Switzerland

My most recent trip was to Switzerland. This time it was just a short break.

Switzerland had an unexpected heatwave so it was very hot and humid

We began our trip in Zurich and already had our rail passes ready for our trip. Rail travel is so easy in Switzerland, whether the journey is direct or with several changes everything works like clockwork.

Our first stay was to be in the mountain village and winter ski resort of  Wengen. The quickest way is via Berne but the journey is so much nicer via the beautiful lakes of Lucerne and Brienz into Interlaken. From Interlaken there is a regular mountain railway to Lauterbrunnen and another to Wengen. This all sounds very complicated but in fact it is really simple.

Wengen only has electric vehicles. Lauterbrunnen is the closest road access to Wengen. We were pleased we upgraded to a Jungfrau view. We had an absolutely stunning view of the Jungfrau and the Eiger covered in thick snow. We took a little evening walk round the pleasant village of Wengen. There are a few lovely little bars and restaurants in the village and it had a lovely atmosphere. It is a place I would happily return to.

We took the little mountain railway further up the mountain to Kleine Schedde and were shocked to discover how much these railways have increased in price since our last visit. Kleine Schedde is very pretty with lovely views of Jungfrau and the towns and villages below, but also very touristy. We saw many Japanese tourists having a happy snap taken with a St Bernard dog. We didn’t venture up to Jungfrau, the highest station in Europe as we would have needed warmer clothes. It is very cold up there and now really expensive to get there.

Getting from Wengen to Gstaad isn’t that complicated and runs round the beautiful Lake Thun but changing in Spiez was confusing and we missed our train not realising that half the train goes to Brienz and the rest to Zweissimen. Having another hour to wait, we walked round Spiez which was larger than we expected with lots of shops.

Eventually we arrived in Gstaad on a mountain railway from Zweissimen and walked to our hotel at the edge of the town. Gstaad is larger than Wengen and partly pedestrianised and full of designer shops rather than tourist shops. Strangely though there is only one real pub and only a handful of restaurants. Generally Gstaad is much more expensive than Wengen. They were getting ready for a sports festival week and also the Menuhen Festival so there were some temporary tents and a general feeling of excitement. Gstaad has more of a working town feel than a mountain village feel.

The weather took a turn with heavy rain and thunderstorms so we decided to make good use of our time and rail passes by going to the cheese factory in Gruyere and the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc. We have been before but the factory has been upgraed to a fully interactive experience. Consequently it was much more crowded than we expected and we had as much delicious Swiss chocolate as we wanted to eat at the end.

All too soon it was time to make our way back to Geneva airport. Gstaad is very close to the French Swiss border with Rougemont being the first French station. The characteristic chocolate box Swiss chalets and mountains quickly change to the barn style chalets, castles, green fields and vineyards characteristic of the Montreux region.

If you would like to organise a short break in Switzerland or a rail holiday please give me a call on 0845 058 7458 or remail cathie.odea@travelcounsellors.com

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