January 18, 2013

Switzerland, The Beginning

Alrighty where to start? I am writing this sitting on a train in Milano waiting for it to leave on its way to Verona. I have left Switzerland for good, and I have began the next little phase of my journey. I had some pretty amazing experiences in Switzerland. A huge thanks goes to my friend Tiffany and her mom and family for all the wonderful experiences.

My Swiss adventures began in Basel. Technically they began in France, as the airport I landed at is in France, but I went through Swiss customs. This was the first time I had really been to Switzerland. On my last trip I took the night train from Paris to Verona, and that went through Switzerland, but as I could not see it it doesnt really count.

After picking me up from the airport, the first adventure Tiffany and I had was to look for, then play around at, the marker between Switzerland, France, and Germany. This is at the end of a pier thing in Basel. I dont know if it is actually at the real point they all intersect, but it is pretty cool anyways.

 So if the first thing I did in Switzerland was leave, the second was quite the opposite. We drove deep into Switzerland to her home near Luzern. On the way we stopped at an amazing church with one of the steepest spires I have ever seen.

I met her mother, and got settled in to their lovely house. Since two weeks is a long time, I am not going to post a play by play all the way through, I am going to instead ramble on about some of my favorite bits.

My first favorite bit was the transportation museum in Luzern. It is amaaazing. It has a huge train section bigger than most train museums, a brilliant car section with one of those huge automatic car shelf parking things (I will explain that), a big boats section and a really good airplane section, as well as things like cable cars and gondolas and such.

This was a really cool thing. A huge room sized aerial photo of Switzerland.

After that, we met some friendly swans, then went on a loooong walk through the old city.

Me trying a Swiss drink, and a Swiss cheese cake thing. Very yummy on both accounts

It is a very beautiful old city. The Crying Lion monument was spectacular. I am not normally one for statues and monuments, but that one is really moving. Especially in the light we saw it in at night. It sure felt like a loong walk back to the car...we were parked a long way away from the old city.

I think the next big adventure one of my favorites. Tiffany and I went on a pilgrimage to see the Matterhorn. We left early from Luzern and headed south towards the Gotthard Pass. I saw the entrance to the new Gotthard Base tunnel. It is going to be the longest tunnel in the world when it opens in a couple years. It is about 55 km long.

Anyways, just before the long road tunnel which cuts through the summit area, we turned off towards Andermatt. Just a few minutes away was the Teufelsbrücke, or the Devils Bridge in english. It was once an extraordinarily important part of the path across the alps.

From there we made our way up the serpentine roads to  Andermatt. It is a beautiful little village in an beautiful little valley. We stopped for some pictures.

It was a short drive from there to Furka where we found a playground for Tiffany...She knows what I am talking about. Since the pass we had to go over is, well unpassable in the winter, we went instead under it. We drove the car onto a train! It was super cool. The GPS thought we were on a boat...

After 15 or 20 minutes, we had bypassed kilometer after kilometer of twisty road over an alpine pass, and had ended up in yet another stunning valley dotted with little towns and villages.

This is where our story takes a sad turn. My memory card for my point and shoot was full. So, I went to delete a long boring video I already had on my computer. I pressed delete. It said delete single frame or all frames. I thought, that is interesting, it gives you the opportunity to delete single frames of videos. Why would you want to do that? I want to delete all the frames. It said processing....processing.....processing....processing...no image. I thought what do you mean no image. I turned it off and back on and it said no image. I shook it and it still said it.....I told Tiffany and she didnt believe me. She should have. It was true, I deleted all my pictures. Luckily it was only that mornings worth, and I did have my other camera with some pictures, as well as Tiffanys photos, but still. They were gone....

The thing I will miss the most were videos of sliding on ice. The parking lot at the Teufelsbrücke was covered in a layer of ice. As it was steep, walking was almost impossible. It was at such an angle that one could run uphill and stay in one place. It was  so slippery that when I took a running start I ended up sliding a hundred meters or so. There were videos of this and more, but they were gone.....all gone.

Anyhow, that is the end of the sad bit. From now on it is happy. It was a lovely sunny day, we were on our way to Zermatt and the Matterhorn and all was well in the world.

Zermatt is the town you stay in if you are going to visit the Matterhorn, or if you are skiing the many slopes around there. They and their neighbor down the valley, Täsch, have an awesome "scam" going. Zermat is internal combustion engine free. There are no cars other than little electric ones allowed. To get there you must park in Täsch, pay for parking, pay for the train, get on the train to Zermatt. When you get there, you have luggage and no car. Luckily there are these little taxis and buses you can pay for to get you around. Then you are stuck in Zermatt as it cost money to leave. They can charge what they want, and get away with it. It is brilliant.

Anyways, the drive up the valley to Täsch is spectacular. It is a narrow twisty little valley with tall mountains to the left and right, and often to the front. There are so many beautiful vistas it is almost hard to deal with.

This is getting to be a long post...

We parked, saw a funny sign, and got on the train to Zermatt. It was a beautiful ride, full of cool things like going up short cog railway sections which are far to steep for a regular train, but that this one could use because of its secondary cog drive.

It was on this train ride that the first view of the Matterhorn was possible. It stands above the rest of the mountains like a huge point reaching into the sky. It is not actually the tallest by any means, but it appears so by virtue of the fact that it has such an abrupt summit. From Zermat the views are spectacular.

We walked through the town looking for our hostel. Tiffany asked some lovely Zermattians? Where it was and we eventually found it. Check in was not for a couple hours, so we dropped our bags in lockers and took in the sights and sounds of the town.

A really good supper in the hostel followed, as did some walking around at night, and some card playing fun.

You may have seen the restaurant Swiss Chalet. This is actually a restaurant called Swiss Chalet which is actually in a Swiss Chalet in Switzerland!

That is where I will leave you for now. The Matterhorn and much much more will follow soon!

1 comment:

  1. fantastica :)! looking forward to the sequel! One big *sigh* for my playground ^^.