Day 24 - 29/Switzerland you make me poor, but so happy!

Aktualisiert: 10. Nov. 2020

Grüezi mitenand,

sorry for the small delay - and actually I don't need to apologize at all ;-) But I know I'm messing up some routines here, because my blog is often used as a weekly office reading. I'm happy about that and I'm sure you can also arrange it with a little flexibility ;-) I hope you all are doing well!

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How am I doing? Indescribably well. What I used as a headline in the last blog "When every day becomes more beautiful than the one before" has simply developed further. "That's probably the magic that all travellers who are on the road for a little longer talk about", I wrote to a friend a few days ago. I can't really believe it and sometimes I think I'm dreaming. It is so unreal in a time when life is dominated by everything else but "lightness". And I didn't think it was possible and I am just grateful and hope to be able to give you some "light moments".

Now a load of Swiss adventure is waiting for you, so make yourself comfortable and look forward to the next virtual journey. Especially the photos will surely give you a great insight into this fantastic country.

Let's start with the learnings of the week again:

- My compromise rule regarding tolerance of speeds in traffic + 10-20% in Germany and +200% in Italy has developed radically to -10% in Switzerland - so as not to jeopardise my pension because of a possible offence.

- Postbuses here transport not only letters, but also human freight!

- I now only speak with "Li" in the ending - Guats Tägli!

- I have new favourite words and I am happy every day when I hear them, among other things: "parkieren in the Stedtli" and luagen (we look out the window)

- after the third petrol station also offered cheaper petrol than diesel, I understood that it is not an adulterated super, but Swiss reality - diesel is more expensive here due to taxes!

- I adapted my Ice Challenge and replaced it with an equivalent healthy alternative: now it's time to test a new kind of chocolate every day - life can be pretty tough!

- When you wish your friends back home a good working day on Sundays, you know you're out of routine!

- Cheese fondue does not need water, but wine - and pears, for the healthy component! (Lara I can hear your heart beating faster from Würzburg so far)

- Even in the place without civilisation, there is certainly one thing waiting for you: a parking meter - "free parking" - impossible in Switzerland!

- You can achieve much more than you think - if you only believe in yourself and trust!

Switzerland welcomed me with bright sunshine! I was so happy when I crossed the border, because just a few weeks ago the new travel rules changed my plans and unfortunately I couldn't travel from Salzburg to Bern. When I bought my vignette, I asked for directions in German and quickly realised that although I was in Switzerland, nobody spoke German. Okay understood, the only things that have changed behind the Italian border are prices and currency. And the traffic - all of a sudden, even Italian vehicles suddenly complied with apparently non-existent speed regulations down to the km/h - nobody should say that the Italians are not adaptable! I had my problems the first few days and had to let Bertha swear a little bit over and over again to realise that I would rather invest my money in the expensive everyday life here than in parking tickets. Less surprising, by the way, that the first advertisement that greeted me in Switzerland was that of a bank offering cheap financing loans - yes, that's what I call perfect marketing, picking people up "where they are". Welcome to Switzerland!

My first stop was Locarno. The small town in Ticino is situated on Lake Maggiore at the foot of the Alps. The room I had booked here was in Brione sopra Minusio. Thanks god I arrived by car, the journey on foot would have made me forget the beautiful view at the altitude. Sometimes it's just a surprise when you book without really knowing where you're going to land - here I definitely landed just in time for the sunset, which made the mountain peaks glow again and brought the first fog with it.

In Locarno I also met Claudio, he is an artist and is currently preparing some paintings for an exhibition in Paris. It was super exciting to talk with him about the value of culture or paintings and about the different views and interpretations of art. Thanks for the interesting exchange!

The next day a quick walk in Locarno was waiting for me and afterwards a great hike, which my dear friend Alisa had recommended to me. By the way, I spent the last two days here with Alisa, but more about that in the next blog post.

