This is a very self indulgent account of Richard and Heather Knowles travels as they wander through Europe in search of a different way of life.
This is a very self indulgent account of Richard and Heather Knowles travels as they wander through Europe in search of a different way of life.
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SNOWMADS (continued)

2 March Tuesday

Skied Combloux. Beautiful conditions. Lots of tree runs. Thoroughly pleasant day.

3 March Wednesday

Cleaned up and tidied van in readiness for me to be bachelor for two weeks.

4 March Thursday

Drove across the col de Montets above Chamonix into Switzerland to Verbier. A bit disappointing as cols go when you have crossed as many as we have. Liked the look of Verbier. Hope to see more of it in the future. Drove along the Lake to Geneva to the airport ready for Hs morning flight back to London, prior to March Ski Trip. H acting as courier and bingo caller on the bus. Road system round airport very confusing. Circumnavigated airport hotel 3 times before managed to find our way to it . Stayed there the night for a bit of luxury. Not that luxurious. Perhaps that is why they made it so difficult to get to so you would just be glad to stop.

5 March Friday

Put H on plane and prepared for two weeks freedom or loneliness. What would it be ? We have been in each others pockets for nearly 6 months. It would however give opportunities as well as missed pleasures. First mission on arriving in Cluses to visit supermarket to stock up on food. Food that is that I like and have not had the chance to eat whilst we have been eating together. Weather not up to much so stayed on campsite for electric and showers. Started reading a new book, got gripped and read till late.

6 March Saturday

Weather cold and overcast. Spent a lazy day reading and watching DVDs. Designed a quick and easy Tartiflette. Finished book. Thoroughly enjoyed the days decadence.

7 March Sunday

Another day not fit for skiing (now that I can pick and choose). More DVDs and started a new book. Feasted on Boudin Noir, fried with garlic, chunky cayenne pepper, lardons, onions and finished off with calvados and cream served with poelee. Poelee (meaning cooked in a frying pan) is a mixture of small cubes of frozen roots and other veg and lardons. It is quite a find for the fried spud loving man being readily prepared with an excellent result after being cooked in a minimum of olive oil.

Now this meal raises an interesting issue. Not the should we or shouldn’t we eat offal one but what has happened to the French cognac industry. I would normally cook this with brandy. In Slovenia you can pick up a brandy substitute for £3. In Spain you get more for less. We have got quite used to destroying our plastic glasses and doing God knows what to our stomachs with our night-cap brandies. So, you would think that a good, middle of the road cognac would be easily acquired in France its birthplace. The supermarket shelves are awash with Whisky and Whiskey. Very little Cognac in view. It is either very expensive or low grade and not cost effective. Is this French protectionism working to its own detriment ?

8 March Monday

Skied Megeve/St Gervais. All the black runs I could find including one with 50 metres of vertical (I exaggerate) shot ice, but one where you just have to go with the flow and hope you come out the other end. After skiing I wandered around Megeve town, musing at the chic fur clad ladies but intoxicated by its laid back but expensive atmosphere. One fine vision was that of the equine steed pulling a highly decorated traineau having a welcome drink from the fountain in the middle of the pedestrian square whilst its passengers were not sure whether to enjoy the moment or agitate to continue their journey back to their chalet. Strangely enough the ski hardware in the shops was well priced and with the advent of “fin de series” some excellent deals but the designer clothing and top of the range ski suits were still “tres cher”. Perhaps being seen is more important than being skiing. After all Megeve was France’s answer to St Moritz to attract the jet set.

9 March Tuesday

Skiing is causing me a bit of trouble as is going to the gym. Since “breaking my arse” my left leg is swollen and bruised and in particular my foot and calf full of fluid. Reading with my leg up seems the best plan for a few days. Have now watched all the cheap DVDs we bought in Spain. Some OK. None as bad as one reported in earlier chapter.

10 March Wednesday

Read, read and read. Ate excellent Chicken in Mustard sauce and read some more. Now, this week has given me the opportunity to test a few bottles of wine from the local supermarket in readiness for the Val Thorens. Found some excellent buys including extremely palatable 13% Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon imported by a probably very unpopular frenchman. Selling for One euro 29 cents. 90p.

