Switzerland

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
1
40
60
Trip End May 31, 2008


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of Switzerland  ,
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leaving Paris, our journey continued southbound for the Swiss border. This country is famous for its Swiss Army Knives, Swatch Watches and coo-coo clocks. I'm told that the reason for the Swiss interest in watches and clocks stems from a previous religious order which banned people from wearing jewellery, so the jewellers of the country turned their trade to the building of quality time pieces to stay in business; and the Swiss Army Knives, did you know that they're now available with USB memory and a laser pointer? These knives are now available in all colours, not just red, but the one thing I just don't understand is the army camouflage colour; the only possible purpose that I can think of for having a knife of this colour would be to ensure that should the item be accidentally dropped when outdoors, finding it would be made impossible.

70% of Switzerland is mountainous and the Swiss have ensured that their country can never be taken over by installing hidden fortifications and networks of military tunnels inside the mountains. The country's road and rail tunnels can also be sealed off within 24 hours to prevent an attacking enemy from moving within the country.

As we crossed into Switzerland the scenery changed from flat grazing land and vineyards to rolling hills, mountains and lakes. The Swiss Alps seem to rise up to the heavens and, as one would expect, the mountains are covered by snow and glaciers. The cities and towns of Switzerland are connected by networks of motorways which rarely traverse around mountains; rather they tunnel through or bridge across them. The country is also connected by a modern railway network which, you guessed it, runs like a Swiss clock.

The towns of Switzerland are as pretty as they appear in the postcards with their classic timber chalets, well kept gardens and white churches with pointed bell towers. And moustaches; I saw plenty of guys here sporting some great mo's. We headed on to the tiny village of Lauterbrunnen which lies at the base of the Jungfrau Mountain where we spent the following two nights.

The next day I took a cog rail train to the top of the 4000 metre Jungfrau Mountain. The trip offers some fantastic scenery as the train ascends to the snow line. Construction of the railway commenced in 1894 under the guise of Adolf Guyer-Zeller, a colourful and charismatic figure in the history of Swiss transport. The project took 16 years to complete at a cost of 15 million Swiss Francs and is Europe's highest altitude cog railway. The Jungfraujoch centre which lies at the top of the railway offers the opportunity to walk out on to a glacier, stroll through an ice palace which featuring some fantastic ice sculptures, visit an astronomical observatory or view a climate research station. I had planned to hire crampons and poles and take a hike up to the Jungfrau's summit though visibility was so poor I could hardly see for more than five metres. While outside on the snow shelf, I met a German fellow by the name of Matais who was working in Switzerland and had taken the trip up the mountain that day with his father and their adorable Labrador named Joey. I joined them for a coffee and a chat in the centre's restaurant before descending by train as far as the town of Wengen. I then returned to Lauterbrunnen via a spectacular hiking trail which took about an hour.

On reaching the village I found a small trade show which was running that day and an exhibit was showcasing some electric power assisted bicycles which were available for trial. The bikes have no throttle but automatically respond to your peddling and can increase your physical effort by up to 150% with the use of a 2.5KW electric motor. I took one of these bikes for a ride up an extremely steep hill and found that it was capable of assisting me to climb the grade with ease and at a brisk speed. The following day we crossed back to France and visited the seaside city of Nice.
Slideshow Report as Spam

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: