Summertime in Europe is a backpackers heaven, college students and people alike flock onto the trains, buses and public transportation systems to do their summer tour of Europe. Hostel prices go up, booking in advance seems a must to get anywhere and to avoid paying outrageous prices it pays to think ahead. Needless to say, Rex and I were more keen on getting off the beaten path and being completely flexible. This is where a car and tent comes in handy, and with the help of my father we found a good deal on a rental car and off we went in the direction of Switzerland! We had a rough layout of where we wanted to head and when we wanted to be there by but ultimately we finally had the freedom to go and do without really having to plan anything out.
First stop was Zermatt, Switzerland! After having some technical difficulty with my Papas Tom Tom(it kept on trying to take us through a mountain that didn’t have a road or tunnel), we were grateful for all the maps my dad shoved into our hands before we left. We camped in a little town outside of Zermatt, since getting into Zermatt requires you to either hike or take a train into town, no cars are allowed. We stayed on an awesome camp site in Täsch at the base of the mountains and we had an amazing view of a glacier creeping down a valley.
We spent our first 2 nights here and enjoyed the cool and partly cloudy weather. We took the train up to Zermatt and continued on up on one of the gondolas to get a closer look of the Matterhorn. Sadly it was covered partially in clouds, but it was still visible enough to make your jaw drop. It was great being so close to such a world renowned mountain. We hiked around the area for the day and started day dreaming of maybe one day climbing the Matterhorn. Pictures are worth a thousands words, so I won’t go into describing the area, but just a side note, it is probably one of my most favorite areas in the world from the natures perspective. The Swiss know how to do it and they know how to do it gooooddd!
Next stop: Chamonix, France via the Saint Bernard Pass into Italy and then the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
If you google most noteworthy drives in the alps, Saint Bernard pass is the #1 drive on there. I have memories going over this pass when I was younger in our RV and I was excited to relive that drive with Rex. It was a beautiful pass but to be honest, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be, and a couple days later we crossed a couple passes that I found to be more impressive.
We entered into Italy at the top of the pass and headed down with a complete architectural change. It is amazing how one side of the mountain can have houses that look Swiss and the other that look italian without any obvious bleeding over effects. We were in Italy for only about 1 hour, had pizza at a rest stop and a potty break (according to our good friend Brandi, a country only counts if you leave the airport, eat outside of the airport and use the restroom) and we were off in direction of France. We headed straight into the Mont Blanc Tunnel. This tunnel is quite impressive for the following reasons:
1• it’s built under the tallest mountain in Europe – Mont Blanc 4,810 m or 15,781 ft
2• it’s half in Italy and half in France
3• it’s 11 km Long
4• insanely expensive to drive through
You drive in from Italy and come out in France, pretty cool.
5 hours of driving, we had been in 3 countries and arrived in Chamonix, a personal dream had just come to fruition, just by being there!!