11 March Thursday

Abandoned camp site and skied Rochebrune in sunshine with perfect snow. Swollen foot OK when clamped into ski boot. Hurts like hell taking boot off afterwards.

12 March Friday

Back to Rochebrune. Weather overcast and not particularly warm. The snow is a complete contrast to the day before. Soft mush. Not much fun. Retired early to wild camp by the Lake and finish another book.

13 March Saturday

Spent much of the day doing admin stuff in advance of forthcoming ski trip. Getting very pally with chap in Internet café. Desperately trying to get Internet banking to work on one account. Spending much time on phone to help desks.

14 March Sunday

First day of the fishing season. Fishermen all looking cold. Fish still asleep, apart from one that I espy off a pontoon in one of the lakes. It looks like it has been carpetted very badly in a greenish shag pile. The reason I later discover is a fungal infection they get after being pecked by a cormorant (nearly a shag).

15 March Monday

Beautiful day. Decide to test leg by going for a long walk around the Sallanches lakes. Discover an interesting difference between English and French fishermen. In England fishing is a solitary occupation. Man against fish. A struggle of one intellect against its quarry carried out in silence and with intense concentration. In France fishing is a social pastime. A group of half a dozen fishermen will battle with the man with the radio controlled boat and the scuba diver for the same 10 yards of bank. While the radio plays and they discuss the next major rugby international at the top of their voices, the water is churned with the splash of fishing tackle and other equipment. The amazing thing is they still catch fish, which can only infer that french fish are either deaf or daft.

16 March Tuesday

Red hot weather. Snow disappearing fast. Should be skiing but still chasing various loose ends on Internet. (and reading another book).

17 March Wednesday

Still scorchio.

18 March Thursday

Decamped, shopped for Val Thorens and drove to Moutiers via Val d’Arly. Would have been quick but for diversion through mountain roads. Decided to stay in hypermarket car park overnight. Piped music coming from pizza truck and glaring floodlights on car park so found a secluded spot for the night.

19 March Friday

Noisy morning, but still managed to sleep. Woke to find camper surrounded by pallets, forklifts and general warehouse activity. I had parked near the loading bays and it seemed like the whole years provisions had just arrived. Quietly extricated camper from morass of products and redeployed in car park proper. Battled through the army of chalet staff buying foodstuffs for the next weeks intake of skiers to buy my baguette and last minute extras for chalet maiding in Val Thorens. Spotted a huddle of Silverski staff and enquired after a friend Pip their ex resort manager. Was given the name of the ski school she now worked for would get a phone number in resort and track her down.

Met various Brits seasoning in free aire de camping car at les Menuires. Weather still glorious.

20 March Saturday

Parked up by side of road to Val Thorens in gloom awaiting the arrival of ski trip coach. In welcome speech promise them a little snow early in the week. Did I or didn’t I mention negligible amount.

21 March Sunday

Glorious weather, skied across with John and Wendy Thistlethwaite to Mottaret to meet Louise Coates, their neice, nannying in Courchevel for the season. Went across to Orelle, the fourth valley, to meet Pip and Gareth and entourage in the afternoon. Snowed a bit at night.

22 March Monday

Skied really hard all morning in sunshine with Ian Holt and Paul Thistlethwaite. The 20cms or so of new snow really freshening the runs. Especially the first run we did from the top of Peclet. We made a real bog up of being nearly the first ones down in virgin snow. Started to cloud in at lunchtime and the normally fantastic views from Cime de Carron which include Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn were obscured by cloud. Night time brought the start of a “negligible” amount of snow.

23 March Tuesday

Snow, snow and snow. Ate out at night in cosy little burger and ribs bar courtesy of my brother Nick. Mountains of red meat so our zinc quotient is well topped up according to one of H’s health mags. Premature bottles of Champagne for forthcoming 50th provided by Arty, Acky, Wilks and Stan. Many thanks.

24 March Wednesday

Skied with Chris Holt down to check campervan and then skied La Masse in fantastic sun and snow conditions. Decided to ski through lunch and cross to Meribel valley. Unfortunately weather came in and visibility deteriorated. Was pleased to get back to apartment despite disappointment at deterioration of the day.

