Joined December 2018 Message
  • May7

    Frieburg with day trip to Basel - day 26

    May 7, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Day 26 – this is the midway point of our trip – by golly we have done a lot!

    So today we set alarms which was a bit of a shock. We were on the tram pretty early, and then on the train to Basel by 9.15. Basel is in Switzerland, and one of our aims was to spend all of our swiss francs by the time we left. It was great to have our tour guide who bought the train tickets, and worked out where we had to be – aka Jeremy. When we got there it was a quite a walk to the old town. J&J needed a coffee so we went to a Coop (aka supermarket) and had some breakfast. Then we walked around the old town, found the cathedral which was rather cool. We visited a few shops, and had lunch at the market. I had fun spending my remaining francs pretty much just on chocolate and had exactly the right change to spend on lunch for no remaining francs – goal met!

    Then J&J walked to the other side of the river to sit in the sun while I explored a few more shops. I was a bit restricted though cos I had spent all my francs, so would have had to really want something to use my card. Then I joined them sitting in the sun which was really nice. I did take my sox off, and tried my feet in the water (the Rhine) and by golly it was cold. It would have been great if I had a sprained ankle, would have sorted that out pdq. Then we decided to take an earlier train back to Freiburg. I am a slow walker, so left straight away while the J’s were going to stop at Lidl for limoncello and something for dinner. Was so funny, we were at the train station waiting for our train at 4.30. I was wondering why people were coming up the stairs and walking quickly to the left. Then I realised that our train was already there out of sight, and there was about 3 minutes before it left! Needless to say that we got up in a hurry and rushed to the other end of the platform to get on the train. We had bought a return ticket initially for a 7.30 return, and then bought 4.30 tickets. It would have been funny if we had had to buy 5.30 tickets as well – not!

    So the train trip was uneventful, and the tram trip after. Then it was about a 1 km walk back to Nico. We then had a wee snack, and I was sent off on a mission on my bike to get olive oil and dish washing liquid. We had run out of both of those. On our initial shopping trip a couple of weeks ago we bought some flowing soap for our toilet. By golly it was such crap soap – a real mission to get any soap out of it. I was so relieved when Jody relented and allowed me to buy another bottle, we both love the new bottle! But while at this supermarket I found more berries at a similarly cheap price – ie 2.50 euros for 500g of blueberries, and 2.0 euros for 250g of raspberries. These had been more than double that price in Switzerland. I knew things were more expensive in Switzerland, but the last time we were there, we weren’t as familiar with the prices of other countries, now that we are we didn’t want to spend any money there.

    When I returned from the shopping, Jeremy whipped up another feast for us. Yummy roasted potatoes, and fillet steak. It is quite nice having our own personal chef – Jeremy works as a chef in Stuttgart and certainly knows his way around a kitchen. During and after dinner we played the card game again – bugger your neighbour. I really like this game, and winning makes it even better, tho I didn’t win every game tonight. Jody had ended up buying 2 bottle of limoncello which I thought was a bit carried away since we still had the Baileys and Cointreau – cost of that was 8 euros, and 11 euros so extremely cheap. And the limoncello was 13 euros. Anyway tonight we polished off the Baileys and Cointreua, and nearly all of 1 bottle of Limoncello. Not a bad effort seeing as I don’t normally drink – that Jody is a really bad influence. I don’t normally eat gummy bears either, but Nico’s glovebox is full of them, and they are rather handy when the navigation efforts are less than ideal.

    So Jeremy leaves us in the morning, and unfortunately the forecast is for rain nearly everywhere we would like to go. So possibly we might take a train in the morning to Titisee lakes which is about 25kms away, and then bike back (mainly downhill of course!). But if it is pouring first thing, we might not do that. We still have 9 days before we have to drop Nico off, and really could end up anywhere in those days. My weather forecast app has Bruges (Belgium), Versailles (France), Rotterdam (Netherlands) Strasbourg (France), Munich (Germany, but we are not going there, so not sure why that has come up…), Luixembourgh and Versailles (France). The forecast is rain for everywhere tomorrow, but not so bad after that.

