Switzerland

I have finally gotten around to writing a blog about our Christmas trip to Switzerland – sorry it has taken me so long, but here goes …

Saturday

We finished packing the last bits and pieces in the morning before the taxi picked us up at 11am to take us to the airport.  We got ourselves checked in, had a sandwich for lunch and hopped on the plane.  The flight was only an hour and a half, landing in Zuirch.  From there we caught the train to Bern, then Interlaken West, and then caught a bus to Wilderswil.  We stayed at the Alpenblick hotel, a nice family run hotel with the snow-capped mountains as a back drop.  By the time we got there it was time for dinner, so we headed downstairs to the restaurant, only to find out that there was a separate eating area for people staying at the hotel.  We had a set table (the same every night) that we sat at, and then we discovered the best part – each night (as part of the package price) we would be getting a 5 course meal from the award-winning chef!!

That first night we had no idea what we were eating, so just ate it all.  In general there was some sort of appetiser, then soup, main, cheese/fruit and then dessert.  My family would be so proud of me – I ate some things I didn’t even know what they were, and what’s more I ate things even though I did know what they were.  We had an early night in preparation for our adventurous week ahead.

Sunday

At breakfast we had a ‘Morgenpost’ on our table – a newsletter type thing telling us what the weather was like, if anything was happening around the place that day etc.  It also had the menu for the evening, so that if you didn’t like the main course you could opt for Menu 2 (which was usually vegetarian of some sort).  The other thing was on the back it had a welcome for all the people that arrived that day, and a farewell to those who were leaving.  We found a copy from the day before and saw our names – Mr & Mrs Sutton aus Grossbritannien (Mr & Mrs Sutton from Great Britain).  From this we could see that there were 12 Australian couples/families who had arrived on the same day – they had the same package as us.

As I was still recovering from the flu, we decided to have an easy day.  We caught the train to Interlaken Ost and walked through town, until we got to Interlaken West.  From there we went to Thun, a gorgeous town by the lake.  We walked along the lake for a while, before heading home.  We then caught up on some reading, had another fabulous meal, and went to bed.

Monday

This was the only day where we had to catch a specific train, as our seats had been reserved.  We caught the train to Interlaken Ost and then Zweisimmen.  From there we caught the Golden Pass Panoramic train to Montreux.  We sat with all the other Australians, and it was nice to get to know some of them a bit better.  There was one young couple, about our age, who sat on the table next to us at dinner, and we got to know them quite well.  They recently got engaged, and Lauren is a primary teacher, so we had lots to talk about.

When we got to Montreaux, Bertrand (a colleague of Adrian’s, whom he’d never actually met) met us at the train station and took us for lunch.  He had arranged a table with a lake view, where we had traditional Swiss cheese fondue, and it was good!!  Everyone knows I love my cheese, and this was just to die for 🙂  After lunch, he took us to where the Christmas markets were, and left us to do our own thing.  We went for a walk along the lake (Lake Geneva) with stunning blue skies and a view right across the other side, which was France.  We then enjoyed the stunning scenery on the way home again on the train.  Again, we had a beautiful meal, read for a while and then went to bed.

Tuesday

On the itinerary it suggested going to Luzern, but since we had been so lucky with the weather, we decided to swap with Friday’s itinerary and go to Jungfraujoch – the top of Europe.  We caught the train up to Kleine Scheidegg (with a few changes on the way) and then the alpine train right up to Jungfraujoch.  The weather was perfect and you could see for miles.  At the top of the viewing area (which has an open bit if you want to freeze your bums off like we did) it is the highest point in Europe that you can go without being a mountaineer.  The train station is also the highest in Europe, so all in all it was a pretty spectacular experience.  The top of the mountain is 3,454 metres (11,332 feet) so if you haven’t already done so I suggest you check out the photos that Adrian put up – simply breathtaking.