25 March Thursday

Even more snow. H and I had great fun up to our waists in heavy powder trying (very badly) to master the necessary techniques.

26 March Friday

Which way Courchevel ?

Which way Courchevel ?

Beautiful morning skied over to Courchevel 1650 to feast at Inghams run hotel with reputed best British Breakfast in Alps. Breakfast very disappointing. Enhanced Brits reputation with French as culinary philistines. Sausages were french with salami content, bacon like leather, beans crisp and a variety of fat sodden packet hash browns and other unpalatable accoutrements. UK equivalent cost £10. Not impressed. The afternoon turned into nil visibility making the return trip very difficult. I now have an infinite respect for blind skiers. The snow llamas had a field day upending nearly everyone more than once. Sharron, Heather’s neice , did amazingly well considering her relative skiing inexperience going so far in the very difficult conditions. Good God ! I’ve praised her in public. Must have been a weak moment.

27 March Saturday

Waved away the ski trip. Beautiful day as ever . Sat in Fitzroy Hotel with Sharron and Ian drinking coffee until early afternoon. Drove down to Les Menuires free aire de camping. Swam in outdoor pool until 8pm. Tried to permanently swim underwater to stop bald patch freezing over.

28 March Sunday

Clocks gone forward, missed an hours skiing. How inconsiderate. Skied La Masse and Les Menuires. Spotted a Chalet for rent, which could be a good idea for 2005. This was at Reberty, an area never considered as potential location until today. Drove to La Roche near Bozel to visit Pip and Gareth. Met at door by familiar face but couldn’t put a name to it. Cath Cameron, now Finn, contact from early MIC days.

29 March Monday

Went up to Courchevel 1850 to say goodbye to Pip, say hello to Louise Coates and have a general mosey about. (Now there’s a thing! Like all computers these days this one corrects my grammar, spelling, wipes my ever dribbling nose and I am sure there is a button I can press here somewhere which will mean it can write the diary for me too. Could be more accurate than my account. I must search it out. I was sure that “mosey” would have had a double, if not triple red line under it indicating word unknown. What is the origin of the verb “to mosey about”? Answers in an email (modern postcard) to you know where. First credible answer will get an invitation to the book launch and credited).

We gave a lift to a young French hitchhiker. He was intrigued about our travels and like many people we have met was intent on quality of life himself. He had spent the last month in Courchevel boarding mainly off piste. No lift pass, little money but with a good knowledge of the slopes and a sharp eye for the authorities. Skiing extensively. He was a surfing instructor too and had just landed a teaching contract somewhere exotic in the Carribean and was on his way there next week.

Dropped into the Annecy Campervan shop to buy some bits. Shop closed for stock taking. The management seemed totally disinterested in customers. Needed to fill up with water. There was a Flotte Bleue outside the shop gates. I put my money in. Nothing.(or as I am now fluent. Rien). The proprietor on hearing that “le flotte bleue a mange’ mon argent” condescended to come out armed with enormous screwdriver, which he forced into various orifi of offending piece of equipment. I was ‘orrified. (Makes no sense but I couldn’t resist it). The light, which indicates ability to open door, flickered on. He opened the door and was immediately attacked by wild blue snake vomitting streams of venom. (Interpret as hosepipe spewing water.) Some pillock had left the hose without a nozzle attachment. Naturally I got soaked too but felt the proprietor got his come uppance. (Could be item 2 in forthcoming book after Grau de Roi muck spreading experience – Flotte Bleues I have known and loved.)

Went to supermarket down the road and launderette. Supermarket car park half full of top of the range caravans with tables and umbrellas outside. We had heard of the problem of travelling families in France parking up and being immovable. I thought that most of the anti parking legislation was aimed at campervans. Apparrently not. The launderette had a washing machine entirely geared to waterproofing clothes. With global warming and the UK about to get wetter (impossible) you would think we would catch on ! Parked outside camper shop ready for opening time Tuesday.