    We can’t quite believe that we have done so much, and we are only half way through our holiday. I am not sure that the videos of me singing really needed to make it onto a public domain – apologies for that! I need to get some more incriminating videos of Jody…

    Ciao ciao ciao (yes, I am still not totally sober! But have done a pretty good effort remembering what we have done for the last 2 days. Midnight was a while ago, so bed is calling).
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  • Apr24

    Lucerne - day 13

    April 24, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    So today I woke up feeling a bit worse, had coughed a fair bit overnight and then woke up at 9am. Rowena then took us on a wee drive around Stienen and we visited the swiss army knife factory - Victorinox – where we might have bought a few things. We both got a ceramic knife which is supposed to stay sharp for ages, and reduce the crying issue when chopping onions, and also several little knives which have lots of little gadgets. Rowena also took me to a pharmacy that had lots of natural remedies, hope they work.

    Then we had a stop at a café near Lake Lucerne, and decided not to take the boat as it was pretty rough. It was just under an hour on the train with 1 train change which was pretty easy and got there around 1pm. We spent the afternoon in Lucerne browsing the shops, taking silly pictures, and walked up the hill to a castle which had lovely views. Things really are pretty expensive here which was great as we weren’t tempted to spend any money. We caught the train back around 6pm, and Rowena cooked us a lovely meal of meatballs, pasta and salad.

    Oh, yes we might have found a chocolate shop as well. We both picked up a visitors guide, and 1 page had an advert for this shop, and by presenting the page we got 4 lindt chocolate truffles. Of course we had to visit that shop.

    So tomorrow I am hoping that the remedies work as we are on the road again tomorrow. Heading for Innsbruck, and stopping off in Litchenstein on the way.

    And forgot a funny story from yesterday. Rowena’s husband does a lot of skiing and pointed out the hill that he skis on that you can see from their house. He drives to the train to get there, and I asked when he put his ski boots on, and he said when he got out of the car. I said that he must be comfortable in them, and he said well I can’t drive in them! I think he would if he could tho.
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  • Apr23

    Visp and Steimen - day 12

    April 23, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We had a rather leisurely start this morning. I have had a bit of a sore throat and cough, so trying not to overdo it. It also was raining lightly this morning so that made it easier to stay in bed for a while. So we left the motorcamp at around 10am, and then got a bit distracted at the Lidl supermarket in Brigg (I loved Lidl when I was in Croatia, so wanted to visit another one). We were then heading to Rowena’s place (an old friend of Jody’s who has lived in Switzerland for 27 years). We left Brigg around 12, and googlemaps said we would arrive at Rowena’s in 2.5 hours. And then the journey began….

    It started off quite well, the roads were a bit narrow but not in great condition. The view was amazing again with such lovely little buildings all around and lots of little villages. As we went along, there was more and more snow, and the roads got narrower though the view got better. We seemed to be heading for some really high snowy mountains, but there didn’t seem to be a pass. At one stage we were heading for a tunnel, and found a round red sign that looked like it was a stop sign. We sort of thought that maybe we shouldn’t go through the tunnel, so I got out and asked the car behind us, and they didn’t have any idea either. So I beckoned the 3rd car through, and they went down a narrow path beside the tunnel, the other car followed, and I went to as well. But then a car came from the other way, so we waited for them, and then went on the narrow path. It was a couple of kms long, and it was very fortuitous that no cars came towards us, as there really wasn’t any room. It looked like a slip had fallen over the tunnel which is why we wouldn’t have got through it. When we got back on the road, it looked like there was a petrol station. We drove past that, through the town and then headed again for the mountains. The snow was encroaching on the road, and there was only just enough room for us to get through. I started thinking that this road really wasn’t a goer, and then we came across another red stop sign – looked like the road was closed. So we found somewhere to do a youie houie (missed a good photo opportunity there!) and went back through the time. There was a sign pointing us back to Brigg, but that seemed a long way to backtrack. So I thought we could go back to the gas station, and see if there was another option. Lo and behold but it wasn’t a gas station at all – it was a car train! The next train was at 1.05, and it was 1.00. So we quickly bought a ticket, drove over to the guard who showed us where to drive and we were on. He then handed us an A4 sheet of paper with about 10 different languages – basically saying that as we were pretty high, we couldn’t drive into the covered part of the train and we would have to wait at the other end for them to help us off. The train journey was around 15 minutes, and all the cars ahead of us just drove forward to get off. The cars behind us had to wait for the guard to open up some side gates, and maneuver us forward and back to get us off. The pass we went under was called the Furkapass (not what we were calling it!), and apparently it is only open for 5 months of the year. I have just seen picture of it, and driving under seems a preferable option.

