going to sound a bit strange....but ..last night we concluded that we have had
enough of the good weather. We have enjoyed 13 weeks of almost perfect warm
sunny weather and we have decided that what we need is ' perfect cold weather',
that is snow-covered villages and clear blue skies! After all, we have packed
for a European winter.... we want to USE some of our cold weather gear!!!
went off at 6.00am. Not an unusual hour for those of you who work for a living
but for us it was about 2 hours earlier than our normal day commences.... and
DARK!!!! The sun didn't rise for another two and a half hours. Lausanne, Switzerland was our agreed target. It must
be cold and it must have snow this
time of the year...
700kms from west to east across France would not usually be much of a challenge
for drivers used to Australian roads, except for the fact most of the road
between Bordeaux and the Swiss border is non-motorway and visits every town,
village and city en route! Needless to say we pulled up short. After ten hours
driving we only managed the six hundred kilometers to Lyons, 130kms short of the
Alps. The good news is that on the way, things looked up. The weather was
shocking. Wind, rain, temperatures close to freezing. Yes! The Europe we
remember and love to hate!
As the Loire
and Rhone rivers met, the sun broke through and the villages on the hillsides
took on the beautiful late afternoon glow that only the fading winter sun can
bring.... The temperature climbed as the sky cleared and as we drove into Lyons,
the late afternoon low was 14C.
... What do
we have to do?
- 16 December
last, cold at last!'
had to be a sure thing for a bit of pre-Christmas chill and a little snow. At
first we were worried. Geneva was cool but not cold. No snow and not a lot to
offer of real interest. After all, we've been there and done that....Switzerland
has been unkindly described as the world's greatest theme park. You pay your
motorway toll and from then on it's like one big shopping centre. Even the
fields in the countryside seem to be mowed. This view is somewhat flippant. So
the Swiss are obsessive about straight lines, matching 'things' and cleanliness!
Things could be worse - .....
(15 Dec) we camped at a motorway services that provided free power, water and
toilet emptying services for campervans. - Heaven! Or it would be if it also
provided hot showers!!!
seeking snow, we again altered our plans and headed for the Jura Mountains near
Interlaken. We were rewarded with some great foul weather and snow on the way.
But as we now know as our right, by the time we got to the lakes the sky was
clear and the scenery was picture-postcard.
the town, Grindelwald, just below the north face of the Eiger, was in full sun.
Despite the narrow and icy roads we decided
to drive rather than take the easy way - the train. Our reward was typical Swiss
"photo opportunities" at every turn. And when we reached the top of
the pass, the chair lift beckoned and despite the 'steep' price $AUS50 for two,
we went to the first stop, some 500m above the town.
who visit our beaches must feel the same fascination with the sun, surf and sand
as we do for the snow. It is so clean! So Swiss! One has to wonder what the
dusty, dirty and dishevelled Romanian villages look like now under an
all-forgiving blanket of snow?
are in a camping ground just outside Interlarken. Right beside Lake Thun, with
an uninterrupted view of the snow-capped mountains that frame the lake - and to
think we are doing all this on full pay! Long live the welfare state.
After a few
days in Switzerland the countryside seems better described as a huge golf
course, rather than a theme park. Rolling hills green and mowed, major water
hazards and a well-defined 'rough'. ‘Club houses’ on every corner of every
fairway complete the picture.
Switzerland looks like hundreds of scenes from biscuit box lids strung together.
Design consultants must have to approve the planting of every tree and the
construction of every fence!
people we have had contact with have been extremely pleasant. Not a bit like our
memories of Swiss rudeness on our last trip. Prices are easily calculated and
compared here as the Swiss Fr is usually at parity with the AUS$. We seem to pay
no more for everything except fuel - how lucky we have been at home!!..
changes in Switzerland are dramatic as you cross Canton borders. French is
spoken in the south-west, Italian in the south-east and German everywhere else.
Street signs, radio stations and advertisements change along well defined lines.
English is, of course, spoken everywhere!
We have returned to France, via free German motorways and are settled 2kms from
usually a good day to 'snag' parking spots near the centre of most cities. Not
today. Pre-Christmas shopping has flooded the streets with traffic and people.
Our attempts at 'park and view' visits to Luzern and Basel turned into extended
drive-throughs. The latter along 'pedestrian only' streets!
are having an easy day in Strasbourg. Paris is only hours away and we have 4
days to get there to pick Lizzie up.