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 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.

Breathe

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

The Alps are one of the worlds greatest mountain ranges. Certainly not the tallest but they are big enough. Especially when you get close up to them.

But what they do have is a magic. A special atmosphere.

A place where it’s still possible to feel small. Humble in the face of nature.

A place where you feel a million miles from our vast urban sprawls.

Somewhere you can reconnect and just breathe.

Seasons

Same view – different season.

I never asked my partner which view she preferred. One of thousands of questions I never asked. Oh for those 17 years again…. I suspect she would not have gone for the snow version. She didn’t like being cold. To be honest she didn’t like it too hot as well. She was a Spring and Autumn person.

I would definitely opt for the snow version. I have always liked the cold. Maybe it was all those years of sitting watching the most northerly English Premier Football Team. Sat in a black and white shirt in the middle of winter. In summer I would melt. That’s a Yorkshire summer. Lord knows what I would do if I lived in Arizona or The Mediterranean or The Middle East.

Switzerland can get hot in the summer. I remember one really hot day. It was too hot for my partner. After a quick visit to the zoo she stayed in the hotel with our son while I went for a run along the lake. Never been so hot. After 40 minutes it was too much and I just jumped into the lake. Oh the sweet cool glacial waters. And I can’t swim… When I emerged from the lake a sweet old man was walking past shading the sun out with an umbrella. In almost perfect English he said

Grüezi. You must be English. Only someone from England would be mad enough to run in this.”

But I digress. This is Swiss Sunday and it’s not supposed to be about me. That’s wrecked any chance of a free Toblerone from the Swiss Tourist Board.

Switzerland is a special place. A place for special memories. A place where you can visit a valley one trip and it’s deep snow perfect for skiing. The next trip it’s scorching hot and it’s beach soccer.

Unlike the UK these days it still gets distinct seasons. Stunning colours in Spring. Heat in the Summer. Moody Autumns. Proper winters. That is how it should be. Something we need to try and preserve.

Drink it in

Swiss Sunday is here again. Still no free Toblerone from the Swiss Tourist Board – maybe one day.

My partner was super organised. She would book the trip so many months ahead. She would even find my passport with months to go – not sure she appreciated my just looking for the passport minutes before the taxi arrived strategy. However one of her first tasks would always be to book the hotel room. Always the same room. Why?

Every morning opening up the the curtains and this is the view you are greeted with. Get the coffee fix and sit on the balcony and drink this in. It’s truly glorious.

It always made me smile that because of the wonders of Switzerland’s Transport system you could finish your room coffee and hour later you can be sat at the restaurant on top of that mountain having your next drink. In the UK that trip would take days.

Then you could spice things up and look in the other direction.

Simply stunning.

Going back to Switzerland?

It’s Switzerland Sunday again. Maybe one day I will do a Loire Valley post – another favourite place for the two of us before we became a team of 3.

Sadly I’ve not been to that many countries but of the ones I have visited Switzerland has a look and feel like no other. It never fails to take your breathe away. It’s a country which uses all the colours available – no need for filters or photo enhancers here.

After our evening meal we would walk hand in hand along this promenade. Magic memories.

Today this photograph brings mixed emotions. The happiness and gratitude for those times. But sadness. Those days are gone. That feeling is amplified as we are at my partners birthday. I often talk about going back. So many places to revisit. So many new places to explore. But it won’t be those golden times. We also have the practicalities. How to pay for it. Plus something that concerns me. Now it would be just me and our son. What if something happens to me on holiday. What does he do. These concerns at present are pushing the prospect of a return visit further down the line. And that is so sad.

Train journey to the Ogre

It’s Sunday and it’s Switzerland time….

Switzerland is a spectacular country which means its train journeys are often just off the scale. No need to read a book here. Just look out the window and drink the views in.

The trip from from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg is one such experience.

The train goes on further up through the Eiger Tunnel to the JungFrauJoch. Known as the Top of Europe. But that was just too expensive. One day maybe… So we got off at the stop where a short walk takes you to the base of the famous North Face of the Eiger.

On the trip up I remember looking out of the train window in awe with our son repeatedly saying

Mum can you tell me the story about the legend of the three mountains AGAIN”

The legend is that a beautiful young girl (The Jungfrau) is in danger from an evil Ogre (The Eiger). Only a brave Monk (The Mönch) can protect her. They forever stand next to each other in an eternal struggle.

Son loved this story and his mum loved telling him it. On this trip she must have retold it at least 30 times. Another smiley memory. Happy Days and my love keep telling that story.

The view

Looking out into the distance.

Dad that’s a top View. Unbeatable.”

It is. Completely fogged out. Can’t see more than 5 yards in front of us. See kids with Aspergers can do irony.

The garden could be beautifully cut and looking like a football pitch before a major cup final. Wonderfully straight stripes.”

Now he is in full irony mode. It’s more like a cow field at present.

Since we don’t have a view to look at we have license to make our own one up. I’m seeing Whitby Habour on a stormy day.

Dad I’m seeing one image. Do you remember that day when I stood on top of the world. I loved that.”

I so do. He was about 5 and we ventured onto his first mountain. A beautiful Swiss one. Glorious blue skies. Fresh alpine air. Surrounded by dream like peaks. The two of us having a crazy snowball fight. My partner and her mum happily sat in the mountain top restaurant having hot chocolate.

A beautiful moment.

This can be such a wonderful life if we only just give it a chance.