30 March Tuesday

Went to shop ordered some bits. Doubtful if they will materialise. Looked at loads of campervans. Struggled to find better than ours. Left Annecy then drove through to Sallanches. First stop Internet café. Like coming home, greeted as if we lived there.

31 March Wednesday

Lie in followed by wander around Megeve. Return of les Anglais to gym. Greeted like long lost friends but desperately need to tone up after over indulgence in VT.

1 April Thursday

Who you fooling ?

Who you fooling ?

Skied Les Contamines again in the morning and as snow deteriorated we moved down to Passy and picnicked by the Lake. We are getting a bit possessive about this lake. We have spent many nights camping here. If another camper turns up we look at it scornfully. Treated ourselves to the cinema. The Passion of Jesus Christ. Mel Gibson’s epic of non stop torture. It was annotated as VOST. Voix original Sous Titles. Naturally with an English film and such a description we expected English language. Oh no. Mel had a little trick up his sleeve, not surprising when you see what day it was. Hebrew and Latin voices with French sub titles.

2 April Friday

Another good day up at Cote 2000 Rochebrune. Rained at night. We have both got paranoid about the snow going before our Easter visitors arrive.

3 April Saturday

As usual up too late to go to large market in Sallanches on Saturday morning.

4 April Sunday

St Richards day !!! He must have enjoyed it but cannot remember how.

5 April Monday

Trying to suss out best place for snow, lift passes and tuition for Easter visitors to learn to ski. Investigate Les Contamines in glorious sunshine.

6 April Tuesday

Skiing Rochebrune again. Another glorious day in paradise.

7 April Wednesday

Seek out suitable garage to give the van a service. Magland Mercedes dealer suggested by helpful lads at Feu Vert. Managed to fax request to Mercedes for letter agreeing that VIN number on log book wrong. Would cause many problems crossing borders in Eastern Europe if not right.

8 April Thursday

Hunt for ski shops with good equipment and prices in Combloux. Walk up through village to ski lifts. Scorching spring day.

9 April Friday

Spent the day buying supplies for week in chalet with real bed.

10 April Saturday

Moved into Chalet Transhumance at Prairy near Combloux, our home for the next week.(Soon nicknamed little house on the Prairy). Mark and Penny arrive with Adam and Daniel. Weather murky. Check out snow at Cote 2000. Its actually snowing and white out above Megeve. Go to Geneva to pick up Simon and Lisa. Nasty trick instigated by the Swiss to raise more road funds by diverting all Geneva traffic onto the motorway and forcing tight gits like us to buy road toll vignette to use their motorways. 30 euros I had not intended to spend. But I will have my revenge and return to Switzerland and drive over as much motorway tarmac as possible.

11 April Easter Sunday

Simons Birthday. Sprogs want to ski so kit everyone out from friendly ski shop in Combloux and up to Cote 2000. After a 2 hour private lesson Mark, Adam and Daniel are flying on skis. Not necessarily when they want to or where they want to but having fun. There is a brilliant beginners drag at Cote 2000 and the three of them belted up and down to practice what they had learned. Went Bowling at night. Still takes a good young un to beat a good old un. In this case they failed miserably.

12 April Easter Monday


Richards Birthday. The big 50. Spectacular weather, superb snow for spring, good skiing and glorious scenery …. Need I go on ? Probably not but I am sure you realise that I will. After another private lesson our debutants were doing really well. Ready to move up a gear.

By now you will also have realised that boozing and troughing are quite close to my heart. (Stomachs probably no more than 3 cms from it at nearest point !!!) So what does a gourmant like me have on his 50 birthday dinner. My choice but tempered slightly to other participants.

Moules a la crème

Steak in a mustard and pepper sauce, potato wedges, veg

Warmed up Chocolate Birthday cake, Chocolate Carte D’Or ice cream, Mascarpone,

Cheese Board

Washed down with Wholesome Languedoc Syrah, Mid Range Champagne (I regret to admit that a bubble is a bubble is a bubble to me so no need for Moet or Mumm etc) and Expresso and Cognac. After a day on the slopes nothing better.

