A return to Switzerland – land of mountains, museums and moos! COMPLETED 12/4 - Page 86 - PassPorter - A Community of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel Forums
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:51 PM   #1276
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Great pictures of the battlements and gardens!
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:41 AM   #1277
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Sunday 8 September – part four: heading home…

Soon we were back on the motorway, and it wasn’t long before we were leaving Luxembourg. Although the country is some 50 miles long, it’s not particularly wide, and as we were now travelling west, it didn’t take long until we were crossing the border into Belgium…



At this point, I will say that we did see at least three or four lots of Luxembourg cows, so my record for seeing cows in every country this trip is intact, but sadly I wasn’t able to get photos of any of them, as most of the sightings were yesterday in the rain.

With this being Belgium, the cow centre of Europe (well it was before we visited Northern Ireland anyway ), it wasn’t long before we saw some of my bovine friends…



It was interesting driving through southern Belgium. We’ve driven through the northern parts on many occasions, and never had any issues. Well, having experienced the southern end of the country, all I can say is that I think I know where the money is going for road repairs – to the north of the country. I don’t think either of us have ever come across such bumpy roads before.

In fairness, they were doing lots of roadworks, but equally it’s very much needed. We did hit one particularly nasty pot hole in a set of roadworks, and that made a heck of a thump. We were hoping that it hadn’t done any serious damage to the car, it was that bad.

As a result, the number of photos I took was limited, plus sadly there wasn’t that much to photograph here – not like Switzerland.


Mark liked the name of this place!


Finally, after far too long (or that’s what it felt like anyway! ), we were leaving pot hole country, otherwise known as Belgium, and entering France…



And what was the very first thing we saw when we crossed the border? You got it… some of these! I guess they heard I was arriving…



At least France was a little more picturesque…



As we drove along, the skies did get murkier, but occasionally the sun would then peak out from behind the clouds. This was truly a day where the weather couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to do. In the end, it didn’t rain at all, but you just didn’t know.

In the end, we made it to Calais and the Channel Tunnel at 2:55pm, and my goodness, what a sight greeted us! You could barely even get into the terminal, where you line up for the booths from the flyover. In fact, the traffic did back up on to the flyover after we’d been there about half an hour. you read that one right. I think we finally got to the ticket booths at about 3:35pm, at which point it said that it would be an additional 20 minutes from that to boarding. Ok…



Well, you literally went from one line to another, as you passed into the line for French customs, which (as usual) were pretty much non-existent, although they did have a sniffer dog checking some cars, so I guess they were keeping themselves occupied, as they had a captive audience.

The line seemed to emanate from the British border control, although when we got there, as usual, you can’t understand why. We were seen relatively quickly, and weren’t even asked any questions. And in total, how long did the whole process take from us arriving at Eurotunnel to getting through British border control? Go on… take a guess…







…. So what’s your best guess then?







Well, it was an hour and 20 minutes in total. I know, it was utterly insane. In truth, we can’t say too much, as border controls are there for everyone’s safety, but we suspected it had something to do with what had happened a couple of days earlier at home. I don’t know if you guys heard about this, but there was a hoax bomb on the Dartford crossing, which is a tunnel going northbound, and a bridge going southbound to the east of London. It’s one of only two major arteries across the River Thames to the east of London, and it was closed for something like seven hours, so you can imagine the chaos that caused.

I’d already said to Mark that I suspected by the time we got through, they’d be calling us to our 4:50pm train, given it was now 4:15pm, and sure enough letter F was being told to proceed. I’d also said we’d forget about going to the terminal to do any shopping if that was the case, as we knew that they had toilets at the boarding area. It’s a shame, as we’d have both liked some cheap wine (me) and cheap beer (Mark), but heck, we could always go another day…

We made a mad dash for the toilets, and were back in the car in plenty of time, although when it came to boarding we weren’t exactly paying attention. I was working on this trip report, and Mark was playing on his phone, when I realised our lane had gone, and told him to get going. Thankfully we were soon caught up with them, and boarding the train. Sadly we were on the upper level, which never agrees that well with me, but at least we were on our scheduled train. I didn’t get photos when we entered it, but I did get photos when we left it….



