The First Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday. We are still clinging to our mad old planet. So it’s time to breathe and visit a place seemingly immune to the growing madness. A place of peace and beauty. It’s Switzerland.

I’ve been so fortunate to visit this wonderful country on a number of occasions. So many stunning locations. But I have a soft spot for one mountain. It’s called The First.

It’s not that big. It’s classed as a minor summit of the Schwarzhorn. But it would be massive if it was in the UK. It’s all relative.

The trip starts with a beautiful train journey to Grindelwald.

The First is special to me. It was the first Swiss Mountain I went up. It’s the one I’ve been on top the most. It’s the one I stood on top in a T-shirt and shorts in the middle of a massive snow drift. In fact it was the first adventure I ever had in this great country. On a Sunday 17 years ago.

So forgive me. Lots of photos.

Once in Grindelwald you take a small cable car to the top. The views are epic.

And they just keep on coming.

The higher you get The Alps slowly reveal themselves.

How can a country be this beautiful.

Eventually you arrive at the top of The First.

Next week the adventure will continue.

Swiss Sunday

It’s time for another little bit of that wonderful country called Switzerland. For us it has so many memory gems. Every photo seems to yield another beautiful memory.

The damp Sunday morning boat trip across a Lake. All the passengers are outside in the drizzle just enjoying rainbows across the water.

The Gorge walk with the milky river.

The walk round a vineyard with views to die for.

The late evening stroll around the Lake and as the sun starts to set the mountains come alive.

The early morning coffee sat watching the sun rise above the Alps.

And we can’t leave out the cows and the hypnotic sound of the bells. Switzerland is one of the most precious gems of them all.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday and it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.

Just something about this wonderful place that is so uplifting for the soul.

Looking at the photos something occurred to me. How the varied architecture and buildings blends in perfectly with the stunning landscape. How many times these days do you see a potentially wonderful view ruined by an ugly inappropriate building. Not here in Switzerland.

Switzerland

It’s Sunday and it’s time for a bit of glorious Switzerland. Time to finish our 2015 journey to the Gornergrat. Last week it ended with the family at the top of the 10000ft rocky ridge looking at the panoramic view of the Alps.

I remember stood by the small stone Gornergrat Chapel and tried to think of a reason to light a small candle. Nothing came to mind. Life was pretty good. Little did I know that if you fast forwarded a year my mums funeral would have just been held and that my soul partner would be just a couple of weeks away from leaving this world as well. Yet here she was stood next to me full of the joys of life. With hindsight I should have opted for the chapels complete stock of candles.

Just minutes away from doing our last big walk together as a family of three.

But you know what I can’t think of a better walk to go out on.

I’m a seasoned hill walker in the UK but I have to say in the mighty Alps – it’s much better to be going downhill. So we started from the ridges highest point and descended. My almost perfect streamlined aerodynamic body shape – think Homer Simpson rather than Usain Bolt – gave me plenty of downward momentum.

The views just kept being astonishing.

We headed towards the Lake of Riffelsee. A place featured on millions of screensavers world wide. A place high up (so to speak) on our family bucket list. Would it be that good in reality. YOU BET and MORE. A small tranquil lake which perfectly frames the reflection of the Matterhorn. Yes it rightly deserves it place on the worlds greatest natural spectacles top table.

Eventually our son convinced us to save his little legs from further punishment and make the rest of the journey by train. A truly unforgettable experience.

Swiss Sunday – Gornergrat

It’s a Sunday and it’s time for a bit of wonderful Switzerland. This time in the form of the Gornergrat. This will be a two parter. The second part is an emotional one as it’s about the last long walk we did as a family of three.

You find places which just etch themselves onto your soul. The Gornergrat is certainly one of those.

It’s a rocky ridge overlooking the beautiful alpine town of Zermatt. The ridge is a high one. At its summit it is 10240ft above sea level.

Luckily you can get to the top by riding on Europe’s highest open air railway. The journey is a stunner. It really is. Depending on how fit you feel you can get off at a number of stop off points and walk the rest of the climb.

At the top is an almost gothic looking hotel – Hotel Kulm. It has two restaurants and a small shopping maul. Given the crystal clear air it also has astronomical observatories.

The summit has a small stone chapel which has become one of Switzerland’s most visited places of worship. Thousands trek here each year to light a candle and take in the peaceful setting.

Watch out for your chips the Choughs are watching you.

Our day was mainly deep blue clear skies but every so often thick mist would sweep across. The brief spells of zero visibility reminded you of the importance of enjoying moments of beauty when they happen.

The view from the top is epic. Over 20 4,000m peaks and the Gorner Glacier. The world famous Matterhorn dominates one side of the 360 degree panorama. Absolutely breathtaking.

So this is the Gornergrat – a contender for any travel bucket list. The next part of the story will take us back to 2015 – a very different time for us all.

Spiez

It’s Sunday so let’s travel to beautiful Switzerland again.

My partners parents would always holiday in Switzerland and after a few visits they picked a small town on the banks of Lake Thun to be their base. The tradition was carried on with our holidays. To the extent that I have been to Spiez probably more times than I have been to London.

