Swiss Sunday

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

Last couple of weeks have found us replaying some wonderful memories from a family trip to the pyramid mountain. The Niesen.

Week 1

Week 2

I had a couple of lovely emails saying how much they had enjoyed the views and asked if I had any more photos from that trip. Thank you and here goes with round 3 then.

As with a number of Swiss mountains you can enjoy a hot drink, fine food and maybe something a little stronger at the top. The Niesen has a wonderful sun lounge that offers stunning views of The Alps.

And someone enjoyed himself.

Swiss Sunday

Last week we left our Swiss Sunday trip travelling up the Funicular to the top of of the Niesen.

The Niesen is called Switzerland’s Pyramid.

If I remember correctly I promised you some stunning mountain top views. Well here goes.

It overlooks the beautiful Lake Thun.

With one of the Worlds most imposing mountain ranges, The Alps dominating in the opposite direction. Including breathtaking views of The Eiger.

Bizarrely the literal translation of Niesen is sneeze.

It’s also a favourite visiting spot for some very brave individuals.

On top our son had a blast of a time. So many dreams. And the first snow he had been able to touch in over a year.

Swiss Sunday

It’s time for another slice of that wonderful country – Switzerland.

One mountain in particular towers over Spiez. Where our hotel base was. Beautiful Niesen. Son calls it the pyramid mountain.

It’s the northern edge of a spectacular mountain ridge and is 7749ft high (2362m). A short train journey takes you to the base of the mountain. As son was still quite young we were restricted on walking distances. Plus it was often a few steps of walking then more time to dream.

So we got off the train at Frutigen and walked along the lovely Kander River. Eventually arriving at the Mulenen and the Niesenbahn.

An old Funicular will carry you to the top. In places it is scarily steep. For the mad ones amongst us – once a year – you can enter the mountains stair run. A stairway follows the route of the Funicular to the top. Comprising of 11674 steps. It is the Worlds Longest Stairway. Really unfortunately the day we went up was one of the stairways closed days – that’s a shame….

As the Funicular moves above the tree line the views open out.

Next week we will continue the story on the summit. It is truly one of the great views. As good as I’ve had the privilege of seeing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.