    So the road after the tunnel was still a bit snowy and not well repaired, but then we started seeing some signs that looked like a motorway – yeehaa! The motorway still wasn’t amazing, and we went down a huge hill with hairpin bends (pleased that Nico has a manual gear), and finally got to the bottom of that and got on a road that I could even set cruise control on. We stopped at a gas station off the motorway and had lunch – ie Jody heated up our meat patties and cut up some stuff to go with them while I lay on my bed for a while. And then it was off on our final leg to Rowena’s in Steimen.

    What a lovely place this is. Rowena is a kiwi, but married Paul who is Swiss, and they have lived in this house for 27 years. We had a lovely dinner – bruschetta, rosti, and fleisch kase (translates as meat cheese). Rowena and Paul had a good time laughing at the routes that we have taken so far. Apparently the St Bernhard pass that we did on the first day was one that not many people would take by choice, and today’s effort was even better. Paul has been great at helping us with our route for the next few days – maps out all over the table. Interesting for me trying to login to my google drive on their wifi as it only gives me German and French as language choices. But very lovely hosts with a washing machine, and we get to sleep in beds where we don’t need to use ladders to climb into them – a bonus! Nico is currently parked in their driveway, but is on a bit of a lean so when Jody went in there with her socks on she slipped from one end to the other.

    So tomorrow we intend to go into Lucerne either by boat or train depending on what the weather is like.
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  • Apr22

    Zermatt and the Matterhorn - day 11

    April 22, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Shock horror, I set an alarm this morning. Only for 6.30am though so it wasn’t too traumatic. It always seems to take us a while to have showers, and get ready and then it was a bit of a walk to the train station, but we were on the train at 8.41 and arrived at Zermatt just over an hour later. The train ride was spectacular with the cutest wee houses, waterfalls, a river and boulders the size of houses. We found it interesting trying to work out how people could actually get to the houses with no roads. At the last 2 stops, people just got on with ski boots, masks and jackets already on carrying their skis. So we wondered how far they would have to go to get to the slopes once we got there. But no worries, people walked maybe a couple of kms from their hotels to the trains/shuttles etc with ski boots on. I had to take a video of the girls which went shopping in their boots. I used to find them really uncomfortable for walking, but that was over 30 years ago, so they might have improved a bit since then.

    Our first stop was the info centre. There are several different points where you can go up the mountain and see the Matterhorn. The lady there advised us to go up to Rothorn which is meant to be the best view, and is from the Italy side. When we were up there I read the guide, and there were actually more things to do at the other peaks, but we were happy with how our day went, so that didn’t really matter. We had a bit of a walk to get to the funicular, and were a bit confused at which steps we needed to go up. The guard said it didn’t matter, and that’s when we realised that people just stood at the stairs on either side, and boarded the funicular from there when it arrived. It went very fast and up a very steep track in a tunnel, so we couldn’t see where we were going. Then we took a small gondalar carriage up to the next station, and then a really large gondala which fitted maybe 40 people with their skis to take us to the top.

