Monday, June 20, 2005

A trip to Switzerland (part 3)


[... continued]

By Thursday (2nd June) we have to say goodbye to our nice free beds (with sinangag and Lucban longganisa breakfast) in Geneva. ;) My sister was leaving for the Phils. while we have to journey towards the Lucerne-Zurich area then on to our long drive home. After the hardwork of packing back our tons of luggage in our old van, we said goodbye to Geneva and drove towards Interlaken. On the way we decided to have a picnic lunch by the banks of small but pretty Lac de Bret near Vevey where me and my husband also had a lovely dinner the night before with some friends. As you can see in the pictures above, the place is tranquil and very pleasant.

We then proceeded to the Interlaken area via a very steep twisting road called the Jaunpass. There were lots of lovely sights to behold - green valleys, lush farmlands, waterfalls, great mountainscape. So nice to breathe clean mountain air. We were quite (camera) trigger happy in that jaunt.


When we got out of that tire-wearing twisting road, we found ourselves looking at the twin lakes of Interlaken. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to visit the beautifully set town but instead diverted to the hiking village of Kandersteg unless we wanted to see a major tantrum from J1. He wanted to show us around the place where he and his scout troop went camping last year and we were not disappointed. J1 had very fond memories of those times and wanted to share it with us. Kandersteg town centre is quite charming with the air of a small village. There were quite a number of small upscale hotels which belies the variety of outdoor activities available in the area such as hiking, skiing, mountain biking, camping, etc. It is also where one of the camping sites of the World Organization of the Scout Movement is located (where J1 camped last year). That website of the scout camp is quite useful because they have a live webcam onsite. What we used to do is to make J1 stand there in front of the webcam after his daily phone call to us so we could see him on the internet - what he's wearing, who's with him, etc. Isn't that neat?! I remember we used to interrogate him about his clothes - "Didn't you wear that the other day? How come your shirt and trousers don't match?" :LOL:

pictures courtesy of Ernie Endrina

After swanning around for some time in Kandersteg it was time to leave. It was getting late and I thought we might have to take the easy route to Lucerne (where we are supposed to spend the night) instead. But I'm glad we decided to push on to our original plan - that to pass thru the superlative Sustenpass. If ever you want to go to just one place in Switzerland to see mountain views go there !! Sustenpass is even more steep and twisting than Jaunpass and more tire-wearing, too. When we stop we could smell burning rubber what with all those countless steep hairpin bends we had to negotiate. But don't worry 'coz soon enough you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps. Although your pictures would look like you stepped in front of a poster. LOL! Really superb views of majestic snow-capped peaks.

What I like most with our time there is that we practically had the route to ourselves. Besides the daredevil powerbike riders, there were hardly any cars enroute. You know me I don't like crowds so it was pure bliss. Also as we were climbing, I could see dark clouds closing in on the mountains. I said a little 'request' to the goddesses and guardian spirits of the Alps to please give us a little window of sunshine to better appreciate the beauty of the place. And what do you know, the clouds parted the sun came out and we had a glorious time! On our way down I looked back and saw the clouds moving back in. The short show was over and I said a silent heartfelt prayer of thanks to them.

Tired from the long drive that day (which included probably the longest tunnel we've been in), we hit our beds right after we checked in a hotel in Lucerne. Early the next day we toured picturesque Lucerne with its lovely location right at the edge of the lake of the same name. The old part of the city is quite small with the oft photographed Chapel Bridge and Water Tower dominating it. The former has been here since the 1300s but unfortunately most of it were burned in the devastating fire in 1993. They have restored it completely although they chose to include some badly charred murals to remind people of the ravages of the fire. It seems like a place with lots of touristic things to do like go up in Mt. Pilatus or Mt. Titlis. It was a nice relaxing day by the river bank where we had a idyllic lunch. We also met up again with our friends Helen & Ellery and their family right before we left.


Lots of old structures are clustered along the riverbank. On of them is this Jesuit church in Lucerne, made distinct with its twin onion shaped domes. On the right you could see its fabulous Baroque interior.

After lunch and saying goodbye again to our friends, we motored on to the homestretch of our trip. Unfortunately, we hit the combined rush hour traffic and countless road works in Zurich and in the A35 towards Strasbourg just outside the Swiss border. Our plan to spend the night in Boulogne was ruined because of this. So we decide to drive thru the night straight to Calais/Dunkirk area. It wasn't much of a problem since there were 3 of us alternating on the driver's seat. We must have drove a bit too fast since we arrived in Calais at 4 AM! Our schedule with the ferry is not until 12:45PM. What to do? After circling around the Calais area trying to find an open restaurant or fastfood to relieve our grumbling stomachs, we decided to go for it in the ferry. When we arrived in Dunkirk, there was hardly any queue. Good thing they allowed us to board. Hooray! Hot breakfast for everyone on board. Pretty soon we were back on British soil and welcomed by the comfort of our own home.

This our old van in the belly of the ferry from Dunkirk. You have to hand it to this Toyota oldie. It travelled close to 2000 miles in the span of a week. Even at one point running for about 500 miles almost non-stop with nary a glitch (except for the aircon on timer :LOL:). It did not disappoint on the contrary it just went on and on and on ... thanks Lucida for taking care of us in our trips. Here's to more travels and adventures - cheers!

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