Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Holiday Videos

While I blog, Bill makes videos. He has some short clips of parts of our trip to Europe. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Adventure in Europe 2008 FINAL PART Locarno, Ascona, Zurich, Hong Kong, Brisbane

Thursday 18 September

We left Zermatt and travelled by train to Brig where we changed trains for Domodossala in Italy. There we changed trains again, this time it was a small panoramic train which took us through the scenic valley,Centovalli, back into Switzerland to Locarno on Lake Maggiore.

It was a long trip about 4 hours and we were happy to arrive ready for our last adventure in Europe. We booked into our hotel, which was in a great position near the lake but can't rave about the hotel.
In the evening we went for a walk along the lake edge, it was very romantic, except I had developed a cough.

Friday 19 September

We went for a walk to discover the town. We are in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland and you can see the influence of the Latin love of colour in the buildings.

We walked up into the Old Town

This is a church tucked away in a side street. There is a church in nearly every street.

We found the funicular train and went up to the monks sanctuary called Madonna del Sasso.

It is still a monastery today. It is high up on the hill overlooking Locarno. It was very misty this morning.

It was Paul's birthday today so we tried to find somewhere nice for a birthday lunch. I had fruit curry and......

.....a bananarama

Then we caught the bus to Ascona. The bus company has an interesting anagram F.A.R.T.

Ascona is a beautiful town on Lake Maggiore, the old streets are full of art and craft shops and market stalls.

We walked down through the old town to the lake edge, where there are restaurants one after the other all facing the lake........

.........................which is very picturesque, as Carol and Paul noticed. I liked this spot so much I asked Carol to snap Bill and me there, which is now my blog's title picture.

Bill always wanted to retire here if we ever had millions of dollars to buy a place, but he is happy just to be visiting with his daughter.

We walked around the lake edge and found a ........ I remembered Kim's blog where she often has pics of her coffee breaks and thought she might like this one. Bill was telling us stories of when he used to come camping here with his parents when he was young. No camping ground here now.

We walked back up through the quaint streets and caught the bus back to Locarno. That night my cough got worse.

Saturday 20 September

We decided on a free time day today and mix with the locals. Carol and I strolled to the lake with Carol's sketching pad and pencils. We sat in the warm sun and sketched and I coughed.

Bill, Paul and Helen went to the town centre where there was a market and concert bands playing. We joined them for lunch.

We walked around the market and .........
.....I was fascinated with the tiny cobble stones.
That evening Bill and Carol took me to see a doctor at the hospital to get something for my bronchitis as I was worried the authorities would not let me fly if I was sick and we were flying home in 2 days. It was a very modern hospital and I didn't have to wait to see the very nice Italian speaking doctor. Luckily he could speak a little English too. He gave me a good check up, blood test, X-Ray and intravenous antibiotic. He prescribed pain killers and cough mixture. After paying 400 franks ($425 AD) we were on our way to dinner in the square with another concert. Then home to bed hoping to feel better in the morning.

Sunday 21 September

We were up early ready for ........

...our long train journey back to Zurich. It was a very comfortable train and almost empty. Everyone seems happy to be going home, especially me as I didn't feel any better. After about three and a half hours we were back in Zurich and time to say goodbye to our darling daughter. She caught a connecting train to the airport and flew back to London and her husband. It was wonderful to have her company for 15 days in such an exotic country.

Monday 22 September

We stayed over night in Zurich and filled in time waiting for take off time by sight seeing on the trams. At the airport I dosed up with pain killers, cough mixture and asthma inhaler. desperately hoping not to have a coughing fit while booking in or getting on the plane. Luckily I got on board without being identified as being unwell. Thank goodness I didn't have too many coughing episodes during the 13 hour flight to Hong Kong.

Tuesday 23 September

We arrived in Hong Kong at the same time as a category 8 typhoon. Our plane was one of the last to land before they closed the airport. Those with connections to Australia or anywhere couldn't go. Once again we were lucky as we had planned to stay overnight in Hong Kong to break the long journey home. So we were picked up by the Hotel transfer company and hurriedly made our way to the hotel. People had been told to go home and take shelter. There were hundreds at bus stops and train stations, with their umbrellas being blown inside out. The trees were bending over and we were soon in our cosy hotel. We were happy to have dinner there and go to bed.

Wednesday 24 September

The typhoon had passed but not my coughing so I stayed in bed, while Helen and Paul explored the local area. Bill found the hotel's internet corner. The plane wasn't leaving until midnight, luckily we had a late book out time at 4:00 pm.

After 4:oo we went for a walk and had dinner................ can see I was a bit fuzzy.

