The fourth country on our three-month Europe tour was Switzerland. As soon as we crossed the border from Italy on the train we were struck by the beauty of the countryside.
At every turn as we wound through the mountains, we were wowed at the views. There are dramatic snow-topped mountains, green valleys and peaceful lakes everywhere.
We arrived in Lucerne after passing through Gotthard Base tunnel, the world’s longest tunnel at 57 km long. We straight away loved the feel of Lucerne, set on the shore of a large picturesque lake with funky cafes and swans drifting by.
Less than an hour’s drive from Lucerne, we arrived at our accommodation for the next week, the small alpine village of Hasliberg, where a family we knew from Bali now lives.
The view out the windows of our chalet was like a postcard. We had to double take occasionally with the amazing view, one could be mistaken for thinking it was a fake back drop.
At this time of year, spring in Europe, the high altitude mountains still have snow on the peaks, painting the picture of a magical place to be.
We were so lucky at this time of year to have the best of both worlds, experiencing snow on our first day, and then the sun came out for the rest of our time, making it easy to enjoy and explore the surrounding area.
One of the highlights of our time here was on the day it snowed. After dancing in the lightly falling snowflakes, we drove further up the mountain from where we were staying and had a snow ball fight with the freshly fallen snow.
We didn’t have the right clothing for the snow, so we were freezing but we didn’t mind because it was so much fun. Olive even managed to make a snow bunny, albeit a small one!
When the weather cleared the next day, we visited Ballenberg, just down in the valley not far from Hasliberg, an ‘outdoor museum’ showing examples of traditional Swiss houses from different regions.
The buildings were decked out with period furnishings, historical information and hands on activities from days gone by, like wood whittling, wood sawing by hand, a water-mill to cut larger logs, dressing up, games and music.
We spent a fun day wandering around the buildings scattered in the valley, enjoying all the things to do. There was a little playground with an old-fashioned wooden bowling game where the kids could hardly lift the ball, as well as some pigs and goats to pat and feed! There was so much to do you could easily visit again and see new things.
One of the popular things to do in Switzerland is take a gondola lift high up into the mountains. We skipped the expensive train that heads up for undeniably spectacular views, instead stopping at the small car-free village of Murrën, which in wintertime is a skiing village, but in spring provides a base for wonderful walking trails.
We ventured along mountain trails following the train line back down the mountain. We stopped for a beer at the pub with one of the best views, then took the gondola the rest of the way down. As always, the scenery at every turn was amazing!
Being spring with the sun out, it was even warm enough for a swim in the lake right behind our house. The water was not as cold as you might think, and the kids loved the idea of swimming with snow-capped mountains in the background.
We all agree that this leg of our trip is one of our favourites so far. Staying with friends, the snow, the scenery, and the food (Swiss food blog post still to come), combined for an awesome and memorable stay.
Thanks Switzerland… next time we’ll have to come back in winter so we can take a sled ride out the front door and down the street.