Saturday, October 29

Train Tour of Switzerland

Gornergrat overlooking the MatterhornWe spent Mum & Dad's last week here on a fantastic train trip around Switzerland. With our first class tickets in hand, we headed off from our local train station to our first destination: Zermatt.

Switzerland in Autumn is absolutely stunning, and with clear blue skies on 6 out of the 7 days, the weather couldn't have been better. Our afternoon in Zermatt was spent taking the railway up to Gornergrat at 3089 metres.

Switzerland in AutumnThe next day was the long (9.5 hours) but wonderful train journey to St Moritz on the Glacier Express, one of Switzerland's famous panoramic railways. Despite the gentle rocking of the train and the sunlight streaming through the windows, we all resisted napping in order to keep our eyes on the spectacular views. Train enthusiasts would have a greater appreciation for the incredible way the railway twists and loops up the valley to St Moritz.

Glacier ExpressArriving at 7pm, we decided to spend two nights in St Moritz to give us a chance to explore the place the following day. Most things were closing for a break between the summer and winter seasons, but we managed to find a interesting museum, then had lunch in a restaurant on a mountain top overlooking the town. We followed this with a much-needed 1.5 hour walk through the forest back to our apartment.

Walking in LiechtensteinThe next day it was off on the train again to Liechtenstein, a tiny country (26 x 12 kms) between Switzerland and Austria. We stayed in the quaint capital, Vaduz (population 5,000) and enjoyed a walk up a steep hill to look at the Vaduz castle, home of their head of state: Prince Hans-Adam II; and his family. We didn't spot any royals though!

Next destination was Zurich, Switzerland's largest city. We decided to keep our visit here to just a few hours, enough time to visit the Zurich Zoo (great!) and then head down to the beautiful city of Luzern, where we stayed for two nights. One of the things I was keen to do was take the cog railway up Mt Pilatus. The railway is the steepest of its kind in the world with a gradient of 48%, but this is nothing compared with what you see from the top. The Swiss AlpsThe views were the truly unbelievable! The sounds of a woman singing and a Swiss horn echoing across the mountains really topped it off.

After a great time in Luzern, we arrived back in Geneva on Thursday afternoon - enough time for Mum & Dad to organise their packing in preparation for flying home on Friday. They would still be in the air as I type this, about 4 hours away from Adelaide after 32 hours of travelling. It was very sad to see them go - it's such a pity Australia is soooo far away and they can't just pop over anytime!!
View over Luzern from Mt Pilatus
Click here for all pics on Flickr of Mum & Dad's visit.

Dee & Ian Visit

Sue and Dee in FerneyDuring Mum & Dad's stay we also had a visit from my auntie Dee and uncle Ian. They were at the end of an 8 week tour of Europe, taking in places such as Slovenia, Czech Republic, UK, Switzerland and others. It was great to hear of their travels and following their recommendation, Slovenia has now edged up on our priority list as a place to visit.

Whilst here, the girls (Dee, Mum and me) hit the shops including the markets at Ferney. See Mum and Dee pictured outside a lovely patisserie after we purchased a calorific and yummy afternoon tea.

Dinner at the Trois CoqsOn the Saturday night we went to dinner at the Trois Coqs, a small restaurant within walking distance from our place. It was a fantastic evening. The restaurant was lovely, excellent food and service, and of course great company!

Tuesday, October 11

A Fine Time

View from far north of Northern IrelandWe're back after 9 days of driving around the beautiful Emerald Isle (click here for all photos). Ireland is a great place - friendly people, non-smoking pubs, Guinness, neolithic sites, dry-stone walls, castles, peat bog, rolling green pastures and suprisingly, very little rain. The weather was not as beautiful as the clear Autumn days we're now getting in Geneva, but apart from making me want to eat big bowls of Irish stew every day (which I did only once), it really didn't affect our holiday.
Peter at Staigue Fort
This trip was my first experience staying in B&B's and there was certainly no shortage of choice. We had only booked our first night's accommodation, leaving us the freedom to decide when and where we wanted to stop for the night. Being off-season there were virtually no problems finding a room. The highlight was the lovely house we rented for three nights in Killarney. After eating a hot breakfast for 9 days in a row, it will be a while before I want to see any more eggs or bacon! I won't mention the black and white pudding.

Mum & Dad at Ladies' View, Co. KerryDad did all the driving, and with the help of our GPS (and three wonderful passengers!), he did a brilliant job of navigating around the country. The roads were challenging - narrow and bumpy, but not too busy. We started off in Northern Ireland, landing in Belfast then driving north to the Giant's Causeway the next morning. From there we headed west to Donegal and drove anti-clockwise around Ireland through Ballina, Belmullet, Galway, Killarney, Waterford, Kilkenny, Dublin and back to Belfast.
Jess & Peter in Dublin
It's back to work for me now, whereas Mum and Dad have headed off to Paris for a couple of days. Peter is back on the tennis court and bike riding while the weather lasts.