t bother with Zurich at all, but that we should head to Lausanne. Turns out she was right! What a lovely place!

Apparently Lausanne is the Olympic Capital of the World. I would say that this fact surprised me, but considering I had never even heard of Lausanne until the day before we got there, really anything you could have said about it would have surprised me.

Again, it was a beautiful day! Lovely blue sky and lovely white, fluffy clouds! We really lucked out on this trip, I’ll tell you! We were a bit nervous about driving in the city so we parked near the outskirts and, because of this, spent about an hour of our afternoon wandering around, hopelessly lost. This is why it pays to 1) Have a MAP of the city you are visiting, and 2) Have a map with street names. This may seem quite obvious to some of you, but we like to play it by ear.

Anyway… Lausanne was beautiful. We spent most of our time just walking around, taking it all in. The only part of the city we were really set on seeing was the cathedral – apparently the most well reconstructed cathedral in Switzerland! – so we focused on getting there. Once we did, it was very worth it.

Once there we were afforded an amazing view of the city right down to the water of the lake. The city is built on quite a steep hill and the cathedral is very high up, so the views are unbeatable. It was a Monday so, unfortunately, the cathedral was not open for visitors. Apparently all museums in Switzerland are closed on a Monday. Who knew?

If you would like to see the rest of the pictures from our Lausanne album, you can find them HERE.

From Lausanne we drove to Geneva which was where we spent the evening. Actually we stayed in France, just over the border from Geneva. And, actually, there are two towns quite near each other in France with the same name and we drove to the wrong one. 35 miles out of the way. This never would have happened if we had relied on real, paper maps instead of satellite navigation, but that’s technology for you!

Geneva was wonderful. I really wish we’d have known we were going to like it so much because we could have spent more time there. As it was, we arrived around 6pm and parked somewhere that closed at 8.30pm. Which, admittedly, we did not know until we were walking out of the car park! So we didn’t even stay there for dinner. We basically just walked around for two hours and then went back to the car.

We walked along the waterfront a little, while the sun was setting. Gorgeous:

Have I mentioned before how clear and clean the water was? Because it blew my mind.

While walking we came across a pedestrian area which was paved with square cobblestones. Some of them were illuminated and printed with greetings in various languages. I can’t really describe it properly, but it was so original, and SO awesome!


Illuminated paving stones:

Doesn’t it look cool??

I know we didn’t really spend much time there, but I do have to say, if you are going to Switzerland then I would go to Geneva and I would enjoy it! I really do hope we get to go back some day because I would like to see the city in the daylight. As it was, we had to content ourselves with the dusk.

Still, it gave me a great chance to take this picture:

If you would like to see the rest of our Geneva pictures, you can find them HERE.

xo
A

Day 5 – The Alps, Rothrist & Zurich
Day 4 – St. Moritz
Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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Sorry for the hiatus, folks, but I’ll try to tie up this Europe trip blogging ASAP.

On the fifth day of our journey we checked out of our hotel Italy and drove over the Alps to Switzerland. We had planned to take the Furka Pass over the mountains which, if you are a fan of James Bond, you would recognize from the film Goldfinger. We left quite early in the morning, but not before we’d stopped in at the café down the street for a cappuccino. There is also a glacier cave there which you can walk into, which I was very much looking forward to.

We were worried about driving over the border because in Switzerland you require a paid pass to travel on the motorways and this is not something we had. The pass cost about £40 (for two days worth of driving on the highways, seems to me that Switzerland has the right idea here, people!).  It turns out that we had nothing to worry about – if you were without a pass then as soon as you went through passport control you were waved into a separate queue where you could purchase them before continuing.  Lucky for us!

The drive through the countryside was beautiful, and you could see yourself getting higher and higher by the amount of snow on the ground. The weather was pretty cloudy, but the views were still wonderful.

Beautiful village in the valley.

Unfortunately the Furka Pass was still closed because of snow.  We were very sad about this because, while we hadn’t planned much before we left the UK, we had really been looking forward to this drive and seeing the glacier.  This also meant another hour or so of, comparably dull, highway driving.  We ended up taking a detour to another pass – according to the board at the side of the highway it was the only one that was still open.

It was not.

Snow, and, in the background, the red & white barricade across the tunnel entrance.

We stopped at a turn-around at the top of the mountain and had our lunch overlooking the valley.  The views were spectacular, you could see right down into the village and, across the valley, a frozen waterfall standing out a stark blue against the black/brown rocks.  It was quite surreal, but wonderful. We were parked there for a long time just enjoying the views and listening to Idlewild’s The Remote Part (which seemed extremely fitting).

