Friday, August 28, 2009

Up and down and round about; Lindau to Mt Blanc

On then towards Lindau through more impossibly green fields, pretty mountains and the constant alpine villages around chair lifts for skiing and summer tramping. Most telecabine type lifts were open, some chair lifts but not into snow, which has gone in all but the highest mountains.

Rural hamlets

The lake front at Lindau was a lively place, a harbour guarded by a lion and a lighthouse, with cafes and restaurants, street performers and musicians.

Harbour light

Harbour lion

The contrast between the Lutheran Church with box pews and no pictures and the Baroque Cathedral was marked and interesting.

Lutheran Church

Baroque Catholic Church

The paintings on some of the buildings were really beautiful.
Such care has been expressed in the decoration.

The Rathaus

We did a small boat trip on the lake, very smooth and gentle. All along you could see the towns with Lido areas close to the lake, not beaches but green parks with umbrellas and people swimming and sunning.
A Cistercian monastery on the hill above a nearby lake was beyond Baroque and into Rococo, the interior in swirls of salmon stucco and gold scrolls. Since the Cistercian model in France is plain, no ornamentation except leaf capitals on the columns and a statue of the virgin, we can't help but feel the model is different in Germany.


Out of Brunnen we also experienced another monastery in Rococo decoration at Einsiedien, and again no photos were allowed, though I bought one of the interior as it was so unbelievable.

Einsieden Basilica outside

Brunnen is set on Lake Luzern, a large lake among high mountains in Switzerland.

Lake at evening

Mountains behind Brunnen

We took a cable railway up to Stoos, a village in the high alps, and shared our lunch with a million flies which we kept at bay with the trusty Aerogard, much to the interest of the locals.

A boat trip to Luzern was also on the agenda. What a lovely town! A long wooden covered bridge with old paintings in the roof gables inside (where they were not lost in a large fire some years back).

Covered bridge

Pictures in the gables, most of things like saints being martyred

Pretty churches, lovely cafes beside the river flowing from the lake or in the arches under the old buildings, many swans, red geraniums.

We had lunch here

Lunch for others under the arches

We found it like a much nicer Annecy which we visited in France last year. A bicycle town too, with bikes just everywhere.

Parking problems in Luzern

The houses are often painted and decorated, some in old styles but some much more modern.

Decoration on a cafe

St George

On to Chamonix for the last of our mountains and cable cars. We had not counted on the dense clouds on the mountain passes, making it difficult to see the road or even the car or bus in front.

View from the car

Then over the top at Furka Pass and "bingo" the cloud was on one side and we were on the other. Mind you, when we could see the roads and the drop off on the side, maybe the cloud had been merciful for our peace of mind.

Cloud one side

The roads travelled

I was fascinated by some unique buildings in a few villages here. Dark wood, slate roofs in need of repair, no windows, ladders for entry, and the whole building set on points topped by large round stones. I correctly surmised old barns with the stones to keep out the mice and rats, but the theory is not dissimilar to the termite caps on the stumps of Australian houses.

Barns with stone cap protection from mice

Coming in towards Chamonix we noted that every part of the country was being cultivated if possible, leading to terraced hillsides covered in vines. The amount of work to tend these vines must be enormous and backbreaking. It would be impossible to get mechanical sprayers and harvesters to the vineyards.

Vineyards on the mountain slopes

Chamonix was buzzing, many people in the squares and town, unlike when we went through a year ago. We later learned that most people are up mountains during the day and the town blossoms in the afternoon/evening.Of course the point was indeed the mountains and we embarked on our biggest "up and down" adventure, the two cable cars that take you from Chamonix to a halfway point up Mt Blanc, and then a virtually vertical ascent via a second cable car to 3,800 metres.

Coming down and heading for that little red oval

The only times that were a bit scary were going over the three pylons on the first leg. The car jars and sways a bit. These are big cars, holding 50-60 people.
The final ascent to the top station goes almost vertically shortly after leaving.

Heading for the top at the red circle

We were surprised to find that even small exertions such as walking up a flight of stairs left us a little breathless and we had to take things easy for a bit. We didn't stay long at the top but descended to the halfway stage and enjoyed a drink on the terrace as the cable cars passed by.

Cable car

Needless to say, with clear blue skies the snow and mountains looked spectacular and the photos aren't half bad.

View at the top

Intrepid souls

Wildflowers and mountains, half way

In summary:
# We probably tried to fit in too many lakes and mountains.

# We did tend to find that the lake towns were filled with older people and I wouldn't be in a hurry to go back to them, perhaps too much of a reminder of what lies in the near future for us.
# In hotels we neglected to stipulate a lift or only a few stairs and that caused a few difficulties with luggage.
# Europe has had a very hot summer, so we should have requested airconditioning in all our accommodation.

# In most places the people in restaurants and hotels moved effortlessly between the languages, making it easy for us when ordering food or asking for information, but I am more confident in places where I have some understanding of the language, especially France and Italy. It will be interesting to see how we manage Spain later in the trip.

From now on, Italy and Spain. It is good to be back to Italian food.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your pics very much, and thanks for the little tips at the end. I hope you had a great trip to Spain. I've always loved traveling to Spain.:)


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