We woke up at 5 am to arrive at Frankfurt airport by 8 am. Tina’s sister gave us a ride to the airport. Our luggage are filled to the maximum limit and we need to leave a bottle of alcohol free wine behind..
At the airport security, we realized that Tina had put her micro spikes in my back bag. Luckily, the security crew let us pass as they didn’t deem the spikes as too dangerous.
On our transfer in Paris they didn’t even notice them. Thank god, as the 2 hour layover did not leave much time for discussions as we needed to go through customs again (long waiting lines) and then crossed pretty much the whole airport to get our gate. We made it on time!
We arrived in Montréal, luckily all our luggage had arrived as well. Back to work on the next day – totally jet lagged 🙂 The end of a fantastic trip with an amazing wedding, German culture, the Alps and having met Tina’s family, friends and so many other great people!
Waking up too early again, to return the Rental Car while Tina has a few appointments.
Overall, a relaxed day… shopping and writing this blog.
In the evening, we had diner with Tina’s uncle and aunt and later met friends for a drink.
My German is not getting much better, I can barely pick up a few words here and there. When I’m lucky I can place a couple of German words in the conversation without looking too weird 🙂
We woke up in Basel and headed to the hospital to see the new-born baby of our friend who had given birth 3 days earlier.
The baby girl was super tiny, and herself and mum and dad were doing fine.
We then headed to Freiburg to visit the city in pouring rain, it was still nice! We did some shopping and stopped in Baden Baden for some more shopping at Decathlon. We then continued to Kandel and Karlsruhe to meet friends of Tina and arrived in Waldsee around 1 am. A long day!
We woke up in our AirBnB private room in Thun. We had a balcony with a great view on mountains and valleys around. We had breakfast served by our hosts and we chatted with them in German, English and French. There were curious to know what a German-Quebecois couple was doing in Switzerland!
We then headed to the bicycle rental place in Thun. Renting a bike turned out to be way more difficult than expected. They forgot to take note we wanted to rent shoes with clip pedals, there was no holder for water bottles and no extra air chamber or tool included.
Tina was not feeling well due to a cold and managed to get around the cancellation fee. We waited around 1 hour for the rain to stop and I then started my biking tour by myself. I managed to fit 2 bottles of water and a couple of energy bars in my jersey, hopefully I won’t get a flat tire or need Tina’s German skills. Tina went to Thun to visit the city and take it easy. I started riding on the south section of the lake, until Interlaken. I then headed north across the city and started the climb. A very steep climb of several km which took at least an hour. Luckily, once at the highest point, it was mostly downhill to Thun.
I went through some tunnels, had breathtaking views on the lake and rode on narrow roads going left and right around the mountain. The road was still wet and there were many blind spots; I had to be very careful, but it was great!
At some point, a sign indicated that the road to get back to Thun was blocked. The name of the city ‘Thun’ was striked out on the sign. Not good! I didn’t want to turn around, nor going through another hour of steep climb. So I decided to just continue that way … until I got to the construction site. No asphalt for at least 500 meters. The construction guys obviously could not speak English and my German was not advanced enough, but I managed to understand that there was a way around the construction site through the field on my left. Luckily, I didnt’ have to go up the hill again.
I met Tina at the bike rental and returned the road bike to them. I completed the 66km around the lake and 1160 meters climb.
We then headed to Basel to spend the night at our friends’ place.
We woke up in Muerren and had breakfast at the hotel. We went for a short hike around and above the village. After lunch, I rented a climbing harness to do the Via Ferrara from Murren to Grindelwald. It offered very nice views and was not to technical and difficult, provided that you are not afraid of heights…Tina decided not to do it and hiked down to Grindelwald.
At one place, I even watched a guy in a wingsuit getting ready for base jumping. Later, I crossed a very exposed area with dozens of steps with nothing but air for 2000 meters beneath me. Next was crossing a canyon walking on a wire and holding to 2 other cables. Then there were these 10 ladders that I had to climb down.
Most sections were in the forest and were an easy hike. It ended with a Nepalais bridge. When I got there there were already 3 persons trying to cross the bridge, one girl seemed to have a hard time to cross it. When I put a first foot on the bridge, I understood why. I’m usually not much afraid of heights, however when your feet balance sideways, you are thousands of meters above the ground and all you can hold to a thin wire on the right side – this changes everything. Especially when each step creates more balancing movements. I could not even get out my camera in the first few meters.
Luckily, in the middle section, it doesn’t balance much and you can hold to large wire on each side. I managed to take pictures and enjoy the view from there. Getting off the bridge was equally as challenging. Wow! What an experience!
I then returned the rental equipment, met Tina and took the last gondola down to the valley.
We then headed to our AirBnB near Thun.
We woke up in Rotstockhuette in the 2300 metres altitude – a true Swiss Alps feeling. The breakfast was delicious – home made bread and honey, Swiss cheese and Bircher Muesli…I managed to watch the sun rise above the mountain range where some glaciers are reflecting the bright light.
