Published: July 5th 2012June 30th 2012
Week seven has proved to be our favourtie week so far- full of places that we feel like we could live in. While traveling it is fairly common to hope that you will return to a place but only a few places make you actually want to live there- with Switzerland and Munich doing just that.
After leaving Grada we headed to Italys most popular lake- Lake Como. Lake Como is a huge upside down Y shape, with small towns scattered on the cliffs of the lake. Last time I was there we stayed in the town of Como so this time we stayed in Bellagio. Bellagio is very pretty on the peninsular of the lake with views in every direction. Our campsite was up the hill, providing a panoramic vista. We found a local restaurant which has been around for 65 years and had our best meal of the trip so far. When thinking of Italian food one immediately thinks of pizza and pasta which of course is always available but its easy to forget that Italy also produces amazing non carb based meals. I ate the best fish meal I have ever ordered (Perch and herbs) while Michael
ate tasty escallops.
Saying goodbye to Italy was hard but Switzerland was calling so we pushed on north to the alps. Many tunnels later we arrived at our next destination- the Lauterbrunnen valley in the Jungfrau region. Sadly the weather packed in as we were entering into Switzerland and by the time we arrived at our campsite it was pouring with rain.
Lauterbrunnen is also known as the Valley of the 72 waterfalls- with the town situated in a valley surrounded by cliffs with cascading waterfalls every few hundred meters, with no less than a dozen visable from our camping pitch. The region is a world famous hiking and skiing area- with three of Switzerland's most famous mountains- Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch towering above the town. One could spend weeks here and still not see everything- with gondolas and trains taking you to different parts of the area so you could either spend time in a cute little village or go for a hike.
On our first day we were hoping to awake to blue skies but sadly the weather had not improved and all day was a constant drizzle and cloud cover- making us very thankful
that we have waterproof shoes. We made the most of the day and caught a gondola up the north side of the valley and hiked for a few hours to the picturesque town of Gimmelwald. It was great being out walking in the cooler weather and reminded me of going for walks in New Zealand as a child. We barely saw any other tourists- just a few Swiss locals going for their daily hike and lots of cows and slugs. Sadly we also saw pictures of what the view would look like if their wasn’t cloud cover everywhere!
Once we had caught the gondola back down we walked to the Trummelbach Falls which are a series of waterfalls fed by ten glaciers inside a cave and are accessible by a lift. The water flows through at 20,000L per second, and was pretty amazing to see up close from different view points.
The next day we awoke to perfect blue skies so decided we definitely had to stay another day. This time we caught a train up to Kleine Scheidegg which is the last town up the mountain before you can catch the very expensive train to go to the
top of Jungfrau. We splashed out and ate a sausage with a tiny crust of bread for 7.5 Swiss francs each and people watched all the groups of tourists clambering around each other to get on the Jungfrau train. Predictably 90% of the tourists were groups of Asians, all geared up with the latest cameras around their necks, and some groups even had professional video camera men following them around.
We hiked up to the snowline base and saw the tops of the mountains before hiking down to another small town and catching to train back to Lauterbrunnen.
All and all we loved our time in Switzerland- such a beautiful country and it was great to spend some time in the Alps in summer. When we lived in Fernie, Canada in winter we were always surprised when the locals all said they preferred summer and couldn't wait for the snow to melt so they could do all their outdoor activities such as mountain biking, rafting and hiking. After spending time in the Alps it is easy to see why they would prefer summer. I would highly recommend the Lauterbrunnen valley to anyone- especially as you can get away from
the tourists easy enough.
Next we headed east across Switzerland to St Anton, Austria. We spent Christmas in the ski town a couple of years ago with my family so were keen to stop off and see it in summer. The town seemed so different- still pretty but like a ghost town with only a couple of restaurants open.
Munich in Bavaria, Germany was our next destination- we stayed in a campsite in the outer suburbs on the Isar river and were surprised as a young boy marched passed with a surfboard under his arm. The Isar River flows with such velocity that small waves form in a number of different locations throughout the city creating never ending waves.
As we made our way into the city center we relaised that it was a Friday afternoon and the locals would not be wasting such beautiful weather. European cities truly show there best sides on the weekends if its blessed with sunshine. This could be seen at the Englischer Garten (one of the largest city parks in the world) where thousands of locals ascended upon its open grassy fields (half of them in their underwear) with a tributary
of the Isar river snaking its way through the crowds. This section of the river was flowing with such speed that only the most competent surfers would brave the water. We spent the evening in the beer garden.
With the sun continuing to shine we decided to spend the day at our local park and found a nice spot on the banks of the river under the shade of a deciduous tree. Groups of friends were meeting, tightropes were being set up and cartons of beer were being placed in the shallow icy cold waters of the river. To our surprise the sounds of cheering and music became louder as 40 Germans floated past us on a make shift raft consisting of 15 oversised telegraph poles, a few cross beams and suitable deck space for standing only. As the day progressed a raft would drift by every 10 minutes, complete with a German band, food and beer. Wilst we stood in the waist deep water Michael proceded to board one of the rafts as it floated past, and drifted a few hundered meters down river with it, before returning with a smile on his face and pretzel in hand.
With no trip to Munich complete without a visit to a beer hall, we had dinner at the Augustiner beer hall which has been brewing beer for about 680 years!
Next week we are continuing east, out of the comforts of Western Europe and towards the likes of the Czech Republic and Hungary.
There are more photos below