Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Swiss Vacation - Day 1

I had hoped to post every day on our travels here in Switzerland and I am already four days behind. It has been great so far, but slightly tiring – hence the lack of posts. Anyway, I figured it was better to get something up here and I can embellish with links and pictures later as I get time. So, here we go...

Day 1

On Sunday morning we arrived in Zurich. The flight was slightly delayed but other than that relatively painless. We arrived about 45 minutes late, but it really didn't matter as we had no real schedule for the first day. We managed to get some cash out of the bank machine, authorized our Swiss Pass, and grabbed the next train to Interaken. The woman at the train office who authorized our pass was very friendly and offered us two choices to Interlaken from Zurich. We decided to take the longer, more scenic route (through Lucerne) that was leaving right away. Sharon slept a bit on the train and I was worrying that she was missing all of the scenery, but considering what we would see in the next 24 hours it really didn't matter. As an aside getting the Swiss Pass was totally the right choice. We can basically ride every train for free, and we never have to worry about getting tickets ahead of time. We have managed to ride the rails totally hassle-free, and only had to pay once for the special cog-wheel train between Wengen and Kleine-Scheidegg (which was still half price with the Swiss Pass). We also got into Chillon Castle for free and the steam ship from Lausanne to Montreux was free as well (see Day 4 when it is done). It really was a sweet deal. You do need to pay for tickets for specialty things like the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch, but we were already aware of that and they were discounted as well.

So, the trip from Zurich to Interlaken was enjoyable (except for some annoying teenage girls that were on the train for a short stint laughing incessantly and singing Mambo #5 in broken english...) and once we hit Interlaken we decided to stay for a bit and have some lunch. We walked quite a distance from the train station looking for a place to eat and decided on a Movenpick. I'm glad we did not decide to stay in Interlaken. I'm not sure we could have afforded to eat! What was interesting were the number of people para-sailing. There were quite a few places where you could arrange to go up (it looks like they just jump off the side of the mountain and ride the thermals), and some of them were waaay up there. I would love to try this but I shudder to think how much it would cost in Interlaken. It has to be about as close as you can get to actually flying though. It was amazing just how popular this was. At one point we saw a cluster of about 30 para-sailers all in the same general area. I was amazed they did not run into each other! Anyway, after a very expensive lunch (which was quite good, but still overpriced by a significant amount) served by a not-so-enthusiastic waiter, we headed back to the train station.

Another enjoyable and very beautiful train journey brought us to Grindelwald where we would spend the next two nights at the Hotel Eiger. We got there around 3pm (I think), and managed to find our hotel after a short walk and checked in. We found the woman at the front desk (Michele) to speak english very well, and she was very friendly and helpful. She upgraded our room immediately to a “comfort” room, and we were offered a welcoming drink of white wine or fruity mineral water. We decided to try the mineral water drink and it was quite good. As our room was not quite ready (the upgrade appeared to be a last-minute decision) we had to wait so we decided to go for a short walk. We were absolutely exhausted at this point however, and figured we would take advantage of the Hotel Eiger's free coffee and cake between 3 and 5. Much to our appreciation we found that the standard coffee here is really good, made with an espresso machine. After coffee and cake, our room was ready, and we did a quick email check, Skype'd home (this little Eee PC rocks) and crashed. We went to sleep at around 6pm, skipped dinner entirely, and did not get up until after 8 the next morning.

By the way, just before we crashed, I took a picture of the view from our room. There was a light rain (the only rain so far - we have totally lucked out on the weather this week) and the sun was glinting off the mountain in a very picturesque way.

Next up, Day 2!

No comments: