Chocolate and Trains in Switzerland
The problem with after work flights is that you arrive in a new country, which usually speaks a foreign language, in the dark, with absolutely no idea where you are. Even when armed with a map or directions, it’s hard to know if you’re in the right place as your bus flys down roads or the train stops at multiple stations in the city. Add in that the area surrounding a train station is usually a little bit dodge and you really start to feel the pressure of looking like you know exactly where you’re going so you don’t attract any unwanted attention.
This is how we found ourselves after getting off the (free) train from Geneva airport. Matt had a map and we couldn’t find a street sign to save our lives. So, we went with our gut and headed up a rather dark road in an attempt to find our hotel. Just before we decided to turn around and try the other direction, I spotted a small sign with the hotel name and we were soon tucked in to our comfy bed, watching the A-Team on the biggest TV I’ve ever seen in a hotel.
The next morning, we only had a few hours to explore Geneva before we caught the train to Montreux. We quickly ate our free breakfast (pain au chocolate for breakfast? Yes please.) and headed to the lake. It was a lot quieter than we expected since we knew it was the Geneva Marathon weekend (you can read our friend Leah’s post on that here) and quite grey.
Maybe it was because there weren’t many people around or that we didn’t have enough time to really explore but Geneva? Meh. It really didn’t leave an impression on me at all and I was really looking forward to the afternoon’s events.
We boarded the first of 8 trains we would take in 3 days to Montreux where we’d get on the Golden Pass line and tick off number 53 on our 100 things list – Train through the Swiss Alps (and eat a toblerone).
Perhaps one of our more expensive items to tick off since we decided to go 1st class for the first 3 legs of the journey. All up, it was worth it for the train from Montreux to Zweisimmen but maybe not quite as much for the last two. We also inadvertently booked ourselves onto the Classic train from Montreux to Zweisimmen which actually turned out to be a much better experience than the newer trains. It had beautiful wood panelling and plush green seats that took us back in time. We couldn’t pass up feeling extra fancy so we decided to splurge on Prosecco (expensive in Switzerland, along with everything else) and eat our toblerone as we sped through the Alps.
It is very hard to take photos through the window of a speeding train but I did my best at attempting to capture the gorgeous scenery. I didn’t realise just how much I missed mountains until I took in these snow-capped beauties.
We arrived in the creatively named town of Interlaken (you get one guess to figure that one out) and got to our hostel just before the rain started. It had been a while since we stayed in a hostel but Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof was really nice. Once again, we got free breakfast and even managed to score the movie room to ourselves that night and watched The Terminal (this is where I assure you that not EVERYTHING we do is travel related…but probably more than I care to admit).
After a quick look at tripadvisor for dinner options (we ended up having some delicious Thai food), we headed out to explore the tiny town. Apparently Interlaken is quite popular for paragliders and there was always at least one in the sky the whole time we were there.
It took about 10 minutes to walk the length of the town and even though it’s a really small place, they still managed to have a Hooters!
One of the cool things about Switzerland is the activity card you get when checking into accommodation in each town. It lets you do a variety of things for free or at a discount so we made use of the free mini golf before heading up the gondola. It was on this course that Matt and I decided we’re totally building our own one day – not sure why, but we love it!
After we finished the game, we walked over to the gondola that would take us up the mountain to Harder Klum. We (unknowingly) timed this perfectly as the next trip up was 3 mins after we arrived otherwise we’d be stuck waiting for 20 minutes. We realised just how lucky this was when we got to the top and saw that we only had one option to get back down and avoid missing our train to Lucerne! So, we quickly made our way to the lookout for the spectacular view.
I think it’s safe to say we fell in love with Interlaken. It’s a cute, sleepy little town surrounded by amazing mountains. It’s one of those places where we could easily spend a month or so just to get away from the busyness of daily life and relax. That statement really goes for the entire country of Switzerland (minus the big cities, of course) since we did train from one side to the other. But I’ll let Matt tell you about that in the next post.
Have you been to Switzerland? Where was your favourite place or memory of your time there?