Wednesday, October 21, 2015

To Switzerland - my childhood dream comes true

Frankfurt overnight stay was a rather disappointment for all of us as we expected a hustling bustling city with lot of tourists and malls. But we had selected a wrong day to be in Frankfurt. With the entire city closed, anything worthwhile that we saw was the overview of the city from the Galleria in the old city center and you may say the big bubbles.

So we bid farewell to the city rather early and started our journey to Switzerland - for my childhood dream to come to true.  For some unknown reasons, Switzerland always fascinated me, and it still does, and I wondered whether I would ever be able to see this heavenly country or not. But suddenly things turned in my favour when we made a hurried plan to visit my son studying in Germany and being Germany with a Schengen visa stamped, we were fully 'qualified' to move about in the Schengen countries.

While planning our stay, my elder son was mindful of the the fact that a hotel in Zurich, which was our destination, will not provide us the opportunity to see the real Switzerland and its scenic beauty. So he kept surfing the net and finally found a hotel in Lichtensteig, a small town some 57 kilometres due east of Zurich. Thus we started off from Frankfurt and at Karlsruhe we switched over Highway E15 to E52, and then switched over to Highway E41 bypassed Stuttgart and entered the Swiss border ahead of Singen. Then on we followed the Highway 4 till Winterthur and then headed to towards DestiMotel - a cool place to live in Lichtensteig.

We left Frankfurt but our leaving could have been disastrous as I made a blunder while driving and was almost overrun by this tram seen above. While driving on the right, I was to turn left for a turn and I ignored the tram coming behind me after I overtook it when it was stationed on a stop. It was the loud bells type horn from the tram that almost saved me. This was quite a 'Great Escape' and I thanked my starts for having being saved and hurriedly moved out of the city and headed towards the Swiss border.

The landscape on both sides of the highway was truly fascinating. The lush green hill slopes with tall trees raising on the skyline, the driving was all fun and pleasure.

Somewhere in between when we stopped for my usual coffee break, I switched the piloting seat with my son to concentrate on taking photos as I wished. The landscape was full of hills through which tunnels have been holed to avoid turns and gradient. So one really doesn't feel the rising gradient and when one exits from a tunnel, one is amazed to see the elevation change from the place we entered the tunnel.

A horseman we came across who was transporting two of his well fed and bred horses in the trailer behind his pickup. And quite naturally these could not escape being shot at from my end!!

The best scenes were the one like below: Immaculately flattened hill slopes with green grass with some sandy patches with huge trees now very close to the road.

Reaching the Swiss border was so refreshing and the welcome sign on the custom check post was so inviting for me to take a photo - but I did not know that we were not allowed to take the photos of the checkpost and I was spotted taking photos by the Swiss guards and were ushered to the side. Now this was a bad start into Switzerland and my dream of going and seeing Switzerland seemed to be at the crossroads. 

However, the staff was helpful in 'releasing' us after seeing our documents and of course after ensuring that I have deleted all the photos of the check post. I wish I had had those as remembrance of entering my childhood dream country - but perhaps the custom staff did not understand my childhood feelings.

The sign boards now turned green as against the blue colour in Germany and we now had to hit Winterthur from where were to to go to Lichtensteig. 

Although we kept seeing Zurich in the list of places ahead, we soon diverted to a hilly road and suddenly the landscape changed. And here came the Swiss cows which were seen grazing on the green pastures along both sides of the roads. The traffic too thinned as we were headed for the typical Swiss countryside.

Te houses en route were beautifully decorated. Hedges well kept and flowerpots immaculately placed right from the roadside gave a feeling of the aesthetic sense of the people lived there.

I had only seen such high pillared bridges in photos of Switzerland - but it was awesome to find this one when almost close to Lichtensteig.

It took us almost evening time before we reached Lichtensteig and it wasn't difficult to find DestiMotel - our hotel for the next two days in Switzerland. The motel was a sloped roof house turned into a motel for some tourists like us who preferred to visit the countryside rather than settling into rather crowded streets of Zurich.

We were shown around the first floor by the owner, who also owned a heavy bike shop behind the motel. We had nothing to eat and the owner was helpful in taking my son in his jeepster to the almost closed only grocery shop of the town to buy eggs, potatoes and bread for our makeshift dinner.

Tired as we were, my wife hurriedly cooked scrambled eggs and we we had the steamy dish eaten away in seconds. We then hit the beds for tomorrow was to be a long day as we had so much to see in so little time we had - just one day!!

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