| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
The official name is Swiss Confederation, and it covers 41,285 square kilometres. It is a Federal semi-direct democracy under multi-party parliamentary directorial republic with around 8.400.000 citizens. 71% are Christians, 22% do not have a religion, 5% Muslims and the rest dividend among minor religions.
The currency is Swiss franc (CHF), worth 6,97 Danish Krone. The GDP is US$651.770 billion.
The climate of Switzerland
is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. It variants with the heights,
going from Mediterranean climate at Switzerland's southern tip to to alpine
in the mountains.
It is snowing on the top, but the road is covered with a roof, and I get pass with my warn-down summer tiers. A bit later, I cross through the clouds, and despite I see a lot of beautiful views, I fail to capture them. The Alps are still in the early spring, and several roads are still closed. Snow are everywhere above 1000 metres or so, and the early plants are flowering.
I had honestly not expected it to be this "Alpish"
right away, but this is exactly how I imagined the Alps to look - except I
had my mind on sunshine. I am heading towards Verbier, which should be "The
Diamond of Valaisian Alps". I reach it, but I fail to see its beauty at all.
Vide streets, new houses, though; build in timber for most parts.
I head back to the Rhone valley, and follow it for some time. Here are so many tiny timber villages, huge green grass meadows and further up the steep mountains; conifers and then snow. I try desperately to capture the old timber huts and houses, but they are so dark, and here are so little light.
I reach the wider part of the valley, and here are a
huge production of vine and fruits like apples. Here are also a lot diary
farms, but only a few cows to see. But to judge from the amount of manure,
there are a lot inside the stables.
It is a bit hard to judge how high the mountains are,
as the top is covered in clouds. And that make my next target a bit dodgy:
Mt Matterhorn with its 4478 metres. There should be a great view from
the village of Zermatt (as the name indicates?). Well, I kind of get a
glimpse of, what I believe to be Matterhorn, but then the clouds closes
Small glaziers are finding their way down through the
gorges, and huge dunes of snow are everywhere. I can't help myself, but keep taking
photos of the mountains and the small timber huts, although I know; I'm
bound to fail.
It is clearing up a bit, but I fail to see that many peaks. The town is almost completely dead, and only a few shops are kind of open. The town have quite some ancient timber huts, but also a lot of new buildings. Someway in the process, It have lost the spirit. I get to walk a long way, as the giant parking house is outside town, and I get to pass it on the way down.
I head further in the giant valley, but before I reach Grimmelwald, the road is closed! That is a big problem, as the detour is at least 300 kilometres. I try another, minor road, but end up at a huge wall of snow. Nothing else to do, but take the long way around Aigle, way out west. I turn around in a town named Bitsch!
It is pretty much the same way back, as I came, and when I ask the GPS for a camp, it only suggest the one I stayed in last night in Italy. I'm not going to pay 2x€26 for the tunnel, to get to a camp with only cold water and useless internet!
I start looking for a camp at five, and find several. One is closed, one only for the whole year, one only for full blood campers, one elutes me, way out in the gravel roads. I finally find one at half pass seven, and some young people staying here, show me how to crash the gate and internet. I'm sure someone will collect payment in the morning.
The hardworking Lupo have had some real bad sounds the last couple of days. In Italy, everything was spring holyday, and here, the mechanics refers to VW. I find one on the internet, around 50 kilometres further up the route. Well, they call them self VW partners. Alps, Verbier, Zeematt, Saas Fee, Rhone valley.
2/5. There is none to collect payment for the camping, but when I'm about to drop €15 in their mailbox, a local passes by, and make a call: €15 it is. Then I set the GPS for the VW garage, and head into the Alps in a rather depressing day. Greyish and sometime, the drizzle mans up to rain. Newer the less, here are so pretty!
Before I reach the garage, another genuine VW dealer is found along the road, and I give it a shot. Then will look at it right away, but after three including the boss have had a look, it is clear they haven't a clue! The suggest changing the front tires and the front brake discs to original - for "only" €775. After that, they will try to figure where the klonch originates from.
Well, I do need the front tires, but I have already gotten two set of discs without is have changed anything. Further more, their quote is around three times more than my Danish mechanic will ask. I guess Switzerland is the wrong place to ask. Actually, many things seems to be 3-4 times as expensive than in France, Spain and especially Portugal.
I pay CHF 50, but what I (thought I) found out was; it is not just a loose bolt, it will not loose a tire, and it is probably the gearbox. And that is the Achille's-heal on Lupos! Only a few experts understand how the Lupo clutch/gearbox actually work. Considering I'm not in danger, I keep on driving till I reach Germany or even better; Czech! I just turn up the music and pretend nothing is wrong.
Next sight on my long list is the Alpine Botanical Garden of Schynige Platten. It is yet another great drive, and I would say 95% of the houses are great motives. I feel like I'm driving around in the most glorious Märklin model landscape! The rivers, the waterfalls, the cows, the railroads, the mountains, the forest, the green grass meadows, the granite bridges, the flowering apple trees - all ingredients are here.
