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.

First time in 20 years

I’ve lived in or around these parts for 20 years now. In that time I must have used one particular road short cut hundreds of times. It keeps you off the dreaded city outer ring road. On the short cut is a little sign for a nature trail. On virtually every pass I would make a mental note to pay the trail a visit one day.

All those years and so many mental notes.

Well the other week on the way to do the weekly shop I did something radical. I stopped. Time to cash in all those mental notes.

And what a little find.

It probably only takes about 10 minutes to walk round the nature reserve.

But it’s so worth it.

You forget that you are on the edge of a city surrounded by farmland and golf courses.

On this wet day I had the reserve to myself.

Teeming with wildlife and wonderful sculptures.

MOORLANDS Nature Reserve, York. And it’s free.

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.

Creaky World Tour 4

Currently not allowed to run due to knackered body (but starting to ignore medical advice just a little) so was in desperate need of a new fitness hobby to stop me going stir crazy. Came up with the idea of seeing how far I would get around the world powered only by my stationary exercise bike and walking with Pokemon Go….plus just an occasional run.

The creaky world tour left us in Lille (France). We started out in North Yorkshire.

So on this leg of the expedition we have managed

Bike – 475km

Pokemon Go – 35km

Run (don’t tell the Dr) – 15km

So where do these numbers take us?

To the beautiful city of Strasbourg. Located on the eastern border of France close to Germany. It is the formal seat of the European Parliament. The city is dominated by the imposing gothic Cathedral.

Photo from Wikipedia

Back in 2015 we visited Strasbourg. Unfortunately some wazzock forgot to bring his camera and his mobile was as flat as a pancake. So no photos and lots of housepoints lost. On that trip I became addicted to Flammekuche. A very thin pastry tart topped with creme fraiche, onions and other toppings. Bacon is popular.

The BBC kids comedy series Horrible Histories did a bizarre sketch about Strasbourg. It’s based on the real incident of sporadic mass dancing, called the Dance Plague which took place here in 1518.

Horrible Histories YouTube clip.

So its goodbye to France and where next?

Beach Football – Swiss Style

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

Spiez is like many Swiss towns and villages – nestled between beautiful lakes and imposing mountains. In summer the weather is often glorious with blue skies and hot weather. Although places like Spiez definitely have a seaside feel the word you don’t naturally associate with this great country is beaches.

So when we heard someone in the hotel mention the upcoming Beach Football Tournament we kinda of laughed. But how wrong we were.

Switzerland has a well stablished and successful beach soccer league. The finals weekend was being played 200 yards from the hotel. Within a couple of days a grass field had been transformed into a beech with stadium.

Beach soccer is a great sport to watch especially with a cold beer. Our son loved the experience. He loved watching the games, he loved kicking a ball on the sand, he loved the music, he loved the fanpark and he really loved his free hat. He still wears it today.

We didn’t get to see the league final as we had to leave on the Saturday. BUT…

On Friday night we got to see a beech soccer International. Switzerland v Germany. A brave soul paraglided off the local mountain and onto the pitch. Then it was the national anthems.

Then the teams showed amazing skills while kicking lumps out of each other. It really is a fabulous sport. Sadly I don’t think Yorkshire has the weather for it to catch on here. But if you get the chance do check out the sport.

But definitely if your looking for a seaside or beach holiday don’t automatically discount Switzerland. It really is an amazing country.

Switzerland and the Zoos

It’s Sunday and it’s time for another dose of Switzerland. With reflection maybe this should have been moved either to Monday or Friday.

When your an Aspergers parent(s) you get used to repetition and routine. Holidays are often no different. When we were fortunate to go to Switzerland we afforded ourselves a couple of days to explore but we had to factor in certain routines.

  • Sunday would be a boat trip to Interlaken. Here son would go into a gift shop which sold the full range of Schleich Toy Animals. Son would browse the range while his mum looked at all the amazing Swiss Cuckoo Clocks. Strangely we left with a couple of new animals but sadly no clock.

  • Monday would be a train trip to Zurich and a visit to it’s large Zoo
  • Friday was the last day of the holiday and we would have a visit to the small local zoo in Bern.

Before we get onto some zoo animals I have had a few people ask me to publish a photo of my Clooney like looks. For the ones who have asked HERE I AM swimming…

The two zoos are so different. The one in Bern is small and always seems very quiet. So so relaxing for someone with Aspergers.

Bern Zoo doesn’t have a huge range of animals but the animals facilities are modern. You get the real impression that the animals are really well looked after here.

Very unusually part of the zoo can be accessed without having to pay. What a brilliant idea.

It also has the most wonderful little adventure park for kids. It’s one of the few which our son was comfortable playing on.

Zurich Zoo is so much larger. It has over 4000 animals.

This zoo seems to focus on trying to give the animals the closest natural habit possible. The animals are being moved from cages to spaces. The elephants have a huge new indoor shelter and a purpose developed habitat outside.

It has a massive indoor tropical rain forest where you can walk about and also climb into the trees. The animals are free to roam in the trees and undergrowth. Maybe it’s coming from Yorkshire but I came out looking like I had just run several marathons.

Zoos can often leave you cold. Feeling sorry for the animals. You don’t get that feeling at these two zoos. This is how zoos should be.

The animals in Switzerland were so good for our son I will certainly revisit this again on this blog.

And finally if one image from all the zoo trips always brings a smile – it’s the one below. First of all I didn’t realise Giant Tortoises could move so quick. It certainly surprised our 6 year old.

Mum what are they doing?

“Ask your Dad”

Dad

No idea son. Maybe it’s some form of wrestling….

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.