If you're on holiday in this region, you should definitely make this beautiful hike - one of the most beautiful I've ever been able to experience. The hike in the Verzasca Valley starts in Sonogno and ends in Lavertezzo. So I drove to Lavertezzo by car and when I was asked whether a bus would go to Sonogno, I was told in advance "You can take the post bus". My astonished look amused the gentleman in the hotel very much and he quickly ended the idea in my mind of how I would get to the desired destination with my hiking bag between packages in the cargo compartment of a van. "It's like a bus, for us it's just called a post bus," he said. Well, then we've clarified this, too :-)

The name Verzasca comes from "verde acqua" and means green water. And so it is - emerald green white water! With bridges, forests, cow pastures, dreamy Ticino mountain villages and the famous Ponte dei Salti bridge, the magnificent wild river landscape of the Verzasca Valley invites you to walk. The hike covers about 15 km and, depending on the direction, 300 or 700 metres in altitude. There are also sections that are particularly family-friendly, with a wooden adventure course waiting for the kids after every kilometre. So many Swiss children have their own personal wooden ball (as I noticed on many hikes afterwards), which they bring along. Alternatively, these are also available from a vending machine. And so you can enjoythe hike with kids, because when they look out for the next wooden sculpture, the little hikers quickly forget the kilometres they have covered and will not get tired. How sustainable and what a beautiful thing!

The hike was wonderful, so varied and I repeat myself - but the colours of autumn in combination with the crystal clear water of the river and the blue sky - a dream! See for yourself!

Afterwards I went to Interlaken without knowing that the planned five nights would turn into six, seven and finally 11! What a stroke of luck. The accommodation was not only an absolute Swiss bargain (and without any irony!), the Airbnb has parking facilities (of course for an extra charge, but I got used to that), is beautifully situated in the city centre (you can be in town in a few minutes) and I feel like home! Simply beautiful and modern, and with its location on the 6th floor without a lift, it's also great for a workout - but the view of the mountains is worth it! :) I will link the accommodation for you, as well as my previous stops (since some people have already asked for recommendations, I will make an overview with all accommodations, if I have some time). By the way, the most useful surprise here was the mobile W-Lan, because I can easily take the Airbnb W-Lan with me and use it everywhere (through a mobile router). Unless the battery is empty ;-) Already two days without mobile data made me painfully aware how often you need your mobile phone for directions or information when travelling. And so I am now enjoying sitting at the lake, writing this blog post, while I am waiting for the washing machine to be finished one street corner away. Travellife as its best!

Why Interlaken? Mainly the location. The place itself is quite nice, but certainly not the reason to spend 11 days here. But from Interlaken you can easily reach Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Thun, Bern, Lucerne etc. Geneva is also quite easy to reach from here, but I avoided that because of the current corona situation. And one thing I quickly realized anyway: I'll come back anyway one day!

My first hike in Interlaken was practically on my way there - I made a stop at the Intschi. Intschi is known for the Arnisee, a small mountain lake near the summit. Actually I had only planned to walk around the lake, I wasn't really prepared for a hike, but when the sun showed up between the mountains I wanted to go downhill rather than take the train. Since I don't like to leave my laptop and camera equipment in the car (as I said I was on my way from Locarno to Interlaken), I had an extra workout with what felt like 50 kg weight on my back. Well, it was nice, but would do it the next time without the luggage, because some parts were more climbing than hiking. But the view of the Uri region was worth it.

The next day "Top of Europe" was waiting for me. Icy air at 3454 metres. On the way there I made a stop in Lauterbrunnen, one of my many highlights in Switzerland. This mountain village is famous for its impressive waterfall, which seems to free-fall from the top of the mountain right into the centre. Beautiful to watch and hear! Like out of a picture book, if you have the chance, visit this place.

