Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be a Swiss Sunday. It’s my little tribute to that beautiful country.

I had a completely different set of photos lined up. Proper high alpine ones. But this week I’ve had one image in my head. It’s featured in a few late night dreams. No mountain landscape here. Just one house balcony. The house is in Spiez. It’s on a lovely little street behind the towns Schloss (castle). At least once on every trip we would have to walk past the house. On the house balcony there are a couple of human size fantasy models. Son loves them.

Drag yourself away from fantasy Middle Earth and you quickly get views like these.

Then it’s a view across the Lake.

Spiez is such a beautiful town. Sandwiched between the mountains and Lake Thun.

Swiss Sunday

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

Our family Aspergers holidays often heavily featured reassuring repetition. Sunday mornings would see a trip across Lake Thun to Interlaken. A walk round the beautiful town. Maybe even a game of crazy golf. Switzerland loves its crazy golf. Then the first hot chocolate of the trip while sat outside watching the Paragliders fly off the local mountain top.. Finally a trip to a wonderful Swiss gift shop. Clocks, Calendars and Schleich toy animals.

Only once did we vary the Sunday routine with a trip to Lenk. A stunning village set in a wide valley with picture postcard views of The Alps. Walking heaven and beautiful waterfalls.

How did we negotiate the change in routine. The promise of the finest ice cream on the planet with the added clause that on Monday he could buy three Schleich Toys.

Was it too soon to start him on wine….

Lenk is such a peaceful place to visit especially on a Sunday morning. Your not shopping, your not watching paragliding, your probably not playing crazy golf. Your chilling out, going for a walk, skiing in the winter, going to church, or sitting having drinks and tasty ice cream. What else do you need on Sunday.

The armchair tour.

One of the hardest things to adjust to over the last three years has been that my world has severely contracted. It’s rare for me to travel more than a few miles. Certainly had no holidays in that time. I end up feeling very cut off and a million miles from anywhere.

Then you get days (like most of us) which are bleak. Sad. Depressing. When my dear mum got those days she would listen to sad music. She said it cheered her up. Although I love sad songs they just don’t cheer me up. Looking at old photos helps a lot. But these often leave me with a feeling – I wish I was there now.

So I started something a little different. My own little armchair world tour. I have a list of carefully selected webcams which I can run through in 10 minutes. Many of the webcams are places I’ve been. Some are wonderful views. Some might just be a street corner which has a poignant memory. Then a few webcams are from places I so want to visit one day.

I really look forward to my daily armchair tour. It’s exciting seeing what the places are looking like currently. What’s the weather like? Is it busy? Has anything changed? As I enjoy it so much I tend to save it up. Keep it just in case I need cheering up or calming down later.

So to give you a feel I’m going to leave you with a few of the webcams. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Spiez Webcam

Kandersteg Webcam

Glen Coe

Schilthorn Webcam

Gornergrat Webcam

Gstaad Webcam

Patagonia Webcam

Cape Town Webcam

Maennlichen webcam

Swiss Sunday – The second First.

We left last Sunday having just arrived at the top of a little mountain which is special to me. The FIRST.

The First is a smallish mountain overlooking the beautiful Swiss Town of Grindelwald.

It is 7100 feet high and it takes about 25 minutes on the mini cable car to the top. You can just sit on the grass and drink in the the views.

At the top you can have fine Swiss food and drink

Or enjoy high level walks.

Or the brave can fly at breakneck speed.

Or you can do a number of platform walks across the cliff face or into space. Only for those with a great head for heights (or in this case drops).

The First is just a fun mountain. Every time you visit here you can do something different. So many memories available to be made. Just goes to show that you don’t need to be the biggest to be one of the best.

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.

The boys are back town

The boys are back in town. Well I hope it’s ‘The Boys’ as we might get a plague of Gerbils soon.

Three is plenty. The pet shop certainly saw us coming with the line – they have always been together, such a shame to separate them. To be fair to the G Team (can’t believe someone came up with a rodent G Force before me) they are exceptionally friendly, clean and don’t eat much. When I say don’t eat much. They do shred cardboard. Epic proportions. They also do like to destroy gerbil houses. Good job we have started to make them ourselves.

Unfortunately some things you can’t make again.

Take a long hard look. A stunning Swiss Glacier. Many of these wonders have lost up to 2m of thickness just in this year. They have lost over 10% of their volume in the last 5 years. At current rates 90% of The Alps 4000 glaciers will be gone by the end of this century. Why? 2019 was the third hottest on record for Switzerland. 2018 was the fourth. 2017 the 5th. 2015 was the 2nd. In September a wake was held for another glacier which had been sadly lost. It won’t be the last.

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.