…..another slightly fictional tale from our chief wordsmith, Ed Quayle (who never lets the true facts stand in the way of a good story!)
Holiday time again with tour organiser Nigel (+ Jo), electrics/communications expert Dave (+ Jan) along with fact writer Ed and Facebooker Q. This year Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland was the destination – and home for nearly two weeks. We had chosen Switzerland again due to really enjoying ourselves there two years ago, and coincidentally Nigel was going to be reliving a school trip he took there 50 years ago (when he went in search of the source for the Toblerone mountain!).
We started by meeting at Chester services at midday and set off on our epic trip. First stop: Chadderton in Manchester! Yes, we really know how to pile the miles on in our trips. We stopped at a local McDonalds and Jo pointed out that this was the area where she went to school. She remembered walking home with her slate under her arm in her clogs and buying a Hovis loaf for tea every day from the local bakers nearby….. memories eh!
A little later we stopped at the Ferrybridge M62 services and bumped into Pete Fisher and Chris Wood on their GL1000’s. They were on their way to Belgium and were getting the same Hull to Zeebrugge ferry as us. Also, some other Wingers came in – they were off to the Harz Mountains were we had gone in 2012….. small world when it comes to motorcycling. It was a nice crossing on the ship but I was worried about Dave as he ate a salad without being told to do so. Jan was fine and had her normal two bottles of wine before bed.
We had a stopover in Saint Die des Vosges, France and stayed in an Ibis which was quite nice – clean and tidy and perfect for an overnight stop – and set off in the morning in the rain with our Frogg Toggs (waterproofs) on.
How this day was going to change! Nigel had plotted a wonderful route for the day, starting out riding along the 55 mile “Route des Cretes”, which runs right along the crest of the 4,000′ high Vosges mountains. We were heading for Lucerne where the new Ace Cafe was opening that weekend, and Q, Jo and Jan were due to do their special pole dancing trio thing (scaffolding poles!) as an opening act so we did not want to be late.
Sadly, the rain soon turned to mist and then thick fog, which can be challenging when you wear glasses like Nigel does. This was then made even worse by the local council deciding it would be a good idea to dig up the entrance to a road we needed – it looked that bad I thought it must be into a building site. I decided to go first and managed to get through, followed gingerly by the others.
We carried on to good roads – still covered in fog – but then we came across stretches of road that were covered in deep gravel. It felt like riding on thick carpet (we have a big living room) and, although I don’t have a CB, I had a very good idea what Nigel was saying as he hates gravel with a passion! Well, you can see for yourself how pleased he was – look at the photo!
We decided to detour away from the crest and head down the mountain, which as hoped got rid of the fog. A couple of hours later we made it to the Ace Cafe and even bumped into the London Ace Cafe owner Mark Wilmore – how lucky were we?!
The Cafe was brilliant with a lot of people dressing to the 50’s theme, with open face helmets, classic leathers, etc. If you’re ever in that area it’s worth checking out – the food’s very good and there’s a lovely atmosphere.
Nigel impressed everyone with his lights as we worked our way out through the crowds and we headed for Lauterbrunnen, where we arrived just after 6pm – tired but happy.
Due to Q’s bail conditions, we decided this year to try shared adjoining apartments with a linked balcony. It worked really well having breakfast on the veranda together each morning, although not all of us own pyjamas – but at least all the people in the hotel across the road got to vote on which see-through nightie they liked best. Our Home was right next door to Hotel Oberland and we had a wonderful view of the mountains – when the cloud allowed.
We rode many of the wonderful Alpine passes such as the Grimsel, Nufenen, Susten and Furka – even the original cobbled section of the St Gotthard Pass (Via Tremola) was OK so don’t worry about trying it.
We had tremendous fun on all of these passes but apart from getting it wrong and falling 300 feet watch out for Tarmac snakes – they live in the grass and come out in the day and vehicles run over them so they look like Tarmac repairs! Every now and then your tyres go over them and you feel the bike move a little. When you’re on a bend it can feel a bit weird, but it passes quickly.
If you’re worried about trying these passes for the first time, don’t be, as just when you think you have conquered a challenging road around the corner comes the giant local bus which does it several times a day with no problems.
By the way, be careful when you take pictures here as there is a photo bomber up there waiting to pounce.
This holiday worked out really well and we seemed to have a day riding then a day sightseeing which, for us, is good as we don’t normally make good tourists and just want to ride.
We had a wonderful walk through Glacier Gorge, Grindelwald and I noticed a rock outside the pay station that had an information plaque on it stating it is 140 million years old! It looks nice in our garden now.
We had a wonderful relaxing cruise on Lake Brienz and we were lucky to get a steam boat. Inside the boat you can see down into the engine area which is all lovely polished brass, etc. I have several videos of it if you’re interested. It is worth checking the timetables to try and get this boat.
