Country number: 8
Territory number: 10
When? June 2002
Who? With friend Paul, who I met in Australia
Paul was posted to Basel, so I went to visit him for a weekend. We hired a convertible Mercedes and drove round with the top down, Moby blaring, and Paul shouting ‘Nice arse’ at assorted astonished young men as we shot by.
Switzerland was beautiful, the alpine air chilly and invigorating, Basel expectedly interesting and the weather unpredictable. We looped round from Basel, past Berne to teal blue lakes, Interlaken, the Eiger and the Jungfrau. Both the latter made distinctive cameo appearances. The valleys were emerald green and sprinkled with wooden steep roofed chalets and dappled cattle, just like the Milka adverts.
Back round to Lucerne where there was a festival on, so the bars were uncomfortably rammed and the famous wooden bridges were solid with people, bikes and balloons. The little boutiques, just as you would have expected offered cuckoo clocks, chocolate and hats with feathers in them. Through Zug (more gorgeous lakes to admire) and back to Basel. Very satisfying, and completed with Swiss efficiency.
When? December 2012
How? Skiing weekend
Who? With friend Lenka
Klosters is famous for being the Royal family’s resort of choice. Fortunately it doesn’t seem any more exclusive or expensive than the rest of Switzerland, bearing in mind that Switzerland always burns a large hole in your wallet anyway. Also fortunately, the Royal family aren’t here. There are more cuckoo clock shops as well as the predictable designer gear – skiing or otherwise. The chalets are petty and the bars quiet and elegant.
The Klosters ski lifts are linked with Davos, where I’ve skied before on a day trip from Italy (there wasn’t any snow in Livigno where I was). There’s the famous mountain railway, which is fun to ride- a different experience- and the slopes are wide and attractive. Unfortunately, at the weekend they can be attractive to a lot of folk, so descent then can be a little stressful, unless you don’t mind how many Germans you take out, whilst emulating Franz Klammer. Crowds are a good excuse to retreat to the mountain huts and indulge in Tiroler gröstl (sort of bacon potato and onion left over fry up with a fried egg on top) or one of the delicious melted cheese concoctions on offer.