|Pit's great. He knows just where to go and what to do for the day! Today he had a plan and we just followed along happy to tag behind and go where he thought we should. Firstly a drive to the Neuchatel area which was made a lot longer because of several road 'deviant's as the Swiss call them. We call them roadworks and usually just close a lane, and use some stop-go people to control the remaining lane. The Swiss just close off the road altogether and send you on a 100 mile detour round some obscure narrow little country lanes - you and the other several hundred cars that were heading that direction. So it was today. OK so maybe I exaggerate as it wasn't an extra 100miles.... but our one hour drive turned into a two hour drive and we drove all over the hills through lots of little villages and forests etc etc until finally back onto the road we were meant to be on. The good part about this was that we got to see a lot more of this area than originally planned! Silver lining.
It was a great drive actually, as the Neuchatel Lake is gorgeous, and the hills at the bottom of the lake where we drove initially are gorgeous. A lot of them are covered in a natural forest, some in planted forest. And the rocky outcrops are amazing. This area is very different to the Fribourg area, that's for sure. It was nice to be out and about seeing some more of this beautiful country.
We finally arrived at the Gorge, and in particular La Champ du Moulin, and firstly sat down and had our first restaurant meal in Switzerland. This restaurant are specialists in trout, so we all had trout except Johanna. Mine had almonds, Alex's had the whole jolly body, head, eyes and all. And bones. LOts of those. I think Alex was wishing he had known what 'bleu' meant. Apparently it means cook the fish in water whole and chuck it on the plate. Alex kept looking at my delicious fillets covered in almonds and butter and at Johanna's steak and again wished we had worked harder on our French.....It was funny! But seriously, a beautiful meal later we were ready for our walk down the gorge. But firstly we caught the train up to the top, so it was an easy walk down, rather than a hard walk up!
At first the walk took us alongside the railway line which had no shade, and being a beautiful hot day we were always pleased to find a little bit of shade. Eventually though, we left the railway line and ended up in the native bush alongside the river, watching in awe as the river got narrowerer and narrowerer and a beautiful gorge appeared, cute bridge and all. It was indeed very very pretty. There were several power stations along the way too, and all the little buildings beside the river, and the power stations were painted in garrish colours like yellow and pink - go figure! I was saying to Marina that in NZ we paint our buildings in the bush a colour that doesn't stand out like brown or green.... Also at one point we came across an overflow chute from one of the power stations, the fastest flow of water we've ever seen. You wouldn't even put your hand or finger in it - it would brean them it was so incredibly fast. And all this was in an open chute coming down the mountain towards you and into the river. Incredible. The area is actually a nature reserve and so beautiful. We absolutely loved this walk.
By the time we got back to our cars it was 6.00pm and we'd promised the kids a swim at the lake, so we drove down to the lakeside and had a lovely swim in the warm waters of Lake Neuchatel. Surprising to find a lake with warm water. Maybe it's just because we live in the South Island, but I couldn't help comparing it with Lake Rotoiti with it's freezing cold water and millions of sandflies.! We had a lovely early evening swim as it was still hot, and didn't leave the lakeside for our drive home until 8.30, which got us home at 9.30. Pit cooked pasta for tea which the kids ate and promptly went to bed, then we sat outside on their little patio and ate our pasta too (it was nearly a midnight feast! - well it was for the mozzies anyway).
It has been so wonderful to have PIt and Marina take us to places that we just wouldn't have known about if we were ordinary tourists. This day has been absolutely magnificent, to be in the bush experiencing the beautify and wonder of God's creation, and enjoying it Swiss style.