    Our first steps off the gondala were a bit hairy as it was quite icy, and we just had walking shoes on. We managed to find a wetter snow path to get to the building and restaurant. The Matterhorn was not on full display at any time that we were there with just the top poking out from time to time. There was another amazing peak that was in full sunlight the whole time – weird as they weren’t that far away from each other. We wanted to go down a wee hill to take some pics, but it was too slippery. Then I realised people were having lunch and not using their ski poles, so a very nice man lent us 2 sets. It was still a bit slippery, and I had my camera ready but Jody didn’t oblige me by falling on her bum. Never mind. It was just so peaceful up there looking around. Lots of skiiers came off the gondola and immediately hit the trails. We had lunch up there, and stayed for maybe a couple of hours just enjoying the view.

    On our way down we stopped at the next station and had a look around. The beginners ski slope was great with a travellator for people to go up on. There were 4 different ones, on different gradients so it would be easy to advance. Once at the bottom we looked in a lot of shops. Bought some amazing sox with really soft inners. Oh, and the first shop we saw just might have been a chocolate shop – golly these ones were super amazing!

    We were both feeling rather tired by this stage even though it was only around 3pm. We walked for a bit, then sat on the plentiful benches or steps, then walked for a bit more. We found these great wooden reclining seats in a park, and put our feet up for a while. I had been keen to try raclette, and cheese fondue while I was here, so looked at many restaurant menus to find one that did those. Finally managed it, and we had both. Well, I won’t be needing to try them again – just ok really, but lots of cheese. On our way to the train we saw these really cute stuffed toys in a window, so went in. They were very soft, and the guy told us they were made from the softest animal fibre from the south of france. I didn’t quite get what the fibre was but the price was incredible - about 700 euros! Then it was time for the train back again and a walk back to Nico. Got back around 7.30 which is good as we were both a bit knackered (and full of cheese!).
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  • Apr21

    Big drive and Visp - day 10

    April 21, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 0 °C

    Fine, 22 degrees

    We got up early – ie around 7am, but by the time we changed the water etc in Nico, picked up our fresh warm ciabatta and ate it, we didn’t leave until 9am. We were keen to stock up on supplies before we left Italy, but hadn’t factored in it being Easter Sunday and everything was closed. We do have a reasonable amount of food and water, so should be fine. Then we were off for our 5 hour drive to Visp – hmmmmm, how come we didn’t arrive until 5pm? The first part of the drive was on motorways that weren’t straight, and had loads of tunnels. We went up the west coast a bit, past Genova, then past Milan and the motorway got a lot better then, and I could use cruise control. We stopped for gas twice, and once in an Aire for lunch. After we drove past Lake Maggiore (which looked stunning), the roads got a lot narrower, and were pretty bumpy. Going through the Swiss border was a non event, we stopped as it looked like we should, but then had to ask a guard whether we needed to do anything, and he said no just go.

    I was a bit nervous about driving in Switzerland in case I got caught up a mountain. Jody did point out earlier today that we would have to go over a mountain pass, and we certainly did. It was sooo picturesque and I would have loved to stop and take some pictures. But we were both feeling rather tired, so just kept going. The road wasn’t too bad, but I did pull over many times to let cars go past. It was more of an issue going down, with a 10% gradient at times. I was very aware of how heavy Nico is, and how wide he swings on the corners, so was pretty careful.

    Our campground in Visp is just amazing. The pitches are on grass, and it is a short bike ride to the town centre. When we arrived, we were both very tired – I even had a wee lie down which is not like me, but I had been concentrating very hard for most of the day. Jody got keen though and hooked up the electric, took our bikes off the back, and encouraged me to go out for a ride. We sussed out where the train is that we will walk to in the morning, and found a Coop that was open for us to buy some meat, veges and fruit for dinner. Jody whizzed up some yummy hamburgers and we should be in bed early.

    Tomorrow we are intending to take the train to Zermatt which is a non car town at the foot of the famous Matterhorn. We should have loads of wonderful photos from that.
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