tom bh
#Digital Nomad

The Alps

From the French Alps through to the Swiss and German Alps, I have spent a total of about a month in Europe’s largest mountain range. I arrived in Chamonix at night and woke up to this view from my bedroom window…

That there is the Mont Blanc massif. It contains the highest peaks in Europe, most of them over 4000m. I got to climb Aguilles Marbrées, a 3535m peak. It was the first time I’d ever used an iceaxe and crampons and also the first time I’d felt the breath-quickening lack of oxygen caused by high altitudes.

But most of my time I spent at The Ski Locker, a coworking space for other digital nomads. It was a fantastic place to be to get that extra motivation to toil at the coal face with other similarly fated souls.

It’s hard to explain exactly what it’s like living next to such huge mountains. Every time you walk out the door you’re struck by enormity. I never got used to it. Here’s a shot of Mürren high street, a village nestled in the Swiss Alps, with The Eiger (3970m) just hanging about in the background…

Leaving Chamonix was the end of nearly 2 months in France. I’m glad to say that my French improved a lot. I’ve developed my own method of language learning, involving the famous Michel Thomas course to get me off the ground, then moving on to Youtube videos, especially dubbed Peppa Pig episodes, to push me further. I’ve started on German now and the approach seems to be working here too. Maybe I’ll write up a Tom BH guide to learning languages!

First I took the train to Interlaken, a rich town in Switzerland famous for being near the valleys where JR Tolkein got inspiration for some of the landscapes in Lord of the Rings. I had the huge good fortune to stay with well-known and cherished local musician Ueli von Allmen. He welcomed me to his home and the town. We had some great jams together and he gave me lots of history about the town.

I then took what is perhaps the most beautiful train ride of my life, to Lucerne, further north in the Swiss Alps. These are the kinds of scenes I saw from the train window!

A lot of trains in Switzerland have special windows. Some have windows that go all the way to the floor, you can see people’s legs from outside. And some have windows, almost in the roof like this…

I only spent a couple of nights in Lucerne. It’s an exquisite town, more so than Interlaken. It has an older, modest feel. Weirdly Interlaken has loads of really expensive shops, selling jewelery, watches, designer clothes and so on. It’s like walking through Kensington in London. So Lucerne is a bit more understated. It also has a fantastic bouldering centre. I’ve been missing Fontainebleau a lot, those quiet forests, endless boulders, walking home in the sunset, sore hands and the birds singing in the trees. Anyway, behold, Lucerne…

I’m in northern Bavaria now, the horizons are much further away. It’s actually quite nice to not be in such intense surroundings! In fact, I’m in the middle of nowhere really. Which is just what I need because soon I will start 6 days of silent meditation. I still haven’t come across anywhere in the world that compares to the vistas of a stilled mind.