Then I took the train up to the small Scheidegg, another highlight. From there you have a fantastic view of the snowy peaks and the seemingly endless valley with all the mountain huts. I liked this panorama even better than on the Jungfrauenjoch, because it is more versatile. From here you can also start some hiking tours. On my way back from the Jungfrauenjoch I stopped again at the small Scheidegg and did a short hike to the sunset. Here I have captured some mountain lake mirror photos, which you like as much as I do. Unbelievably beautiful - the 50 francs for the cable car are worth it.

To the Jungfrauenjoch it costs another 102 francs (in the main season even 150 francs). Yes, I've thought about whether it's really worth it, but without trying it, you won't know. And I love the mountains and views, so my anticipation rose just as much as my bank balance fell. The panorama is really unique: on one side the view of the Mittelland to the Vosges, on the other the Aletsch Glacier, lined with four-thousand-metre peaks. The snow masses and the view into the distance are gigantic. You should also take the Ice Palace, which is included in the ticket price. At least I have never walked through an icy tunnel before and now I know that you shouldn't put your bag on the ground for too long while unpacking the camera (what a surprise that things can freeze on the ice ;-)). In the Lindt Shop (welcome tourism at 3454 meters above sea level) I decided to try a different kind of chocolate every day, it would be a waste not to enjoy it here in Switzerland!

Was the trip to the Jungfrauenjoch worth it? I don't regret it, but my clear recommendation is the "half height" Kleine Scheidegg, as the trip here is not quite as expensive and also beautiful. But take a look at the photos and decide for yourself.

In the evening a special experience was waiting for me. After three weeks of travelling with almost no contacts, I missed so much to spend a few hours with (few) people. An offer came in and I spontaneously agreed to an evening with locals for cheese fondue. Christian lives near Lauterbrunnen, he originally comes from Belgium and ended up in Switzerland due to a trip. Just like Kristina from Slovenia and Lewis from England. The evening flew by and it felt as if we had known each other forever. The exchange about travelling, about "arriving", about the relation to "home" and the different cultures was balm for the soul. Paired with delicious cheese and a few tips on how to prepare the fondue properly, it was an all-round perfect evening. What I learned in any case, you drink tea or wine with the fondue, because water should lump (we chose wine and added a few glasses of schnapps to be on the safe side ;-)). The Swiss enjoy the fondue with bread or pears and apples, here too the three recommended to try the latter as it "satiates faster and healthier". It's funny that we talk about "healthy" when we eat 5000 calories. In any case, it was a wonderful evening and unlike the other three, I was top fit on the mountain the next morning! (Just saying "German drinking habits" - I know girls, who would have thought that I'm writing this - it must be the cheese!)

I will also integrate and recommend Christian's local cheese fondue evening and his Airbnb accommodation in the post about the accommodation!

The next day I first went to Blausee. Blausee is located in the Bernese Oberland community of Kandergrund at an altitude of 887 metres above sea level. The deep blue mountain lake is one of the most famous mountain lakes in Switzerland and serves as a fishing area, diving spot or hiking destination. The lake is embedded in a mystically protected forest area and although it is so small, it has a depth of more than 12 metres. Usually the lake is very crowded, but what a miracle, you already guessed it: I had it almost to myself.

Afterwards I went to Bern, where I finally wanted to visit my colleague Nina. I'd been in contact with Nina for a few weeks, so I headed for the Swiss department of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. Due to Corona, the offices were of course not so busy anymore, but it was still nice to see some colleagues and to visit the office. I know that I work in an international company, but it's only since I was able to get to know other locations for the first time during my trip that it feels that way. I really appreciate the virtual collaboration with colleagues worldwide, but nothing beats personal conversations! And so I was more than happy to have dinner with Nina and her boyfriend in the evening. For hours we talked about Switzerland, hiking, travelling and life. And again an evening that I wouldn't want to miss. Because this evening and the one before showed me another wonderful side of travelling: the people!

So after this evening, Nina, Daniel and I decided to continue our conversations on a joint hike a few days later.

