It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.
Time travelling back a few years. The Hotel Owner takes a look at our shorts, T-shirt and sunglasses.
“I do hope you have brought something warmer with you. It’s going to be warm this morning but we have a cold snap coming through this afternoon. If not let me know and I can get you some jumpers”
I know it’s a generalisation but I always found the Swiss to be staggeringly polite. My partner knew this country so well. Even though this was deep into May she knew it was worth bringing a few items of wool. So with warmer gear in my rucksack we set off. Within a couple of hours it was most appreciated.
Another thing about Switzerland. The weather forecasts. In the UK our gerbils give more accurate forecasts than the weather services. Switzerland is different. Like its trains the forecasts are usually precision perfect. Each day would start with watching the weather guide on the TV. No weather presenter here. Stunning live web videos from the countries best locations with the hourly forecast underneath. I could watch that all day. So on this Sunday the forecast had snow from 2pm. At 1pm the clouds rolled in and suddenly the temperatures dropped sharply. Just after 2pm the snow started.
We watched the snow line descend rapidly down the mountains.
A few snow ball fights later and we found ourselves in the hotel enjoying copious amounts of pizza and apfelsaftschorle. The Hotel Owner confidently predicting that tomorrow would be a sun cream day.
The next morning we opened the hotel window and were rewarded with this view. Yesterday’s cold snap was so worth it.
It’s time for my most repeated words. Its Sunday so it must be time for a little bit of wonderful Switzerland.
I’ve been asked quite a few times why did you start going to Switzerland? Why did you keep going back? Why did you always stay in the same town, same hotel?
My partners grandad went there when he was a young man. The fresh alpine air helped him recover from a serious medical condition which had plagued him. He then introduced my partners beloved Dad to the country. Her Dad then spent a lot of time there after the Second World War when he worked with a charity helping injured service men.
Why always Switzerland. Why always Spiez. My partners family become close friends with the hotel owners. Part of the visit was to see old friends. Plus Aspergers families will understand the need for routine and familiarity.
But above all else. Just look at these physio.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of beautiful Switzerland. This morning it’s a lake trip.
Every Sunday morning we spent in Switzerland had the same trip. Catching the boat from Spiez to Interlaken.
It’s a couple of hours spent leisurely crossing Lake Thun.
Sometimes it’s a regular boat and sometimes it’s on the large and palatial old steamer.
Occasionally the trip comes with beautiful traditional Swiss Choir singing.
Our trip always involved a late breakfast, gorgeous coffee, fresh peppermint tea, a fruit juice and a table top animal game.
Lake Thun is a large one. It’s 2500 kilometres square and 712 ft deep.
After the late breakfast it was time to take in the stunning views.
We always said that if we ever won the lottery we would buy a house next to the lake. Mowing the lawn might be a tad dangerous on some of the properties.
Eventually you arrive at Interlaken after a beautiful and oh so relaxing morning.
General Elections in the middle of December are unlikely to be conducive to establishing that festive feeling. So we arrive at Friday the 13th are still no thoughts of Santa. So action was needed. Time for a train journey
A train journey with a difference. The Northern Lights Express on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is an historic 18 mile line that runs across some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. It’s a not for profit charity with its daily operations carried out by volunteers. It has a fleet of historic steam and diesel locomotives. It is special to our son as his Grandad helped establish the Trust which eventually reopened the line in 1973.
So on this night. The entire outside of the train was decked in lighting. Inside decorations and mulled wine. Son tried to convince the nice volunteer to let him try the wine. But she resolutely stuck to her guns
“Sorry your just a few years to young. Maybe your Dads old enough to buy one”
His reply made me crawl under the table.
Look at his thinning hair on top. That’s tells you he’s way past 18.
The fairy tale story was told and we board the train.
Look out the window at the magical looking forests while listening to Christmas music. The announcer lets everyone know that the Driver has spotted some magical creatures ahead. The carriage goes over a bump in the track and Son instantly informs the carriage that ‘the trains just hit one the magic creatures’.
Then the creatures appear in the forest.
On the return journey it’s a Christmas Quiz and a Sing Song. That’s the first time this year I’ve tried to sing a bit of Wham. The first part of the journey pulled by a B1 Class Steam Engine built in 1947.
The engine pulling the return trip is called Sybilla and is 54 years old.
