We were travelling from Italy to Switzerland and the landscape was turning into mountainous and the highway was passing through more and more tunnels- they love tunnels in Switzerland. The views are beyond beautiful and the lakes had amazing turquoise color. We had few places in our list to visit – the village of Lauterbrunnen and its magnificent waterfalls; Harder Kulm – mountain peak with amazing view towards Interlaken and the Alps.
We wanted traditional alpine house for our stay but it turned out this is hard to accomplish because most of them are with shared bathroom and those who had private are already sold out or too expensive. Eventually we found a hotel meeting the criteria – it was in Saxetten village and it was the only one there. The view from the hotel was pretty nice and the hosts were very kind although they didn’t speak much English. Also there was a restaurant –the hosts cook by themselves traditional dishes. We couldn’t miss the most popular dish – Rösti – it’s made from potatoes garnished with vegetables, bacon or eggs. The breakfast in the hotel was also nice – homemade cheese and jam.
Thanks to the hosts we had the chance to watch with their binoculars an amazing deer with her babies walking on the hill next to the hotel.
The first day we headed to Lauterbrunnen and its magnificent waterfalls I’ve seen so many pictures of this place so I had the feeling I’ve been there before. The most popular waterfall is Staubbach, also it’s the closest to the village. You can go behind the waterfall by climbing a steep path. Two more waterfalls can be seen if you take the alley which goes out of the village – it’s a very nice place for walks.
The weather was bad on the next day – rainy and chilly. Our plan was to visit Harder Klum – a mountain peak with panorama view and beautiful old building which is also a restaurant. You can climb up there by funicular from Interlaken. The ticket costs around 32 CHF (round trip) per person but in most hotels they give you a discount card and the price drops to around 25 CHF.
So it was still raining but we ignored it and reached the top. The view is beyond words and imagine it on a sunny day! We were lucky to see it for about 10 min and then huge clouds covered it all. At least we had lunch in the restaurant – the food was delicious and affordable.
Just to mention that I kept whining all the time how much I wanted to watch folklore show – you know that men in traditional costumes who play alpine horn and yodeling? So I searched in the internet but I couldn’t find anything. And you know what – it turned out that every evening in the restaurant on Harder Kulm they organize exactly that kind of show. Imagine my disappointment when I found out – because we were there at noon and it was impossible to stay 6 more hours to watch the show, we couldn’t even take a walk out there because of the rain.
Back to Interlaken – right next to the funicular station there is a mini zoo park where you can see marmots and ibexes.
After short walk around Interlaken where we bought a lot of chocolate (Interlaken is actually a town between the lakes Brienz and Thun as you can guess by its name), we headed to Iseltwald – small village where you can take a walk peacefully around lake Brienz while curious swans and ducks approach you.
What we couldn’t do and I really wanted to was to go by train to Jungfraujoch (3454m – a saddle between the peaks Jungfrau (4158m) and Mönch. There is an underground train station with lots of shops and you can take a walk around the saddle overlooking the peaks. Unfortunately the ticket price was insane (around 400 euro for both of us) but one day for sure I will experience this amazing trip.
It turned out that in Switzerland it’s not possible to pay by card everywhere (parking machine for example) so be prepared with francs just in case.
Another day, another destination – we were going to France. Since the road passed by Geneva we decided to stop there and take a walk. The city center is nice – a lot of shops and restaurants. We did the must-do-pictures around the lake. I liked better the old town – much more peaceful than the center. We spent our last francs for chocolate of course and we headed to France.
The destination is Provence – it was our third time there but I am pretty sure it has a lot more to discover. We were staying in a small village called Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes where lives Kamen’s family. French Provence is my favorite place visited so far – l love the smell of baked croissants in the morning, the roads surrounded by platan trees, the vineyards, the castles, the lavender, the cicadas…
The main goal this time was Valensole and its lavender fields – I wanted to visit this place for so long but every time we skip it because it’s impossible to see all at once.
It is a two hours drive but it is worth it – the place is incredible (and very instagramable too)!
I was so exited I didn’t even notice the bees! And there were lots of them. You can find a field free of people for photoshoot with no problem.
From there we headed to Aix-en-Provence. At first I didn’t like much the city but when we headed to the old town everything changed – it was so charming. Typical buildings with huge doors, narrow streets, lovely sweetshops and of course a lot of platans. The thing I liked the most was the library – it’s a futuristic building representing real books. I have seen it many years ago on pictures in my favorite French blog (the Cherryblossom girl) and I’m in love with it since then.
On the next day we were going to visit for second time – Le Château de Grignan – last year the lavender field in front of the castle was already harvested so we were coming back to see it. On the road to the castle there were few more nice fields for photoshoots. The castle is incredible inside just as much as it is outside. The same day there was a festival of the correspondence so every visitor of the castle had the chance to write a letter with ink and feather and send it to a chosen destination. My parents got mine instead of a postcard.
The whole town of Grignan was festive – there were concerts, markets with local production and many other entertainments. We bought local wines and jam from the open markets and then it was time for lavender ice cream. You should definitely try it!
The restaurants in the small villages of Provence are really good – I always eat a lot and my favorite desert is a mixture of yoghurt with apricots and rosemary. The wines are fantastic of course. Every winery offers degustation and every time we go back to Bulgaria with a trunk full of wines and cheese (yes, we brought a cooler) – the advantages of travelling by car.
The cheese survived all the way back to Italy. We chose Trieste as a final destination of our journey. It turned out there were a lot of hills in Trieste. The house where we stayed is an old renovated building it’s situated on one of the hills so we were about to climb a bit. The place is nice – balcony overlooking the town and the sea, good breakfast – you order it the day before, so it’s up to you what you are going to get.
We went down the hill to the city center for an evening walk – we liked the town a lot, especially the main square – Piazza Unità d’Italia.
We didn’t have much luck with the dinner – all of the nice restaurants were crowded. Eventually we went to a very touristic place on one of the squares. The food wasn’t so bad but it missed the Italian charm if you know what I mean. The place was called Tratoria Caprese.
It was raining on the next day but this didn’t ruin our plans – we visited Castello di Miramare – wonderful castle by the sea, about 8 km from Trieste. If you go there by car, take the second exit from the main road (there is a sign for Grignano mare) because if you take the first, probably you won’t find free parking spot. And since there are two entrances for the castle you can just skip the first and go for the second one – a lot of free of charge parking spaces on Grignano’s yacht port right next to the entrance.
The castle is amazing – actually it was the reason why we chose to come to Trieste. There are beautiful gardens overlooking the sea, the interior of the castle is fabulous and there is an interesting history of its former residents too. Luckily the rain has stopped right on time and we were able to walk around the gardens.
We spent the afternoon in Trieste where it was still raining. This time we decided to go earlier to the chosen restaurant just to make sure there would be free table. We ordered drinks because the kitchen starts working at 7 pm but it was fine – we needed to rest before going back home up to the hill. The restaurant was lovely – it’s called Gusto and it was right next to Canal Grande.
Last day of our big trip – packing all our stuff and travelling back to Bulgaria. There were huge traffic all over the road and congestions on the borders. But who cares – we visited so many wonderful places and I had the feeling that I was away from home for like a whole month.