SWITZERLAND

Road Trip Part VI - Mountains, greenery, and ice.

By Chad Gerber

Road Trip Part VI - Mountains, greenery, and ice.

Having spent the last few months "on the rails," we were itching for a little freedom, and the easiest way to get that was with a set of wheels of our own. Welcome to my six-part road trip series, in which I'll be narrating our photography trip through part of Central Europe, where there's a man-made or natural marvel around every bend and almost always a black cloud on the horizon.

This was it. This was the moment I'd been looking forward to for the whole road trip, maybe even for the whole year. Switzerland. Why? The schokolade, man, the chocolate. It's basically on tap. I guess there are also some hills and mountains and glaciers there too. 

Upon arrival, our only plans (beyond getting fat on chocolate) were to see some icebergs and at least one glacier. We winged the rest. But, as you might imagine, there's no shortage of things to be seen, even when we just looking out of the window of the car.

The clouds dropped into the valleys from the snow-streaked ridges, using the momentum of their fall to break over the peaks on the far-side; volumes of water plummeted down the broken faces of mountains; and columns of sunlight crept over the fields and diamond waterways. Cowbells sung out into the sweet pine-fresh air; bicycles rolled in a dream on snaking roads, hardly a car in their way; and in the valleys there gathered the timber-topped homes and churches of the Swiss. It felt very much like a fairytale.

We soon made our way into the height of the mountains, to tick off the first item on our Swiss to-do list – icebergs. We found them floating in glacier-fed Grimselsee, a hydroelectric reservoir by the Grimsel Pass. Next up was the glacier, so along the winding mountain passes we drove, until we arrived at Rhonegletscher (Rhône Glacier), which rests in the peaks of the Urner Alps. At the entrance of the glacier, across from the abandoned Gletscher Restaurant in Belvedere, we descended into the ice tunnels. Near the end of the tunnels, we came across the ice-giant's fiery heart – a tarpaulin sheet pushed down into the tunnel by the weight of the snow upon it, and frozen in its place.

The ice tunnels marked the last major attraction of both our visit to Switzerland and our road trip through Central Europe as a whole. Before departing the country, we packed our vehicle to the brim with that sweet, sweet schokolade, then watched the Alps grow smaller in the rear-vision mirror.

Two weeks prior, we set off on our road trip from Milan, Italy, and after visiting Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, it was time to put the pedal to the metal and go back to where it all started. We scratched that itch, satisfied our need for a little freedom, and beheld some of the most bewitching man-made and natural marvels Europe has to offer. At times, we thought those black clouds on the horizon were to be our ruin, but, in reality, they were the canvas onto which the beauty of our trip was painted, and even if someday we forget the names of the places we saw, we'll never lose the connection we had with them.

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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou