From France to Switzerland
We continued our journey heading 2hrs further south from Colmar into the mountains of Switzerland. Switzerland is so beautiful to explore, but it’s also so SO expensive to travel. We visited once before on a day trip to Annecy in France a few years ago (you can see that on April’s blog), so we knew it would be expensive. But just how expensive it turned out to be was a total shocker, and completely ate into our budget for our two weeks in Europe.
Crossing the Border
The drive from Colmar to Switzerland is pretty simple. It’s mostly highways, and from what I can remember, I don’t think there were any toll roads, and if there were then it was only a few euros. But if you’re heading to Switzerland, don’t forget that to drive on the motorways/highways there, you will need a Vignette. You can pick these up in any gas stations near the border or like we’ve done each time, at the border crossing, where you stick them to your windscreen in the specified locations. They have area’s to pull over, and this time we didn’t even have to get out of the van. A guy came over to us, we paid €40 and got 6CHF back – so it cost roughly €36 for a 14 month Vignette (valid from 1st Dec till 31st Jan).
Arriving in Interlaken
As we arrived at Interlaken, the views were amazing! We pulled over at the side of the road for a quick stop to take in all the views. The mountains, the lake, the colour of the lake. It was all just so so amazing.
After stopping for a quick break, we carried on to our first proper explore of the area – high up in the mountains at Grindelwald First. We did plan on visiting Gimmelwald which is a little further to the west of the mountain range, but I decided on the journey that Grindelwald looked more interesting and it seemed like there was a lot more to do there.
Well, this is where the most expensive day of the trip started. We paid €6 for 3hrs parking at the car park right at the cable car station to take us from Grindelwald to First. I ended up tripping up the stairs on the way in to the ticket office while trying to vlog Shane, cut my knee and almost feinted (I don’t do well with pain/blood), so by the time we got to the counter, I was on the brink of passing out. The woman told us the price – £94 for 2 adults – and in my state of desperately needing to sit down before I fell down, we paid. After I’d sat down and recovered, we were in so much shock at the price (was it the injury that made me almost feint or the price hahah!?) and just hoped that it would be worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, the views were amazing. But were they worth £47 each? I don’t think so. We only really spent about an hour or so at the top of the mountain before heading back down. I mean, there’s loads of activities to do up there, from zip-lining to karting but they all cost extra too! The karting did look amazing though, and we did contemplate doing it, but we’d already blown our daily budget so decided to give it a miss.
The only free activity to do up there (other than hiking, obviously) was the cliff walk. It was amazing, but so so scary (for me at least – Shane was fine). The walk is lovely, and there’s signs along the way explaining the views to you, and then right at the end you can stand for a photo if someone’s there to take it for you at least, but we enjoyed it.
If you do plan on heading up to Grindelwald First, just be aware that the cable car takes 30 minutes to get from Grindelwald up through the 2 or 3 stops along the way to the top at First, and then another 30 back down – a total of an hour! So be aware of this when buying your car park ticket! We were a little rushed for time in the end, as we’d have loved to explore some of the other stops up/down the mountain and go for a little hike.
Camping at Interlaken
Afterwards, we headed back down the mountain and into Interlaken. We ended up choosing TCS Camping Bonigen as our campsite for the night as it was right on the lakeside with amazing views. It was a lovely campsite, but as with all of Switzerland it was SO expensive costing us around £35 for the night there (though, this was the average price as most of the campsites in the area).
The next morning, we headed off in search of a camping shop to find a porta-potti camping toilet*. We actually had a toilet sitting at home, but it’s one that is actually fitted into the side of the van and we just didn’t have time to fit it before we left. Luckily we found one and it was a life-saver! It let us stay a few nights off-grid and also came in handy for while we were out and about too!
After the most expensive 24hrs ever, we headed further south to Italy!
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