When you plan a van trip for 3 months it is impossible to know exactly what you will end up doing or needing – but that is the joy of vanlife and having a home on wheels. You leave with a rough plan, but plans change and that is part of the journey. Our journey took us from our home in the UK to Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. 


Our adventures first began in the Swiss Alps. After an early morning swim in lake Brienensee, we jumped in the van and drove to Grindelwald. After stocking up on Swiss coffee and croissants, we explored Grindelwald by foot before taking the train up to Kleine Scheidegg. Riding in one of the classic carriages and taking in the breath-taking views of the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks as we climbed up to over 2000m.


The weather was on our side as we climbed: blue skies and views as far as the eye could see. Once off the train in Kleine Scheidegg, we continued up the mountain on foot to a man-made lake – Fallbodensee. We enjoyed our lunch with a view over Grindelwald before plunging our feet into a bubbling foot spar of icy water from the nearby glaciers, welcoming the freezing water on a hot day. It was now time to begin our descent down towards Lauterbrunnen.  

The hike from Kleine Scheidegg to Lauterbunnen is 10km, with a 1.4km decline in altitude. Using the local yellow walking signs, we navigated our way down along this wonderful path. The hike includes views across vast valleys, mount peaks and meadows with grazing cattle. A route with many tight turns as you lower yourself down the mountain's edge; the change of altitude brings new environments into view. The joy of hiking is that you have time to take in what is around you. To pause and just enjoy the moment. Listen to the cow bells and breath in the fresh Swiss mountain air. 

 An alpine village you pass through on this hike is Wengen. Although relatively quiet in September, during the colder months this village is a hot spot for winter activities and hosts the classic Lauberhorn ski races of the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in January. As we followed the path through the traditional Swiss buildings, the sound of live music grew louder and louder. We eventually stumbled across a wedding with a live band – it was a pleasure to witness so much joy. What a beautiful setting for such an occasion!

Before we knew it, we were in the forest surrounded by evergreen trees and overlooking Lauterbrunnen. Our end destination in sight! Although our legs ached from a long downhill stint, we were graced with a view down the valley of the Staubbach Falls – the highest freefalling waterfall in Switzerland.  

On the train from Lauterbrunnen back to Grindelwald, tired from the long walk but high from the mountain air and sense of achievement, we were already discussing our next hike in the Swiss mountains. We had truly caught the bug.  However, for now, it was time to head back to the van and enjoy an evening with the mountains and stars.  



Catherine Hawkins