An abundance of Mountains and Lakes in Switzerland

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Europe » Switzerland
August 14th 1974
Published: September 29th 2021
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We were across the West German border by 10am and it was a good road through some pretty flat Swiss countryside, so with the van now performing a little better again, we reached Zurich by midday. By then, it was a real scorcher so after lunch, we spent most of the afternoon swimming and sunning on the north side of the lake with the swans. After a makeshift dinner, we returned to town for a stroll around the main part of the old section, including the three churches, Grossmunster (Large Cathedral), Fraumunster (Church of our Lady) and St Peters. We took in a couple of beers at one of the taverns then walked along the River Limmat back to the van. Finally, we drove out of town for about 30 minutes and stopped for the night in a car park just off the road.

We set off next day around 10am on another hot day and arrived in Luzern about an hour later. We checked straight into Camping Lido on the northern side of the lake. We shot down to the lake and sunbathed and swam until a late lunch around 3pm. We lazed around after that until we made it into town by 5pm. There was a great atmosphere just wandering around the city area, with the young people looking very ‘hip’. The setting of Lucerne around the lake and river adds another dimension to it, not dissimilar to Zurich. We had a late beer in a tavern on the river before returning to camp for a salad dinner. At 8pm, the four of us went to Le Chalet, a room at the Casino, for an interesting night of Swiss folklore (4SFr), which included yodelling, flag throwing, alpine horns, whips and folk dancing. We checked out the scene in the casino (as spectators only!) before a 30-minute walk back to the campsite and into the cot by midnight.

The following day, a Saturday, was yet another cloudless day. We chatted to a Transit driver re Northern Africa trips before we all went into town late morning. I split from the other three and made it across to Kunsthaus to pick up a ticket for the evening’s concert of the Internationale Musikfestwochen (10SFr). I wandered around the shops before taking another walk over the two enclosed bridges Kapellbrucke and Spenerbrucke (Chapel and Mill Bridges respectively) then up to the old city walls. I climbed up the Schirmer Tower for a great view of the lake and city, and was fortunate to meet up with, and start chatting to, Joan, a fabulous gal from downtown Burbank in LA, over here as part of a masters in journalism. The two of us teamed up, taking in the Glacier Garden Museum, with the Lion Monument and Alpineum etc before going down and having a couple of beers next to the river. We had constant entertainment from a group of very pissed and amusing Germans, singing local drinking songs and generally making arses of themselves. I thought this was only the domain of touring Aussies! We then wandered up for a yoghurt before we split, with a planned rendez-vous for London.

Then it was a 20-minute boat ride back to the Lido, arriving late afternoon. The lake was magnificent, with good visibility of the mountains in the background. It clouded over soon after and actually started to rain as we checked out of the campsite around 6pm. It was a most entertaining evening at the Symphony Concert – a selection of Wagner/Schonberg/Dvorak by the Swiss Festival Orchestra. A violin solo by the famed Yehudi Menuhin became a bit of a yawn, but a really lively Dvorak after that brought the audience back to life. The concert finished around 10.30pm, when I joined up with the other three for an ale at the Pickwick Club (genuine English pub!) before heading out to the parking lot next door to the campsite at midnight.

We arose around 9am next morning due to a visit from the constabulary who advised us that ‘camping ist verboten’, so it was into the campsite for a washup and breakfast. We left Lucerne around 11am with an overcast sky and very little visibility of the mountains. The drive was along good roads, though windy and considerably uphill, much to the distress of the van. We reached Interlaken a couple of hours later and wandered around the town for about an hour before booking into Camping Alpenblick on Thunersee (the west side). Rain set in soon after and the afternoon and evening were spent playing cards and reading.

It was not a very pleasant night up top the Kombi in the rain, but fortunately it had cleared by the morning, although it was still overcast and hazy. We didn’t make it into town till midday and found the Tourist Bureau shut. We drove out the 20kms to Grindelwald, where we had lunch besides the mountains Wetterhorn, Eiger, Schreckhorn, Monch and Jungfrau. The haze lifted enough to give us a good view of these. We had a short walk around the district before moving on to Lauterbrunnen. We checked out the cascades in the mountainside at Trummelbach before returning to the township. We sighted a Sundowners bus, including Ted, who had been our overland driver, on the way back. After dinner, we took in a drink down at a ‘disco’ with Ted and the Sundowners crowd before retiring at midnight to the parking lot adjoining Camping Jungfrau at Lauterbrunnen.

We woke to a remarkably clear morning considering the previous day’s poor weather. Bob and Julie decided to go up the Schilthorn (10,000ft) with the Sundowners crowd at the reduced rate of 25SFr, so Peta and I just lazed around the town till midday when they returned. We set out for Montreux in sunny weather but it soon became very hazy again. We climbed a very steep mountain and had a great picnic lunch at the top, with an excellent view of the valley below. We then moved into the French part of Suisse, which was more hilly farming land and the people and atmosphere seemed quite different. There was nothing much to see at Vevey so we pressed on through to Montreux. We viewed Chateau Chillon and swam alongside in Lac Leman (Geneva) – it was the warmest water we have experienced since Bali, but also the dirtiest. We had dinner in the Kombi with a couple of bottles of wine, before a tearful farewell to Peta, who caught the 10.20pm train back to Paris. We pulled up to sleep in a clearance by the lake.

I felt really lousy on waking next morning and couldn’t handle breakfast. My condition improved a little after a visit to the “Messieurs” at the local station – suspect I had a bit of constipation. The weather was overcast and hazy but there was no prospect of rain as we left Montreux late morning and headed for the Italian border. In doing so, we passed another milestone, clocking up our 10,000kms in the Kombi.

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8th October 2021

Swiss Mountains and Lakes
The scenery in this part of the world is breath taking. Grindelwald is spectacular. I'm glad your weather and health improved.

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