The sky is completely blue, it turned out that we were really lucky with the weather. We can see the fog down in the valley that moved up and down the mountain. We left in direction of Schilthorn mountain, the famous peak from a James Bond movie. Even though we can see the summit above us, it is still far away.
The climb started easy in the green valley, but it suddenly became steeper and steeper. The trail zig zag all the way up and the view kept changing as we go up. Once on the ridge, a new scenary opened up to us and it also got colder and windy.
This is where the real challenge began for Tina who is afraid of heights. The ridge is narrow, on each side cliffs of thousands of meters. I told her to focus on the trail and not to watch down right or left. Luckily, there was a staircase fixed above the cliff so that we could safely climb up one of the steepest parts. And since the trail remained pretty technical and challenging with some snow on top of it, there were ropes along the most difficult section. Tina was very thankful! We finally arrived at the Schilthorn station and were surrounded by tourists who took the gondala to get to the submit.
After a quick lunch, we checked the prices to take the gondola to go down…Almost $CAD 70 per person, so I decided to hike down to Muerren while Tina was taking the gondola. Tina took some rest and had a tea in the rotating restaurant with an amazing view on all the mountains. An Indian couple asked here if her hiking poles were actually a selfie-stick or skiing poles…- haha! For the way down, I chose a totally different route; it started under the gondola, on the alpine ski trail, went around a small pond and then the steep down zig zag portion started. There was a waterfall nearby. It was a nice view and I met a nice American couple and we pretty much followed each other ll the way down. Once down in the valley, there were farmer trails and cows and we could easily walk until Muerren.
I met Tina at Hotel Regina in Muerren, a small village located at the top of a 700 meters high cliff that can only be accessed by gondola or train – no cars!
Needless to say, the view is amazing!
We started our day earlier than planned due to the hospital emergency (see previous post) and we managed to leave Basel on time. No wonder that Switzerland has a speed limit of 120 km/h with all these mountains and tunnels..:) We passed by Bern, Thun, Spiez and then headed up the valley until the end of the road after Lauterbrunnen. It was raining and we were not expecting much improvement based on the latest weather forecast.
We decided not get discouraged by rain, put on rain jacket, gaiters and get on the trail. You could tell we were in the Alps, it started pretty steep…There were impressive cliffs on each side, waterfalls and nice views appearing through some hole in the mix of fog and clouds. For the next 2 hours we followed a river; it was relatively easy, and the trail was large enough for a car.
Then the REAL hike started. The fog disappeared, the clouds were clearing up giving view to an amazingly blue sky and some small huts nestled within a breathtaking scenery. No noise whatsoever except of the cowbells who were eating non-stop. We passed through a series of doors that are supposed to prevent the cows from escaping. As you can imagine you need to be careful where you step…
There are fewer and fewer trees and a vast green area is opening in front of us. Far away at the bottom of the Schilthorn mountain, we can see a hut that seems to be our final destination for this day. Even though we can see it, it is still a long way to get there. We stopped a few times to take pictures, enjoy the incredible scenery and to have some snacks, the trail remains pretty steep.
We finally got to the Rotstockhutte around 4 pm. This is where we will have dinner and sleep tonight. With an unexpected blue sky, a pleasantly warm temperature and impressive mountains around it, you could potentially call it a little paradise.
We woke up in our hotel room in Freiburg. Very nice view from the 7th floor. Quite expensive, too. Tina is not feeling good, she was sick all night.
After getting her some medication, I let her sleep 2 more hours while I quickly walked through the city and hike up the nearest hill.
Once I came back to the Hotel, Tina was luckily feeling better. We checked out and were heading to Basel. In Switzerland, highways don’t have unlimited speed and the limit is usually 120 km/h. We crossed the Switzerland border without a need to stop. We already had purchase the special vignette that is required to drive on Swiss highways – 40CHF (CAD$60). In Basel, we were visiting very good friends who we had met in Montreal. Our friend was heavily pregnant and due to deliver in two weeks. She was still full of energy and took us for a walking tour in Basel and along the Rhein. We then had an excellent BBQ dinner and packed our bags for our big hike. It turned out that their little girl wanted to see the world ahead of time and I gave our friend and her boyfriend a ride to the hospital at 5 am in the morning 🙂 Their daughter was born in the afternoon…
We left Waldsee very early to pick up our rental car for the week and took the highway in direction of Freiburg and the so-called area “The Black Forest”.
I had a chance to legally test the capabilities of a Ford Fiesta 2015 on the autobahn. I pushed it to 198km/h (when Tina was sleeping); not bad for a compact/economic car. However, I was more often at 160. 😉
Speed limit are constantly changing, it is not unlimited speed all the way. When there is construction, curve or road merge, the speed limit drops to 120, 100 or even 80 km/h. And you usually can’t just let go the accelerator… you need to break as the speed limit may drop from 120 to 60 km/h in less than 250 meters.
