Monday 30 May 2016

Liechtenstein and an Unplanned Italian Detour

Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Italy, 24th – 29th May 2016

The view at Eneuhur

This week we’ve stayed in three countries, it’s been a while since we’ve done that. We’ve been into Liechtenstein to visit Vaduz, made our way down through Switzerland to St. Moritz via the Julierpass, and had a little trip into northern Italy for some freeparking and for their food!

At Hergiswil it was still raining the next morning with just occasional pauses so we did some planning of where to go next and did a few jobs (Photo of that spot now added to the previous post). A fair bit of driving was done in the afternoon, passing through Luzern and many other towns and villages on our non-motorway route but progress was fine. We headed to a picnic site near Eneuhur (GPS: 47.21694 9.31710) at the end of a small road by a stream surrounded by mountains. The ticket machine was in service so we paid our 5 Fr for 12 hours, and with being after 5pm the ticket started from midnight for the next day.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Torrent Neuf and Interlaken

Switzerland, 20th – 23rd May 2016

Expensive or not, it's definitely beautiful!  Iseltwald village
Every time we’ve mentioned Switzerland in conversation with anyone, we always seemed to get the same response.  “It’s a beautiful country… but expensive.”  We’ve been here over a week now, and while it’s a cost increase on the last few months of living we have found areas where we can control the damage.  Certain things are more expensive (like eating out, where the average main course is 20 Fr+) and fresh bread, fruit and veg, but at least Lidl beer is cheap at 0.90 Fr (€0.82) per litre.  We’re still avoiding vignette roads, and we keep an eye on fuel prices so that when we spotted one that was significantly cheaper than the average we knew to pull in and fill up.  But on Thursday evening after our helicopter entertainment had left, we decided to test a new important area in which we could make savings: Swiss chocolate.

Friday 20 May 2016

Sampling the Fantastic Scenery and Walking in the Pennine Alps

Switzerland, 16th – 19th May 2016

View up the valley from our parking spot at Zinal
Being in Switzerland, a new country complete with a “foreign” currency too, has been a refreshing change after over 6 months in France, Portugal and Spain over winter. As much as we enjoyed our time there it’s now familiar and easy territory to tour and we were ready for a change. We’ve spent the last few days in the Val d’Anniviers (Anniviers Valley) in the Swiss Pennine Alps getting some good walking in, including one particularly with amazing scenery surrounding us. Unfortunately much of the best walking areas at the higher altitudes are not accessible due to the amount of snow still around. The summer season starts in June which explains why it’s very quiet around here. The scenery’s amazing though and with there being other walks we are keen to do it’s going to be a must to come back to for a holiday to experience the place further.

Monday 16 May 2016

Snow Capped Mountains in Switzerland!

Our current spot by the river at Zinal

France and Switzerland, 11th – 15th May 2016

We’ve crossed a new country border, and can now say we’re in Switzerland!  In terms of staying somewhere with a view, I can’t really fault our current location; we’re parked for free near the town of Zinal in the Pennine Alps, right by the beginnings of a river with uninterrupted views of the still snowy mountains around us.  The ski season has finished at this point in the year, but there are still patches of the white stuff within walking distance.  Hot chocolates have been consumed and fleeces have made their way out of the cupboards.  Tonight we may even be so extravagant as to turn the heating on for the first time in months; we shall have to see how the temperature drops at night.

Saturday 14 May 2016

From One Brilliant View to Another, Into the Northern French Alps Ski Resorts

France, 6th – 10th May 2016

The mountains were calling out to us, it was time to
head north...
We’d had a busy few days seeing lots of sights around the Avignon area and following this from Aiguéze we planned to see some more of the Ardeche region. We set off to take the scenic road up through the gorge but before reaching the start came across a 2.7m width restricted bridge at St Martin d’Ardeche which we wondered if it might be a sign of what was to come further down the road too. Pulled over we checked alternative routes around it and had a quick look online about the road to see if it would be suitable. There were mentions of overhanging rocks and comments saying it was fine for passing from the south-east direction when these would be on the other side, but this was the opposite direction to which we were going. Not fancying narrow roads and projecting obstructions with increased bank holiday traffic which would likely make for a stressful drive we decided to give it a miss for now as we’ll be back in this area at some point on future holidays.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Roman remains and a 3800% increase in the wine budget, Arles to l'Ardèche

France, 2nd – 5th May 2016

We’d been told that one of the towns not too far from Mérindol, Ansouis, was one of the prettiest towns in Provence, so while we were in the neighbourhood it seemed a shame not to investigate it for ourselves.  After approaching through fields of vineyards, we reached a town full of stone cottages and lots of potted plants.  To me, it felt a little like being in the Lake District but with a French twist; the lakes were replaced with vineyards, and the constant rainclouds with beautiful sunshine.  It was pretty but being a small place there isn’t much to keep you around for long, so we continued to Arles.

Monday 9 May 2016

Blown Away by the Winds (and Sights) in the Luberon, Provence

Taking in the views from the Petit Luberon, Provence

France, 28th April – 1st May 2016

We’d returned to France with the ambition of getting the van serviced at an official Fiat garage in a country where Matt could bumble his way through the language rather than struggling with Spanish, but without already having booked an appointment we had a waiting game.  We’d already emailed a few garages while we were in Spain and had only heard back from one of them in Narbonne, who quoted more than we were hoping to pay and with no availability until 5th May, at which point we were hoping to be a lot further north in France towards Switzerland.  Whilst we were waiting around for the other garages to get back to us we didn’t have too much planned beyond slowly crossing the country, but we did set ourselves one very important daily goal: acquiring pain au chocolats.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Costa Brava

Spain and France, 24th – 27th April 2016

Views from the St Feliu de Guíxols coastal walk
Next for us was the Costa Blanca, which we didn’t want to miss after reading about it on OurTour’s blog from when they visited this area in November. We did it quite briefly though passing from place to place as it was time we made our way back into France after two months in Spain, which we’d planned to have taken a month to six weeks for. It’s a large country though with lots of great places to see which we’ve enjoyed, we’ve still only seen some of what’s to offer though, leaving lots more to return to one day. We had a couple of reasons for getting back up to France, the first one being the van was due its full 2-year mechanical service in the first week of May which I wanted to be in France so I was able to communicate sufficiently with the garage. The other was so that we have enough time to visit Switzerland and Austria, the remaining key counties we’d like to cover during this trip.