The election is forgotten for a while and yes it feels a lot like Christmas now.
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.
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.
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.
Before we just focused our holidays on beautiful Switzerland we had trips to France. Some great times. Times before our son. Times before grief rode in. Times even before digital. So occasionally I’m going to do turn the clock back to the start of this century. Go down memory lane.
This was a long weekend trip. A car trip from Yorkshire to the Loire Valley. We pre booked the accommodation but didn’t quite expect to be staying in a mini chateau.
Even before brexit the English always received a warm welcome in France.
Inside was just staggering. I was under strict orders. ‘Don’t touch anything in case you knock it over’.
The chateau stood next to the Loire River.
It must have been hot. No jumper.
Why the long weekend. Why the 620 mile drive. To watch the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
Not the greatest of views but the budget had been blown on the accommodation and petrol. It was hot. Mid to high thirties. Wow it was noisy.
The race was won by the great Michael Schumacher.
Yorkshire weather. Good running weather. Why would I want to run in dry warm windless conditions. Well that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m like Count Dracula. I would turn to dust in direct sunlight. I wonder what I would do if someone offered me the chance though.
I’m mind wrestling with something at the moment. My partner was an epic traveller. She visited so many countries. It was her extravagance. From her late teens she would save up during the year for one great adventure. Family and her adventures was what she lived for. The adventures only stopped when we became a family. Her dream was that when our son became older we could have adventures together. The two places she always talked about was New Zealand (would have been her first time) and Chile. She always said that we would all love Chile.
Then life happened.
I really want to complete those journeys for her. Our Autism World may preclude that. Circumstances may preclude it. But we will see. I most admit a part of me doesn’t want to do those trips. It’s just not right that it would only be the two of us.
Sorry I digress. Back to my mind wrestling. So many adventures and so many photographs. All sat neatly and well organised in carefully stored albums. Here is the dilemma. Part of me wants to do a retrospective photo journal. Tell her travel story. Her trip to the Soviet Union (gives you an idea of the timeframe) maybe would be a great starting point. YET another part of me recoils at the idea. What if she hates that idea. What if I’m breaking some unwritten bond of trust. It’s like having two competing voices on either shoulder each shouting differing viewpoints on life.
She’s not here anymore. What’s the problem!
YOU KNOW SHE WOULD SAY NO. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THIS!
But this feeling is something I’ve grown used to over these three years. On virtually every major decision I have these doubts. ‘What do I want to do’ balanced against ‘what would she do’. I try to see the world through my eyes and at the same time through her eyes. Problem is that we were two completely different characters. We each had our own unique take on the world. We would frequently disagree on the right answer. Often we would compromise. I’m still trying to compromise now. Yet I can’t replicate her thought process. I never could and I never will. I’m probably getting her point of view completely wrong. But I still do it.
Maybe other people do this. Maybe it’s just me sinking further into cabin fever.
So am I going to publish this travel journal? I don’t know. WE still haven’t decided.
It’s been a while since we arrived in Strasbourg on our Creaky World Tour.
Let’s see how far around the world I can get only powered by my battered old stationary exercise bike, dog walking and local runs. As my fitness tracker has died I will be using a suitable alternative for the distance calculations – Pokemon Go. So might even catch a few Pokemon on the way.
Since the 16th September my battered body has recorded the following distances.
Exercise Bike – 528km
Walking – 125km
Running – 205km
That’s a grand total of 858km.
The first stop off point is to Kitzbuhel. That’s 490km. That’s Kitzbuhel in Austria. It’s on my bucket list. Just once I would love to go to the famous Downhill Ski Race here. The Hahnenkamm. It’s just about the most demanding course on the world circuit. Every year I sit in front on the TV with my mug of coffee and watch the brave skiers fly down this scary rollercoaster at speeds of up to 142km/h (88mph). We also play a game. Who is the first person to spot Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crowd. Thanks to the Red Bull and Zimbio websites for the photos.
So we have a bit more distance left in the tank and with a fair wind we can just about reach beautiful Vienna. That’s a trip of 370km.
Vienna is the capital of Austria and has been ranked the city with the highest quality of life in the world. Its been top for the last ten years (Mercer Quality of Living Survey). It was just about my partners favourite city. She would often reminisce about going to the wonderful Vienna State Opera House (Staatsoper). Thank you to Austria.info and Mozart.co.at for the photos.