We were letter F for the 4:50pm train, and we’d seen letter Ds in front of us in the line, so we’re pretty sure they didn’t make their scheduled trains. We suspect that they ended up on later trains, and as I said to Mark, I imagine if you’re late for boarding when your letter is called, you may not make it on to your scheduled train….

The train was on time (hooray! ) and we were back home in the UK by 4:35pm (I know, it’s confusing, but it’s what happens when you go back in time by an hour and we were greeted by fairly nice weather, which was a pleasant surprise, given we knew they’d had heavy rain, and even flooding recently. As we drove along, we were listening to a concert from London, and they were in the rain!

We were home just before 5:00pm, and the car was quickly emptied, and the washing was on. It’s good to be back home… sort of!

The weather today was cooler with rain first thing, then cloud and some sun and temperatures in the high 60s.
The best thing today was seeing the Palais Grand Ducal.
The worst thing today was the vacation coming to an end.
The funniest thing today was seeing the solder back step into his hut!
Today we tried walking around Luxembourg
And the result was it’s a very compact city with a fair bit to see within easy walking distance of each other.
The most magical moment today was hearing the church bells.

Next: final thoughts
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:45 AM   #1278
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As we're off to Paris in the morning and I probably won't have time to update, I figured I wouldn't keep you all waiting until Friday for my final thoughts on this trip, so here they are...

Final thoughts:

Although this trip got off to a very bad start with the delays at Eurotunnel, and the nightmare of trying to find somewhere to stay that night, after that, it improved dramatically, and turned out to be a superb week away. The weather was an absolute treat, a bit like our first visit to Switzerland. I’m beginning to wonder if they ever get bad weather here – outside of the winter that is! In fairness, I know it was supposed to have been raining the whole week before, so I think we were very lucky.

It was lovely to see more of Switzerland, some of which we really enjoyed, like Basel, Solothurn, and Neuchatel, and some of which we weren’t that impressed with, like the Italian end of the country, and Baden. I’d add Zurich into that. Having now been to the Swiss National Museum, there is nothing to bring us back there.

One of the outstanding highlights this trip, as on our previous one, remained Montreux. What a beautiful place it is, and somewhere I think it’s fair to say that we both feel very relaxed in. That view is really something, and we’ve already talked about going back again, and this time driving around the other side of Lake Geneva, so we can see the view back towards Montreux, and perhaps also taking one of their boats across the lake too. From looking at my guidebook, there’s certainly still plenty to see in the area anyway.

Another highlight had to be the chocolate train. Wow, this is seriously the way to travel, all sophisticated and relaxed. It’s just how I imagined it to be, and the views were just truly breath taking. I was also pleasantly surprised that we had more than enough time in each location we visited, as all too often, you don’t feel you’ve had enough time for each place you see.

I had hoped that the train journey up to the Jungfraujoch would be just as relaxed, and eventually it was, but my goodness, the tour groups were just overwhelming, and had no thought for anyone except themselves. I wish there was a way of knowing when they were going, or perhaps just reserve some trains for them, so that independent travellers don’t have to deal with them.

We were both delighted to get to the Jungfraujoch in one place, and to make it around there fine as well, with only limited side effects. We both commented that we found it very disturbing that there were no signs to explain what the effects of altitude sickness were. We both suspected we suffered mildly from it, but with no explanations, it was hard to know for sure…

Another highlight of our vacation was Lucerne, even if strictly speaking we didn’t really go into the city. The Swiss Transport Museum was well worth a visit, and is a standard for all museums to meet. I could see why they charge as much as they do for it.

Our hotel in Lucerne was wonderful, and I think we could’ve happily stayed there for longer, had we been able to. That’s another thing added into our list for our next trip, more time in Lucerne, and staying at the same hotel. There’s so much still to see in this area.

Something else we both loved this trip was the scenery. It was just spectacular everywhere we went, which made driving so much easier for mesye, and certainly kept me busy for photos!

An unexpected highlight were the thermal baths, and especially the one in Bad Ragaz. I love my spa afternoons at home, but my goodness, good as the facilities are there, they can’t hold a candle to this place. If only I lived near here, I’d be in here all the time! I did look at how much rooms are at the hotel there, and they are expensive, shall we say, but heck, maybe it would be worth spending one night there as a special treat in the future…

Of course I can’t finish this wrap up without mentioning the cow trekking, which I loved. I much preferred walking my cow than riding her, as I just didn’t feel comfortable up there, but being able to be close to my bovine buddy, and spend so much time with her was a real treat for me, and I didn’t mind about the not riding bit. Heck, I got on her, and rode her for a little bit, and I learnt it’s not for me, but cow walking? please!

