When I was cleaning up after dinner tonight, just around 9pm when it was still light out, I saw the fox running across the yard. It looked like a small dog or a big cat – but it was the fox. We watched him check out the yard and then the deck for the apartment below us (we are on the first floor – American second). Richard, who owns this chalet, said in his notes that badgers also come into the yard. I have never seen a badger (alive) and was obsessed with seeing them in England on a trip a couple of years ago. You have to go out at night to see them and I went out on several different nights and never saw one. Maybe this time I will.
Today we did a FLAT hike. It hurts to walk down a flight of stairs, but I can run up the stairs.
We drove to Gstaad, a 30 minute drive on a narrow mountain road through a beautiful area. The last time we were in Switzerland, summer 2003, we spent two weeks in Saanen, a village near Gstaad.
The Palace Hotel sits above the main part of Gstaad
The Palace Hotel in Gstaad was featured in the 1975 movie “The Return of the Pink Panther” with Peter Sellers.
“He is on his way to Gstaad.”
“Yes, today a paradise in the Swiss Alps. Tomorrow a wasteland.”
We parked in Gstaad, then walked along the main street. I had forgotten how upscale the town is. Beautiful shops full of gorgeous things, all closed because it was Sunday. There were many cafes and restaurants open. We stopped at a cafe that we liked when we stayed there before and had a light lunch.
Coffee at a cafe in Gstaad
Meals out are not cheap in Switzerland, but we do our own cooking for dinner and just have occasional lunches out. You can get good sandwiches in bakeries. A simple cup of coffee costs from 3.50 to 4.00CHF ($2.85 – $3.25), but in this cafe you got coffee, a small glass of water and a small pastry. And the coffee is always great.
We found the “wanderweg” to Saanen, that we had walked many times on our previous trip, and walked there again. We looked around Saanen, remembering what a great couple of weeks we had there, found the vacation rental we had stayed in, then walked back to Gstaad. The walk is about 45 minutes each way, so we got some nice easy exercise to help heal those downhill wounds.
I love this Gstaad-Saanen valley. There are many easy level hikes in the valley and the surrounding mountains are more like gentle hills with nice easy hikes. Saanen is a very nice small town, with two cafes, several hotels, restaurants and a few food shops. Gstaad is only five minutes away by car and has a large Coop grocery store and more restaurants and shops.
The day started out hot and sunny, but clouded over in the afternoon. At the end of our walk, sitting in another cafe having apple strudel, we got a big downpour. It has been raining off and on all evening, even some thunder.
On the way back to Leysin, I drove for the first time on the trip. We have a VW Passat automatic (diesel), so it is easy to drive. Usually Steve does most of the driving in Europe, although in the US I am the main driver, but on this trip I want to do half the driving to assure myself that I can and to give Steve a break from being the main driver. Driving in Switzerland is pretty easy, except that the roads are narrow (usually there is no shoulder) and twisty (mountain roads) and you frequently come across bicyclists. I was not driving as fast as I could have, so I was passed on blind curves a few times (always exciting).
We have been using our Garmin NUVI GPS, which we have used many times in the US but this is its first time in Europe, and it is working well. The only problem is that our rental car does not have a lighter, so we cannot have it plugged in! I have to charge it in the apartment and if the battery runs out during a long day of driving we are GPS-less.
But we have to exchange this car anyway. There is a chemical smell in the car, probably perfume or aftershave, that is giving us horrible headaches. When we picked up the car it smelled like aftershave with an undertone of cigarettes. We assumed we could air it out and it would be fine. But it isn’t. We aired it out for a few days, even covered the seat with a towel, but just driving for 30 minutes today was horrible. I can taste the chemicals of the fragrance! My theory is that this is a non-smoking car (no ashtray, no lighter) and the last renter smoked, then dumped a bottle of aftershave into the car to cover up the smoke smell. I called AutoEurope and they should have a new car for us tomorrow. We will drive to Montreux to pick it up. We have never had this happen before! We are more sensitive to the chemicals in perfumes than most people, but we have always been able to air out a car and then it is fine.
But I am not complaining, because it has been suggested that I travel just so I can complain 🙂 -I am just commenting. Besides – why travel to complain? I can complain very well at home and save the travel expense!
Chalet outside of Saanen
Read my travel notes for Gstaad.