Monday, June 08, 2009

Farewell Switzerland, hello Germany!

Unfortunately it was time to bid our farewells to Switzerland today, we have really enjoyed our stay here despite the exhorbitant prices.

Instead of heading directly north up and out of Switzerland we decided to head south, almost into Italy in fact before going west and then finally north and into Germany. This was because I, note not Caron, wanted to go over a real Swiss pass and the Furka pass looked like it would fit the bill. Caron, without much enthusiasm, agreed and was more than a little tense especially as we started to climb and climb and climb. This was the view looking eastwards and we weren't even close to the top of the pass.

As we drove higher and higher there was more and more snow on the sides of the roads and every now and then the road was reduced to a single lane due to snow or rocks falling on the road. The snow in the picture below is about 6-9m deep and one gets the feeling that as one drives past it is going to slip and push the car over the edge. It didn't happen of course but one's imagination is a funny thing.

Dropping over the first pass and looking back up what we had come down, it was so steep that it isn't possible to build a switchback on the actual mountain so the Swiss improvised with a flyover perched halfway up a hillside. One can just see the truck to give some sense of the scale.

When I was a little boy my father always used to reprimand me for throwing stones over cliffs because we 'never know what damage they may do'. One little boy obviously didn't listen and I can hear his father saying "If anyone asks, you didn't throw the stone. Ok?"

This would constitute a conversation killer at any dinner party in my book!

Arriving at the town at the bottom we discovered that the glacier just above the town is the Rhone glacier so now we have seen the source and the mouth of the Rhone river at Arles. We stopped for a some coffee and a bite to eat and met a New Zealand couple who had just cycled over the pass and were about to go over another one as the weather started to close. Freezing sleet made even our ice-cream van seem like luxury.

Turning north we stumbled across Interlaken which is where the Eiger and Jungfrau are. We had lunch at something 'Grande'. Note to self, never eat or stay in anything that has 'Grande' in it as well as those that have 'Royal' in it. Very expensive, very disappointing. 40F or about R300 for a VERY light lunch that was average at best.

The drive after this was long and tiring, crossing into Germany was a non-event and we finally arrive at Staufen, pronounced by us as 'Stuffin' at about 16:30. We left at 09:00 so that is a long days drive. As is usual, it was raining as we arrived and Caron had a little bit of a wobbly with the rain. Although we are reasonably well set up for rain it is just so much more pleasant if it is sunny. This is meant to be the European summer and it is overcast and rainy most of the time; I dread to think what it is like in the winter. Today is the first time when we've thought of how nice it is going to be to get home with all the luxury and people to which we are so accustomed.

Made supper, read our books and watched some cyclists arrive in the rain. We at least have a car as a last resort they have, well, nothing! But then they are only doing it for a few weeks I suppose.

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