In possession of our new M2, we sped off (with much engine roaring) to Zurich, which is a scenic three-and-a-half hour drive from Munich. The best route runs along Lake Constance, which is worth at least a stop to admire the scenery. For a very short time, you actually find yourself driving through Austria too, so beware – you need to buy a vignette, and the border area is swarming with cops just waiting to pull you over if you aren’t displaying one.
Switzerland proved to be even more of a delight than I’d hoped; it’s picturesque in the most cliché, Swiss way you can imagine: the roads are smooth and immaculate, the meadows populated with grazing cows, cowbells clunking gently, flanked by chalets straight out of Heidi. And in the background, the stunning view of the alps. As we approached the foothills, we found deep blue-green lakes in the valleys.
For our single night in Zurich, I had selected the Zurich Marriott because it was close to the old town and I could use points. I’d discovered that hotels in Zurich are very expensive. As it turned out, there was actually a little footbridge right by the hotel that gave excellent access to the old town, so the hotel location was even better than I’d thought based on the map. Even though it wasn’t mentioned when we checked in, my Marriott gold status must have bagged us a room upgrade, since we were on a high floor with some awesome views. The room itself wasn’t too shabby either, and we had a half bottle of wine and some appetizers waiting for us.
Between our apps and the concierge lounge, which served up more than the appetizers you’d expect in an American Marriott lounge (not to mention free alcohol), I have to admit that we never made it out of the hotel that evening. I’d have quite happily spent more than just the one night there, but we wanted to be in Axalp by the Sunday evening before the air show.
The next day being Sunday, we knew that most stores would be closed, although the actual situation was even a little worse than I’d expected. There is an extensive underground mall by the train station, in which all stores are open on Sundays, but literally every other place was closed. We walked around in the drizzle and told ourselves how cute Zurich would be in the sun.
Luckily, Zurich was able to redeem itself. In the bowels of the train station mall, we stumbled across the local chocolatier Läderach , and went to town shopping for friends and family back home (and, I admit, a little for ourselves).
On the one-and-a-half hour drive to Axalp, we encountered more of Switzerland’s breathtaking landscape.
Then things got interesting when our GPS showed us this:
Turns out Switzerland has a lot of tunnels …
As we approached Axalp, we knew to expect a single lane road winding up the mountain. Whoever’s going up has right of way, unless you meet the post bus, which always has priority. Did I mention we were doing this in October in a car with rear-wheel drive and summer tires?
According to my trusty altitude app, by the time we got to our chalet, we were at just over 5,000 feet (1,524 meters).
When planning the Axalp trip, it had become clear that all accommodations up there fill up the second the dates for the air show become known, so I had been quite pleased to bag what looked like the very last available chalet in the village, mere steps from the ski lift. It was tiny but cozy, and the view once again blew us away. We also made friends with the local wildlife, and my husband, Dances with Fox, got some great shots.