13 April Tuesday

Marks Birthday. In this extended family you daren’t even look at your partner in mid July its that potent !!! Intended to ski les Contamines but nil visibility and snowing at 1500 metres. So back to little house on the Prairy and what to do for entertainment. A Wasjig that’s what ! A complicated but humorous jigsaw where the only pictorial clue is that the image you have to construct is the view from a set point on the picture on the box. And what fun was had by all. By the end of the day it was well on its way.

So what did Mark want for his birthday tea, bearing in mind that we are in France? Mexican ! Ever had fajitas in a croissant ? No need because Intermarche’ came up trumps yet again.

14 April Wednesday

Wasjig        Top of the World

                                                                                Wasjig                                                          Top of the World

Left Mark to have a day of peace with Penny while we took Adam and Daniel to les Contamines to cut their teeth as skiers. You could feel their excitement heading into the unknown in the bubble going up. Or was it just me. I love getting kids skiing and seeing the wonderment on their faces at the scenery, piste bashers and the achievement of each step up the ladder to doing their first proper ski runs. We played on the beginners slope for most of the morning learning how to stop and skiing in some control (well I did) and then we were off, down the nearest blue, up the chairlift, up another chairlift and on top of the world. We then snaked in a racing snowplough down a pretty hard blue, which turned into a fast straight shuss and then into another steep slope. Daniel is steady away but Adam has a bit of a concentration problem. He needs stimulus at 100 miles an hour at all times. Skiing gives him this and he was being stimulated at 100 miles an hour (well nearly) when he encountered his first and very educating humungous fall. When you are going straight down a steep slope, out of control, and you know you should turn but you can’t, and you know that you are going to fall (and you think you are about to die) and you do fall (and you don’t die) its very educational. You learn a lot as you negotiate your second double somersault with sticks and skis and limbs flailing in all directions. Nothing damaged (equipmentwise I mean) Adam landed on his head so I knew he was OK, we skied down for lunch. In the afternoon we covered a lot of miles and the kids did their first red run. No problems. Daniel and Adam ended their day knackered but exhuberant. Two more converts, I should be on commission from the French tourist board ! Wasjig finished.

15 April Thursday

Mark, Penny and Sprogs depart. Weather unsettled so had a lazy day. Went up to Chamonix for a wander.

16 April Friday

Sandwich Americain

Sandwich Americain

Drove to Flaine, Ocean Blanc. I like the marketing approaches of the ski resorts desperate to pull in punters due to enormous investment in equipment. Flaine is free on our season ticket for a day. It also has an excellent snow record and some great skiing. The resort itself lets it down. We were not disappointed though the snow at altitude was excellent, the runs empty and morning sunshine. The morning was enough after skiing hard, Simons’ legs were shot at. These young people just don’t have the stamina. After having skied on and off all season we are probably quite fit. Skiing must have improved too. Lunched in sunshine on a Sandwich Americain, which arrived in an extremely large baguette. Couldn’t find the american he must have been hiding under the mountain of chips and burgers. Or were the burgers ? ……… Take one american, flour, onions, salt and pepper ….

17 April Saturday

Skied Avoriaz on way back to Geneva. Very slushy and overcast. Not its best light.

Took Heather, Simon and Lisa to Geneva airport, waved them off and returned to Sallanches.

18 April Sunday

Read and lounged about all day by lakes at Passy. Snowed at night almost down into the valley.

Didn’t expect to see the trees covered in snow again this year. The trees have been Heather’s barometer of skiing potential. I think it stems from various Bentham skiers always being taken to high resorts and never skiing a tree lined run.

19 April Monday

Still very overcast and cloudy. Read, lounged and did puzzle pages from English newspaper. Put skis in for service. Sometimes the old Protestant work ethic has a go at me. I hear it shouting, “Do something, you are wasting time. Don’t you feel guilty at your inactivity ?” I take a deep breath and remind myself that the reason I am parked up in the camper van by the side of a lake, looking up at Mont Blanc in all its glory is so that if the mood takes me I can do absolutely sod all. No guilt, No targets, No deadlines. Just a good book and freedom of choice followed by a good nosh and a bottle of wine. Now finding a good book can be harder than you think. I am now fed up with authors who have boned up on guns, their specifications and abilities (American authors credit those agencies supplying such information to avoid litigation) and whose, normally ex marine or equivalent, superheroes can crush a man to death between their thumb and forefinger. I don’t mind faction but sometimes fiction goes a bit too far. (I was desperate at this point to write some incredibly clever play on words introducing friction and fractions but decided the least naff way was to let you do it yourself. It’s the next logical step from Peter Kay’s Karijokey (where you finish off his jokes) to a state of Authortocracy where you write the ends to an authors thoughts.)