By the way, I also visited Bern for a few hours, you will surely recognize it on the pictures. The weather was rainy that day, but that was not important for me. Because Bern showed itself from its beautiful side. Bern is not only a federal city, shopping city, city of pleasure, city of culture - Bern is diverse and unique. And I will certainly come back - as promised Nina! And then maybe in the sunshine.

The next morning I was planning to visit the parents of a former artist and current friend, but Barbara wrote in the morning that the view on the Hasliberg was unfortunately very foggy and it would be a pity to miss the beautiful area in the sunshine. Just when we had decided to write again at noon, Nina sent me a message. "Go to the mountains today, I have a tip, you will see a sea of fog, do that, it's madness, pack your camera and off you go" - and that's how it should be. In no time at all I had packed everything up and was on my way to the Niederhorn. Funny coincidence, by the way, that my Airbnb room is also called "Niederhorn" - or fate, as Line would ring it in again, because I didn't know yet that this place would be just as "homelike".

So I started in the valley in fog and hardly more than two meters visibility. I couldn't quite imagine if the plan would work out - but of course I had confidence that my newly won favorite Swiss Nina and Daniel would be right. And that's how it should be - in the gondola the grey of the view became brighter and brighter and suddenly the blue sky fought its way through the wall of fog. Unbelievable, a few seconds later I were floating above a sea of clouds and fog. It is hard to put into words, but this moment was definitely the most beautiful of my journey so far. The feeling of freedom, the feeling of happiness and gratitude - the feeling of 100% everything done right. Arriving at the top it was just a matter of enjoying and understanding. Reflecting the journey so far, especially the last days, the beautiful conversations and my thoughts were also with all the people who have accompanied me on this journey from the beginning. I did not spend this moment alone, but in thoughts with all these beloved people. What a touching moment, thank you dear Switzerland or thank you dear Nina and dear Daniel that I was allowed to experience this here.

After I took a short walk above the clouds and sat down on the bench for a few minutes, I watched a group of seniors laughing and finishing their walk with a glass of schnapps. One said "Oh, life is beautiful, you just have to see it, taste it and accept it - we did everything right". And yes, inwardly I cheered them on, that's exactly how it is!

On the way back down to the valley I had another chat with Barbara and decided to head for the Hasliberg, because I don't care about the weather anymore. So I was happy to get some insights into the life on the farm. Christian, member of the band voXXclub, offered me to visit his parents when he realized that I was in his home country. I worked very closely with him and the boys for four years and so I am still happy to see or talk to them time by time, even if I am no longer working in the music business - like the recent visit to Flo in Hamburg. Chris himself lives in Vienna and since I could not stop here (how I would have loved to visit all my Viennese) I gratefully accepted the offer to visit his parents. I am not a child of farm vacations - my parents or mainly dad had a different idea of vacations (which was also nice ;-)). So I was looking even more forward to meet his parents and the farm. Barbara waited at the street to show me the parking lot (premiere, free of charge - on the farm :)) and welcomed me warmly.

And here I have to clear up some prejudices against Swiss people. I have heard several times that the Swiss are very reserved. Certainly not! No matter if you go hiking, shopping or like here when you visit people- they spread with love and offer help even before you ask for it! And that even with a distance of 1.5 meters.

It was exciting to see where Christian grew up and even if you weren`t here Christian, somehow you were - no matter if in the stories or when I looked at your parents. As you rightly said, it is nice that you were able to show me a part of you without being physically present.

