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Isenthal (see above photos) is a small Swiss village of about 500 people, 20 minutes drive from Altdorf which is near the exit of the largest tunnel I think we have driven through – 9.3 km’s! Our drive from Annecy in the rain took us five or six hours so we were tired and didn’t arrive at Isenthal until around 6pm. The last 20 minutes were a bit hair-raising, perhaps the freakiest roads I have driven on yet, as we wound our way up the side of the cliff from the lake. Much of the road has jagged cliff face on one side, a sheer drop on the other side, and the road is not wide enough to fit two cars. Near the start of the climb you meet several hairpin corners and then spiral through an awesome u-turning tunnel. I think we had to stop half a dozen times to pull in as close as we could to the edge of the road allowing other cars going downward to squeeze pass. The view over the edge was amazing! Later the signs at the bottom of the road were explained to us. They listed the times when you could expect a bus or a truck to be using the road warning you not to get in the way J. Fortunately the extra-large yellow truck we encountered met us at a wide part of the road.

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Other village photos:

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As it was later than we had expected and the local store was closed we had to survive on a can of beans for dinner on the Saturday night when we arrived. Not too bad as we had milk and about a dozen varieties of coffee. Sunday morning we slept in and then pottered around before going for a lovely walk in the mist around mid-day.

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On the way back from our walk I noticed two people at the bus stop, which wasn’t due to arrive for about three hours, so I smiled and said hello. An English reply back gave me great hope so I went back and chatted to them. They had walked up the road from the lake – I didn’t think anyone would have enough energy to do that sort of hike! We invited them back to our apartment for a cup of tea and enjoyed learning more about Switzerland from them. They also patiently looked at Daniel and Amy’s toys and listened to our stories.

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Around 4pm we braved the road down to the lake in search of something for dinner and after stopping along the way to take a few photos we ended up at Burger King in Altdorf. The drive back up the hillside I thought went fairly well although Karen was pale be the time we reached our village.

Monday we drove about an hour back through the 9.3 km tunnel to visit Lucerne. Our first stop was the The Lion Monumentwhich commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.

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From there we walked down to Lake Lucerne and then around to the 1333 Chapel Bridge which is a covered wooden footbridge that crosses the River Reuss. Interestingly it has some 100, 17th century paintings under its roof that records the history of the city. I was surprised that they survived outside in the weather and the temptations of vandals over their 300 year life.

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It was worth the effort we made to visit Lucerne although we took a few wrong turns leaving the city which delayed our trip home. Before long however we were back on the motorway, driving through our favourite 9.3 km tunnel and then up the side of the mountain. The next day, Tuesday, we left for another four hour drive to a small village outside of Innsbruck in Austria.

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(Week 33A: Saturday, 29 September 2012 – Tuesday, 2 October 2012)