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Switzerland – Inghams Lakes and Mountains

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It was with some trepidation that I entered Heathrow Terminal 2 to meet my fellow travellers for our Inghams Lakes and Mountains Fam Trip to Switzerland. Trepidation because if I am honest this is probably not the sort of trip I would personally choose to do and I felt a bit nervous about what the trip would bring especially after seeing the itinerary.
Anyway after meeting the group and finding out most of them felt the same I felt a bit more relaxed. We decided to try self-check in for Swiss Air and all seemed to be going well until we realised all the self-assembly luggage tags that had come out of the machine only had my name on and no one else……….so off to the check in desk we all trooped!!
Unfortunately our flight was delayed by 4 hours but it gave us chance to get to know each other and explore Heathrow (me ending up 2 bottles of perfumes poorer) so that was a positive.
On arrival at Geneva we made our way by rail to Montreux – I was instantly impressed by the Swiss Rail System – clean, easy to use, easy to navigate and always on time. When we got to Montreux it was, I must admit, a little tricky to navigate our way to the hotel with our suitcases. Lots of lifts to take and busy roads to cross, however we eventually got there. This seems a good time Inghams offer a luggage service that will ensure your cases are taken from you in the UK and will get to the hotel without you having to drag them on and off trains which I have to admit became a little taxing. Our hotel for 2 nights was the Eurotel which on first impressions looked like a typical high rise city hotel, however, on entering my Junior Suite I realised I was completely wrong. The rooms were stunning and the view over Lake Geneva simply spectacular. We all had traditional Swiss chocolate, a bottle of wine plus a selection of handmade macaroons to greet us!! Wonderful!!
Unfortunately due to being so delayed we missed most of the dates activities so had just time for a quick guided tour of Chillon Castle. Chillon Castle is located on a rocky island right off the shore. Numerous artists and writers were inspired by the medieval fortress including Lord Byron author of the famous poem ‘The Prisoner of Chillon’. The castle has two magnificent halls available for events and can host up to 650 people. Indeed while we were there it was being set up for a concert.
That night we dined at our hotel in the Terrace Restaurant overlooking the Lake.
Day 2:
After a Continental Breakfast as the Eurotel we departed for Rochers-De-Naye by cogwheel train. Standing at an altitude of metres the views are glorious. Here we met Niklaus our guide for the tour. He walked us to the beautiful Alpine Garden on the side of the mountain then to see the Marmots on Marmot Paradise. The Marmots are large squirrels of which there are 15 species and they mainly live in mountainous areas. They are extremely cute with quite expressive faces and let out very high pitched whistles to communicate with one another. Opposite the Marmots were some Mongolian Yurts which could be hired out by groups of friends for quite a reasonable price overnight, however, I don’t think I would be able to stand the smell of sheep to be honest!! That said there was a special ‘Love Yurt’ as well especially for couples that smelt distinctly fresher!!
Lunch was at the panoramic restaurant right at the top of Rochers-De-Naye although the views weren’t that good due to the fog. However, this was all forgotten when lunch came – traditional cheese fondue with fresh bread and potatoes – possibly one of the most decadent and delicious meals I have ever eaten, washed down with some sips of Swiss white wine because apparently if you drink water with it then the cheese can solidify in your stomach – quite uncomfortable I believe.
After lunch we departed back to Montreux where we took the boat from near our hotel to Vevey where we spent the afternoon meandering around the Old Town with its charming boutiques and authentic bistros. We then took the train to St Sphorin and walked to Lavaux Vinorama. This was the perfect place to discover all about Lavaux, its vineyards and wines. First off was a short film that shows what a year in a local vitners life is like – very interesting plus we got to try several of 300 different Lavaux wines – the perfect ending!!
That night we dined at a local Italian Montreux restaurant La Rouvenaz with the lovely Celine Montreux’s Sales and Marketing Representative. Apparently George Clooney dines there when he is in town……….well if its good enough for him……….
Day 3:
Today we left Montreux and travelled to Wengen – with 4 train changes we finally arrived around 1pm. I instantly feel in love with Wengen – it is exactly how I imagined Switzerland to be. It is a classical car free resort at the foot of the Jungfrau. A real traditional Swiss resort perfect for summer or winter. We checked into our hotel the Beausite Park and Jungfrau Spa and I was instantly blown away – the welcome we received was 5 star as were the amazing rooms with a view of the mountains. I felt like I never wanted to leave!!
After a quick lunch at the hotel Silberhorn we walked around Wengen and then had a game of mini golf at the Lauberhorn Crazy Golf – this was so much fun and I am pleased to say I won!!
After this we did a few hotel visits to Hotel Falken, Hotel Caprice and Hotel Alpenrose (details on request) then had drinks and dinner hosted by the Beausite hotel managements.
Day 4:
Here dawned the day I was most nervous about – our visit to the Jungfraujoch – the highest point in Europe!! Jungfraujoch lies in the heart of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site. Snow and ice are 100% guaranteed. We travelled up by train which was quite obviously taking us up high – you could tell by the angle!! It stopped a couple of times at viewing platforms so you could get out and take pictures. On arrival we got out all looking a bit peaky and pale I have to day plus we realised that it didnt take a lot to get out of breathe at that altitude just a couple of steps left us all gasping. While up there we visited The Sphinx viewing building and the Ice Palace. Once again the fog had followed us which made viewing very difficult, however I can imagine that on a clear day the viewers would be spectacular. Then it was time for lunch in what must have been the highest restaurant in Europe – we weren’t able to enjoy it as much due to the altitude sickness most of us seemed to be suffering with but it was nice to be able to sit down. We all however managed to rally round and visit the Lindt shop (my all-time favourite) and make some purchases before boarding the train for the journey back down. I was quite alarmed when about 20 minutes into the journey and sitting at what felt like a very precarious angle facing downwards the train ground to a halt and we were told that there were technical difficulties. As the lights all went out (we were also in a tunnel so complete darkness) I asked our guide if this happens often, hoping she would reply with ‘at least once a week’ she quite cheerfully informed this ‘had never happened before’!! After a nail biting 20 minutes the problem seemed to be resolved and we were back on our way.
On arrival back to Wengen we had some free time so I hit the shops to purchase some souvenir’s (including a coveted white toblerone which had been demanded by my boss) then it was back to the hotel to take advantage of the swimming and spa facilities. After quite a busy trip it was nice to be able to flop about in our robes and slippers for a little while.
Dinner this evening was as the Sunstar (where half of the group were staying) this was a more traditional ski resort type hotel.
Day 5:
Today was time for us to leave for home. I felt really sad because although feeling initially quite nervous about this trip I really, really enjoyed it. It definitely pushed me to my limits and I did things I never would have done otherwise so for that I was thankful.
The icing on the cake was the upgrade to Business Class on our flight from Zurich to Heathrow……….it was just a shame we didn’t get delayed……….I only had chance for one glass of champagne in the Business Class lounge!!

 

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