Barbara runs a small farm store and together with her husband Heinz they run the farm with the cows completely on their own. An insanely big task. They took me with them as they fetched the cows from the meadow (who made a small detour across the neighboring garden :-)) and explained me how they make the cheese. The way it is stored is crucial for the taste and the production is costly, but so is the distribution of it, because this is what they have to do after the summer season. There is still a lot of trust in small villages like this, so there is access to food on the farm and a payment box to be paid into - something you don't know in the city. I didn't know that the higher built huts on the alpine pasture are not because of the snow, but because of mice, because here the cheese is stored in summer. I also did not know that the calves stand together with other calves of other farmers in summer, separated from their herd. Nor did I know how distributed and how large the farmers' pastures were. I was allowed to learn so many exciting things as a "city child", could hardly believe how fast the calves grow (had mistakenly estimated a few months older calf as the mother of the little one) and am fascinated by the passion of Barbara and Heinz. In winter they run a hut on the top of the mountain to stop for a bite to eat. Their farm is a fulltime job 7 days a week, all year round. And yet they took the time to show me around and even went up the mountain with me to show me their view of the sea of fog at sunset. How wonderful: Christian you were right: the Hasliberg is really fascinating. And I'm looking forward to come back here again one day, I promised to help out and Heinz is already planning a very adventurous hike with me (which he already did with some friends of Christian) - Barbara already warned me - I think we can still discuss the feasibility :) One thing is for sure, we didn't say "Bye" but "See you" - and I want to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful time and your invitation to visit you again!

On Fridays, another Swiss adventure awaited: the hike with Nina and Daniel. It was good that she explained to me in the car that this hike was one of the first of her relationship with Daniel and that she would have loved to chase him over the mountain. "Super Nina, I am not sure if we will work together as colleagues at HDU in the future after today, when I hear this", I suspected challenging times ;-) And yes, looking back, it was definitely a hike I would never have done on my own! It went from the Lombachalp to the Augstmatthorn. I was promised an incredibly beautiful view and with a bit of luck also some ibexes. We hadn't expected to see around 30 ibexes at close range, and we were especially happy for Nina, who couldn't get enough of the animals :-) The hike itself is about 10 km and 725 meters uphill and 980 meters downhill. The tricky thing was the condition of the paths, which were not at all sure-footed due to the autumn time. It was quite a sleigh ride (despite walking sticks and hiking boots), but none of us made it into the mud - our biggest success of the day ;-) And so Daniel and Nina turned out to be perfect mountain guides - although Daniel had to give us two girls some courage every now and then. Thanks to the two (and the App Peakfinder - to be recommended) I always knew which peak belonged to which mountain. And while there was again a sea of clouds waiting for us on arrival, they came up during the hike and we could enjoy the view of Lake Brienz. The Brienzergrat was unique, the way above was definitely full of adrenaline and at that moment I decided for myself that my fear of heights can't be that bad! Because right and left it went deep, very deep - I don't want to know how deep! But we mastered everything, it took a bit longer than planned, but we had a nice sunset in the mountains - and still we arrived at the car just in time just before dark. All in all, perfect again. Thank you for the great time with you, for your many tips, for your support, openness, laughter and hospitality. I look forward to seeing you again - and to showing you Heidelberg. You have really made my stay here very special! Oh and Nina, I think the hike did not hurt our cooperation at HDU after all, no campaign target will be more challenging than this mastered hike!

And now a break - my last wonderful weekend in Switzerland with Alisa and my last days until next Wednesday I will bring up in the next post, together with the next destination!

Meanwhile, the washing machine and dryer are finished and I want to go for another walk on the lake of Thun - and then I have to pack! I'm so happy that it can go on and I tell you that this was not an easy task. You will find out where I am going in the next few days. Keep your fingers crossed that everything works out!

Now I'd like to solve the question about my KM I asked you last week. Suggestions from 1,200 to 6,500 km were received: my speedometer has counted 5,120 km so far. 5120 km full of adventure, full of joy, respect, trust, luck and confidence. Full of curiosity, surprises and gratitude - and so I pack all my experiences and memories from Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland into my "bag of memories" and look forward to everything that is still to come!

@Lara (Schneider): My dear you were almost right with the estimate of 5000 km and you are allowed to choose a favorite picture from my travel photos, the surprise will come by mail <3

Take care and big hug to you,