Touring Trip of Central Europe (July 2008)

Part 5: Croatia. Switzerland, Austria (22th-27th)

The next morning was overcast but we had reserved the day to visit Plitvice National Park. The park is a series of lakes linked by waterfalls. We chose to take the 4 to 6 hour itinerary. We took a road train to the top, walked down a series of lakes and waterfalls, stopped for a picnic, and then took a boat down the next lake as the rain started. Another walk down a series of lakes and waterfalls to a large waterfall, then a climb out of the gorge to take the road train back to the start.

A drive back through Slovenia the next day to Carinthia in Southern Austria, where our Sat Nav sprung back into life. We had borrowed it from our son who maintained he had updated it with the maps for all of Europe but it did not work in Slovenia and Croatia. We stayed at a hotel on Wörthersee, with gardens and our balcony having great views of the Alps and the Lake. It was a five minute walk down to the lake where the hotel had its own stretch of private lakefront.

Onwards the next day through Austria and Italy to Lake Lugano in Southern Switzerland. A long, tiring drive, culminating with the border guards in Switzerland shepherding us to the ‘Casse’ to buy an annual pass to drive on the motorways (something you have to do in Austria and Slovenia as well). However, we had treated ourselves to a nice hotel as it was our anniversary. The hotel manager booked us a table at a local restaurant which proved an excellent choice.

The following morning we had a look round the village and the lakefront and set off for the Bernese Oberland. Unfortunately we had forgotten it was Saturday and the main holiday day of the year when a lot of people would be on the road. We ran into a big jam at the approach to the St Gotthard Tunnel. We took the decision to head over the pass instead which proved the right choice. We then headed for our next stop, not noticing until we were on them, that the road took us over some really scenic passes. We stopped at the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes and Moriaty diced to their death according to the novel by Conan Doyle. Our hotel was wonderfully positioned on Lake Brienz with the mighty Eiger and Jungfrau behind us.