We headed back down to Kleine Scheidegg and had lunch at one of the Chalet restaurants, where I discovered Rosti.  It is a traditional Swiss dish, basically just shredded potato deep fried.  I had it with bacon and egg, and it was absolutely delicious – there is even a photo of it 🙂

After lunch, we ummed and ahhed about whether or not to go on a sled run, but our common sense prevailed and we decided that it would be a huge risk to take, as we would be very stuck if we got hurt.  So in the end we watched other people skiing and snowboarding, and then headed back down the mountain.  The usual dinner, reading and bed followed.

Wednesday

Christmas Eve.  Today we headed off to Berm, the capital of Switzerland.  We saw the Clock Tower and watched it’s little ‘performance’ just before the hour, and then found an Italian restaurant (of all things) to have lunch.  We then continued along the 16th century cobbled streets to the Barengraben bear pits.  To our surprise we actually saw a bear.  He was very lethargic, but lifted his head a few times to see what was happening.  It was amazing to see a bear that size – Dad would have loved it.  We then walked back a slightly different way to see the second of the Christmas markets.  After that we caught the train home, and got ready for our fancy dinner.

Christmas Eve is a big event for the Europeans, so we had dinner downstairs in the restaurant.  Unfortunately we weren’t in the same area as the rest of the Aussies but it was still a great night.  We had the usual 5 course meal, but this time it was much more spread out, with carol singing and even a Christmas story in between the course.  William (one of the Aussies) was a bit chubby and had a beard, so everyone had been calling him Santa.  Yvonne (her and her husband Richard own and run the hotel) asked William to read the Christmas story, and she later read a different one in German for the other guests.  It was a lovely night, and by the time we got back upstairs to our room it was getting close to midnight – Santa was on his way!

Thursday

Christmas!  We got up at 6.30am and opened all our presents.  Thanks to everyone for sending stuff over for us – it was lots of fun sitting on the bed like big kids finally getting to open the presents that had been under our tree for weeks.  We had breakfast and then Mum rang at about 8.30am our time.  We got to talk to all my family, which was really nice.  After that we mucked around with our new presents until it was time to go for lunch.  Lunch was downstairs again, and this time we sat with Scott and Lauren, and had a great time.  We went upstairs quickly to put on another few layers in preparation for our sleigh ride.  It was a horse and carriage (open), but close enough to the one horse open sleigh in the carols.  We went with Scott and Lauren and it took us all around Wilderswil.  It was another perfect day, with blue skies and lovely views all around us.  When we got back we had a mulled wine party outside.  We tried to help the kids build a snowman, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough snow.  Since we arrived the only time it had snowed in Wilderswil was for about half an hour on Christmas morning (which was very special).  Instead of building a snowman, we had a snow fight instead.  We all went back to our rooms for an hour or so, and then we met back with the others for a drink before dinner.

It was strange not having any family around, but in a way it felt a bit more like home with the other Aussies being there, so we were grateful for that.  In the end we had a wonderful Christmas and went to bed well fed and content.

Friday

Today was out last day.  We caught the train to Luzern, which goes along five lakes with stunning views.  When we got there we crossed over on the ancient wooden bridge, and then had a nice relaxing walk along the riverfront promenade.  It was difficult to find somewhere open for lunch, so we actually ended up back at the train station.  Because it was such a big station, there were quite a few restaurants, and we settled for a nice traditional looking one.  We both had Rosti, and although it wasn’t as good as the first one I had, it was still very good – I am definitely going to have to find a recipe for it.

Dinner that night was the first time where we had Menu 2 (which we told them in the morning) as it was a fish meal.  The other meal was a lovely tomato risotto so we were more than happy.  We spent the evening talking to Scott and Lauren and eventually left when they started setting up for breakfast.  We gave the others our details and then as we had an early start, we finished packing and went straight to bed.

Saturday

We got up very early and quietly made our way downstairs, and walked to the train station.  We caught the 6.49am train to Interlaken Ost, then Bern, and Zurich airport.  We checked in, found our gate and waited for our flight to board.  We got home (to Maidenhead) at about 1pm and spent the afternoon unpacking, washing and just generally getting ourselves sorted.

We had a fabulous time and I would definitely recommend this package to people.  If you want the details just let me know and I can tell you.  It was great value for money, and as I said we had a fantastic time.  We got to see most of Switzerland and made new friends at the same time 🙂

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