Long day of driving today! Said a fond farewell to our hosts Wali and Anita who had been lovely, and had a quick Skype session with Korrin and the kids as well over breakfast. Hit the road at a reasonable time and started driving east (though firstly back out of the long Grindelwald valley).
The plan for the day was to drive eastwards, skirting around the Alps, to our destination for the day at Zuoz, near St Moritz in south-eastern Switzerland. On the way we would visit another UNESCO site - the Sardona Tectonic Arena.
Unfortunately because the area is quite mountainous, we couldn't head directly anywhere and had to do a lot of driving in circles, almost. Northwards to Lucerne where we stopped quickly to take photos of the beautiful lake, then south and east over a series of mountain passes that tested out our Mini and my driving ability. Several narrow roads, lots of switchbacks and up-and-downs to keep me interested! It was kind of fun, but quite draining as well.
Eventually we arrived at the tectonic arena. It's basically a large geological area where mountain-forming processes are well-demonstrated, and somewhere that was quite important to the development of geology as a science. The key feature we'd come to see was the "Glarus Thrust", a series of sharp pinnacles high above where you could clearly see old, weathered rock sitting on top of newer, jagged rocks.
To geologists of the 19th century this made no sense, because the accumulation of material principle says that the oldest stuff should always be on the bottom, right? This rock is all layered in clear strata, why would it be any different? Eventually someone worked out that rocks pushing together caused the thrusts, and once the plate tectonics theory became widely accepted in the 1950s the matter was put to rest.
So we rode a tiny 4-seater cable car up a long valley, marvelling at the rocks. They were impressive, lots of clear strata on display. It all had a very violent feel to it as well, like the rocks had been clashed together fiercly, buckling and twisting the whole time. When we got off the cable car, the Glarus thrust was still a long way above us and several kilometres distant, but close enough for a clear view and hopefully a decent video.
Did our filming and chilled out near a mountain restaurant hut, though not wanting to pay Swiss prices we just sat on the grass nearby and ate our apples. Time to go, and we walked the five minutes back to the cable car, only to discover a huge queue of about 20 people waiting! Only two gondolas, one every 9 minutes or so, four people per, this was going to take a while! And we still had a couple of hours drive to get to our accommodation before reception closed at 6pm, it was just after 3pm so we were going to be cutting it fine!
In the end it worked out, as a couple of groups in front of us went down in batches of six, then we squeezed six into ours as well, so the line cleared in about half an hour thankfully. Back to the car where we drove the rest of the way to the hotel, way over in eastern Switzerland not far from the Italian border. Another epic mountain pass road to get there!
Very tiny little town, and an odd hotel since we have single beds along a wall (our feet are touching), and a shared bathroom out in the hallway. Feels like the sort of place you'd stay at school camp! Since it was Sunday and of course all the shops were closed, we had to visit a restaurant for dinner. The hotel recommended a place about 10 minutes walk away on the edge of town with "reasonable prices" and good food. It was fairly standard Swiss fare in both cost and quality - I had a potato rosti with bacon, egg and cheese for about 20 francs.
Bed early tonight, as we've got another long day coming tomorrow with a lot more driving!Read more