Original Blog Post on Switzerland can be found here.
Posts Tagged With: switzerland
Since Naples we can’t ride our bicycles anymore because Logan has a flat back tyre so we finally decided it was time to find a bicycle store to get it fixed. Unfortunately the only bike store in Lucerne is closed today but just when we want to leave, Logan discovers a tube automat. That’s right! Like a cigarette automat, this one sells tubes! How convenient.
The next challenge is to find a car park. We come across the big bus park next to the train station and decide to risk staying here for the day. There is no parking meter so we don’t need to/can’t pay. (I still don’t know whether we were allowed to park here but we were lucky enough to not get a ticket.)
While Logan is changing his tube, I’m having a look through the nearby park and the Vierstättersee. The lake is not just one of Lucerne’s biggest attractions, it is also somewhat part of the city.
We’re riding past dozens of students enjoying their lunch time at the water front, a street artist presenting his Ice Age painting and swans trying to snatch some bread from the passing tourists.
Lucerne is enjoying a warm break from the long swiss winter and it seems as if every Lucerne resident is out and about. The streets are filled with joy and laughter and the cruise ships are overflowing with tourists.
Arriving at the end of town, we turn around and this time navigate away from the water front, into the city.
At a shopping mall we have lunch and once we’re back outside, unlocking our bicycles, we are being stopped by two police men. “Are these bicycles your’s?” I wish I had asked: “Would you mind if I just take out my camera and you repeat your question?” I wasn’t quick witted enough and responded: “Yes?!” Then they asked for our lock and key as proof.
Rather amused about this occurrence, we ride through the city, browse through a couple of shops and eventually arrive at the popular chapel bridge.
The Chapel Bridge is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss River in the city of Lucerne in central Switzerland. Named after the nearby St. Peter’s Chapel, the bridge is unique since it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. It serves as the city’s symbol and as one of Switzerland’s main tourist attractions.
Leaving Lucerne and the Vierwaldstätter See, we are driving past some beautiful mountain scenery and eventually find ourselves a camping spot for the night at a lake not far from Lucerne. There is even a waterfall nearby.
Logan tries his luck fishing for a couple of hours but has to give up after two hours, blaming the fishing rod for not having caught anything.
From the Dolomites in Italy we’re making our way to the country with Europe’s biggest mountains: Switzerland. Okay to be correct, the biggest mountain in western Europe is Mt Blanc (4807m) in France, but Switzerland then follows with 48 four-thousander summits.
Via the Julier Pass …
… we drive into the “Confoederatio Helvetica”, the latin name for Switzerland which gave it the country abbreviation CH. We are now not only confronted with a new currency but also with four different languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. The latter is spoken by only 0.5% of the population, nevertheless Logan managed to befriend some romansh speaking young lads later that night, but I’ll get to that later.
We aim for St. Moritz, a popular spa town in the South East of the country.
St. Moritz is surely a nice place and we stop for lunch at the lake. Due to the time of the year, there are not many people here, so we soon keep going. We are planning on staying mostly in southern Switzerland, but as so often our plans are at the mercy of other forces and this time mother nature puts a spoke in our wheel.
We stop in a little village before Chur to spend the night. Logan feels like going for a walk downtown to watch the tennis and have a couple of drinks. Around midnight he comes back to let me know that he met three young lads who asked him to join them at the club which happened to be only meters from our van. I wake up one more time when we returns and think I can finally sleep through until morning, when suddenly the van is shaking heavily. At first I’m utterly confused, still half in my dreams, then I think someone is trying to break into our van. I try to wake up Logan and when he finally does, he drunkenly mumbles: “I can take ’em!! Shhhh I can take ’em!” I realize Logan is in a foggy-brained state due to his alcohol intake and decide I have to do something myself. I open the blinds and bang at the window and all I see are three young men running away. So we were victims of a joke, lovely! Apart from being woken up the third time tonight and a 5-second panic attack, it made me laugh now myself. Especially thinking back about Logan’s response.
In the morning I ask Logan whether he knows what happened last night but he can’t remember anything. He is very amused about his reaction though. He then tells me that those three lads he befriended, spoke romansh and only a few words of English but they explained to him, that the Furka Pass was still closed due to snow and the only way to get to Western Switzerland was via a train or driving a big detour.
I wasn’t gonna believe it at first but at some stage we got to the sign: Pass closed! Instead we drive north and I’m planning on taking the road south along the “Vierwaldstätter See“.
Driving along the lake, we discover windsurfers and stop to watch their acrobatic jumps and turns for a while.
