We were told by our Contiki manager, that if there was anything we should do whilst in Switzerland, we should ascend an alp! So that is what we prepared to do.
Arriving at our Switzerland Hotel at dinner time, we rushed into the dining room. The hotel was a very comfortable, cosy and friendly, family-owned business and all the staff were incredibly helpful and patient (especially working with a group of fifty potentially rowdy individuals). The view was spectacular! Overlooking the city of Lucerne, Lake Lucerne and the snow capped Alps.
Meals were “fill-you-up” food. Home cooked and made with love. Nothing memorably delicious, but perfect to fill our stomachs and give us enough fuel to regain strength from a long and tiresome day of travel and laughs, and prepare us for the coming day’s adventures!
We awoke early, to the smell of coffee and a Swiss breakfast with a view. It was incredible how lush and green the countryside was, and we were very blessed to be staying in a prime location. Cheese, bread and cold meats (salami, ham etc) are big breakfast foods in Switzerland. Both the traditional option and a more Western breakfast of cereal, fruit and yoghurt were served. After fuelling up, we hit the road toward the cable-line, ready to ascend an alpine!
It was cold to say the least.
Even though it was the end of their Summer, layers and multiple jumpers were necessary. However, the bitter chill seemed irrelevant once we began moving through the forest, hovering over alpine waterfalls and seeing all the Swiss greenery from such an amazing perspective!
It was about forty minutes to the top, on two separate cables. The second cable drifted us through the clouds … the whole carriage was entirely devoured by dense whiteness at one stage, and as scary and exhilarating as it was, there was also a sense of serenity … certainly an experience I will never forget!
Reaching the summit, the clouds were thicker and lingering more than we had hoped. The coverage decreased the view, but as they were constantly floating past and moving, we were able to grasp a view of the scenery in serendipitous small glimpses – puzzling together the view, and witnessing the spectacular 360 degree views in an alternative way!
We stayed at the summit for just enough time to get some happy snaps, freeze our fingers off and then grab a warm drink! Jumping back on the train to descend the mountain was definitely pleasurable. But all in all, would not have missed the experience for anything.
From here, we had the day free to explore Lucerne - finding some of Switzerland’s most beautiful, hidden secrets by foot! It was dreary and rainy, grey and gloomy – but the shopping and food-tasting and chocolate-loving wasn’t impacted at all!
Chocolate is big in Switzerland, and home to the renowned “Toblerone” and “Lindt” chocolate brands. Balancing our over-indulgence in guilty pleasures was found by treating ourselves to the sweet goodness whilst walking our way around the cobblestone streets and old rustic bridges throughout the day.
Fondue (melted creamy cheese fountains) is another popular food in Switzerland. Along with this traditional Swiss lunch was an entertaining and enjoyable cultural experience including yodeling and cow bells.
On a Contiki trip, so much can be squeezed into the one day. The afternoon was spent on a boat cruise on the river… gaining yet another different perspective of the spectacular landscape! The clouds shifted throughout the cruise, and by the time we were in the middle of the river, we had picturesque views of the snow capped Alps, hustling streets, pristine waters, lush green rolling hillsides and the intricate and unique architecture found everywhere in Switzerland! A free drink token was handed to us upon boarding and the cruise bar was put to good use by many of the contiki-goers as it was actually cheaper than most other places on land (Switzerland is very expensive!). And for those of us who didn’t wish to drink, the views alone were enough to send your heart racing!
We headed home for another hearty feed, a cute Swiss flag ice cream dessert and a good sleep (or hotel shindig for the rowdy) before another “drive-day”. The following morning we would be driving through three separate countries – breakfast in Switzerland, lunch in Italy, and dinner in the South of France!
Switzerland, although we were only blessed with your presence for a couple of days, it was nothing short of wonderful. While I’m not the greatest fan of cooler climates usually, it was impossible not to fall in love with the clean and natural beauty of Lucerne! (and it’s chocolate – I’m only human)