Canon, Cantons and Continentals
Wondrous 100: Driving Gstaad to Geneva in the Bentley Continental GTC
Sunday, 12:24pm | A hundred miles. It doesn’t sound like that much. Maybe a long round-trip commute or a weekend ride up to the grandparents. But take that same distance, move it 3,800 miles, and my, how things can change.
If you’ve ever looked into great driving roads than you’ve undoubtedly heard that Europe is home to a lion’s share of them. Grandstands like the San Bernardino Pass, Stelvio Pass, and the Atlantic Road. Blame it on the Europeans painstaking attention to road construction. Blame it on the fringe benefits of Socialism. Either way, the result is a driver’s delight.
Home to a few of these incredible tours is Switzerland, a country who applies the same, renown precision approach to roads as they do watchmaking. Take some time to explore (or Google Earth) Switzerland and you’ll find swaths of asphalt and concrete winding their way through mixes of impossibly steep alpine terrain, agrestic villages and countoured farmland — each chicane, bank and straightaway hewn to inspire spirited driving. Just be sure to stick to speed limits though; Switzerland’s A-roads, highways for us Yanks, are strewn with enough speed cameras to make leadfooters feel like paparazzi targets.
If you’ve been following us (or Bentley) on Twitter you may already know that we recently spent time in the alpines of Switzerland for an agenda of high-altitude driving, skiing and general rabble rousing (more on that soon). Though our trip was a far cry from the perilous trade pilgrimages that marked Switzerland’s 19th century, we liked to imagine that the 150 inches of snowfall during our stay combined with white-knuckle driving made for our own chocolate-box adventure. And in particular, one soaring drive at the conclusion of our trip, which is where this story begins.
Photos by Eric Yang
Route: Gstaad to Geneva
Depending on where you wake up, the distance from the southwestern ski village of Gstaad to Geneva, our ultimate destination and point of departure, is approximately 160 km, 100 miles in US customary.
Ignoring the trip itinerary’s previously suggested (and taken) route, we instead relied on the spritely navigation system, which after a few moments of seemingly mischevious calculation, offered up a path swelling with curves. Against the context of snow, 567 horsepower and a rapidly approaching flight departure time, it sounded like a perfect route.
…swaths of asphalt and concrete winding their way through mixes of impossibly steep alpine terrain, agrestic villages and countoured farmland — each chicane, bank and straightaway hewn to inspire spirited driving.
Turns out we were right. Over the course of our drive, our circuit would offer up plenty of opportunities to wind out our chariots of
fire ice — never have we been more thankful for all-wheel drive — as we ascended through the snow capped mountains of Route 11, passing portions of the breathtaking Susten Pass and then winding our way down through valleys lush with burning fog and breathtaking views. Ultimately, we would wind up on the A11 highway powering through speed cameras (flashes there were a few) and shuffling inbound traffic in an attempt to make our flight time. We did.
And though my driving partner Josh Rubin and our companion driver, Jared Paul Stern both agreed we could have spent another week exploring our Swiss passage, there was something quite storybook about the backdrop of a two-Bentley caravan, an espresso-fueled pace of driving, and the click of cameras (our own this time) that made for what might be one of the most surreal photo essays we’ve managed to capture.