Of course that road ends in a little town called Baumgarten and we have to backtrack and follow the road north around the lake. The only road south is a highway and we decided against buying a vignette (toll ticket). This way we got to see Lucerne and Interlaken, two very beautiful towns.
We found a beautiful camping spot not far from Lucerne and will explore the town tomorrow.
More about Lucerne (Luzern or Lausanne) in the next post.
by Logan Foote
Today was another hard days walking. I left camp heading down hill only to walk straight back up the other side where a small village “Waitzdorf” was located.
That’s how this journey is: up-down, up-down and then up again. If I didn’t have my bag I think could run it in just a few days but with all my gear it’s a different story.
My mission today was to try and find supplies. NO LUCK. None of these little villages/settlements have any stores to get supplies. The closest I found was a florist. I was excited spotting a shop sign and eagerly approached in the pouring rain only to be disappointed as I peered through the window to see just flowers.
I have passed a few local restaurants featuring pictures of outdoor gatherings, music, food and wine. Unfortunately this is only in summer time. Nothing’s open this time of the year, because which idiot would be out here trekking in winter? Oh, that’s right, ME!!!
That’s why I’m here. Summer is too far away. I love it when things are hard, the weather is wet, cold and windy and I’m struggling up and down these forest trails.
Leaving my disappointment behind I grab my last chocolate bar from my bag and head back into the forest once again.
Along the way I stop for a bit of filming before passing through Altendorf with, that’s right, NO store. I eventually come across the only tram operating in the national park “The Kirnitzschtalbahn” which runs through the best-known valley of the Elbe mountain range. In the valley was a large camping area with several amenities and more signs of food. Yet again no food to be had, however what I did utilize was their bathroom. I quietly snuck into a clean, even heated toilet. My last toilet was not so posh: a late night squat in a cold forest.
Once I had committed the perfect crime, I took what I thought was a short cut, which didn’t seem to be very short. The sign was in German and it must have said “the steepest, longest way possible”. I reached the plateau and continued along the cliffs until I had to choose a spot to camp. I didn’t want to camp this high up but had no choice as it was close to sunset.
I’m sitting here perched on the edge of the cliff with awesome views down to the valley, river and snowy mountaintops in the distance. I’m getting low on food now so I’m eating my last slices of dark bread with salami. I normally can eat and do eat a lot but the last few days I have only been eating because I have to. I’m just lucky I brought some food with me and that there are fresh water streams around. I can’t seem to drink enough.
Its dark now, time to retreat to the tent.
3rd Jan 2012
Not surprising it took me a long time to get to sleep last night as I was thinking of what lays ahead. I left Francy, knowing she would be worried about me for the next week and made my way to the train station. I caught the 6.20 train from Magdeburg to Dresden getting off the first stop too early but managed to jump back on before arriving in Pirna.
A local bus took me to Liebethal, a tiny village at the start of the Malerweg and the beginning of a long, long walk.
The Malerweg is a famous hiking trail located between Dresden and the Czech border. Much of the 112km trail is through the Sächsische Schweiz National Park and is famous for its amazing scenery, bizarre sandstone shaped mountains, cliffs, gorges, plateaus and forest.
For Christmas Francy bought me a book of various hiking trails throughout Germany and the Malerweg stood out as a challenge worth undertaking. Her parents thought I was a little crazy to try and attempt this in winter and especially when I said I would be camping in a tent.
Within just a few hours of walking I had passed through some narrow gorges alongside a stream, a small village and green fields. The second half was very nice, leading me through forest and a long winding gorge with steep sandstone cliffs either side. I eventually came out of the gorge and into a small village called Stadt Wehlen.
I walked around and did a little videoing while searching for a convenience store. I had to wait around until they reopened at 3pm. I knew I couldn’t camp in town and it would be dark soon, so I quickly rejoined the track and ascended to a plateau where I found a suitable spot overlooking the Elbe River. After setting up the tent I finally have a chance to relax. I’ve walked approximately 13km in about 3-4 hrs and can feel it in my legs due to the steep terrain and my very heavy bag. Apart from that, I’m doing pretty well and am really enjoying the adventure, the new sights, smells, sounds and not knowing what’s around the corner. Its almost dark now so will need the torch to finish my log.
The temperature is dropping, so I have rugged myself up in ski pants, shirt, jumper, jacket, gloves and a beanie. The wind is picking up also but luckily no sign of rain yet. I was actually lucky today as I was blessed with blue skies, which I have not really seen yet here in Germany. However, based on the weather forecast and the fact its winter, this will soon change.