I’m sitting in a London cafe, ostensibly an ‘Australian-style’ cafe, who can’t make a decent flat white to save themselves (or latte, this was a two-coffee diary). My odyssey is over, but the search for good coffee continues.
Anyway, this is dated 3/7, but I probably won’t get to post it until tomorrow, when my hostel fixes their wifi.
Switzerland may be expensive, but honestly, the scenery is worth paying an arm and a leg for a cup of coffee. Sorry, coffee on the brain today.
Short of the Queensland coast, Switzerland is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. The mountains, the cold, blue water. The snow, in the middle of summer. Everywhere you turn it’s a postcard view.
I did take that detour into Liechtenstein. It was nice, I guess. The capital Vaduz is a very small city, because there’s not much else that would fit inside those tiny borders.
Honestly the highlight was driving through the mountains, past those gorgeous lakes and alpine waterfalls. And, turns out driving on the opposite side of the road isn’t that hard. Who’d have thought?
I arrived in Interlaken in the afternoon, it’s a nice little town, situated right in the middle of an outdoorsperson’s dream. In summer, there’s mountainbike riding, hiking, white water rafting, skydiving and in winter, there’s all your various winter sports.
But, you probably know, I’m not the outdoorsy type. I was in Interlaken because of its connection to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in the world. I woke up early, at least by my standards. I was the first one to breakfast at my hostel, and I’m lucky the hostel was right next to the train station, or I’d have had to skip breakfast entirely.
From Interlaken-Ost, I caught a train to Grindelwald, which tickled the Harry Potter fan in me. From Grindelwald, it was another train ride to Kleine Scheidegg. And that’s the starting point for the train through the mountain.
The majority of the train journey goes through the mountain itself, in a tunnel hewn out over a century ago. There are two stations inside the mountain itself, before the final destination, these stops provide panoramic views of the mountain and glaciers. The final station, and the complex it is a part of, aren’t actually on top of the Jungfrau, but a ridge between it and a neighbouring mountain. The views from the 3500m+ viewing platform are unparalleled. There is an outdoor section, ‘The Plateau’, where you can walk out onto the snow, which was a novelty for the Australian who has only been to the snow twice in his life.
Inside the building you can find all the Swiss icons: Lindt Chocolate, Victorinox Swiss Army Knives and Swiss watches. The cafe inside accepts not only the local Swiss francs, and Euros, but Pounds Sterling and Yen as well, although they only give change in francs. Or chocolate. You can guess which option I took.
Travel days are so much easier when you have a car. I should keep that in mind, if I ever have the money to stop classing myself as a ‘budget traveller’. You know, when I win the lottery.
I got into the city of Bern at around 10am, found a carpark and dropped my bag at my hostel. I honestly didn’t plan this end of my trip so well, I had no idea what to do in Bern. So I went to my old friend WikiTravel, and saw the words ‘Bern Bärenpark’. For those without my rudimentary knowledge of German: Bern Bear Park.
On the other side of the river from the Old Town, is the Bear Park, a riverside habitat for the city’s mascots: a family of brown bears. Not so long ago, the bears of the city were confined to pits, but in 2009, their home was extended to include a large section of land adjacent to the nearby Aare River.
Bern’s Old Town itself deserves a mention. A grid of streets, with identical covered arcade walkways on either side, it is rather striking.
I also swung by the Bern Cathedral, and the Swiss Parliament, took some snaps and moved on.
By far the coolest sight was the Einsteinhaus, where Albert Einstein lived with his wife and child, while he was working as a patent clerk… And penning his Nobel Prize-winning paper on the photo-electric effect.
Another easy travel day, this time to the French-speaking city of Geneva. I checked into my hotel (I decided to treat myself to a private room), and went out into the city.
Something I haven’t mentioned, in Interlaken, Bern and Geneva the Visitor’s Tax that you are charged covers free access to public transport. As far as I know, this isn’t the case in Zurich.
I admit, I got distracted, and missed what is probably the biggest attraction in Geneva, but I’ll get to that.
Not so far from my hotel was St Pierre Cathedral, so I caught a tram there. Or as near as I could, Geneva’s public transport isn’t great. St Pierre’s is worth a visit, make sure you swing by the chapel of the Maccabees.
From there, I walked to Lake Leman, where I caught a boat across to the other side, getting some great views of the Jet d’Eau, a pressure outlet for a nearby hydroelectric project that the townspeople liked so much they made permanent.
I caught a bus to the United Nations Headquarters, previously the League of Nations Headquarters. On the way I discovered that I wasn’t going to make it before closing time. But I took some nice pictures from outside the gates.
Back on the train like a chump. This time from Geneva to Paris.
I only had a couple of hours in Paris, so I made sure to get somewhere I hadn’t made it last time. Shakespeare and Company is the largest English-language bookstore in Paris, and is world-famous. In 93 days, I have managed to walk past almost every bookshop I have come across, and the few I actually browsed, I managed to not buy anything (Tintin notebook notwithstanding).
So I decided to treat myself. I’ll probably mail the book home when I read it, rather than risk damaging it in my bag.
From Paris, I caught another train to Calais. Calais seems a nice little port town, but it was raining, so I didn’t really get to look around too much.
Of course, from Calais, there’s not many places to go but England. I caught the ferry over to Dover, and from there a coach to London.
Well, not really. It’s the end of the travel diary portion of this blog. Until the next trip. But it’s not the end of the blog. I’m not going on hiatus. While my focus right now has to be on looking for a job, somewhere to live, basically surviving, I’m not going to be neglecting my adoring readers.
Basically, from here That Left Turn At Albuquerque is going to be a proper travel blog. Travel tips, articles, clickbait links. The usual. So stay tuned, I’m going to try to maintain a weekly posting schedule. Thanks for sticking around this long, be sure to tell your friends, like and share on Facebook and so on.