I reach what I believe is the right road, but it is only single lane, and have some signs which probably mean I'm not welcome. Never the less, I head on for quite some of the twelve kilometres this little road leads in, and up through the meadows and steep mountains. It seems like I'm never going to see a botanical garden again!
I head towards Grimmelwald, which despite the name should be "- a gorgeous village". Once again, I do enjoy the tour immensely, despite the rain. Then I reach the town, and I can't really understand what I'm doing here. It is partly closed shops, mainly new buildings, and it have no charm at all. I do an extensile loop, just to make sure I haven't missed the great part, but rather cold, I return to the car without having seen anything interesting.
Well, then it off to Meiringen to see the 250 meter tall Reichenbachfall - a waterfall. That should not fail: Even the water is here! Another great drive, this time in relatively lowland, and in-between the two large lakes in the Interlaken area. I find the right place to park, but the steep railroad is still winter closed.
I consider walking till I see the map, and the sorry photos a professional have made on a sunny day. I'm not going to walk for three hours, in the rain, for that! Actually, I saw three other falls, at least 150 metres tall on the way to here, and the photos I made need explanations!
Next up is Lucerne, which should be "Switzerland's prettiest town". Well, what can go wrong (this time)? I'm not really sad about the missing sights, and the drive in-between them are so fantastic. I pass some forests, and between showers, I do a bit of botanication. I find two pretty flowering plants - and I have no idea what they are.
Then I reach Lucerne, and it is a huge city, and at first, I really find it hard to like it. I head towards the river, hoping to find the old town. I park in a deep parking house, and head on by foot. Then I hit the right spot, and it sure is pretty! A lake-like part of the river is crossed by an ancient bridge; Kapellbrücke with roof over. The buildings facing the water is ancient too, and each have its style.
A bit further inland, more glorious houses are found, and not only their shape, but also the full facade paintings are magnificent. Fountains are on every square, many bridges crosses the river. I wonderer round for quite some time, and the rain have stopped for now. When I probably have a photo of most of the houses, I find back to the car, and start a long drive south.
I had hoped to see one more town, but getting out of the parking house take for ever. Apparently, there are a big fire nearby, and parts of the town have been closed. I do some accounting and finally set the GPS for a camp, 18 kilometres further on, planning to return in the morning. It have started to rain quite a lot anyway, and three castles can wait.
I pass the large lake once again, and the greyish views are never the less great, until I reach the 17 kilometre long Gottardo tunnel. That is boring driving! When I reach a town close to the camp, the traffic grind to a hold once again. Hard to say why, but eventually, I reach the little camp, right on the lakeside in Fosano - or somewhere close. Here are none, but a sign say: Find a place, and pay tomorrow. Great, except I would have liked the code for the Wi-Fi. Alps, Grimmelwald, Lucerne and the lakes.
3/5. I have to wait a hour and a half to pay for the night. And do I get to pay! 40 SHF, around 300 DKK, for two showers and no internet (and I wonder; why I'm a gentleman?). It is an expensive country, and the lady who rips me, tell me at the same time; they are the cheap one around! While I wait, I watch the lake and the swans, grassing on the camp lawns. The sun is almost here, but not really.
It is a relatively short drive to Ascona, which should be a perfect lake town. The drive is nice when I clear the towns, but Ascona is nothing special, I think. The lack of sun and temperature might do it, but I've seen prettier towns. I do the lakeside and some back streets, and head on.
Another great drive through the Valle Maggia, and I'm in Fusio, which is special around here, because the houses are made in granite, not timber. I drive a bit around, and make a few photos of the old houses, the church and the waterfall. It is kind of interesting, but not as much as the drive to here.
Next stop is in the larger town of Bellinzona, famous for having three fortresses. I had hoped for a more spectacular town, but only a few houses are truly outstanding. I make a long walk around town, and think I get to see all three castles. Two are more or less engulfed in the town. The new houses in town are square boxes, real ugly!
Back to the car again and then a longer drive to Chur to find the road to Arosa. It causes me some problems due to closed and one-way streets, but finally, I'm on the narrow mountain road, heading up through a narrow valley. It is truly Märklin land! I had hoped to see a Marmot; Marmota marmota, and here are actually several along the road.
It is truly a great drive up the mountains, and I make so many stops to capture some of the magic. Again, I feel I'm driving around in an oversized Märklin model. Houses looking like cuckoo clocks, cattle on the neon-green meadows, flowering apple trees, ancient bridges over white water rivers and all it takes.
Arosa is really a disappointment, although the tour up here was supposed to be the main advent. But the town consists of some square concrete buildings with closed shops and little more. The big lake is partly frozen and here are dunes of snow everywhere. I had a camp here, but I do not feel like using it! I head back down to Chur, and turn right towards Liechtenstein. The border is only marked with a few flags, and if I haven't been looking for it on the GPS, I probably would have missed it! Ascona, Fusio, Arosa road and Alps
Switzerland is a beautiful country, and should I win in lotto one day, I might return. I have driven only 1127 kilometres, taken 1184 photos but spend €319, around 2400 DKK.
From here, I head into Liechtenstein.