Land of majestic mountains, laughing cows and eye watering expensive prices.
Our tour of Europe continues after the international patient repateration to Zermatt. Fortunately we found a perfect parking spot in Randa and for 10 Swiss francs a day we could park on a lovely patch of gravel with fantastic views of the mountains above. We don’t like paying for parking as a rule, but as wild camping is illegal in Switzerland and proper campsites are 4 x the price, it actually worked out the best option, plus it was close to Zermatt and Chris.
Now everything in Switzerland is expensive and whilst we had done a good stock up of food and cheap beer in France to sustain us, we still need to work out the best way to get in and out of car free Zermatt.
After much research we settled on a 4 in 6 day peak pass, this gave us unlimited train journeys in and out of Zermatt, unlimited use of all cable cars, the Gornergrat cog train and access to the Matterhorn glacier paradise via the highest cable car in Europe (3,883m). We were issued with a little card that we scanned every time we got on and off a cable car so we could whizz around and up and down all day. Now we soon realised that they didn’t scan the train ticket from Randa into Zermatt so in theory even though you couldn’t use the cable cars after your 4 days were up, you could still use the train into Zermatt. If you were slightly dishonest you could have a couple of days free travel, where you could visit shops and sit in a nice hotel whilst your friends bought you wine. Not that we did that of course, for we are honest women.
We used our pass to full effect and spent many happy days exploring the Matterhorn area. Spent a day playing in the snow in the shadow of the Breithorn, visited the ice caves with Chris on crutches where she got frost bite and Poppy turned the snow yellow.
We walked in the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn, we viewed it from every angle except down, explored melting glaciers, took a very cheeky ridge walk to an isolated ski lift and had lunch dangling above a 300 ft abyss. Our passes were used to their maximum and we got accustomed to the luxury of traveling to mountain tops in a cable car.
Before we left Randa we took a lovely walk up to the suspension bridge, this is the worlds longest pedestrian suspension bridge no less. It is 494 m in length snd hangs 280 ft up in the air. Pops wasn’t impressed by the mighty views and the mechanical wonder, metal bridges are not built for dog paws so she was carried across much to her disgust.
After Zermatt we headed towards Grindelwald to view the Eiger, we took the route over the Grimsel pass, one of the highest paved roads in the Alps and had fantastic views back down into the valleys. By pure chance we found that if you paid 10 Swiss francs you could park up for 4 nights on the side road to the Oberaarglescher glacier, (try saying that when you hare drunk). We found a perfect spot with the most amazing views all to ourselves and we ended up spending nearly a week here it was that beautiful, we spent time walking, relaxing and actually sitting outside the van, ok we sat outside the van in jackets and hats, but still it was outside.
When we did reach Grindelwald it was sadly a disappointment, maybe we had been spoiled by our recent solitude but it was very crowded with many many coaches and therefore many many people. It was more expensive than Zermatt for cable cars and by the mass of people queuing to get them we were unlikely to find a peaceful walk at the top. The Eiger may have been more impressive if we could have got closer but its a bit difficult to do a Via Ferrata with a small wriggling border terrier and it was too hot to leave her in the van for the day, In the end we only spent one night before we headed off towards Interlaken.
On route to Interlaken you pass by Lake Thun and Lake Brent, they are the most beautiful blue colour and on a very hot day for two people and a small dog that have not had a good wash for a while, provided too good an opportunity for both a wash and cool down. The water was refreshingly cool but after you went numb the pain went away and it was actually quite pleasent. Poppy is not a lover of water and she did not take kindly to be thrown into a cold lake even if she did smell. We spent a happy half hour splashing around in the water until that is Jac saw a snake swim past !!!, it was the fastest exit of water on record.
Kandersteg was our next stop we spent a couple of days walking around the area, visited the famous Lake Oeschinensee which was lovely but a little crowded so we went higher and found a much quieter but bum twitchy route back down. After this we headed towards Pizol to do the famous 5 lake hike, which is apparently supposed to have 5 crystal clear lakes and peace and tranquility to relax in. Well we must have picked school trip day as we spent the majority for the walk with 100 + school kids who are at the age where peace and tranquility is for old boring people and not them. Also despite looking very hard we only found 2 crystal clear lakes and 3 greenish puddles so I think its fair to say we didn’t experience them at there best. It was a lovely walk though and Poppy was a minor celebrity for the day as was given lots of attention form the small people, (children not dwarfs)
We briefly popped into Liechtenstein had a brief fall out about the slow pace of travel, had a very quiet night next to a lake, popped into Austria for LPG and then back to Switzerland where we headed onto Appenzell.
Beautiful Appenzell with its towering peaks and fantastic walking, none of which we saw or did due to the fact it pissed it down for 3 solid days. We saw the inside of the van and grey clouds through rain streaked windows. Eventually the rain stopped briefly enough for us to visit the historic village. Sadly though it was Sunday so most of the shops were closed, we did however chance upon a traditional Alps horn playing session and some singing. This is after blowing our last 20 Swish francs on a very expensive loaf of bread and some other bits, we bid Aufwiedershen to Switzerland.
Things I have learnt:
Jac doesn’t travel well in cable cars, she is prone to bouts of nausea after going up and down the mountain several times, where as I am like we paid good money for these cards and we are getting maximum use out of them, even if your are sick in a carrier bag.
Always save a copy of a copy of a blog post, as if something goes wrong when adding pictures it will eat up your carefully crafted words and you will then spend several hours re writing your witty prose, for you dear loyal readers Carol and Glenda.