The road, up to the pass and back down again, was very narrow, as usual, and the edge of the road was a sheer drop, as usual. Neither S nor I are big fans of heights and, as you can see by the picture below, we weren’t given much hope by the guardrails in the area:

In case you can’t tell, that 1/3 inch thick metal rod in the middle of the picture is supposed to be a guardrail. Awesome.

After driving back down into the valley and rejoining the motorway we drove on towards Rothrist. We were staying the night  in a roadside hotel in the car park of a truck stop, which turned out to be absolutely perfect.  It was clean and comfortable and the staff were very friendly.  The first thing we did when we got there was ask at the desk how long it would take to drive to Zurich, and the woman just said, “Why would you want to do that?”

At first we were both questioning whether she was telling the truth or whether she just wanted us to stay local and spend our tourist money there.  Well, it turns out she was right. Zurich was awful.

I hate to bring judgement down on the entire city based on our half-hour drive through, but it was awful. The entire city was under construction (in fact, the entire country was under construction – there should be a warning sign when you enter Switzerland!!) and everywhere we turned was a derelict building or a horrible hole in the ground surrounded by wooden hoarding covered with graffiti. Awful. Add to that the fact that we got lost and the fact that it was pouring down with rain so hard we didn’t even bother getting out of our car, and you have an unsuccessful trip.


A picture of Zurich in the rain.

I am glad we went, though, because now I can say I have been somewhere that starts with a “Z”. Excellent.

We drove back to Rothrist for dinner and I am happy to report that the town is more than a car park. In fact, we had a lovely meal there  afterwards took a fine walk in the crisp air. The main street is extremely beautiful, as you can tell by the picture below.

There was a river junction in the town and I was so impressed by the diamond-clear quality of the water that it was basically all I could talk about for days. No, seriously, I was wandering around going “Look how clear that water is! Isn’t it amazing?”

So, not the best day of the trip, but taking into account the fact that Zurich was such a disappointment, the Furka Pass was closed, and we took an hour-long detour up a mountain only to turn around and come right back down again, the day was entirely enjoyable!

If you would like to see the rest of the photos from Day 5, you can find them HERE.

xo
A

Day 4 – St. Moritz
Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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I’m going to get this out of the way right now: We did a LOT of driving on this holiday.  A LOT.  Around 2,500 kilometers, actually (that’s 1,500 miles, btw) and a great bulk of that driving was done on days 4 & 5. 

On the fourth day we drove from our hotel in Selvino to the ski resort of St. Moritz nestled deep in the base of the Alps.  The drive took a long time, but unfortunately wasn’t that interesting.  I blame this on the weather – it was misty and grey the whole day which didn’t give us the spectacular view of the mountains we were hoping for. 

Don’t get me wrong, the views were pretty amazing, just limited due to the heavy clouds.  We ended up taking a cable car ride up the side of a mountain (mostly for skiers), which was wonderful.  When you got to the top you could tell you were pretty high up simply because it was COLD.   Cold and windy.

There are a lot of meandering lakes in the region which, because of their altitude, were frozen solid.  There were people cross-country skiing on these vast expanses of ice.  It was cool to see these huge, flat areas surrounded by towering mountain peaks and dotted with the tiny forms of skiers. 

 For example:

They also had a lot of snow. A very, very lot of snow:

One very fun part of the day we actually got to experience twice, once on the way up towards St. Mortiz and once on the way back down. Of course I mean the road:

I don’t think I’d go back to St. Moritz because I don’t ski and, really, that’s all there is to do there except to pretend you’re posh. There was plenty of posh!!!

The weather stayed pretty awful for the whole day and when we got back to Selvino it was raining hard. We had dinner in the Irish themed pub across the street from our hotel, mainly because it was open. They extent of the Irish theme seemed to be that they sold Guinness, but none of the menu was themed and I didn’t even see fish & chips on there, which was refreshing. We both had pasta and it was very delicious.

After dinner we ended up in a wee cafe across the street where we had a cappuccino and a plateful of tiny pastries which were perfectly delicious. The cafe was family run and very relaxed. Apart from the owners and one other table we were the only ones there and the owners actually had their dinner while we were there (pizza). The proprietress was a very nice and helpful woman. I only wish we’d gone there before our last evening in Selvino because I would have liked to have given them more of our custom.

So, that was day 4. A very busy day filled with bad weather and lots of driving, but it was still a great day. If you would like to see the rest of the pictures from Day 4, you can do so HERE.

xo
A

Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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