20 April Tuesday

Picked up skis. 14 euros for both H and mine for basic edging and waxing. very good value. Skied les Contamines. Conditions now deteriorating fast. Run back to bubble now closed. Amazing how quickly a good depth of snow can disappear. Not sure whether I will ski again this season. Close inspection of the small print on season lift pass shows that I cannot use it for another free day at Flaine where the snow is still good. Don’t want to ruin memories of a good season skiing by a crap few last days.

21 April Wednesday

Had truck serviced at Mercedes dealer at Magland. Costa del Fortune but now happy to set off to Eastern Europe and Greece in the knowledge that oil, brakes, other fluids and mechanical bits all in good nick. Stayed overnight in garage car park to make sure I was there in time for 8am start. (Never good at getting up except for important things like skiing and fishing.) Many people will vouch for this.

22 April Thursday

Another lazy day. Visited various DIY shops seeking bits to stop leaking tap. Not sure when H coming back so went to local employment agency to investigate temporary job situation. Girl at desk gob-smacked. Never had a Brit come looking for work before.

23 April Friday

St Georges Day. Traditionally the day in England to pick dandelions to make dandelion wine. Spring arrived here in a rush. Valley sides now lush and green. Spent day sunbathing at Lake admiring French attitude to outdoors and respect for each other. A multitude of activities from fishing, boating, footballing, picnicking, canoodling, horse-riding, bike riding, kite flying, petanque etc etc all happening with no conflict, malintent, excess noise or over excitement as we get in the UK.

24 April Saturday

Bought and fitted plush new carpet in kitchen area of truck. Went to favourite (cheap) supermaket. Hooray, new stocks of Chilean wine lake have arrived. At checkout I queued behind lady with five boxes of 10 burgers (steak hache) and 12 geranium plants. Talk about lead balloon when I suggested she must have prettiest MacDonalds in Sallanches. Read up on Czech Republic. Deciding route from France. Heather announces arriving back on Tuesday. Much to be done before she arrives back..

25 April Sunday

Back to official camp site for much needed shower. Is it my imagination or have people been crossing the road to avoid me? …. I’m either very houseproud or petrified of spouses response if truck in a mess when she rejoins me , so I clean up and do washing. Charge up all electrical equipment so I can use computer again and promise myself a DVD tonight.

The weather is terrific; absolutely scorchio and with snowcapped mountains surrounding you, what could be better.

Is my french getting better ? I am sure it must be, although some days I feel like no-one understands a word I say and on others I am the best french speaking Englishman (apart from horrendous accent) they have ever met. Todays in depth conversation was with a Frenchman and his enchanting four or five year old daughter about crocodiles. They had just seen a little lizard which as everyone knows is a crocodiles cousin and there were a series of questions. “Qui est le plus mechant le lezard ou le crocadile ?” leading to where do you find crocodiles “En France ou en Angleterre” and in which country was Crocodile Dundee filmed etc etc. Now I am more and more intrigued by foreigners vision of English wildlife. Effectively the barefooted Moroccan we met earlier (representing collective foreigners) has just incredulously asked “ So you don’t have crocodiles and camels in England then ?” What next ? What will Eastern Europe bring ?

Went for a walk and watched one of the Sallanche’s football teams play in a local Sunday league. The standard was reasonably good especially the diving, histrionincs and Gallic expletives at contentious decisions. The pitch is adjacent to the River Arve which shapes the whole Chamonix valley. Sallanches won by 3 goals and one ball in the river to 2 goals, 2 balls in the river and one into the builders yard next door.

