19.09.2012 - 21.09.2012 14 °C
This might be an Australian thing, but when we are travelling to new countries we are always enamoured with those that have snow-capped mountains. Can’t really explain it, as neither of us are avid skiers or boarders (although we would like to be) but some of our favourite destinations feature snow covered vistas that have us insisting we will return again one day. It all started with Canada and the Icefields Parkway seven years ago, then there was the beautiful south island of New Zealand and of course this year we add Norway and Iceland to the list.
But the only one we have made the return trip to so far is Switzerland, and so it was that for the third time in six years we crossed the border into neutral territory for a brief two days on our way from France to meet up with Andrew’s family in the Black Forest of Germany. In fact the majority of Swiss people speak German so it was a great opportunity to brush up on our (very limited!) German before our arrival!
Our past Swiss ventures have taken us to the central area where we visited Zurich and Lucerne, and to the east where we were very fortunate to spend a week in St Moritz in an early start to the Winter in 2008.This year it was a drive in the west of the country travelling from Geneva in the south-west corner then north-east through Berne to Basel which is only one hour from the Black Forest. Three nice enough cities, with the usual European fixtures of lovely churches, picturesque town centres and a museum of some description, but we had other plans……
A short detour from our route got us to Interlaken, the Swiss adventure capital! On our previous two trips we had tried to fit Interlaken into our itinerary but time and distance had prevented us from getting there. It was a crisp Autumn day as we arrived in town and we were once again struck by the beauty of this country: vast green fields, snow caps on the mountains, waterways so clear they shimmer in the sun…… Switzerland is picture perfect.
And the best place to view all of this? In the air of course! With our multiple layers on we were rugged up for an early morning para-gliding session to take it all in. Strapped to the professionals you literally run off the edge of a mountain, the chute laid out on the ground behind you, and as you both run to the edge the chute lifts off the ground and fills with air.
The sensation of gliding is magical – you are weightless as you sail down and up there you experience true silence, and for some reason the fear of heights is silenced also. Most of the pilots who do this for a living have been doing so for 10-20 years and sometimes more, and with 5-8 flights per day you can be confident they know what they are doing to get you down safely. This was our second gliding adventure and it was as thrilling as the first, our only complaint is that the flight is over all too quickly.
The Jungfrau region just south of Interlaken is breathtaking and a hiker’s paradise. Cable cars and trains criss-cross over the mountains delivering adventurers to vantage points all around the area where restaurants and lookouts are located and hiking trails are mapped out. We have both agreed that this is a region we will return to again one day to really explore the area, but this time around we are tight on time as we have a rendezvous planned in Germany.
Literally 48 hours after we crossed the border we sailed out and on to our next destination. Just a week before we got to Switzerland we had not even considered going there, but that’s the great thing about a road trip! The plan can, and does, change on a daily basis and the lure of para-gliding over some of our favourite scenery was just too strong. Thanks Switzerland – you never let us down! Until next time, auf wiedersehen.