It’s the perfect base. The town is a major rail junction point. From here you can easily access the rest of Switzerland. It’s a 20 minute journey to Bern. You can also get direct links to Milan and Berlin.

You could also just opt for a relaxing lake trip to Thun or Interlaken. The Alps are almost in touching distance.

The walk round the marina and lake are worth the visit to Spiez on their own. It’s definitely the most beautiful run location I have encountered. Unbelievably for Switzerland it’s flat….

The Town is dominated by a beautiful old castle and a pristine marina. The hotel we always stayed at was located on the marina. It’s the building below the castle in the next photograph. The picture above is taken from the hotels restaurant. That’s some view to have with your breakfast.

On a Sunday the only sound you hear is the lapping of water and the ringing of church bells. It even has its own vineyard. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be on this Sunday morning than here in beautiful Spiez.

Niederhorn

Like any country you get some grim weather days. Maybe it was just luck but we seemed to get very few of those days in Switzerland. But you still can exploit the day. Put on your waterproofs and see what you can find.

The Niederhorn is a mountain which overlooks Lake Thun. From our preferred hotel it was a 10 minute ferry trip. Then it’s a funicular train and cable car to the top.

Or as I did once do the ferry and mountain run it to the top. When I say run I’m using a very loose definition of that word. It’s definitely a thigh trembler.

The Nierderhorn is 1950m (6450ft) high. To add to its height you have a huge Television Antenna at its top. It’s 90m tall and it is seriously impressive. You get dizzy looking up. I had visions of Baron Frankenstein waiting for a lightning strike to bring life to his creation.

Even on a grim day you get stunning views across the lake and to the Alps.

A lovely little restaurant at the top allows you to enjoy the mountains in the distance while enjoying your hot chocolate or when I ran up the mountain – copious amounts of Swiss Lager for purely medicinal purposes.

Sat at the restaurant table drinking in the views. Watching a golden eagle soar. Enjoying the peace and quiet. Relaxing. Switzerland delivers again. It really always does.

Swiss Sunday and relax

It’s Swiss Sunday again. A time to breathe and relax.

Often we would arrive in Switzerland on a Saturday. Completely stressed out with families, work, money, life. But on that train heading towards Spiez the holiday has started. Two Swiss Beers and it’s time to forget the world for a few days. You can feel the stress levels ebbing away as the mountain scenery passes by.

Sunday was the day of Total Relaxation. No busy shops. No frustrations. No anger. Just the peaceful sound of water lapping on the shore. Cow bells in the distance. The occasional ring of church bells. A time to just stroll and take in the views.

Then a leisurely trip to Interlaken. This really is the correct pace for life.

The train could get you there within 10 minutes. But what’s the hurry. Sit on the boat and just relax for 90 minutes.

Interlaken has a wonderful little Japanese Garden. The Garden of Friendship. Another chance for peace and tranquility.

In a world where stress levels are so high. We need places like Switzerland on a Sunday. Now breathe.

Swiss Water

It’s Swiss Sunday. Which means it’s Sunday and it’s time to indulge in a bit of Switzerland.

When my partner first took me to Switzerland I’m not sure what I was expecting. Mountains definitely. A beautiful country definitely. Brilliant transport without a doubt. Chocolate. Much Swiss cheese – probably. Yodelling – hopefully. Hardly any water – surely as it’s landlocked.

Now I can confirm it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It has mountains – lots of them. The transport is beyond precise. It is Chocolate Heaven. Swiss Cheese is very nice. Yodelling does happen but Swiss Culture is so varied and puts our culture to shame. It’s still treasured.

But I was hideously wrong on the water assumption.

If water is your thing then Switzerland is perfect. Waterfalls, Lakes, Rivers, Rapids, Streams. All stunning. All with a unique Alpine Colour and Sound.

Lakes and mountains are the perfect combination.

One warning. The alpine water can be on the chilly side. Brace yourself.

Swiss Sunday with a hint of Bond.

It’s Swiss Sunday. It’s time to be shaken not stirred.

We start again from the stunning mountain village of Murren and we are heading up to the top of the Schilthorn. A world famous mountain standing at 9744ft.

Only two ways to the top. A series of Cable Car rides. Not for the faint hearted. Once it was the longest aerial cable car in the world.

The other way is to try the gruelling 5 hour trek up a narrow mountain dirt path.

The mountain was featured in the 1969 James Bond movie – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. At the top you can visit the Bond Museum. It even has a cinema. The photo below is one of the mountains promo stills.

The Schilthorn has a wonderful revolving restaurant. It slowly turns and completes a full rotation in just under one hour. It’s a tremendous experience sat having lunch and gazing out of the window as the stunning mountain scenery moves slowly round.

There is a third way down but it’s not for me…

Suspect my butt would need a bigger chute.

Apparently you can see over 200 different summits from here. I remember son telling me

Close down the cable car and this would be the perfect place to live.

It really would be. A little chilly during winter but those views. You would never tire of them.