It’s been all quiet on the Busywork front: I’ve been in Switzerland, enjoying the scenery (not so much the food) and pottering around admiring all things Swiss.
I travelled with my mother, and so I had spent the weeks beforehand carefully planning every train, bus and ferry ride to ensure that she didn’t have far to walk (which is why you’ve not heard much from me lately!). She has artificial knees, and recent problems with one of them mean that while she can walk, she mustn’t be on her feet for too long. From that point of view, Switzerland is an excellent place to visit: their transport system is so well integrated that you can get off a bus and straight on a ferry, since they are all timed to coincide with each other. And this is why, if you’re travelling in Switzerland, you will see extraordinary numbers of elderly tourists, happily travelling around with their walking frames and other mobility aids.
We flew to Geneva, which is a city I’ve passed through a few times now and never really found appealing. The following morning we took a train to Spiez in the Bernese Oberland, which is just about the most perfect little town imaginable. It’s pretty: on the shore of a lake, with its own castle, snowy mountains in the distance, and chalets dotted all over the hillsides. And it’s also convenient: it has a station with trains to all over the place, ferries that travel all over the lake, and a shiny and well-stocked supermarket. (The supermarket has a wonderful cafe, with views of the castle and lake – it must be the best located supermarket cafe in the Western Hemisphere.) I’ve stayed in Spiez three times now, and am already making plans to go back again next year.
Once we’d checked into our hotel, we headed for the lake. There are two ferries an hour, and they stop at pretty villages dotted all around the lake. Our destination for the afternoon was Schloss Oberhofen, a fairytale castle on the edge of the water, right next to where the ferry lands (which again means it’s very easy to visit if you have mobility problems). We had a potter around the castle gardens, and then enjoyed some cake in a Konditorei – cake is something the Swiss do very well. When the ferry came back, we hopped on and headed back to Spiez for dinner in a restaurant down by the water. As a vegetarian I don’t do terribly well in Switzerland, and the main foodstuffs on offer don’t appeal to me much (other than the chocolate, which I could eat all day long). Having said that, the supermarkets are of a very high standard, and so if I stayed somewhere that was self-catering I could probably improve things considerably.
More on my time in Switzerland shortly!