We also took in the Trummelbach Falls which we had done a few years ago and it was still stunning. You go inside the falls and watch 20,000 litres of water rush past you EVERY SECOND! It’s amazing, but if you ever go take a waterproof jacket as there is a lot of spray.
The best part of this holiday for me – apart from the free Toblerones on the trees everywhere – was the trip up inside the Eiger by train to the Jungfraujoch (if there was a road I would have tried). We were lucky and got superb weather so the views were stunning. I think it is hard to capture with a picture but we did try. There is also a Lindt chocolate shop up there (no kidding!) so of course it would have been rude not to purchase any – Jan even paid for hers this time!
What a top job going 3,000m up a mountain every day AND working in a chocolate shop!
The air is quite thin up there so it takes a bit of getting used to but it is well worth putting on a bucket list! Nigel decided to walk onto the snow and fell through and we only spotted his cap at the last minute.
One day we took a chair lift and funicular train up to Mannlichen, where the residents were putting on local dancing and horn blowing. Those big horns are REALLY big and so I was expecting them to be really load – but they were actually rather quiet. We then walked down to Kleine Scheidegg, which was a lovely easy walk and on the way I had a trial run for a new job (I’m still waiting to hear from them).
Nigel also encouraged us to get up early and take three cable cars up the Schilthorn, which features a panoramic revolving restaurant named Piz Gloria at the summit, which is where the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was set.
We wondered whether this might be a bit disappointing after the trip up the Eiger/Jungfraujoch – but it wasn’t at all, with more glorious, unbelievable views in every direction. There is quite a bit of James Bond memorabilia there too and you can find many wonderful places for photographs.
We ate out some nights and others we went to Lidl to shop for evening meals and some breakfast stuff which worked out well. One of the nice places to eat was the local campsite, which had huge portions, and at the Hotel Oberland itself the food was great. Breakfast was taken care of with a trip to the local shop for breads etc. first thing in the morning.
12 nights in Lauterbrunnen went nice and slowly for me and I lost all track of what day it was, but it was finally time to say goodbye and our next overnight stop was to be in Luxembourg. Before leaving Switzerland though, Nigel managed to find “Moto-Time Goldwing Center Oftringen” just off our route, so we enjoyed a nice visit there. We even got a free microfibre cloth with the dealers name on it – a nice keepsake from the trip. Jan was insisting Dave bought more chrome but he put his foot down and refused!
It was a REALLY hot day on this return trip – my temperature gauge showed 36 degrees at one point and it was a little uncomfortable – so we had a nice stop at an air-conditioned McDonalds with lots of cold drinks. Our hotel in Stadtbredimus, Luxembourg was overlooking the Mosel which was nice as that river has featured in so many of our European holidays.
Next day was the trip to the ferry and on the way we stopped at services where I noticed a few British-registered bikes lined up and one bike had the seat off. Dave likes taking his GoldWing seat off on our holidays so I thought they may know each other so I popped over to see if I could help. The battery was dead but they got it going and the guy I was speaking with was familiar to me but I couldn’t quite remember where from. I then saw another guy in his group and recognised him straight away, but still could not place him. After they departed I went over to our group and mentioned that they seemed familiar. Dave (newly labelled as “club swot” by Nigel, because he seems to know everything!) said we met them in 2012 in the Harz Mountains, when they stayed in our hotel and joined us for a meal. Nigel took their picture and it was on the website – small world in the motorcycle world and a nice surprise.
The ferry home was lovely with a calm crossing and we really enjoyed watching them load the trailers onto our boat and another nearby. We had a lovely meal and a great laugh. Jo took her normal cutlery as she does and even got a tablecloth this year as well.
Once in the UK the temperature was cooler which was nice, and we stopped off on the way home at Squires Cafe which luckily had a Yamaha roadshow on and a stunt rider so that finished things off nicely. It was here we said our goodbyes to each other as we had separate journeys home. We rode off with a bit of sadness that it had come to an end – we seemed to have been away for ages and got really chilled out. It’s strange watching your group split up after doing over 2,000 miles together and you end up on the way home thinking about your great time.
Would we go again to Switzerland? Oh yes without giving it a second thought – it is not as dear as people think and the scenery is simply stunning. I describe it as your geography book coming to life. We took over 3,500 pictures between us (plus loads of videos). When I used a film camera years ago I bought rolls with 36 frames when going on holiday, so this would be the equivalent of 97 rolls of film!
Nigel made this holiday happen and he organised it so well I think we would all say it was the best we have had – we never even fell out with each other despite Dave and Jan not having dressing gowns.
Roll on next year and if you have never been to Switzerland give it a go as the roads and scenery are fantastic – you won’t regret it.