Europe 2002 Diary

3 [ Paris - Interlaken - Annecy - Nice ]

After our four nights in Paris over Easter, we drove to Switzerland for two nights in Interlaken, then back to France for a night in Annecy and two nights in Nice. For me, Switzerland was one of the highlights of the tour.

See also parts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.


3.1 [ Paris to Interlaken ]

Tuesday April 2 was one of our longest driving days. We left our hotel in Paris at 8am. During the drive most people went up to the front of the coach and introduced themselves, with plenty of funny stories to go with the introductions. I think it was after the introductions that the first of the music was played. At this point I wasn't too optimistic about some of the others on the tour - my first impression of people who listen to Britney Spears has never been very positive. Happily the music improved on later driving days, and even the Britney listeners turned out to be great people, just with an unfortunate taste in music.

When we arrived in Interlaken I was feeling irritable - long drives with bad music will do that to a person. I was hoping for a nice quiet meal, but that was not to be. We went to a crazy restaurant with singing, dancing, a conga line, a man dressing up as a cow, and lots of purple confetti. I found a piece of confetti in my clothes over a month later when I got back to Perth. Here are photos of everyone at the restaurant. In the first one you can see Melbourne Dave on the left trying to retrieve a piece of bread from the fondue without anyone noticing.

Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant
Swiss Restaurant

3.2 [ Interlaken ]

The next day was brilliant. I'd decided the previous day that I wanted to go up to Jungfraujoch, Europe's highest train station. It was €80, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't. Most others in the group went up as well. We left the hotel at 8am to go to the train station. From Interlaken we took the train to Grindelwald, then another train to Kleine Scheidegg, then a third to Jungfraujoch. The scenery on the way was brilliant - these two photos were taken at Eismeer (I think), which isn't far from Jungfraujoch. I think the mountain on the left is the Eiger.

View from Eismeer
View from Eismeer
View from Eismeer
View from Eismeer

Once we got to the top it was time to go outside, where it was -12°C with 70kph winds. It was a little bit cold. My camera decided that it didn't like working when it was that cold, but I did manage to get a few photos outside. On the left is the view, then me and Chris, then Chris and Jamey. It was lucky we went outside when we did, 15 minutes later it was closed due to bad weather.

View from Jungfraujoch
View from Jungfraujoch
Me and Chris at Jungfraujoch
Me and Chris at Jungfraujoch
Chris and Jamey Jungfraujoch
Chris and Jamey at Jungfraujoch

I would have liked to take more photos from the top, but my camera wasn't up to the task. I had a look at the ice sculptures, but compared with the views outside they were unimpressive. We went outside in the snow for a bit, but I wasn't with the group who had a snow fight a bit earlier. After a couple of hours at Jungfraujoch we caught the train back down. Some of us took this opportunity to catch up on sleep. Shortly after taking this photo we heard Jamey's famous FOAD phrase for the first time.

Jamey sleeping
Jamey sleeping

At this point, most people went straight back to Interlaken. But Phil, Jamey, Chris and I stopped at Kleine Scheidegg. Here we found that it was possible to hire sleds at a reasonable price, so despite Jamey's warnings that we could be seriously injured, we all went sledding. It's amazing how much speed you can build up in a short time. It was bloody good fun, and it was only on our last go where we had a minor crash. The photo below on the left is Phil and Jamey sledding. At some point I decided it would be a good idea to have a photo in a t-shirt to show how tough we were, but my camera was playing up again. But after purchasing the most expensive Energizers in the world, the camera was happy and we got our photo. Unfortunately Chris decided to go one step further than I was willing to, and consequently I just look weak.

Phil and Jamey Sledding
Phil and Jamey sledding
Chris and I in the snow
Chris and I in the snow

After we were done sledding, the four of us got back on the train as far as Lauterbrunnen. By this time we were all pretty hungry, so we decided to have a picnic. First stop was the supermarket where we purchased bread and cheese and a bottle of wine, then we sat down on a park bench by the church and ate. Of course we didn't have any plates, cutlery, or glasses, but that just added to the experience. I think this was the best location I've ever seen for a picnic.

Drinking wine at Lauterbrunnen
Picnic at Lauterbrunnen
Picniccing at Lauterbrunnen
Picnic at Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen
Picnic at Lauterbrunnen

With the picnic over, we headed back into Interlaken. We stopped at the supermarket to buy supplies for the picnic on the following day. We also experienced the joy of supermarket prices for beer - CHF 0.55 for a 500mL bottle of beer. That's about 70 cents in Aussie money. Of course it wasn't a well-known brand (in fact the label just said Lager Beer 0.55) but it was cheap. We walked back along the river to the hotel, sampled the beer (very good considering the price!) and then had pizza for dinner.

3.3 [ Interlaken - Bern - Geneva - Annecy ]

The following day we were driving from Interlaken back into France and down to Annecy. After a short drive we stopped in Bern for 40 minutes. There wasn't much time to do anything except have a look at the main street, and look at the bears in the pits. It was all a bit crappy. But it was here that we discussed the "Perth accent". Our illustrious tour leader Shana claimed that Perth people could be recognised by their accent, in particular how they pronounce the word beer. I can't tell the difference between how we say it and how everyone else says it.

Next stop was Geneva, where we had a picnic lunch next to the lake. We had a fantastic lunch thanks to our visit to the supermarket the previous night - bread, cheese, smoked salmon, and red wine. Phil and I purchased Swiss army knives with the last of our Swiss francs, then it was back on the coach for another hour to get to Annecy.

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

After arriving in Annecy, we dropped our luggage off at the hotel, then went for a walk around the town. Some of us went paddle-boating on the late, which was great fun. We went back to the hotel for dinner, which was ok but nothing amazing. Then it was back into town to celebrate Kate's birthday. There was a lot of drinking that night, some singing (including a rendition of Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport), and a few annoying drunk locals who wouldn't leave us alone. We were kicked out of the pub at closing time (3am). Some people wanted to kick on, buck luckily the club we went to wouldn't let us in so we were back at the hotel around 3:30am for sleep.

Annecy
Annecy

3.4 [ Annecy - Nice - Monte Carlo ]

On Friday April 5 we drove from Annecy to Nice. There was nothing to see on the way. I managed to get a bit of sleep, as did lots of others after the previous night's exertions. Shana commented that the rear half of the bus smelt like a brewery, and she was right. We arrived in Nice around 4:15pm. My first impression was that it didn't live up to its reputation. The town is dirty, and the beach is all rocks, but the water was nice and clear.

That evening we went into Monaco. First we went up to the palace. The first photo below was taken near there - me with Monte Carlo in the background. We had an excellent restaurant meal, then headed down to the main part of Monte Carlo. We just walked around for a while looking at the expensive cars and the expensive boats. The photos below are of the Grand Casino, and looking up towards the palace at night.

Me and Monte Carlo
Me and Monte Carlo
Grand Casino, Monte Carlo
Grand Casino
Grand Casino, Monte Carlo
Grand Casino
Monaco at night
Monaco at night

The following day was our free day in Nice. I got up late, unfortunately missing breakfast. Then Cindy, Steph, Chris and I walked along the waterfront to the harbour, had lunch, and walked back again. I read for a while in the hotel room, had a little (unintentional) sleep, and wandered around for a bit more. Nice was the most boring place we went to for the whole tour. I'm told it's better in the middle of summer, but I'm skeptical.

That night a group of us took a bottle of wine and takeaway pizzas down to the beach for a picnic. We couldn't actually sit on the beach because it was all rocks, so we sat on the concrete. It was a very good meal though, definately the highlight of Nice.

The diary continues in part four.