Swiss Water Week

Currently (at the time of writing) we are stopping over in Dubai Airport, on our way to Singapore, with some time to kill it was a good time to catch up on the two weeks plus we spent in Switzerland after our Italy trip. We guess “Water” would be the appropriate theme for this blog entry. We saw and experienced a lot of water coming from all directions in the last two weeks.

After our return from Rome on Monday we had decided that we needed a holiday from our holidays (to all working people, we admit this sounds rather cynical) and hadn’t done much for the rest of the week. Main activities were limited to sleeping, reading, surfing the web (Hazel did a very long and elaborated research about what covers to buy for our Kindles) and having Racelettes with our friends.

The next weekend we plan to go hiking with some of Kevin’s friends from work and their partners. Despite the rather poor weather we drove to the western part of Switzerland where we intended to hike up the Creux de Van which is a high plateau in the Jura Alps. The path led through forest and went up for more than 700 Meters from the valley. The on and off rain as well as the rather low temperature didn’t make it a fantastic experience and we were all happy that after about 2.5 hours we had reached the top. The heavy fog and clouds prevented a clear view of the valley several hundred meters below us and so we went to the nearby restaurant and hoped that the weather would be better after lunch. Hazel: There was a perfectly nice road for cars too! Why did we have to climb in crappy weather???

And indeed after some fondue, ham and gratin the weather really had slightly improving and now standing at the cliffs offered impressive views (nothing for the faint hearted as there was no fence) Hazel: The only person with a faint heart was Kevin. The way down was rather steep and through the rain also rather slippery (as Hazel’s backside figured out the hard way). Given the weather we changed our plans and replace day two of the weekend with an indoor bowling program which was big fun too. Which Kevin should practice more bowling.

Next stop on our Swiss exploration tour was Geneva and Lausanne. Weather was good again and a two hour train ride brought us to Geneva, which is located on the most south-western tip of Switzerland and bordering France. Kevin was a handy tour guide (and bag carrier as usual) as he had worked in this city-canton ten years earlier. One of the main attractions of the city is the Jet d’Eau (water fountain) on Lake Geneva which we explored very close up and get really wet in the rainbow spray of colours.  After some chicken and fries for lunch we explored the old part of town and its church. Geneva was an important reformist city in the past and is also called Calvin-City (after the French reformer Jean Calvin) and was also frequented by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. After passing by Kevin’s old flat and work place we decided to stop by in Lausanne on our way home. Lausanne is about 40 minutes away from Geneva and has a superb lake promenade where we enjoyed the crystal blue water of the lake and the setting sun (it really looked like a picture in the Swiss Tourism brochure).

After a day of rest at home we headed to the central part of Switzerland as we wanted to see some mountains and waterfalls. First stop was Lauterbrunnen which is half an hour away from better-known Interlaken. Lauterbrunnen calls itself valley of the 72 waterfalls. However either we didn’t find all of them, they were turned off, or (most likely) there hadn’t been much rain the previous few weeks. Nevertheless after a few meters (and after about 200 pictures with our new zoom lens) we spotted a nice waterfall which even had a path that led behind it. We can hide behind the shower of the waterfalls.

Next stop was the Trümmelbach Waterfalls which are a series of waterfalls carefully hidden in the mountains which are connected by a walkway (sounds rather technical we have to admit – have a look at for more information). Once again we were truly impressed by nature and its beauty. A bus brought us back to the train station from where we took the train back to Interlaken and where we hopped onto another train which brought us to Meiringen.

For the literature-buffs, Meiringen might ring a bell, it where Sherlock Holmes literally fall from the nearby Reichenbach Falls. We missed the train to the Aare while asking for directions, and decided to take a slow stroll along the beautiful countryside. The Aare gorge is an approximate 1.5 km long gorge which can be passed on an elevated walkway. It was impressive to see how the water has carved out soft surfaces throughout millions of years. After passing the gorge we took the local train back to Meiringen. The train station we used to board the train was basically a door in the mountain and it must be one of the strangest stations in the world (we felt like secret agents).

Our next day trip led us to the mother of all European Waterfalls – the Rhine Falls. The Rhine is somewhat the water-life-line of Europe, from its dwell in Switzerland to its mouth in the Netherlands. It has always been and still is a major commercial trading route. The Rhine Falls is the biggest waterfalls in Europe in terms of water going down per second. And yes, there was a lot of water. Arriving on the canton of Zurich side of the falls we had a quick look at the Castle of Laufen which is located just on the edge of the falls and offers a superb view of the spectacle (yes, you get a bit wet). Later on a short walk over the nearby bridge brought us to the canton of Schaffhausen side of the fall (same fall different view so to speak). After more “ohs”, “ahs” and feeding of fishes we decided that we could walk to Schaffhausen which was about one hour away. To Hazel’s luck after about half an hour we bumped into a train station (or did the station bumped into us…) which shortened the travelling time to Schaffhausen. The old town of Schaffhausen is very picturesque with a lot of wall paintings. After a kebab for lunch we climbed up the Munot which is the old defense tower of the city. It had a vineyard in the back of its lawn. The train ride back to Zurich offered an astonishing panoramic view of the falls from above. Funnily, two young Americans next to us which also boarded the train in Schaffhausen only realized in the train that the Rhine falls were very near to where they stayed the last few days. Without overusing the old stereotype of the ignorant North American tourist we really thought “wtf, how can you go to this region, stay there and don’t know about these falls” (sorry to all our American friends out there ;)).

Our very last excursion of our Swiss holidays was Lucerne and for once the weather was not on our side. Initially the plan was to go to Lucerne and then to mount Pilatus (as Hazel spotted a toboggan there) however already when we woke up the weather was so bad that Pilatus was out of question. For the same reason we kept sightseeing in Lucerne rather short and only visited the famous wooden Chappele Bridge. This famous landmark was burnt down in 1993 and had been restored. It hosts a gallery of paintings and even more important provided rain cover. Next stop was the dying lion a stone monument which was built in honor of the Swiss mercenaries (yeah, the Swiss were much less peaceful than you might think – or perhaps just went were the money was, which is probably quite Swiss again). As the weather was till bad after our lunch we decided to go to the Swiss Transportation Museum (Verkehrshaus). This famous museum were probably every Swiss kid was at least once during his school time provides a wide variety of trains, planes, cars, boats and other things connected to transportation (and for sure it also provided cover from the rain). And therefore we spent a dry and educational afternoon.

This brings us already to the end of our Swiss adventure. We really enjoyed our time in Switzerland and it was very nice to catch up with friends (and see their newly born babies) and family (big thanks to Kevin’s parents for hosting us). Hazel got a firsthand experience of hiking Swiss style, real Rosti and how quiet Switzerland can be. Time flies and the 6 weeks passed super-fast.

So, in the meantime we have arrived in Singapore and are getting ready for our next stop in Australia (in fact we are already in Australia when uploading this).  Although we are only here for a few days we will max out on food and meeting friends. Stayed tuned for kangaroos, dingoes and laid back Australian life-style in our next blog entry.

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