It’s fun 🙂
Needless to say, the 200 km were completed in quite short time 😉
We arrived in Freiburg, passed right through, and stopped in a little village to start our hike. We planned a 12 km hike up a 1000 meters mountain. The weather was great and the views just amazing.
We left a little bit short on water (Not even 3L for 2 persons). Luckily, there was a hut at the top where we could get a refill.
We got up very early, took a train at the station 5 minutes walk away, a few station later, we transfered to the express bus to the Berlin Tegel airport.
We are getting pretty good with the overlay complex Berlin Transit Map.
We took an early flight from Berlin to Baden Baden airport.
We did a grocerie for the rest of the week, since everything is much more expensive in Switzerland.
We also stopped at Decathlon, to buy a few sport items 🙂
We left the airBnB early in direction of the nearby train station. It was a direct 1 hour connection to Postdam; a city located south east of Berlin.
From the train station, we took a bus to the Sans soucis park. It is huge area with huge trees, km of trails and surrounded by many castles. We went to Sans Soucis castle for a visit. But we also explored the rest of the park.
It was great.
We went back to Postdam, took a little snack and visited the Dutch Quarter. The king, hundreds of years ago, has resquested this part of the city to be built with houses designed as in Holland to attract worker from that area. Those workers allowed building the huge castle in record time.
On our way back to Berlin, we stopped in the Holocaust Memorial underground museum. There were very graphic pictures, videos, and diary of the Holicaust. They show complete story and itinerary of jews families that went in concentration camps back in 1942.
Very emotional and touching experience.
Today we rented bike to visit berlin.
We saw east side gallery; one of the last section of the Berlin Wall still standing. Every portion of it is filled with painting and art.
After a short snack, we headed to Checkpoint Charlie; a former border control between east and west berlin.
There were hundreds of pictures and text refering to the story of the wall.
We then headed to the Topography of terror; a museum that relate the complete story of Germany… political changes, economical crisis, world war II, hitler, abolition of human right and free speech, racism… and up to now.
Wow! A lot of information.
We biked around berlin the rest of afternoon and met a friend for a drink.
This morning we left Waldsee, in direction of Baden Baden airport.
It is about 70km, we guessed it should not take over an hour … but even if some highway section had no speed limit, there was also section with construction and traffic jam.
We managed to get to the airport 40min before boarding time. Both long duration parking were completely full already, had to park at a more expensive one to avoid missing our flight.
Once we passed the security, we still had 20min before boarding time.
Ohh no! I forgot my phone in the car! It contains the offline GPS map of Berlin, every GPS waypoint for things I want to see, the info for the AirB&B … everything!
I ran to the car, picked up the phone and ran back to the airport, quickly passed through the security gate, just on time for boarding…
1h30 flight later, we landed in Berlin.
Took a shuttle bus to AlexanderPlatz and walk to our AirBnB, 1km from there.
We met our host, got the keys, dropped a few things in the room and start walking toward the museum island.
We stopped to eat a local traditional dish (sausages and curry sauce).
We then headed to the Holocaust Memorial. They are gray stone of different size and hight but perfectly aligned on an uneven terrain. People can walk between the stone where in some area, the stones are twice our hight. There is a museum right under that explains the Holocaust. We plan to visit it tomorrow.
The German parlement was closed by, we took a few picture of the outside while relaxing in the grass.
There was some amazing glass building next door. We went around it, over a narrow bridge over the river and got a nice view on all these building, the river and boardwalk.
We followed the river for some time, passed by the museum island and continued until we stopped for a cold beer on a terasse.
We chose the ballhaus for Diner. A good restaurent but also place known for its disco look and huge dancing floor. Around 20h30, salsa dancing course were starting. 🙂
We decided to opt for the Subway to get back to the AirBnB and save us 2.5km walk.
Tina felt asleep with her clothes on.
Tomorrow is another day in Berlin! 🙂
Today is the big day for Tina’s sister. Tina and her mom are at the hairdresser’s and we all get ready for the ceremony. After the ceremony in the church, the couple needed to cut a tree into two pieces, a German tradition. We then drove to the Hambach Castle which is really impressive. The reception with cocktail and Kaffee and Kuchen was on the 4th floor. Their wedding cake was entirely made of ice cream. We then moved to the ball room for dinner and dancing. By 3 am we drove home after a great day!
Today we helped with the preparation for my sister in law wedding in the Hambach Castle.
The castle was built in late middle age, and is considered to be the symbol of the German democracy movement since 1932. It is located about 15 km west from the city of Speyer.
Today we went for a short hike in the forest about 15km west of Speyer. The view was great from the top of the hill.
We also visited Speyer; its main street, its cathedral and the surrounding park.
I had a double expresso while sitting in the main square. It was effective to wake me up and get rid of the Jet lag. It definitely works! BTW, I never drink coffee.