13.09.2011 - 17.09.2011
OK, we need to start this blog off with a few apologies to several countries that we have maligned along the way:
Dear Austria and Liechtenstein,
We apologise from the bottom of our hearts for labeling you expensive... If only we had visited Switzerland first, our opinion would have been different!
Rob and Eve
We started hemorrhaging money as soon as we drove over the border and didn't stop until we made it safely back into France!!
It was so expensive that we had to crack out the credit card just to buy a toasted sandwich. Forget about trying to eat out anywhere – our budget; which in other countries spread to sightseeing, camp grounds, wine, beer, the daily groceries, and even the odd meal out; barely carried us through the supermarket in Switzerland...
The only thing that even came close to making up for the crippling cost of everything was some of the most mesmerising, jaw-dropping scenery we have seen in Europe.
The blow by blow account goes a little something like this...
After leaving Lichtenstein we drove into Zurich where we had planned to spend one night. When we got there we couldn't find anywhere to camp for the night so we had a bit of a walk around and tried to find somewhere to grab a bite to eat... After looking at the menus of a few small cafes around the city we beat a hasty retreat and decided to head somewhere, anywhere less cosmopolitan.
Eve's favourite shop - not that we could afford anything...
Zurich is overrun with beautiful people and it was all we could do to shield our eyes from all the Blue Steel being thrown around! Everyone looked like they had just stepped out of Vogue or GQ – in all of our travels around Europe we have never felt more out of place in our trekking shoes!
St Peter's in Zurich boasts the largest clock face in Europe
After lunch we drove to Meggen a small town just outside of Lucern where we could (just) afford a camp ground for a couple of nights.
Our backyard for the two nights we spent in Meggen
Sunset over the lake
Lucern is stunning town but, unfortunately, the day after we arrived the weather packed up before we had a chance to photograph its famous teal lake. Despite the rain, we spent some time wandering around the town, we found some brilliant (and cheap) cheese pies and practically inhaled them while trying to find a reasonably priced coffee. We headed for the closest thing we could find that resembled a coffee shop (Starbucks) and left in a hurry when they tried to charge us 8 francs for a cappuccino!!!
The Chapel Bridge
Rob loves his new hat...
After a couple of days counting change by the lake at Lucern, we continued on our journey west, towards France. That evening we found ourselves in Interlaken, a town nestled between two beautiful lakes and very close to the Eiger, one of Switzerland's more famous mountains and the inspiration for the North Face logo.
The campground at Interlaken, looking up towards the Jungfrau (next to the Eiger)
A quick walk through the (relatively small) town confirmed that Interlaken was no cheaper than anywhere else in Switzerland... But it is spectacular!
We found a Kiwi bloke, who owns an Irish pub (Three Tells) on the road into the town centre. After confirming that they would be playing the Rugby World Cup, we locked in two nights at the camp ground and went for a drive to the base of the Eiger...
Unfortunately when we got to Grindelwald, at the foot of the Eiger, the sun was in completely the wrong spot for photographs...
While we were watching Ireland give it to Australia (HA!) we overheard a conversation between two expats who were discussing the high prices in Switzerland... Apparently, and this is totally hearsay, the reason everything is prohibitively expensive in Switzerland is because some bright spark decided that minimum wage should be something around $4000 USD per month!! Unfortunately, what they didn't factor in to their math is that almost every employer in Switzerland had to hike their prices to be able to afford their employee's wages!
Bern, looking across the river to the city centre - unfortunately its famous steeple is covered in scaffolding...
The main plaza in Bern - again, no chance of finding any cheap eats!!
Naturally, this is fantastic if you work in Switzerland, or even better, work there and shop in France, Germany or Italy. However, in our case, it made our time in Switzerland just one giant headache... So much so, we rushed through Geneva with Rob begging Eve to let him keep driving until we got back to France...