lake walen, switzerland - a lazy summer afternoon in 'heidiland'

One beautiful scorching Sunday in August, we went packed the car with food and bubbly and set out to find a spot for a swim. We drove straight past crowded Lake Zurich in search of a more secluded, off-the-beaten path spot: Lake Walen.

Got just a bit lost, as per usual, accidentally taking the upper road through the mountains, 1000m above the lake. Oops.

The 'correct' road is actually cut directly through the cliff alongside the lake. In Italy, this would be a single lane road (looking at you, Amalfi Coast and Como). Since it's Switzerland, we have a much more intensely regulated system:

Cars heading one direction can enter the tunnel from xx:00 to xx:05, and from xx:30 to xx:35 -- every hour. Cars in the other direction queue up until they can enter the tunnel, from xx:15 to xx:20 and xx:50 to xx:55, every hour. You are given seven minutes to make it through the tunnel.

Naturally there folks who can't/won't/don't read the Swiss German sign, including Italians to whom laws mean nothing, and if you happen to run into someone who broke the rules, there is a lot of screaming and anger, and someone will have to back up the entire way -- through a tunnel the size of your fist. Don't do this.

Also, this is a place to take your Fiat, not your Ford F-150. Alex held his breath the entire way, praying for the safety of his BMW sedan, which had about an inch of safety on each side. We made it through without a scratch.

 And were rewarded spectacularly.

We more or less had the run of the joint. That tunnel is a wonderful bouncer.

They apparently call this area 'Heidiland' -- yes, that Heidi.

A good little feast to nibble on in between dips: forty-spice hummus, fruit, veggies, and a score of Italian treats -- rosemary bruschetta, olive oil taralli from Puglia, sea salt dark chocolate almonds, salted almond dulcetti, parmesan cheese... and good German beer.

Soon enough, it was time to pack up and head back to Basel. We made the sign of the cross before starting our return through the tunnel.


Pal mal, Switzerland.

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