It was nice to finally be back in Konstanz, even though we were only a few hours away from getting back on the road. My brother asked me where I was planning on taking us. “We're going to push on through to the coast.” I said, with great confidence. “I want to show you the Mediterranean.”
My brother raised an eyebrow. “Are you crazy?” he said. Including Heidelberg, our trip would be just north of 500 miles, and we only had about 1,200 miles before we had to start paying for the additional mileage on the Puge Wagon. “Let’s do it!” he said.
We carried out our normal morning routine. Having a quick bowl of muesli before heading out to the river for my morning swim. We let the current take us, and drifted around the corner to a small docking area where they kept some of the smaller boats. There we talked to a local fisherman to brush up on our German and to learn a bit about the logistics of the trip we were about to embark on. I told my brother that our whole drive would be through the alps and he was interested in hearing more. We asked the man where the mountains are and he pointed upward and began to spin in a clockwise direction to indicate they were all over this area. Marvelling at the snow capped peaks in early summer, we asked if the peaks stayed snowy year round. “Immer” he said.
We couldn’t wait to begin our trip through Switzerland. We dried off, headed to the local grocery store to pick up a kilogram of peanuts in a vacuum sealed brick. This would be a major staple to our diets in the days to come. Only a few minutes outside Konstanz, I began to notice the beautiful mountain peaks of the Swiss alps. “What do you think of the mountains?” I asked. “Those are mountains?” my brother said, in disbelief. “I thought they were clouds!”
We allotted about two hours to stop along the way. We thought this would more than enough time for a few lake swims and some pictures of the mountain overlooks. We were dead wrong. As soon as we stopped at our first lake, we knew we could spend all day here. The views were indescribable. Off in the distance, there were white capped mountains so tall, they cast a shadow over the nearby towns. These mountains were surrounded by rolling green hills and nestled within those hills were tiny little hamlets with beautiful cathedrals and orange roof houses. All this could be seen from the crystal clear sapphire water that seemed to flow into every part of this magnificent country. It was here that we really fell in love with Switzerland. We never wanted to leave. We decide to cancel our Airbnb and make a new reservation in Lugano, in the most southern part of Switzerland. Now we could really take our time. It was a good thing too, because we had already spent about an hour at our first lake, and we hadn’t even scratched the surface of all there was to see.
Because I had taken this drive before, I knew a little bit of what to expect, and I was really excited to see my brothers reaction to one part of the journey in particular.
There is a pretty long tunnel somewhere right outside Zug that opens up to the most beautiful lake you will ever see in your life. All you can see for miles is blue. As you drive a little bit more, you start to notice a few little specs in the lake, which are small boats people take up and down the lake. This really gives you some perspective as you realize how big the mountains around you are. We couldn’t just stand their and watch all day, we had to go in. The glacial waters were numbingly cold at first, but it was really refreshing once we got used to it. As we dried out in the warm sun, it was almost impossible to think of a better way to spend a day.
We ended up getting lunch in a small town nearby, and decided to try one last detour through Emmetten, basically right in the middle of Switzerland. This entire drive overlooked some of the most beautiful lakes I had ever seen in my life. It felt like we were in a Ricola commercial or something. We headed up into the mountains a bit and found a hidden gem. Amongst the grazing cows, rolling green pastures and mile high cliffs, we found a tiny little mountain pond. We were turned away from swimming here by the owner of the property, but as you know, we don’t take no for an answer. That day we vowed to return and swim in the pond to our heart’s content!
With the sun starting to go down and a ton of ground to cover, we decided we had seen enough and needed to start making our way to Lugano. We cautiously coasted through narrow mountain passages, past lakes and forests to our eventual destination. We drove by a hotel called “Hotel Gotthard” which was a tempting offer, but even though it was getting late, we were really looking forward to spending the night in Lugano, a city we had heard great things about. We did however make a quick pit stop at the most quaint gas station I had ever seen. It looked as if it hadn’t changed in 50 years and the lady running it was so nice. Driving through the alps, we started to notice a lot of little places like this because the towns were somewhat cut off from the major cities. This made it a really fun travel experience and I felt we learned a lot about different parts of the country.
Southern Switzerland is quite an interesting place. Switzerland has 4 official languages, but much of southern Switzerland only speaks Italian. We thought our German would get us pretty far around here, but unfortunately we had to communicate by scratch. We started to notice a few Palm trees and new we were getting closer to Italy. Finally we arrived at our Airbnb in Lugano and were greeted by one of my all-time favorite dogs, Lapo! This dog was so friendly, he followed us everywhere like he was part of the gang! Even when you would go into the bathroom, he’d find a way to barge in just to be with you.
Our host didn’t really speak any English or German, but he was one of the nicest guys I’d ever met. My brother had a pretty bad foot injury, and he was so eager to help he dug through his medicine cabinet to find some pain killers. He had found a work around to the language thing as well. He would talk into his phone and then the phone would say the words in English to us. In the morning he had breakfast made for us and when he joined us in the kitchen he began speaking into his phone. A second or two later, the phone said “That pill I gave you was very strong” we all laughed at this seemingly concerning sentence, knowing that it was just an error in communication. My brother went onto the porch to meditate, and when the guy came back he said “Your brother, he….” I could tell he was searching for the word “meditate” but then he came up with something even better. He closed his eyes, made the “ok” sign with his fingers and began to hum. This was one of my favorite things I had ever seen. This is such a clear example of how a language barrier can be such a fun experience. I love having to act out things to people, its one of my favorite parts about travelling. The three of had so many laughs together even though we didn’t speak the same languages. This was definitely a great learning moment, and one I won’t soon forget.