Sunday 28th August – Altdorf
Sorry to disappoint you, dear reader. There were no angry throngs in the night, and the thunder petered out before I had closed my eyes without a drop of rain falling. Instead, we woke to a slightly overcast sky as if the weather seemed almost apologetic for the excited anticipation it had caused the night before.
Like a well-oiled machine we were packed up and off before most of our neighbours had stirred, many of them were still sleeping off the effects of being well oiled themselves at pre festival parties they had enjoyed last night.
Apart from a quick stop at Hyper-U for an unsuccessful search for a SIM card (more about later in the holiday perhaps?) we sped down the autoroute to Basle to buy our vignette for access to the motorways of Switzerland. To purchase or not to purchase a vignette has been a ‘hot topic’ in our van on the way down. The vignette is the standard way of accessing the toll motorways and tunnels in Switzerland and is a flat rate of 40 Swiss francs per calendar year. However, vehicles over 3.5 tonnes have buy a different certificate for which there are a range of daily rates. Wendy was insistent that we could get away with the vignette. I wasn’t happy. As we approached the Swiss border, we joined the lane for the vignettes and indeed the very officious lady who came to our window wanted 40 francs for the vignette – Wendy was pleased!
From here it was an easy journey through tunnel after tunnel to Altdorf at the southern end of lake Lucerne. Why? Because it was just over halfway along the route to Brig. Why are we heading for Brig? Didn’t I say we were heading for Brig? Well of course we have to go to Brig, because there we are meeting up with the Fosketts (just Andy, Lesley, and Enzo – not the whole clan!), who are driving over from Les Gets, and together we are heading for Croatia in convoy.
Camping Remo is the campsite in Altdorf and it is an ‘interesting’ place. It is nestled between the cable car station and the municipal swimming pool. It is very small and half of it is taken up with lodges that look more like garden sheds. Intertwined around the reception, bar, showers, and entrance is a large model railway, complete with buildings and vehicles all to scale. As far as we are concerned it has first class showers and toilets and easy access to loads of good dog walks. I have realised these are the two criteria Wendy and I use to judge a campsite – you can guess who chose which criterion?
They shoehorn touring vans and caravans in with barely enough space between them to roll your awning out. They don’t seem to turn anyone away, which makes it very popular with Dutch and British travellers on their way to and from the Italian lakes. We are surrounded by caravan club members heading for a guided tour of the Italian lakes.
As guests of the campsite, we get 20% off the cable car so on Sunday, off we went, 1000m up the mountain to the hamlet of Eggberge and from there we ‘strolled’ to Fleschsee, a lake at the top of the mountain (how does water get into a lake at the top of a mountain?) a further 400m up. Fortunately, there was a café at the top cable car station, so I was able to promise Wendy a coffee on the way up and a beer on the way down, to keep her spirits up. I needn’t have bothered with the bribes as the views were stunning and all she needed (I still bought her the coffee and beer to show how generous I am).
The Swiss do seem to have this outdoor malarkey sorted. We keep stumbling across picnic sites that come complete with built in BBQs and help yourself wood pile.
On our return to the campsite, we were invited over to join six of our fellow Brits for a quick beer and what a very convivial couple of hours it turned out to be as they shared stories about the places they had been to. They were all at least ten years older than us so hopefully Wendy and I are going to have many years of adventures ahead of us too.
I also discovered a useful piece of information. Graham had not bought a vignette for his van as it was over 3.5 tonnes too. Instead he had paid for the appropriate HGV licence. As he was, like us, only staying in Switzerland for three days he had only had to pay 30 Swiss Francs!