What’dya say we take a break from recipes today and just stare in awe of the most beautiful, peaceful country I’ve ever been to?
You’d think I’d have already shared these photos with you, seeing as how it was already two months ago that my brother and I were vacationing in Europe. But you know, things happen… people move from the North to the South… but alas, here we are! Let me show you Switzerland!
After following the Tour de France for a couple days, my brother and I hopped in our way-too-big-for-Europe rental car and drove through the Burgundy wine region (we stopped in Beaune and Besancon) on our way to Switzerland. As soon as we crossed the border into Switzerland, we drove through a tiny little village, Vallorbe:
One of the luxuries of traveling via car rather than train was that it allowed us to make random stops along the way. It also meant my brother and I got to have more driving-related arguments than I can count on my hands, but you take the bad with the good.
We wrapped up our 5-minute photo shoot in Vallorbe and hopped back in the car to drive down to Lausanne:
Between views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps, tiny cute shops and restaurants, and the Olympic Museum, I easily could have stayed put in Lausanne for a few days. But as was the theme of our Euro-trip, we had places to go, things to see!
For months before our trip, my brother had expressed his need to swim in Montreux, which is just down the road from Lausanne. Specifically, he had seen pictures of Chateau de Chillon on the edge of Lake Geneva, and had to get a picture of himself swimming in front of it. Well, he got what he needed!
Pretty cool scene, right? I sat out on those rocks you see there, playing photographer, while my brother hopped in and swam back and forth in front of the chateau. It’s funny, as we pulled up, we figured he’d be the only one swimming and that it might not even be legal. We descended a set of stairs to see about 20-30 others at a legitimate beach next to the chateau! It was probably one of the neatest open water swimming locations I’ll ever see.
Montreux itself is a touristy town with shops and lakeside hotels left and right, and I briefly gave thought to convincing my brother we should stay the night there instead of our actual destination, Thun. Since we’d already reserved our hotel in Thun, we decided to keep on driving. As you’ll see from the pictures below, this might be the best decision we’ve ever made?!
Thun is my dream retirement location. I’m not kidding. It’s easily the most peaceful place I’ve ever been.
We arrived in Thun — just a quick 20 minute drive from Bern — just as the sun was setting over the Bernese Alps. We immediately speed walked the quarter mile from our hotel over to Lake Thun to catch what we could of daylight…
Adding to the awesomeness of Thun, it just so happened they had a live production of Titanic the musical the night we were in town. And the show definitely took place ON the lake! Very fitting for Titanic, I’d say.
After a delicious dinner with the most friendly waitress — I should add that, unlike some of the smaller French towns we visited, the folks weren’t very offended that we didn’t speak the local language (Swiss-German) — and a good night’s sleep, I woke up early for a run, only to find Thun residents out and about for the day at 6am! Ah, they’re even morning people like I am.
After my run, my brother and I headed over to Lake Thun for a (chilly) swim, but discovered this on our walk over.
This, is every swimmer or water lover’s paradise. Need proof?
Views of the Alps while you get your laps in. Of course, you can take a dip in the waters of their private beach if you’d like:
Diving more your thing? They’ve got you covered.
And here’s where I know I can sell everyone. Waterslides.
My brother and I were seriously like kids in a candy store when we discovered this oasis. I could easily spend my summer days just hanging out at the pool, taking breaks to lay in the sun on the huge lawn, or grab a snack at the clubhouse…
The best part: a day pass at this park was the equivalent of about $8USD! I can’t even go to lap swim at my local YMCA for that little. Unreal.
Between its outdoor recreational offerings, great people, and delicious food, Thun was definitely one of the hardest places to leave of our entire trip. But, we had to be in Florence (a 7 hour drive away!) that night, so we eventually packed up our bags and started our trek. What we didn’t realize at that time was that we were about to drive past lakes like this:
Holy turquoise water!! Ha.
And we definitely didn’t realize the route we were taking out of Switzerland and into Italy was going to have us ascend 7300 feet to the summit of an Alps mountain!!
That meant seeing waterfalls like this:
And lots of holding my breath while making 4293084 hairpin turns…
Aaand of course, lots of snow capped mountains near the top!
The road had tons of outlooks where you could pull off to the side to take in the view, and we definitely took advantage of those. We literally didn’t have a clue we were going to climb that high — I guess we didn’t do our homework on that route — we figured the road would go around the mountain rather than climb to the summit. But nope, right to the top!
The views on the descend were just as spectacular as the ascend — you could point out teeny tiny houses and streams down in the valleys.
I think the entire ascent/descent took us over an hour, but (this is cheesy, I know) it’s an hour I’ll never forget. It capped off what was easily the most relaxing portion of our 2-week trek around Europe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people in the last couple months that they need to go to Switzerland in the summer. You need to go to Switzerland in the summer! I think I’ll win the lottery and buy a summer vacation home there… you’re all invited!