Catching the flight from Charles De Galle oin 22nd April
We left Turin heading towards Luzerne in Switzerland. We have been to Luzerne in one of our previous trips. We knew it is such a nice city that we can relax our last few days just sitting around.
Sue's son Hayden is in Switzerland. He is in a city called Interlaken working as a Hang Gliding instructor. Interlaken is not very far from Luzerne. Sue was keen to visit her son and spend a day with him. She asked whether we can go through Interlaken and drop her at her son's place. We had enough time to do that. Hayden gave specific instructions by giving names of small towns to feed into the GPS to find our way. But our GPS which we call Tom-Tom, did not recognize the address and the small town given by him. We finally put the address of Interlaken directly into our GPS device and decided to go there first. We made one mistake by suggesting to the Tom-Tom that we would prefer to take normal roads rather than toll ways.
Half way through our journey, the GPS instructed us to take an exit from the toll way and use a winding hilly route. We took the exit and started driving along that scenic route. The road was very beautiful with surrounding hills covered with snow. After about ten minutes there were icy patches appearing on the road. Then we hit one patch which was covered with hard ice. There were deep track marks on the road. Mala was driving at that time and she tried to keep the car on that track. The hardened ice hit the underside of the car making it swerve. Sue was keen to continue, but we decided to turn back. We knew our vehicle was not equipped to handle icy roads. We also knew the road conditions were going get worse if we continued on that road. We decided to turn back and get back to the toll way. We had to find a way to help Sue meet her son.
There was another road to Interlaken which was longer. We were running out of time. We devised a plan. We would drive up to Giswil which is halfway to Interlaken and Sue's son Hayden would meet us there. Sue met her son at Giswil and went with him. The three of us, Helen, Mala and I drove to Luzerne and checked in to Best Western hotel.
We had two nights in Luzerne. Our hotel was a comparatively small hotel situated among shops and other tourist attractions. We could walk through the bridges and admire the lake scenes and watch the swans swimming in the lake. Sue was joining us back on Sunday evening.
Helen, Mala and I decided to take a cable car trip to one of the highest mountains in Luzerne. It turned out to be a good decision. We really enjoyed the cable car ride. There were two stages to the cable car ride.
First stage was to take a smaller cable car which can take a maximum of six people. That ride was a very long ride and took nearly ten minutes. The second stage was in a bigger car that can take up to 20 people.
There were only two cars one going up while the other one coming down balancing the weight on the cable. Looking up from the lower station, you cannot imagine the mountain peak is big enough to have a station.
We were wrong. The top has a big flat area. There was a hotel and a restaurant built on the top of the mountain. Right round the rock, along the periphery, there was a tunnel path carved out of the rock. There were windows like openings in places to see the outside. There were no lights, these openings being the only outlets providing natural light to the tunnel.
The idea was to walk along this path and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area below the mountain. However, we could go only half way due to frozen ice. The path beyond that point was barricaded.
After the mountain ride, we spent some time shopping in Luzerne. We went to a shopping centre outside the city, but found nothing suitable. Then we came back and did shopping in the shops around our hotel and found a few items. Sue joined us in the evening and we had dinner in one of the Italian restaurants.
By this time, Mala, Sue and Helen were getting tired of the bland monotonous food we were eating. They had high expectations of finding delicious, mouth watering food prepared by French and Spanish chefs only seen on the TV. We found good food in a few places. In most restaurants, the food was ordinary to say the least. It may be that our local Australian food has reached a very high standard. Else the standard of food in other western countries has come down. The ordinary restaurants in tourist areas have become fast food factories.
After two nights in Luzerne, we started preparing for our final day in Dejon, France. Our flight was on the 22nd of April from Charles De Galle airport. We were planning to drive directly to the airport from Dejon.
Dejon is a beautiful old city. Our hotel Holiday Inn was outside the city, but the tram line was right in front of the hotel. You could get to the city in ten minutes. When we arrived at the hotel, only one room was ready. We left all our baggage in that room and took the tram to the city.
We were there on a Tuesday and unfortunately most of the tourist attractions like museums were closed on Tuesdays. Sue and Helen were disappointed they could not visit more tourist attractions. Mala and I had seen enough of them and only wanted to do shopping. It has come to the stage of last minute shopping and grabbing whatever that takes your fancy.
Dejon is the city where Dejon Mustard originated. We could find many outlets selling authentic Dejon Mustard. We went to one shop which was recommended by the hotel staff. There were many different varieties of mustard and one special mustard was the Dejon mustard with Truffle. We ended up buying that and three other varieties.
Next morning we have packed our bags and ready to leave when we found a nearby shopping center which opens at ten. We spent about one hour doing more shopping and finally left the hotel at 11:00AM.
Our flight was at 9:50PM and we had more than enough time to get to the airport. We stopped for lunch on our way and drove at leisure. Suddenly we realized we were in heavy traffic. The UPS has planned out route via the outer ring of Paris. We have moved into the outer ring with very heavy traffic and had to take an exit to get to the airport. One exit was closed due to road work and we patiently drove to the next exit planned by the UPS. We spent more than two hours in heavy traffic. We were lucky we have kept enough extra time to get to the airport.
We returned the car and took our baggage to the check in counter. Sue was not travelling back with us. She was staying behind and taking a train to Brittany in France where her husband is presently living. He has bought a house in Brittany and staying there renovating and improving it. Sue would spend two weeks there. Our flight was on time and we came back to Sydney without any incidents. The journey was smooth with no air pockets, on the way. Our last flight was on a Qantas A380 airbus. Qantas service has improved in leaps and bounds. The inflight food was excellent.
We were extremely happy to be back home. It was a great trip which was very different to others. We visited six different countries, two of them, Spain and Portugal, for the first time, drove nearly seven thousand kilometers in thirty days, walked a lot, climbed many stairs, visited numerous attractions. More importantly we have learned a lot about other cultures, their way of life and their past history.