Vlog 00: Alps swimming Saturday

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Intro 0:00 - 0:16 = 0:16

It was +32 in Germany this Saturday, so I decided to go somewhere colder and wetter. My cat was fine at home, so I left him there, sleeping the in the shadows.

Garage 0:17 - 0:39 = 0:22

Living in southern Germany with a car is really cool, especially if you have a parking place for it. Just an hour or two of driving and you could be in Austria, Switzerland or France and couple more hours could get you to Chechia, Belgium or Italy.

Autobahn 0:39 - 1:29 = 0:50

As everyone knows, most autobahns in Germany have no speed limit - people drive as fast as they want. This is part of the reason why you can get to many places if you live in Germany. Safety is not an issue as the autobahns are wide, flat and curve nicely in the corners. Most drive between 140 and 180 kilometers per hour due to other traffic and also due to fuel consumption easily doubling soon after that point. I got lucky with traffic here - you can see that the opposite direction is much more congested.

Austria 1:29 - 1:50 = 0:20

As I don't have an Austrian vignette, I had to go by second grade roads along the coast of the amazing Bodensee lake and there were some nasty traffic jams for half an hour either way. Next time I am getting a vignette for sure.

Swiss roads 1:50 - 2:06 = 0:16

Swiss roads are almost as nice as German ones, except for speed limits (bad) and mountains (good). I did get a Swiss vignette because there is just one for the whole year, so that is good.

First swim 2:06 - 4:00 = 1:54

An alternative to going by car is going by rail - both German and Swiss rail systems are very well developed and there are stops anywhere you might want to go (except for high mountain passes, but there are special trains and elevators that go where cars can't). So here I am arriving at a local swimming place on lake Walen. It is a nice mountain lake roughly two by 15 kilometers with 2+km mountain ranges on both sides at some points with vertical cliffs going down into the lake. Lake is fed by melt water from mountains as high as 3.4km, so melt water is still flowing into it even in august. It was really cold, the top layers were warmed up to some 18 degrees, but deeper water was colder. The local beach was a combination grass and pebble artificial beach and a pier for boats that shuttle people around the lake every couple hours. After a bit of swimming and sunbathing, it was time to move on. Only after that I noticed that my camera was still in Manual mode since a couple weeks ago when I was experimenting with photographing stars. Big fail.

Cows 4:00 - 6:35 = 2:35

Some way further in the mountain valleys cows started showing up more. The clang from many cows eating grass is really loud, but the views were amazing. This is all filmed on a wide angle 10-18mm lens, so basically I had to raise my head 45 degrees to look at things on the top of the frame and look down to see what you see on the bottom. Mountains still impress me a lot coming from a flat country like Latvia. Just these mountains here were many times higher than Latvia's highest mountain.

Up and away 6:35 - 8:52 = 2:18

After a quick lunch of sausage salad (there is a lot of chopped sausage in the middle there) it was time to start seriously climbing towards the highest point today - Klausen pass on route 17. I love these twisty, climbing roads with amazing views to the sides and not too much traffic. You can get nice acceleration both in speed and sideways while still being perfectly safe on the road. The tightness and the drop-offs on one side add to the excitement.

Waterfall 8:52 - 9:22 = 0:30

And when you are approaching the top there are more and more sights like this - a majestic cliff with snow capped mountains on top and a waterfall of melt water cascading down with a nice place below for a picnic or just a break. Just beware of the buses as you drive there. Yes, there is a bus route going trough this pass.

Klausen pass 9:22 - 10:55 = 1:18

The view from the top of Klausen pass is amazing. But if you are not satisfied with that, you can do what I did - climb a few hundred meters higher on the mountain sides on either side of the pass, then you can see something like this. The view goes on from a long, long way in a clear day and you can see tiny cars on far roads and distant peaks. And then you can also look down on the parking place at the top of the pass and the other side of the mountain.

Pasture 10:55 - 12:51 = 1:56

The climb is rather easy, because you are not the first going there. There are regulars who go here a lot - cows. Every accessible grassy hillside, even if it is angled at 60 degrees is a cow pasture and you can see that by how cows have created a bumpy landscape by stepping into the ruts for stability. Even rocks are worn away in the same way in some places. So you can just walk the same way. And after a bit of a walk, you cross over to the other side. The view is breathtaking (and not just because it is more than 2 kilometers up). Up there you can be and feel alone. See and feel the majesty of forces of nature that created this amazing landscape. Or just smile and wave.

Other side 12:59 - 14:10 = 1:10

The other approach to the Klausen pass is also very nice - there is this grey hotel building at the top of the mountain and you drive towards it, climbing all the way along a road that is cut directly into the side of a mountain at great elevation above the valley floor below. You can see the brown line of the road on the right, just under the green shelf in the middle of the shot. Don't get too distracted here or the buses will get you.

Second swim 14:10 - 15:24 = 1:14

As the sun was coming down I arrived at my second lake today - Lake Lucerne. It is a huge lake with many branches and many cities along its coast. I took a dip at one of the beaches of Brunnen. Technically it was a paid beach, but it was so late that they stopped taking money and were basically cleaning, closing up and serving last drinks to people at the bar when I arrived. The water was warm and very clear. Swimming in a lake surrounded by huge mountains with a sunset blooming - it was an amazing sight. It was totally worth the trip.

Back - 15:24 = 0:23

After that all that was left was getting back home - across half the Switzerland, trough a bit of Austria and a couple hundred kilometers of autobahns. All in all it was an amazing day of a lot of driving, a bunch of swimming and some mountain walking that cost me 35€ in fuel and 20€ in food.

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