All in all, it was a wonderful break in a truly beautiful, albeit very expensive, country, and I hope we can make it thid time lucky there one day, with some time in Montreux, Lucerne and Bad Ragaz. Now that sounds like a plan…

Now I mentioned earlier on in this trip report, a couple of challenges that we did to amuse ourselves on the drive. The first was how many countries we found licence plates from. So how many do you reckon?




Five?




Ten?




Fifteen?




Well, if you said any of those, my answer is “keep going… upwards!” seriously! I bet you never realised how many countries there were in Europe, but there are a lot! The final tally was 25, made up of:

1) Austria
2) Belgium
3) Bulgaria
4) The Czech Republic
5) Estonia
6) France
7) Germany
8) Great Britain
9) Hungary
10) Ireland
11) Italy
12) Latvia
13) Liechtenstein
14) Lithuania
15) Luxembourg
16) The Netherlands
17) Poland
18) Portugal
19) Romania
20) Russia ( seriously – this one surprised us a bit too… )
21) Serbia
22) Slovakia
23) Spain
24) Sweden
25) Switzerland

Not all of them were cars by any means. In fact, a lot of them were lorries, which gives you an idea of just how far they end up travelling across Europe. It was certainly an interesting challenge, and we saw way more than I ever thought we would!

And what about the Swiss canton number plates challenge? Well, if I tell you that there are a total of 27 cantons that we could have spotted, how many of those do you think we managed to get?





Give you just a moment more to decide…






If you said “all of them”, you’d be spot on. I will confess that it took us until the Thursday of our trip, by which time we only had one missing, but in fairness by the Tuesday, I think we’d got all bar six, which wasn’t bad going, and I guess shows how much the Swiss travel around their own country, which is good.

Oh and just one final guessing game… how many photos do you reckon we took?







There’s a number from me, and a number from Mark…








Mine is a bit higher…






I took a total of 5,088 photos, while Mark took 1,333 photos.

In total, from leaving home to returning home, we covered 1699 miles. We started with a full tank of fuel, and we only filled up three times while we were away, returning with some fuel left over in the tank. I know that there were lots of times we were averaging 50 miles to a gallon, with us reaching 57 miles at one point. I think our little girl, and her wonderful driver, did very well!
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:52 AM   #1279
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Mmmm, I love Belgian cows. They make such good chocolate!
That was quite the traffic back up on your return train. Glad you made it on time, even if you ended up on the top layer.

Sounds like you're heading back to Switzerland again sometime. Sounds like I should head to Switzerland sometime. With all you guys managed to accomplish, there's still so much more to see!

I love all the numbers you listed! Really surprised at all the different countries. Wow! They really do drive those trucks (or lorries, sorry!) all over the continent. And your photo count, holy cow! Like I mentioned before, I greatly appreciate you sharing all the photos with us. And taking us along for the ride. What a great trip!

Oh, and have a good time in Paris!
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:20 PM   #1280
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Great trip. Thanks for sharing with us!
Enjoy Paris!
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:26 PM   #1281
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Just finished up and as usual I am always amazed at "borderless countries" in Europe and how amazing to be in one country and then another so easily.

When you showed the picture of the 6 beds in a row....I had to laugh, definitely would be a strange sleeping arrangement, glad that you and Mark had your own little area for 2

Cow trekking, I have to agree, I just do not see cows for riding, I think a pleasant walk through a pasture with a cow would be so much more a nice relaxing trek then to be sitting upon them.....put I give it to you for trying, I would have been totally nervous as well thinking that at any moment I would have fallen off (I had one bad experience on a horse once and since then....well I much rather walk with animals than ride them.....lol)

Luxembourg, so beautiful and glad that the rain cleared up for you by mid morning for your travels. I kind of like the elephants, definitely draw attention and love all the colors.

