So I just came back from a spontaneous trip to Switzerland and I have so many experiences that I’m gonna write this article at least all day!
I decided about 10 days ahead, so there was not so much time for planning. One of my aunts live in Switzerland, but I haven’t seen her since I was about 12, so I don’t really remember Switzerland. I always wanted to go to Zermatt, so that was the original plan. But as I was looking at the map, there were some other places on our way, which I wanted to see – St. Gallen, Luzern, Bachalpsee, Oeschninensee and Grimselpass. Then I only connected all the dots in Google Maps and the plan was done!
In the morning we put all the things into the car and set off. The first stop was St. Gallen, which was about 6 hours away from Prague. At the border with Switzerland, we had a bit of a problem, because even though Switzerland is in Schengen, we were being questioned for about 10 minutes. They wanted to know why we were going to Switzerland, what we were going to do, how long we were gonna stay, what stuff did we bring and so on. We had to buy an annual Swiss toll sticker, because they didn’t sell anything for a shorter time.
After lunch, we arrived in St. Gallen. It disappointed us, because there was nothing to see at all Hahaha:) So we just had lunch there and started heading to Luzern, where my aunt lives. I’m not in contact with her at all, so we didn’t even go to see her. We parked the car right on the shore of the lake and spent about an hour there. We crossed the iconic bridge, walked through the old town, bought an ice-cream, because it was about 874460 degrees and went back to the car. It took about an hour and a half to get to our first mountain destination, the town of Grindelwald. From there, there is a lot of beautiful treks from which we chose the one to Bachalpsee.
The problem was that we arrived in Grindelwald at about 8pm and the trek was supposed to take 4 hours. We had some flashlights, so we decided to take the risk and hike to the lake. We knew, that there were no ferratas or anything, so it wasn’t that crazy.
Also, camping outside of camping grounds is forbidden, so pitching a tent when it’s already dark is a better option.
NOTE NO. 1 — I received a lot of questions from you guys about how we did it with camping. I know you can get a crazy fine if they catch you, and it probably has a reason, but I think if you pitch a tent in the nature and leave the place in the same condition as you’ve come to it, it won’t hurt the nature. So we took care of keeping our tent out of sight and most of the times pitched it after sunset. We always got up at 7am to pack it before the first cableway runs. The only place where we were really afraid of getting caught was Zermatt, where I was pretty sure there were cameras around every corner and they would have spot us. The Swiss are very proud of Zermatt and protect it quite a lot, so here I wouldn’t dare to break the rules.
You also asked a lot about the tent brand & type. I have a self-folding tent from Quechua, I think it’s called 2Seconds and it’s for 3 people. Although I mostly travel in two, this bigger tent is better because there is room for backpacks as well. This self-folding tent doesn’t have a “hallway” and in addition, I carry all my photo-equipment in my backpack, so I always want to have it with me. In terms of storage, this tent doesn’t fold in a classic shape, but it’s round, so you can’t fit it into the backpack. I learned how to put it onto the backpack, so it’s not so bad, but it’s definitely better for traveling by car than walking. I like it because I’m always exhausted from hiking and don’t want to worry about pitching the tent for half an hour and then folding it for another half an hour in the morning. You can literally take this tent out of the pack, unbuckle four buckles and throw the tent into the air where it automatically folds. So it really takes about 10 seconds. In the morning, I’m able to fold it in 2 minutes. —
Anyways, we parked the car in Grindelwald and we set off on the trek around 9:30 pm. We were almost running to make the most of the light. At 11 we pulled out the flashlights and continued walking. But at midnight we found out we were in about a half of the hike!!!!! We didn’t understand how it was possible when the trek was supposed to be 4 hours long and after a few minutes we found out that in the article on the Internet it said it takes 4 hours to get DOWN (from Bachalpsee to Grindelwald), hahaha!:)
Well, at 1am we gave it up and decided to put the tent somewhere on a straight ground. I would say we were at about three-quarters of the way. We were incredibly lucky, because literally ten seconds after we crawled into the tent, it started raining really heavilly. The rain switched to a thunderstorm in a few minutes and the lightning flashed every five seconds. The thunders sounded as if they were hitting right next to us. Nightmare. Thank God we were so tired and fell asleep right away.
But in the morning, when we opened the tent, we were really surprised about where we actually pitched it. That view of the Alps was really unbelievable! There’s no better feeling than waking up in such a place. I would never change this for a five-star hotel on a beach!:))
We packed and set out for the last five kilometers to the trek. On the way, we saw several marmots, that I tried to catch with my ultramegahyperzoom, but they were too far away.
We finally arrived at the top station of the cable car, from where it was supposed to take one last hour to the lake. Since it was still around 7am, there were absolutely no people. The first cable car goes at 9, I guess. At the top station of the cable car, there is a footbridge which is built literally on a side of a mountain, so nothing for those who are scared of heights, haha 🙂 The footbridge ended with a suspension bridge with a magnificent view.
When we reached Bachalpsee, it was a little confusing that there were actually two lakes and we didn’t know which one was the right one. There were ice floes in one, and it looked like Arctic Ocean, and the other one looked like a mirror, reflecting the surrounding mountains.
So this was the place where we were supposed to get last night. I’m really glad we didn’t try to get here, because we’d get here at 3am. Since we didn’t have anything for breakfast, I unpacked my spirit stove and made some oatmeal.
The original plan was to bathe in Bachalpsee because since we didn’t sleep in the camping grounds, we couldn’t take a shower anywhere else, but when looking at the floating pieces of ice we were like: “naaaah, we’re good.” After breakfast, the sun finally showed up, so we decided to jump into the ice-cold water. That lake could have had about 2°C. I almost got a heart attack !!!!! It was really crazy, haha:) I told my friend, when he was getting out of water: “Hey you got a floe on your back!” Hahahahaha!
NOTE # 2 — A lot of you guys asked me what kind of clothes and other equipment I took with me. I had one pair of pants, a T-shirt and a sweatshirt from Peak Performance, which I totally adore, because it’s really functional and it looks great. I wouldn’t go anywhere without my Garmont hiking boots and the rest of clothes was mostly my gym clothes. I also had my light trekking shoes from Adidas Terrex that fit perfectly into dry and easy surface. —
Anyways, after the bath, first people started to arrive, so we got going again. On the way down we met a lot of Asians and one of them even dared to ask us how far the lake was from the cable car station. You should have seen her expression when we told her that it was about 40 minutes uphill, hahaha:) She was wearing flip-flops and was holding an umbrella in her hand.
Right at the cable car station, we saw another group of Asians crawling in the grass and aiming their utrahypermegazoom lenses on something brown that looked like a dog. In my mind, I thought” Are they really that crazy about photographing everything, including dogs?!” Well, when we came closer, we found out that it was a fox! I’ve never seen a wild fox before !!!! So I put on my ultrahypermegazoom lense and lied down into the grass next to the Asians.
We got to the car with our legs dead a little after the noon. The journey down really took us 4 hours. Advice? ALWAYS read the whole article, that explains the trek. By the way, parking in Grindelwald is paid, but because we didn’t have a single coin, we didn’t pay anything for the parking. Fortunately, we didn’t get a fine, but I recommend taking a lot of coins to Switzerland, because you have to pay for the parking via vending machines everywhere. Even in the smallest villages.
When we relaxed a little, we jumped into the car and set out for our next stop, which was Oeschninensee, but I’ll tell you more about it in the next article!
Now, let me know what you are interested in, I’ll try to answer all your questions! Just do not ask me about the money, I’m saving that for the last article, because I still haven’t counted it all 🙂 🙂 But I think we managed to make it pretty low-cost!:)