Goodbye Alps, Hello Flatlands and Motoring The Motorways

Goodbye Alps, Hello Flatlands and Motoring On The Motorways

Interlaken, Beatenberg, Schmocken, Thun, Bern, Baden-Baden, Kelsterbach, Frankfurt Airport

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Our plan this morning was to be on the road by around 10.30am. The drive to Frankfurt would take around 5 hours and the car was due back at the Hertz rental return around 6.00pm.

We slept soundly during our last night at Gloria despite the very loud snoring from the room next door. We assume that the guy’s wife elbowed him in the ribs shortly after we settled into bed because neither of us heard the roof lifting sounds after our heads hit the pillows.

We had packed most of our belongings last night so this morning’s priority was to sort ourselves out and enjoy a casual breakfast and a long look at the alps and Lake Thun. We achieved this aim between 9 and 10am.

After our substantial breakfast we spent time talking to Bernhard and took some photo’s with him on the balcony overlooking the lake below.

With our planned departure time drawing near we returned to the room, grabbed our luggage and packed the car before completing the final checkout. After a short farewell to the staff we left the hotel and returned to the car.

I had prepared the GPS for the trip to Frankfurt so after getting our “travel setup” sorted we backed out of the carpark and started our trip down the mountain toward Interlaken – the time was very close to 10.30am!

We took it easy during the trip down the winding roads toward Interlaken because we wanted to enjoy the views of the alps and the last of our time in the spectacular mountains.

We made a short stop for fuel just before we entered the motorway that took us on the southern side of Lake Thun and north west toward Thun. We had not traveled this part of the lake before today so it was nice to look back, across the lake and up toward Schmoken. Indeed, we could make out Hotel Gloria perched high on the mountain to the north. Beautiful.

The light traffic meant that the trip around Thun and past Bern went without a great deal of delay. Little did we know that this pace was not going to continue.

We left Switzerland and entered Germany – a trip that took us out of the towering mountains of the alps and into relatively flat farming lands. We passed through the remaining low mountains of southern Germany then paralleled the Rhine for quite a while and enjoyed the seemingly endless vineyards and the views of distant castles perched on hilltops – we will return to Germany and tour the Rhein one day.

After close to three and a half hours we decided to stop for some lunch. The time was approaching 2.00pm when pulled off the autobahn and drove into the town of Baden-Baden.

We found a shopping mall close to the outskirts of the town and parked the car undercover – it was warming up as we headed north!

We enjoyed a light meal and some juice for lunch before finding a very well laid out grocery store in the mall. We decided to “eat in” at the hotel in Frankfurt so we bought some lovely salami, cheese and bread rolls and some red wine to wash it all down with. We have forgotten what a well stocked grocery store looks like and we had some fun walking around the store before paying for our treats.

We left the mall around 3.30pm and pointed the car in the direction of the autobahn. As we turned to join the autobahn we came to a grinding halt – there was an accident somewhere up ahead. Plan B – reverse the car (like everyone else was doing) and find another way to Frankfurt. This is where a GPS comes into its own.

Without any idea of alternate routes the GPS allowed us to quickly work out another way to Frankfurt. We gave “surfer dude” his Plan B instructions and despite the occasional ” new route is being calculated” order he eventually complied and we were on our way.

The Plan B route took us into France for short while – it was nice to spend 30 minutes or so reading French signs. The Princess and I start each year with the intention of visiting at least 10 countries. France was not on our agenda for 2011 however, despite the very short visit, we can include the land of bread and wine on our list for this year’s list.

On reentering Germany I made up for some lost time on the autobahn by making the most of the unlimited speed options in the fast lane. I am happy to report that the little Ford Focus was able to achieve the imperial 100 mph or 160 km/h plus. There is something to be said for being able to legally travel at this speed. Most of the trip was spent at 130 km/h – a more comfortable speed to travel at. Several times during the trip we felt like we were standing still when BMW and Porsche marques passed us like we were standing still. They must have been traveling around 200 km/h. Impressive. Mental note – next time we are in Germany make sure that we hire something that can travel at 200 km/h plus.

Driving conditions continued to be affected by roadworks and the occasional downpour from Mother Nature. However, we made good time on the alternate route and “surfer dude” gave precision guidance to our hotel in the little village of Kelsterbach near the Frankfurt airport.

We arrived at the Mercure Airport hotel around 5.30pm – a 7 hour trip from Schmocken. On exiting the car we both noted now warm it was compared with the alps. A lovely afternoon in/near Frankfurt. We checked in and took up residence in room 220 before I departed the hotel and drove across to the airport to return the car. Kelsterbach is located about 10 minutes from the busy airport but you would swear you were in the middle of nowhere. Wheat fields and country lanes defined the short drive to the airport.

After filling the car at the airport Shell service station I followed the signs to the rental car return area and handed the trusty and well used Ford back to the helpful Hertz agent.

The hotel’s shuttle bus ran every 30 minutes and the stop was conveniently located near the Hertz return area so it wasn’t long before I was on my way back to the hotel.

On the return trip the route took me past the incredible building that the Hilton hotel calls home. This stunning modern building looks like part cruise ship and part airship. It is an enormous structure that proudly stands out in the otherwise drab landscape around Terminal 1 at Frankfurt.

After the 7 hour trip we were both rather exhausted so we were glad that we had purchased something to eat and drink in Baden-Baden. After my return to the hotel I repacked my suitcase for the trip back to Hong Kong then The Princess and I settled in for a short evening of blog updates and a wind down.

The “lights out” for today’s events occurred around 10.30pm – an interesting day of traveling through Switzerland, Germany and France.

Side note: Whilst the Mercure hotel was comfortable, the service in a chain hotel is not a pinch on that of a family run establishment. We were blessed with the accommodation choices during this holiday and we both agree that we will be avoiding the chain hotel option in the future. A huge thank you to the incredibe staff and owners of Hotel Miralago, Hotel Haidenhof, Hotel Sonnenhof, Hotel Alpenrose and Hotel Gloria – very special indeed!

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