Thank you again for sharing another wonderful trip tour!!! Until the next one
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:47 PM   #1282
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Glad you made it home safely! I can't imagine over an hour for border control, but given what had happened a few days prior, I can understand. Great wrap up to your trip!! I certainly enjoyed all of the beautiful pictures! Have a great time in Paris!!
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Old 12-04-2013, 01:55 PM   #1283
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This was a beautiful trip! I love the guessing games in the wrap-up, but I flunked the test, with a total of ZERO correct answers!
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:42 PM   #1284
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disney_duke View Post
Mmmm, I love Belgian cows. They make such good chocolate!
So true - they certainly do!

Quote:
That was quite the traffic back up on your return train. Glad you made it on time, even if you ended up on the top layer.
It wasn't the greatest way to end things.

Quote:
Sounds like you're heading back to Switzerland again sometime. Sounds like I should head to Switzerland sometime. With all you guys managed to accomplish, there's still so much more to see!
Oh my goodness, there is still so much to see - I'm thinking spring 2015 focused on Montreux, Lucerne and a night at that spa at Bad Ragaz, but we'll see what happens.

Quote:
I love all the numbers you listed! Really surprised at all the different countries. Wow! They really do drive those trucks (or lorries, sorry!) all over the continent.
Insane, isn't it?

Quote:
And your photo count, holy cow!
I do take a few...

Quote:
Like I mentioned before, I greatly appreciate you sharing all the photos with us. And taking us along for the ride. What a great trip!

Oh, and have a good time in Paris!
I'm so glad you enjoy all the photos... and we'll do our best to have fun in Paris!
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:45 PM   #1285
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Just finished up and as usual I am always amazed at "borderless countries" in Europe and how amazing to be in one country and then another so easily.
To be honest, it still amazes me, as we very much have borders still in place, so it's a culture shock for us too...

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When you showed the picture of the 6 beds in a row....I had to laugh, definitely would be a strange sleeping arrangement, glad that you and Mark had your own little area for 2
Ugh, that would not have been fun to have to share that.

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Cow trekking, I have to agree, I just do not see cows for riding, I think a pleasant walk through a pasture with a cow would be so much more a nice relaxing trek then to be sitting upon them.....put I give it to you for trying, I would have been totally nervous as well thinking that at any moment I would have fallen off (I had one bad experience on a horse once and since then....well I much rather walk with animals than ride them.....lol)
I much preferred the walking with my buddies.

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Luxembourg, so beautiful and glad that the rain cleared up for you by mid morning for your travels. I kind of like the elephants, definitely draw attention and love all the colors.
I was glad the rain cleared up, as I had fond memories of Luxembourg from when I visited with my parents three decades earlier and it was nice to be able to see some of it in reasonable weather.

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Thank you again for sharing another wonderful trip tour!!! Until the next one
Coming up very soon... some time after tomorrow!
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:46 PM   #1286
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Glad you made it home safely! I can't imagine over an hour for border control, but given what had happened a few days prior, I can understand.
I can understand too, but it does say something when it takes you longer to get back into your home country than it takes to enter the USA!

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Great wrap up to your trip!! I certainly enjoyed all of the beautiful pictures! Have a great time in Paris!!
We'll do our best!
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:47 PM   #1287
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This was a beautiful trip! I love the guessing games in the wrap-up, but I flunked the test, with a total of ZERO correct answers!
Were you guessing higher or lower?
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:06 PM   #1288
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I love your wrap up. That is an amazing amount of photos and miles you covered. You do such a good job of sharing them and I feel like I'm right along with you! What an amazing experience. I think I learned a lot about the whole culture, but cow trekking was probably my favorite. I had no idea it even existed!
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:14 PM   #1289
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I love your wrap up. That is an amazing amount of photos and miles you covered. You do such a good job of sharing them and I feel like I'm right along with you!
Thank you!

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What an amazing experience. I think I learned a lot about the whole culture, but cow trekking was probably my favorite. I had no idea it even existed!
In fairness, neither did I originally. It was only because I was trying to find information about when they bring the cows down from the mountains in the autumn that I came across it....
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Old 12-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #1290
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Were you guessing higher or lower?
MUCH lower-- on all questions. Considering that I take about 100 photos during a 2-week trip to WDW it's just hard for me to imagine having a camera in my hand that much! Even on my 2-week South Africa trip I took a total of 300. Having toured the parks with you and Mark, though, and seen how you walk along and snap as you go, I should have known!
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