We walked around the huge shopping complex close by. I found it a little easier to breathe in the humid air. The antibiotics weren't working and once again I was worried about being detected as a sickie and not be able to fly home tonight. At the airport I dosed myself up again and managed to suppress coughing until we were in the air. Eight hours later we were HOME.

It was one of the best adventures I have ever had, now that I'm better I only remember the great times we had.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Adventure in Europe 2008 PART 18 (Switzerland-Zermatt, Gornergrat)

Tuesday 16 September

Today was our last day in Spiez. It was time to say good bye to my brother and sister in law. They were going home to London and we were off to Zermatt. We all had breakfast together and then had lots of hugs and kisses and a few tears as we said good bye, knowing that this could be the last time we see each other as we are all getting older.

Bye, bye David and Ann.
Now it is time to wrestle our luggage onto the train for another exciting trip through the Alps. Paul is eagerly waiting. The first train took us under the Alps, through the new long tunnel from the dull misty weather into bright sunshine. Woohoo we can see blue sky at last. We changed trains in Visp for Zermatt.
Climbing up towards Zermatt. Look! We can see the snow covered mountains.
Getting closer and just look at that blue sky, we haven't seen that for ages.
Around every bend was another spectacular view. Then we arrived at the station and were picked up in an electric taxi and taken to our B&B called "Welcome". There are no petrol vehicles in Zermatt and the air is clean.
We were upgraded to an apartment for 5 and it was very comfortable with a view of the Matterhorn Mountain.
We had lunch across the road from our B&B and there were no clouds spoiling the view of Matterhorn. We were very happy. We just wanted a light lunch but this is what came when we ordered..........
....cheese on toast. Bill told us we would get a better view of the mountain from the end of the village...... we walked through the old part of the village.......
...where the houses are centuries old. These are old farm buildings once used for storage but are now being renovated into apartments.
Looking back towards the town of Zermatt.
Hello!!! There she is in all her glory. The Matterhorn. Unfortunately the sun was getting low and shining into my camera.
Carol and I discovered a walking track disappearing into the mountains and we were keen to find out where it went. The others preferred to go back and explore the town.
Carol had a map that showed us the path went way up into the high peaks but there was a little village and a dam not far up so we headed for that. We passed these mountain houses.
These houses have stone roofs.
There is nothing more exhilarating than hiking in the Swiss Alps. How lucky I am to be here and have a wonderful daughter to patiently wait for me when I got puffed. We were climbing up an up and up for about an hour before we saw.........
......a tiny village and a restaurant. Yes, unbelievably, a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. We stopped for a drink as we had come with only one small bottle of water. We asked how far was the dam... I was determined to make it there but it was getting late and we didn't want to be going back down to Zermatt in the dark. We were told only about 10 more minutes, but she didn't mention..........
...that it was up, up, up some more. We looked back at the little village of Zmutt perched on the edge of a ravine.
Yeahhhhh!!! We made it!!There was a little hydro power station nearby. We were told in the village to walk over the dam wall and it would bring us back to the track for the descent to Zermatt.
At the end of the dam wall the path/road went into the mountain. It was dark and scary, so we hung onto each other and giggled our way through the tunnels until we "saw the light at the end of the tunnel" literally.
Back on the track I started to hurry down hoping to beat nightfall and the cold. It was a spectacular walk.
After an hour we could see Zermatt in the valley below. Lucky for us it stays light well into the evening, so we made it.
We turned back and said good night to Matterhorn, still clearly visible and without clouds. How lucky are we today?
That night we found the best restaurant. It was very traditional, friendly and cosy. This guy is making Raclette Cheese. The two half yellow cheeses are put under a grill (the black thing on two posts) until it melts. Then he swings it out and scrapes off the melted cheese onto your plate, usually on top of potato.
But we didn't have that. I ordered a salad but not understanding the menu properly I got a plate of various cold meats and cheese. It was tasty.
Wednesday 17 September

The next morning we caught the special mountain train up 3000+ metres to Gornergrat. We were so pleased that the weather was good. Good morning Matterhorn. It looked so close from the train. It was a magical climb up the mountains teetering on the edge of ravines on one side and sheer snow covered peaks on the other.
When we alighted from the train these beautiful St Bernards were there to have your photo with. They didn't look very interested and of course the big one turned his head away when I tried to sneak a photo.
Words can't describe it.(photo by Carol)
Some of us were feeling a bit woozy with the altitude so we soon caught the train back down. Some tougher than us walked.
Quite a few were walking down.(photo by Carol)
From the train we could see where Carol and I had walked the day before. Can you see the path, the little village and the dam wall?
We arrived back in Zermatt and walked through the main street and did some retail therapy.

How happy can you be when you get a kiss from your daughter at the foot of the Matterhorn?
One cannot visit the Alps and not have a cheese fondue. Carol's favourite, on our last night in Zermatt.