Monday, September 15 – Leaving Switzerland

Sunny and warm

Yvonne came to the apartment at 9:30 to check us out. We were making such good time – car packed up, ready to hit the road – but we chatted with her for an hour, putting us behind schedule. We talked about vacation rentals in Switzerland and in Italy, her company’s website, Americans coming to Gstaad, how to spell the Swiss greeting “gruezi” – many things. Well worth the delay.

We were happily anticipating our last Fruhstuck at the Tea Shop we liked the best (Tea Room Mueller, on the main street), but it was closed and so was our backup. We ended up in the bakery where they had a couple of tables and did not do Fruhstuck, but did give us coffee and a couple of rolls (if they had added butter and jam, it would have been Fruhstuck). Then we bought some of those pretzel-bread things that they slice and butter, and by 11am we were driving out of Saanen. Another Cohen/Kenny early start to the day.

The weather was perfect – warm and sunny, clear blue skies – would have been great hiking.

Our route was:
– Mountain roads from Gstaad to Aigle (1 hour).
– Autoroute to Martigny.
– Mountain roads (but good ones) from Martigny to the St. Bernards tunnel (reached the tunnel after 1 hr 45 mins from Gstaad)
– On the other side of the tunnel, you are in Italy. Mountain roads to Aosta.
– Autostrada the rest of the way to Levanto (arrived around 6pm – 6 hour drive).

We got our second fill of gas for the trip – 3/8 tank, 40.10 CHF. Gas is cheaper in Switzerland than in Italy, so we thought we would fill up.

Between Martigny and the St. Bernard’s tunnel, we drove by two towns that had been on my short list when planning this trip – Verbier and Champex in the Valais. But I am happy that we decided on the second week in Gstaad instead. This area has very steep mountains and the villages are perched up in mountain. I think the hiking would not have been as plentiful or as good.

The drive to the tunnel was fast (1 hr 45 minutes from Gstaad). We had to pay 27 CHF toll for the tunnel, then we drove through Italian customs – they waved us through. Very different from crossing after the Gottard Tunnel last year where we sat in a car lineup for 45 minutes at customs. That time was on a Friday. This was a Monday. The traffic was very light for the whole drive and only thickened around Genoa.

Notes about Driving in Switzerland: If you are looking for the Autobahn/Autoroute, follow the green signs and ignore the town signs. Blue or black and white town signs will take you to the towns, but not on the Autobahn. Follow the green Autobahn signs.

A sign Steve saw in Switzerland: An ad for a casino “The name is Pot. Jack Pot.”

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.