Spending time in Switzerland means that you are exposed to many different languages on a daily basis. I am currently living in the Swiss-German-speaking part of Switzerland. But on a daily basis, I am exposed to French, Italian and, well, English. I invest most of my “language” time improving my German. This is now an intermediate Swiss-Germenglish. So to break the mould I have been travelling to both France and the French part of Switzerland to sharpen up my Bonjour. Tack on a good old fashioned kiwi smile and I think you have yourself a pretty nice sentence.
The Creux du Van is an impressive geological phenomenon. Located 15min drive West of Neuchatel (the French part of Switzerland). We set out to complete a Five-hour circuit on a spectacularly misty and overcast day. The Frenchman (Antoine) had our map in the form of a palm-size guidebook, written in French. So I would be in little use deciphering the text here. But maps are the same in every language!
It took just two hours before we became lost. Off trail and deep in the forest. We slowed down and walked “forwards” for around an hour. We were beginning to second guess our decision not to turn back, but this was now becoming an impossibility. But, yet amidst the confusion, we were shown the way forward by an unlikely friend. Just then we heard a horse in the distance. Antoine blurted out: “Where there’s horse, there are people”. I was doubtful. We walked towards the “Neigh” and broke through the forest to see a small paddock, complete with horse and people. Despite my doubt, there, to the left, was our (return) trail. We had missed the mountain…..
On top, we were greeted to a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of a Steinbock fight. Like humans, male Steinbocks will often fight with each other during breeding season for the rights to breed with the females. While not initially obvious exactly who won, at the end the victor took his rock and celebrated with his female. While the loser was shunned and made to take a long way home, alone.
So we hiked up, and up, and up. Reaching the summit around five hours into our journey. The Creux Du Van has one hundred and sixty-metre high cliff faces and stretches a distance of four kilometres. Carved out by one of Europe’s largest glaciers, it is difficult not to be awestruck when standing on the edge.
After a quick bite to eat and a photo break, we set off on the return journey a little wiser. The return journey was a little smoother. So nine-and-a-half hours after setting off we arrived back to the car. Tired but amazed.
Thanks for reading.