• PT

October '19 - Stop over in Switzerland

To get to Italy from Germany, although not the only route, you pass through a somewhat scenic place called Switzerland.

Small lake behind a petrol station on the road to Martigny and the St Bernard Pass

Vineyards seem to be a recurring theme on this road trip, strange because I know very little about wine, nor have I ever done a wine tasting! Bad Bertrich is in the Moselle region, Colmar in the Alsatian wine region, and now Lausanne in Switzerland, in the Lavaux wine region, so old it's UNESCO World Heritage listed.


It was a 270km drive and surprisingly busy. So many trucks! Passing through the border at Basel felt like the city was one giant industrial and commercial interchange, maybe it is I don't know. We stopped at a 'road house' among a sea of trucks, cars and tour buses - the road house was the size of a small mall, purely catered to people stopping for food, fuel and rest.

View from a rest stop between Basel and Bern

It goes without saying but Switzerland is pretty scenic and the region along Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Montreux is no exception. Historic towns backed by ancient vineyards with a view across to the towering, snow capped Swiss Alps. The Alps were covered in some pretty dramatic cloud and there was a fog over the lake the entire day, all of which I noted carefully since that's where the next drive would take us through.

High drama in the Swiss Alps

Highlight here was a visit to Chillon Castle, located on the banks of Lake Geneva. Apparently one of the most visited castles in Europe, barely noticed as it was very quiet - another thumbs-up for travelling in the off-season! The castle site dates to Roman times but the main construction started in the 10th century.

Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva

The castle has a great location on the lake and includes some cool features such as a lake escape hatch to a moored boat, that was actually used by one of the dukes following an attack. Also, one imprisoned duke, over a 6 year period walked around in a circle as far as his chain would allow, and the chain and rut are still visible. Lord Byron also carved his name on a pillar of the dungeon, still visible.


Also visited a few lake towns including popular Montreux and Vevey, both with their own unique features.

A local pondering by the lake at the town of Vevey

From here it was direction Italy via the St Bernard tunnel (bargain at AUD $50 toll). A very scenic drive to say the least, on an unusually warm, sunny day (20c!). In fact, during a stop to take photos, I noticed the car was hot, very hot. Opened the bonnet and noticed it had ZERO cooling fluid (thanks Hertz!). So back down the mountain to try find a local garage, luckily found a helpful guy (kid really) who topped it up. So far, so good....

View from the spot where the car decided to overheat

The Italian side of the Alps is quite different but of course, also spectacular. But no time to look at the scenery, the Italian drivers require constant vigilance!! Either they're doing 30km/h or 150km/h on the Autostrada, in any case they'll be weaving on all sides of you. It was a long drive, not without its moments, but finally arrived in the city of Turin...

Italian side of the Alps

Click the gallery below for more photos (not just mountains, but yes more mountains).


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Pepijn Thijsse