I am pretty sure they were quite happy about it too. Why wouldn't they be when I contributed about £1000 to the Swiss economy.
To give you some background, I was in
I spent two weekends planning meticulously for this four day trip. Thanks to major delays to our flight, our Day 1 was reduced to a train travel from
Travelling in a Swiss train is an experience. The rail network is well connected and the entire system runs like a freshly oiled engine. Trains are punctual to the second - please note that I am NOT exaggerating.
If you think that being late by a minute or two wouldn't matter, my dear friend, you will meet your match in this country.
Train travel is comfortable, but doesn't come cheap. Most trains come with large windows which let you have a good view of the picture perfect landscape that this country is blessed with. Don't bother to take a book with you to
We stayed in a hotel in
The hotel we stayed in was one of the best kept of its kind I've lived in. The Swiss enjoy very high quality of life, and it reflects in their hotels. Rooms are spacious, good amenities, reasonably priced, spotlessly clean - makes you feel right at home.
Day 2 was spent exploring snow covered Murren, Schilthorn peak, the revolving restaurant - which has been venue to a 007 movie (On her Majesty's Secret Service) and lots of travel in mountain trains and cable cars that give you the best view possible of the Swiss Alps and the Ski trails that dot the area.
Murren is a small village on the way to the Schilthorn peak. At the time of our visit it was covered in a feet of snow - it could have easily been the set for The Chronicles of Narnia, the movie. And for someone who was getting to meet Mr. Snow for the first time, this day was easily the highlight of the trip.
Supposedly the population in this village is only 400, but has 5000 hotel beds! There are snow machines all over the place to ensure that it's always a good time to ski. Talk about milking tourism.
Schilthorn, part of the
The attraction at Schilthorn peak is the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria. Though the food here isn't something to write about, the view is. The restaurant does a full 360 degrees rotation in an hour, perfect to have your lunch and view the Swiss Alps. When you realise that the only other alternative is to walk around in -10 degrees to get the same view, you would appreciate the warm innards of this restaurant.
The evening was spent exploring the
I occassionally remind myself and others around me that I am not as smart as I seem by doing something very foolish. I pulled a couple of these in this trip. The one that I regret the most was planning to visit
Not only was it cold, but the entire city was shut down. We were there to see the museums, the huge gallery of shops, the restaurants - basically the works. But everything that would have been fun had a board 'closed' on it. It felt like walking in a ghost town.
Thankfully, the public transport was available and we took our own sweet time in travelling around. The tourist centre was open too ( I wonder why, considering that everything else was closed) and we got see a special effects video presentation of the history of
A steep climb to Rose garden to get a panoramic view of the
Oh yeah, the city had some weird fountains too. One of them was of an ogre carrying some human babies in a sack and snacking on them whenever he felt like.
And there was this huge colourful clock which put up a big show whenever an hour passed by. Apparently, the clock is a very sophisticated one, which could tell one the day of the week, the position of planets and the sign of zodiac. A good idea for a science project maybe, but on a clock, really? Heard of KISS? I should probably shut up, considering that Swiss clocks and watches are considered almost sacred.
The last day was a lazy day which we spent on the Golden Pass Line panoramic train. A must do on a Swiss trip, the panoramic train routes are quite scenic and once again, you would just forget about that book in your bag.
We were supposed to explore
If you are planning to take a trip to
- It is expensive, if I haven't made it clear before. A rough break-up of our expenses (2 persons): Air tickets £220, Accommodation 3 nights £150, Swiss Rail Pass First class upgrade £220, Mountain travel £100, Food, chocolate, souvenirs £250. Expect the prices to go north in the summer.
- Food is more expensive than in
- While we on the topic of food, Cheese fondue is expensive, but worth the money.
- Rail travel is quite expensive too, but definitely worth it considering the ease of travel. Double-decker buses are no big deal, but the Swiss have double-decker trains too. And most trains have private rooms which you can use if you have a First class ticket.
- There are no ticket barriers like in
- Buses are not too frequent in
- This is not really a tip, but a general wondering. If you ignore the obese tourists, almost all Swiss people are quite fit. I wonder how they do that too! With all the cheese and wine and chocolate that goes inside them!
- Language could be a problem if you can't fork out basic German. It'll be useful to carry a German-English dictionary or memorise some phrases. Most hotel managers and train inspectors would be able to manage some English, but if you ask the waitress for some sugar, make sure that you taste it before adding the salt to your coffee.
- If you are a movie buff, like my hubby, and somehow convinced your spouse that a vacation without a movie is like a coffee with salt, you might be left disappointed. Most movies are dubbed in German.
- The Swiss are quite efficient and friendly, but somehow are also reserved. our hotel manager was this middle-aged guy who was quite helpful and friendly, but never smiled, even when we flashed our best smiles to him. My hubby and I had a bet going to find out which one of us would be able to get him to lighten up. I tried my PJs, tried some praise - nothing worked. And no one won the bet. Same happened with bus drivers, shop vendors etc. Friendly but aloof. Go figure the Swiss!
- Make sure to visit the Switzerland Travel centre for some free consultation to plan your holiday. They have an office in
If you read this entire post, you deserve to see some more pics.