26 April Monday

Travel to Annecy to collect spares ordered from camper van shop several weeks before. Drop in on another camper shop en route to check out what they stocked I might need. Arrive at Annecy shop. Shut Mondays. Meander about for a while and then park outside camper shop for the night ready for battle next day. You might wonder why I expect a battle, but on a previous visit they were not particularly helpful and I feared the worst.

27 April Tuesday

Two out of four parts were OK. Unfortunately the most important part, a new cartridge for the tap, was the wrong part. They hadn’t got a replacement tap either. So hotfoot to other camper shop which had taps. Yes, they had one, but no-one to fit it but they would let me borrow the tools. After an enormous amount of grunting and groaning and a growing respect for anyone blind or working down a hole and in the dark a new tap was fixed. 2100 hours Geneva airport H arrives. But who do I see first but Jo Armstrong on his way to Chamonix to be a summer Mountain bike and Trek guide. It was his Dad Alan who first got me skiing and with whom we spent New Year skiing at Les Contamines. Spent the night at a parking on the Swiss motorway just outside Geneva.

28 April Wednesday



Drove along part of the Golden Valley Rail route through Chateau d’Oeux, Gstaad and Saaenenmoser amongst other resorts we had visited many years before, just ahead of starting up Bentham Ski Trips. We arrived in Interlaken late afternoon ready to see a bit of the Bernese Oberland. We found a very accommodating car park, next to Interlaken Ost railway station, which was free overnight. Our home for the next three nights. Expensive Switzerland is proving cheaper than we anticipated with no site costs.

29 April Thursday

We caught the funicular and then train from Lauterbrunnen to Murren and walked back. Murren was deserted following the ski season and before the summer hiking. Impressive views of the Jungfrau, Monck and Eiger. Legs surprisingly sore from walking downhill even after a season skiing.

30 April Friday



Visited Isetwald and Grindlevald. Isetwald the once fishing village on Lake Brienz and now tourist and retirement stronghold. Grindlevald, ski resort and summer hiking centre, nestling beneath impressive peaks, although in between seasons at our time of visit. We had wanted to catch the Mannlichen telecabine out of Wengen and walk the ridge to Kleine Scheidegge and then back into Lauterbrunnen. Due to bad timing on our part most of the telecabines were still shut and there was still lots of snow on high.

1 May Saturday

Drove to Lucern, parked up in recommended site and in the evening walked along the lake shore into the heart of the pretty city centre. Toured the sites and streets looking for a typically Swiss bar and ended up drinking Boddingtons and eating Walkers crisps in Mr Pickwicks, whilst a Scottish Pipe Band marched by playing Scotland the Brave. So this is Switzerland ! To be fair there was a Drum and Pipe extravaganza at large to celebrate May Day. We also briefly nattered to some Galician Pipers about our journey along the Camino de Santiago a few years before.

2 May Sunday



Once more skirted the lake to tour the sites. Lucern is very pretty, set on the confluence of river and lake with many mediaeval buildings and surrounded by snow capped mountains. Spotted in the culture guide that Papa Chubby the blues rock guitar band were playing so decided to splash out and hear some live music. Alan and Dana with whom we toured much of Morocco had seen them in UK and raved. Alan’s taste in music however only included Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and Papa Chubby to the exclusion of all others. The band were good, with excellent guitar, keyboard and drums. The venue the Schurr (barn) was interesting. Upstairs 300 or so mainly 30+ rockers whooped and clapped to Chubby whilst downstairs an eclectic selection of Lindy Hoppers slid and gyrated to a much smoother blues.

3 May Monday

Packed up, serviced van and set off for Austria. We are now ready to see somewhere different to mountains, chalets and ski slopes. How spoilt can you get. Next stop Vienna and then Hungary and the evolving ex Eastern States before summer in Greece.



[Loire/Ile De Re] [Dordogne and Gorges] [Summer Alps] [Italy] [Slovenia] [Croatia] [On The Road To Morrocco] [Monte Carlo or Bust] [Spain, Benidorm and Gibraltar] [Rabat And All That] [El Jadida, Ounara, Essouria] [More meanderings & out of Africa] [Snowmads] [Snowmads 2] [Richard -  The BIG 50 !!!] [Eastern Europe] [Eastern Europe (cont)]


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