I had this discussion with Z when we drove into Germany and back. You know how sometimes you drive into a new country and you have no way of telling the difference because everything looks exactly the same? Switzerland and Germany are not that. You could tell immediately when you entered Germany, as everything flattens out. And, I know we were driving in the Black Forest, and I know that it was at twilight, but everything just seemed a little more sinister in Germany. The whole mood was different. (But really, what better place for sinister than the Black Forest at twilight?)
I’m being unfair. On our way back out of Germany, in the light of day, it really was charming, with cute little traditional villages. But, I’m sorry, there is no comparison. Switzerland is seriously beautiful. Like, the most beautiful place you could ever possibly imagine. Everywhere I go I Switzerland, my breath is taken away.
On our way home from anywhere we like to take the long way home. Drive on the smaller roads, get a glimpse at the landscape, as opposed to several hours of bumper to bumper traffic with a lovely view of the highway (yes, Europe definitely has those too). This trip might have been one of our more successful endeavours. We veered off of the main highway pretty soon into Switzerland, and took a route to the north of Lac de Neuchâtel, which missed Bern entirely (quite possibly the one exception to my whole “everything in Switzerland is beautiful” theory, and therefore proving the rule). Lac de Neuchâtel is exceptionally lovely. And it just so happen as we started to think about a late lunch, we drove by a pretty incredible castle.
This is in the small town of Grandson right on the edge of the lake (I’m assuming it’s pronounced Frenchly as Grahn-sohn, or translated to “Big Sound.”) Of course we had to stop and explore. We slung the baby over our shoulder and went on to see what this castle had to offer.
The Swiss can be adorably understated. When I asked whether we could bring our stroller with us, the gentleman at the front politely suggested it would probably be best to leave it down here. Hah! The entire place was nothing but creaky old staircases and dangerous narrow ramparts. There is no way you could fit a stroller in there, let alone comfortably get around in one. Built for handicap access, this castle was not.
The castles here are hardcore. This was a fortress that saw some serious action in its day. Like out of a fairytale, it was all knights and ladies, shining armour and horsemen.
There was a wall of all the shields of knights from the area. It’s funny because you kind of forget that this stuff was real – it’s not just made up for Game of Thrones, people used to carry their banners into battle and swing massive swords at each other. Cool and terrifying. Also, I try so hard to keep X away from violence on TV, but I apparently have no qualms being like: yep, that’s a real sword that really did use to kill people. Don’t even get me started on the torture room. Yes, the castle had a torture room. It was literally next door to the chapel.
Also things to do with your toddler in medieval days: have them run around the super dangerous ramparts of the castle. It’s a great way to burn off energy! X obviously loved it. We all did. It reminded us that our lives are pretty cool right now. Ok, E was a little more ambivalent, but she’ll get there.