As I mentioned in a few posts previously, I never got to travel much of Europe until I visited Spain. Recently though, I had to go to Germany for work twice already, so I took the opportunity to visit my friend in Italy and drive from there to Germany. We got to drive through all of Switzerland, crossing the alps into Germany, and stopping at a few places in Germany.
We started early in the day, right after I landed in Milan. We hit the road and our first stop was a rest-stop in Gotthard, Switzerland. Now, if you are used to rest-stops in the US, you're in for a very nice surprise. If a US rest-stop is the Best Western, the Gotthard rest-stop is the Plaza. To start with, the backdrop is set to the majestic mountain scenery near Lake Lucerne.
Once you walk into the rest-stop, the ambience (yes, I am using the word ambience to describe a rest-stop) is high scale and extremely clean. There is a deli shop in one section, and a restaurant on the other side. The food is cooked already, but certain things are made to order. There is zero disposable dinnerware, and dessert is served on individual plates. I was really too hungry to take pictures, but keep reading, as I have pictures of another rest-stop which was very interesting.
After the break, we headed back on the road towards the Alps - but it had already started to turn dark, so we didn't get much pictures . On the way back, we went through a few towns in Germany and a brief stop in some castles, but the majority of the drive was in Switzerland. We passed through a few towns near the alps and stopped to admire the majestic view of the mountains. We stopped near a town called Laurez, and got some pictures of Island of Schwanau, situated on Lake Lauerz.
If you drive along this area, you won't be disappointed. The roads wind all along the mountains, so you are bound to get good views. If you decide to take a few detours, you'll get even better angles. We then decided to take a few detours, and ended up along the swiss country side, with more spectacular views.
And yet more detours, and more spectacular views. I strongly a lot of detours in this area, as you will find really cool locations and views.
If you read the first part about the rest-stop, I mentioned another cool part of some of the rest-stops in Switzerland. OK, so not ALL the rest-stops are this awesome, but on the way back from Germany, we went on a different route (because we took a detour to see Castle Neuschwanstein and drive through Lichenstein for a little bit), and stopped at a rest-stop in the town of Maienfeld. This town is famous for being the setting for Heidi, the famous Swiss fictional work by Johanna Spyri. A very famous rest-stop in this area is Marche Heidiland, which is a Heidi themed rest-stop. This is one step above the grade of a regular Swiss rest-stop, so expect the best here, including cooked-to-order premium meat cuts, complete with freshly made sides, such as roasted potatoes and sautéed greens (yes, in a rest-stop). Also expect it to be very expensive.
As you can expect, everything in this rest-stop is Heidi themed, but the most interesting Heidi themed area here was - the bathroom. It's weird that I found the bathroom to be the most interesting representation for this place, but - I've been to my share of restrooms in gas stations in my cross country road trop in the US, and this was a very pleasant surprise,
To visit Marche Heidiland, take the route along this address:
A 13, Zurich - Chur | Fläsch, Maienfeld 7304, Switzerland
Visit actual Heidiland: http://www.heidiland.com/en/stay/holiday-destination-heidiland
Heidi books at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/2491
More about Lake Laurez: http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/video/index.cfm?id=6179