Walking in a winter wonderland (at Easter!!?)

In a cabin in the woods, we waited for spring to find out where winter was hiding it.

Word to the wise, an Easter holiday in Switzerland can contain snow. And rain, and mist and fog and of course, groans.

We didn’t come to ski. We came to visit my brother, and to marvel at the sheer beauteous scale of the Swiss Alps. The glaciated scenery, the high peaks, the clear ice water! What we got, looked like a Tuesday afternoon in London. I guess there were mountains. But they might as easily have been delusions.

But lets start at the beginning, which was actually not that grey. When we packed our bags, we had 12 degrees and sunshine in London, I was sure that this meant winter was finally over and we could leave our thick coats, hats and winter scarfs at home.

On our first day in Zurich the Schwiiiitz even decided to show itself from its best side and we enjoyed a sun-warmed lunch outside in a café.

Eye in the sun at Villa Hoenegg

Eye in the sun

The next morning – the sun was still with us –  and my brother recommended we visit “Bürgenstock”, a famous mountain in Switzerland in the middle of Lake Lucerne or “Vierwaldstättersee“, as we Germans like to call it.

Vierwaldstättersee

Quick stop

On our way to Bürgenstock

to enjoy the view

Interestingly, if you type Bürgenstock into Google Maps, it sends you right to Hotel Villa Hoenegg. What a place!! We stopped there for lunch and enjoyed their special lunch menu of the day while being completely stunned by the view. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Bürgenstock

View from Hotel Villa Hoenegg

Enjoying lunch at Hotel Villa Hotel Villa Hoenegg

In heaven!!

In front of Hotel Villa Hotel Villa Hoenegg

In front of Hotel Villa Hotel Villa Hoenegg

After this wonderful meal we decided to hike to the lookout point at the summit of Bürgenstock to enjoy the famous view over the lake at the Hammetschwand Elevator.

Bürgenstock hike

Bürgenstock hike

How do we get to the summit of Bürgenstock

How do we get to the summit of Bürgenstock

Four hours later… It was not the easiest walk, since most parts were still covered in snow, and Matt was convinced there were avalanche risks – but the view from the top made up for the hard work.

In front of Hammetschwand Elevator.

In front of Hammetschwand Elevator

Bürgenstock

enjoying the view

Back in Zurich we ignored our hurting legs and feet and ended this fantastic day at M4music festival at Schiffbau, a former boat-manufacturing hangar. This place also had a fantastic looking restaurant inside, which I would love to try at my next brother-visit.

Matt & Hendrik

My bro & Matt

And this was the last time we would see the sun in Switzerland!

When we got up the next morning our lucky spell was over. But we decided we would try to trick it into turning up through many outdoor activities. So to begin, we went to the Rheinfall, which I last visited as a little girl. It’s still a big waterfall.

Rheinfall

Thats all I have to say about the weather!

Afterwards, we also stopped in Stein am Rhein. And I can really imagine how amazing these two places can be if the sun is shining but on that Saturday, I just felt cold.

Stein am Rhein

Colourful houses in Stein am Rhein

The next day our “road trip” brought us to Interlaken, which we heard so much about online – and of course, when we got there, we couldn’t even see the Alps!

Interlaken

Interlaken

So we decided to come back another time and to try out something else that looked stunning on Google Images: Lauterbrunnen – the valley of dreams. But I think Winter was listening to our conversation and decided to get there before us again.

It was stunning in a way, even with the missing background – what do you think?

Lauterbrunnen – Valley of dreams?!

Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen – Valley of dreams?!

Valley of dreams?!

We were still freezing and not in the mood for a hike in the cold, so we decided to go to a spa instead. I think you’ll agree, that’s often a good choice! Spa-ing in an outdoor hot bubble making hot tub in the Solbadhotel in Sigriswil while it snows comes highly recommended! Although possibly improved if you could actually see more than 6 feet in front of your face.

It was decided then that my brother would go back and visit all these places with his motorbike once the spring has succeeded, and take photos of what it should look like.

The last two days of our Switzerland stopover we spent in Basel and on the way there we stopped at St. Beatus Caves apparently the 8th biggest caves in the area. Also it apparently was once home to a dragon slaying Irish saint.

St. Beatus Caves

St. Beatus Caves

St. Beatus Caves

Inside St. Beatus Caves

Our Basel time we spent mainly in little cafes and eating cheese fondue before we had to say goodbye to my brother and head into Germany.

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue!

Cheese Fondue

Yummy

Cheese and Wine in Basel

and lots of wine…

If Swiss weather was a slight let down, the German weather fared slightly better. This second part of our trip took us to the Black Forest, the home of Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel and assorted fairytales, and a place I have never been. We had no idea where to go, so we stopped in a tourist info in Schluchsee and asked them for the most authentic place in the Black Forest – we didn’t want to go to just another town. They sent us to Menzenschwand and recommended an old traditional Hotel Gasthof Waldeck. It was as old and traditional as they promised. Perfect! The hotel owner recommended we go to St. Blasien for a nice short walk in the afternoon. So of course, not knowing much about the area, that’s what we did.

Menzenschwand

Menzenschwand

My first Iglu in March

we even found an iglu

What we didn’t expect was Sankt Blasien Abbey, a stunning Benedictine monastery in the middle of the forest valley.

Sankt Blasien Abbey

Sankt Blasien Abbey

Sankt Blasien Abbey

Big door!

We initially only planned to stay one night in Menzenschwand, but we liked our little hotel so much there, that we stayed for two. That way we had a full day to hike in the snow and explore the magic of the Black Forest. We found a hidden frozen waterfall and feed some really cute deer.

Frozen

Frozen

Someone is happy!

Someone is happy!

Feeding deer in Menzenschwand

Feeding deer

Handsome stag

he was not impressed

The cutest!

The cutest!

The sun even decided to remind us that it still existed on our last day in the fairytale forest! Unfortunately we had to leave the Black Forest in order to be at home at my family in time for Easter Sunday.

But not before another quick stop over in Munich to see some friends from Sweden and enjoy some Bavarian hospitality!

Munich Frauenkirche

Munich Frauenkirche

Our final stop was back north towards another abbey, the Cistercian nunnery “Kloster St. Marienstern” to celebrate Easter with my family and see my uncle being one of the 1700 Sorbian Osterreiter, who ride through Lusatia on Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead. It’s one of my favorite traditions – how many other towns have hundreds of horses and men in top hats?! If you ever in the Eastern part of Germany around Easter Sunday, that’s where you should go!

Osterreiten in Panschwitz-Kuckau

Osterreiten in Panschwitz-Kuckau

The Osterreiters arriving

The Osterreiters arriving

Osterreiten in Panschwitz-Kuckau

My family is taking an active part!

So what did we learn from our Easter vacation?

Well firstly, winter has overstayed his welcome, and he’s hiding in Switzerland.

Secondly, the Black Forest is a magical place that Germans don’t often visit.

And lastly, if there’s a moment in a day where you can close your eyes and put your nose up in the sun. It makes everything better.

Bring on the summer! Or at least the Spring! So long as there’s sun!

Nose in the Sun

Nose in the sun in the Black Forest

Nose in the Sun in Bürgenstock

and in Bürgenstock

Nose in the sun in Munich

and in Munich, too. 🙂

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