One Week - Four Countries
This whole trip started on the idea of escaping Paris and its crowded streets. My friend Adrien & I decided to go on an adventure and change sceneries. We wanted to see lakes, mountains & cabins. So we started thinking...
"Where is the closest place where we can find these?"
We couldn't really name one singular place... But four.
To be honest, we wish we could have explored more of Switzerland - we will come back for sure, we thought - but as the schedule was tight, we stopped in Zurich and received a warm welcome thanks to Visit Zurich. We stayed one night but left at 3AM to go to Germany. We had enough time in the afternoon to explore the city and its gorgeous architecture. The sunset was absolutely stunning, as I was told sunsets were in Zurich.
It's one thing to see photos on Instagram, but to see it live, it's something else!
Good to know : if you want to drive on Swiss highways, you need a compulsory "vignette" to stick on your windshield which costs 40 CHF and lasts for the whole year.
I explored many places in Germany thanks to Viking Cruises before. Many cute little villages & cities that are absolutely worth seeing but this time, I wanted to see something different. So we headed to Berchtesgaden, a town in the South of Germany where amazing landscapes and mountains were surrounding us the entire time.
After 5h of driving from Zurich, we went directly to Schifffahrt Königssee to hop on the first boat to sail on the Königssee Lake. Our wish was to go all the way to Obersee but as it happened, we were there during the wrong season and it was inaccessible, so we had to stop at St Bartholomä Church... One week later (on the 22nd of April), and we could have kept on sailing to the end of the lake!
We still managed to get some good shots and although a bit disappointed by it being short, we couldn't help but be amazed by this boat ride. A must-do if you're in the region!
The boat trip costs 17 euros and takes about 55 min to go all the way down the lake. 30 min if you stop at the church.
As we had a very tight schedule and were supposed to be in Italy the next day, we decided to drive from Berchtesgaden to...
I know... Three countries in one day sounds like we were running from the police or something!
But nope... Hallstatt was only 1h30 away from Berchtesgaden and it was one place we had seen so many pictures of that we needed to see it for real! It has always sounded like a magical place to me, but I guess certain seasons like winter make it even prettier.
We could only spend one hour there as we had a reservation at Kempinski Berchtesgaden Hotel back in Germany but it was enough to enjoy the views and the quaint architecture of buildings. Parking there was a real struggle and the crowd of tourists was a bit suffocating but we managed to enjoy one hour in this lovely town I highly recommend to visit!
After getting some rest and having a delicious dinner at the Kempinski Berchtesgaden Hotel which is a fantastic hotel for its gorgeous design, the amazing food and great views from their rooms, we left the next morning to...
Finally! We finally decided to spend some days and not just hours in the same country! We started our Italian journey by driving from Berchtesgaden to the Laghi di Fusine, which is at the border between Italy, Slovenia & Austria. Two hours and a half later, we were facing this absolute gorgeous scene. The reflection of the trees in the clear turquoise lake made me want to sit there and stare at this beauty for hours. But as you probably understood, we are not the kind of people who would spend endless time in the same place...
Still, after enjoying some quiet time around this lake, we left and drove to the region we have been waiting to visit for months now : South Tyrol.
Our first stop was to hike to the Lago di Sorapiss. We were expecting to see a clear blue lake but when we arrived, we found ourselves in front of an iced lake. We were told mid-April wasn't the best time to enjoy clear lakes as the snow hasn't completely melted from the mountains, but it wasn't such a bad surprise as it gave a special something to the lake!
Best way to get there is to park by the main road, at the beginning of the Walking Trail 215 (SR48, 6, 32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo), and to follow the path 215 all the way to the lake. It takes around 2h to climb up (including photo time) and it's a nice walk up there with incredible views, even if there are some tricky moments.
The rest of our Italian trip had been planned by the nicest people, from the South Tyrol Tourism board. A huge thank you to them for all the work they put into this 3 days trip around the Dolomites.
We drove to the Lago di Braies in early morning to make sure we'd be there before tourists would come. The lake level wasn't high and unfortunately there weren't the lovely boats we're used to see on the Gram... Despite that, the deep-green color of the lake and its stillness allowed us to take photos of the reflection of the mountains and it was a gorgeous sight. Around 10AM, tourists started to come and it became difficult to take photos as we wanted, so we left to see other lakes around.
We explored two other lakes after the Lago Di Braies which are extremely beautiful and very close. The Lago di Dobbiaco & the Lago di Landro. These lakes are in quiet locations, where you can just park and walk around. Not many tourists were around and these places are very relaxing.
As we had some time and were pretty excited to explore another part of the region, we drove for one hour to another location that we were supposed to visit the next day : the famous spot of the San Giovanni Church, a church hidden in the mountains, in the Province of Bolzano. We climbed over a fence and walked to get the best view of the church with the mountains in the background. It was worth the drive there as the sight was superb. It's one thing to see photos but once you're standing in front of such a scene, it's absolutely mesmerizing.
We had to drive back to the region where the three lakes we had visited earlier were and stayed in a cozy B&B which was all we needed after having seen so much and having so much work to do on the photos : the B&B Niedermairhof, a restored farm with a modern design.
During the next couple of days, we explored a few great spots of the region. First, the Perca earth pyramids. Hard to believe that this place actually exists. The pyramids are actually moraine clay shaped as steep cliffs. Incredible sight!
Then we went to see two more lakes that are worth the trip as well. First, a small hidden lake you can find by following the hike path 4a when you are in Tiers, with amazing views of the peaks of Sciliar-Catinaccio that reflect in it : the Wuhnleger.
And finally, the Lago di Carezza which was our final spot to explore before driving back to Zurich. Carezza Lake is a very touristic spot so I would advise you to go for sunrise like we did to avoid the tour buses and crowds of people. And to see the beauty of it at sunrise made it even prettier if that was actually possible! The clear reflection in the lake made us forget about the time we got up in the morning!
The rest of our trip was basically just driving back home, and making a quick stop for the night in Zurich thanks to Visit Zurich!