Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Beautiful Switzerland - it took my breath away....

We just returned from our holiday to Switzerland, and I'm still in awe.  What a great country - if South Africa and England for that matter could just learn a few lessons from Switzerland the world would be a better place.

Everything is spotless, the water is crystal clear even in large city lakes, and everything works perfectly.  I loved it.  If I didn't hate cold winters and snow I would move there tomorrow.  I read somewhere about an expat child now living in Switzerland, about 4 years old, who - when she noticed a huge crack in the pavement while on holiday in Greece - exclaimed:  'Look!!  A mistake!!' 

Definitely no mistakes in Switzerland. 

But anyway - let me get on with my trip report -

Day 1 Friday:
We left early in the morning to make the 7:20 Eurotunnel crossing.  We were slightly late but made up the time on the quiet highway.  Or so we thought.  Until we made the mistake of queing in the line operated by a person.  A procedure that normally takes 30 seconds took 20 minutes because of an imcompetent zot (when last did I use that word?) which did not know what he was doing.  I mean how difficult can it be - I normally do it myself in 10 seconds!!  Anyhow to make a long annoying story short, we could only catch the following crossing. 

After a long drive we reached Strasbourg where we stayed in the Best Western Hotel Monopole which is rated the fourth best hotel in Strasbourg by Tripadvisor.  I really wonder why. 

We strolled to the La Petite France area of Strasbourg which is the old part around the canals.  It really was beautiful, though slightly soured by the nasty french waiter, who (even though the restaurant was empty) did not want us to sit outside at one of the tables to have drinks.  When we only ordered drinks he nearly had a heart attack and while Werner still wanted to keep the peace and just order some food I refused and we left to find a friendlier place.  Just across the road right next to the river we stopped at Restaurant Marco Polo who was most welcoming.  So we ended up having dinner there anyway enjoying the warm weather and the view.

Afterwards we took the girls for a play at a lovely wooden play area which really blended nicely with the surroundings.  We also discovered the lovely hotel we were staying in on the way back - right on top of the bridge between two canals - beautiful.

Day 2 Saturday:
The next morning we set off for Switzerland, driving through Germany.  Then for some reason we landed right in the centre of Zurich which had lots of roadworks going on - so it took us a while to get to our destination - or rather our car's destination - Linthal.

We unloaded our luggage, left it at the station, bought tickets for the furnicular and then like usual, missed the next one as Werner took slightly long to park the car.  He then took Silke to the toilet so we nearly missed the following one as well!!  But eventually we all boarded the furnicular to Braunwald.  Oh yes - definition of furnicular according to Wikipedia - funicular, also known as a funicular railway, incline, inclined railway, inclined plane, or cliff railway, is a self-contained cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other.

Needless to say I was slightly nervous going 1200 metres up a mountain on a steep train - looking up was much better than looking down.  Luckily this lasted only about 7 minutes and then we were there.  And what a beautiful place.  But it was really hot and we were keen to get to our hotel, which was still a 10 minute uphill walk away!! 

But as we entered the hotel all our troubles melted away.  First we were greeted by the two hotel rabbits - Hasi and Hopf!!  Then we had some orange juice while the owners welcomed and showed us to our room - via the aquarium lift of which Silke never tired.  Our room was large and airy with a nice patio which had a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.  We even had our own gowns and slippers to be worn to the pool - though Werner never really took to that idea!

The hotel surpassed all our expectations.  There was a slide that took little guests from the first to the ground floor, three hotel goats outside with their own Golden Gate Bridge to cross, the stunning aquarium lift, 2 play rooms with free childcare at certain times, outside play area with trampoline, tennis courts, climbing wall, jaquzzi, swimming pool with slide and pool toys (and arm bands to borrow), sauna, whirlpool, wellness centre with some fitness equipment on the top floor and wherever you turn the most stunning mountain views.

Needless to say I was quite chuffed with my choice!!

Lydia (the owner) asked if the children would like to have dinner with us the first night but Werner insisted that they could have dinner with the other kids.  So at 5:45pm we went to the children's dining room where Lydia served the children's dinner, which varied but always included 3 vegetables.  At the table Mieke and Silke's name cards were already there, even though we only arrived after 4pm!!  After their dinner we left them outside with the kids club and even though I was slightly worried about them we were very happy to have dinner on our own for a change.

And what lovely meals we had each night.  First a starter, then soup (I liked the truffle soup the best), the buffet salad, then a meat or vegetarian main course (the fillet steak was really delicious), then cheese and fruit (and watermelon for Mieke), then dessert.  Then a long walk after dinner each night to walk it all off!!

But I am getting ahead of myself now...

Day 3 Sunday:
Once we were there we realized that we were not going to be able to go on many day trips on this holiday!  First it was quite costly to get up and down the mountain (CH30 which is about £15 for 2 adults - children free) and secondly there was enough to keep us busy at the hotel and in Braunwald. 

So, after breakfast which included milk from a (not so real) cow which really moos and some sweets for dessert for the girls, we just enjoyed the hotel and the surroundings. 

We also went for a swim and I was pleased that the hotel had armbands we could borrow, as Silke's had a puncture.  Silke recently developed a fear of water, and I could not even hold her body slightly away from mine.  So with arm bands on, bit by bit I tried to build her confidence in the water.  First she clung to me like a baby monkey, then I got her to hold onto both my hands, then one hand, and then eventually with Mieke's help, she let go!!  She was so happy when she realized that she was floating - she said:  'Look Mammie, the arm bands make me float!'  Yes Silke, that's what I've been trying to show you for the past two days...

Then she started barking like a puppy (all my fault - I told her to swim like a doggy) while she kicked her legs and made odd puppy like arm movements.  Eventually I got her to stop barking but then she started saying 'kick, move, kick, move' over and over again - oh the joy.  But she is swimming and is loving it which is all that matters...

To be continued ... hopefully tomorrow...

Here is the link to all the photos inf you haven't had enough!!

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