‘Why did you even come here?’

You will have to forgive this blog entry. We’ve been moving fairly quickly of late and my head is too full to sit down and write a proper story. I feel like that kid in the Far Side comic that has his hand up in class and says, ‘Excuse me, can I go now, my head is full’. So here’s the ‘brain dump’ version of what happened after Bavaria.

After purchasing an Austrian driving vignette at a petrol station in Berchtesgaden we drove for about four hours through Austria (because we could) to get to Garmisch, back in Germany. We went to Garmisch because we wanted to visit the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.

On the drive through Austria

When we got to Garmisch I discovered my credit card was missing. Much turmoil and car searching ensued. The card wasn’t there despite my being sure that if I looked hard or often enough it would appear. I did however find a receipt from the last purchase I made with it which also had a phone number so we made a phone call and discovered the card was back in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. Bugger.

The next morning, we decided to temporarily ignore the lost card and go up the Zugspitze. The summit was a complete whiteout which had Emma and I feeling moody. Amy and Oliver however were loving it because of all the snow and ice. It was cold. One degree, but no wind.

Check out the view beyond the sign!
That is the summit!
Hooray a pile of snow!
Snow soccer

After lingering as long as possible in vain hope that the weather would clear, we caught a cable car a short way down the other side of the mountain to a lower station and discovered free toboggans on offer. Hooray! We couldn’t see a thing, but had hours of fun sliding down the hill in the mist.

Great toboggans

The mist broke up after lunch and there were glorious views of the immediate amphitheatre of the Zugspitze though the summit itself was still heavily shrouded. More tobogganing ensued.

Lunch in the cloud
It started to lift
And look there was blue sky!!!
We could see where we were tobogganing!

By 2.30pm we were exhausted and caught the cog railway back to the base of the mountain where we took a free boat ride provided by the overpriced Garmisch campground we were staying at. Paddling on an alpine lake was just glorious. I went swimming in my undies. I couldn’t help myself and I didn’t want to get out but eventually had to.

Paddling on Lake Eibsee
What a lucky girl!

Emma and I woke up at 5.30 the next morning and I drove all the way back to Bavaria. Penance for stupidity, but considering that we have made 1264 financial transactions since leaving home (I’m a nerd so I record every single one), I eventually came to the view that forgetting to pick my card up once was forgivable. After successfully retrieving the all-important piece of plastic I drove back to Garmisch. It was 1pm by the time I arrived.

Where the rest of the family waited while Greg drove

We all piled in the car. Emma’s phone started playing Ed Sheeran’s ‘A-Team’ again because there is a setting that plays all her music in alphabetical order and we all cried ‘Nooo!’ in unison. This has been happening since Scotland and we were over it. We drove on to Liechtenstein, because it was more or less on route and we figured why not visit one more country on our way?

We camped for one night in lovely Liechtenstein and paid our respects to the Royal family by visiting their scenic castle on a hill the next morning. After that we all piled back into the car, cursed Ed Sheeran again, and drove on to Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn in Switzerland, also on route.

Liechtenstein’s royal castle

The drive through Switzerland was glorious. Twisty roads, mountain passes, mountains everywhere and sunshine all the while. When we finally checked in to a campground near Zermatt the campground man got grumpy with me for only staying one night. ‘There is so much to do! Why did you even come here?’ he demanded. I apologised and slunk away to the tent to reflect on our foolishness and lack of ambition.

Swiss driving – spectacular!

The next morning, we decided to try and go up the Matterhorn before we drove on to France. This was perhaps because of the campground man and perhaps because there was not a cloud in the sky and perhaps because we figured it would be a while before we were at the base of the Matterhorn again. The cable car took 50 minutes to climb the 2,500 vertical meters. There were stunning views of the Matterhorn, glaciers and the Swiss Alps everywhere we looked.

The Matterhorn from the bottom
The Matterhorn behind us (from up the top)
Another peak – there are people climbing it
So many mountains

We rushed back down again because we still had to drive to Megève, two to three hours away, to meet up with our good friends from home, Belinda, Jase, Abbey and Zoe. The drive actually took much longer than that because our intended route was closed for the Tour de France and because we got stuck in a 40-kilometre-long traffic jam around Lausanne. I fought grumpiness and remarkably I won! For the most part anyway. I may have muttered the odd word of annoyance here and there. We made Megève by 8.30pm. Yay! We were very happy. Jase had beer and the beer was good.

Later that evening several large trucks rumbled past our little balcony at walking pace as we sat happily chatting. The barricades were going up for the Tour de France’s individual time trial which whizzed right past our front door the following morning. More on that to come.

The TDF barricades going up