Thursday, July 29, 2010

Switzerland, Germany to France – 22 July 2010

From Liechtenstein we toured through northern Switzerland, at first following a valley which had an unending series of cute villages, on our way to Appenzell. This is described as being the butt of Swiss jokes, due to their ultra conservative way of life. But as a tourist town, it is irresistible; although small in size, it managed to relieve us of a quantity of “tourist dollars”. We were fascinated by a series of glass windows set into the pavement above a bakery, where we could observe the staff making delicious pies and pastries. Of course we had to buy our lunch there, for a picnic above the Rhine later.

St Gallen is a city, but the heart of the old town is also an irresistible pedestrianised area, full of very handsome buildings, many with oriel windows. In the centre of the town is the Kathedrale, a magnificent church, full of marble and carved wood. Nearby is a more modern church, the man hours that have gone into these buildings is amazing.

From here we headed north to where the Rhine leaves Lake Constance, and followed the river valley to Schaffhausen. This is a lovely drive, through many superb villages, the best of all is Stein am Rhein. This town has to be one of the best we have seen, straight out of my childhood, lavishly illustrated, fairy tale book. The buildings are painted with pictures, obviously telling a story. We lingered as long as our dwindling Euro coin reserves for parking meters let us. It was a challenge to get across Switzerland without buying any Swiss Francs.

The last stop in Switzerland was Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls. Schaffhausen also has a lovely old town, with the addition of many fountains, and a hilltop fortress. By the time we reached there, we could see the black clouds gathering, and it appeared heavy rain was imminent. So we did a drive through the town and carried on to the falls, the largest in Europe at 23m. They are quite awesome, with the might of the Rhine thundering over this drop at a curve in the river.

Neuf-Brisach was our final destination, and although it was too wet to explore the town, we found one restaurant open, and enjoyed a delicious meal of local specialities.

No comments: