four days in switzerland: an ode to the swiss rail

the-romantic-the-winoBack in October when we booked our trip on an OMG-I-NEED-A-BREAK-FROM-WORK whim, we didn’t have much of a plan. Shocking, right? Though a mutual return to Paris was very tempting (and, quite honestly, almost won), we looked at a long list of cities and finally settled on Geneva, with the plan to explore the surrounding region.

We had no idea just how much we would be able to see.

Switzerland Tourism very generously offered to sponsor our Swiss Passes during our stay. Armed with a 4-day, first class pass, we were able to see the countryside in serious style.

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Though we hadn’t slept more than a few hours during our journey to Switzerland (ahthankyou screaming toddlers and chatty teenagers surrounding us on the plane), it was impossible to close our eyes to the Swiss countryside as we made our way up the mountains.

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And like, we don’t mean to brag, but… we planned a pretty killer itinerary for our short stay in the Lake Geneva region.

Day One: Verbier

Immediately upon arrival, we boarded the train to snowy Verbier. Though we later debated its position in our itinerary (more on that later), Verbier was, undeniably, the perfect introduction to Switzerland at Christmastime–complete with picture perfect views from the train and gondola required to reach the town. On the way there, we were told our passes covered the gondola ride, but on the way down there was some confusion and we ended up paying. It was only 10 CHF/person, but difficult to tell which was correct–something to keep in mind.

Where we stayed: Hotel Ermitage. Yeah, this was the view from our room, sooo…:

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Lazy Travelers approved.

Where we drank: Après-ski is clearly another beast in Switzerland, and we absolutely loved it. We met our new friend Isabelle for drinks at Fer a Cheval, which was chock full of skiers fresh off the slope. Warm cozy tables + huge pints of cold Carlsberg = perfection. 

Where we ate: Dined on raclette and truffle fondue at Le Caveau, breakfasted at Le Milk Bar before departing the very next morning. Both absurdly delicious.

Day Two: Lausanne & Montreux

We literally missed the train to Lausanne by a MILLISECOND, but it was ok because the schedules are fairly consistent. We also got to see these guys while we waited:

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Once we arrived, we realized that Lausanne is very pedestrian friendly, but also very, very hilly. The French influence was immediately apparent and completely charmed us.

Where we stayed: BnB Lausanne, where we had another picture perfect balcony and our first experience with muesli. Need to learn how to make that and STAT.

What we saw: Two of our must-see destinations fell on Day Two — Chateau de Chillon and the Montreux Christmas Market.

Where we ate: We very stupidly didn’t factor in time to eat between breakfast in Verbier and dinner in Montreux, so by the time we got to the festival, we rushed into the first place we saw to get warm and fill up on something delicious. Biggest mistake. This was for sure our most forgettable meal, aaand not even sure its worth giving a name credit to the restaurant. However, back in Lausanne, Cafe de Grancy saved the day with a late night cheese plate and one of the most delicious chocolate deserts ever to be consumed. We’d post a picture but we ate it too fast for such nonsense.

Day Three: Lausanne & Geneva

On our third morning, the Lausanne Tourism Board treated us to a walking tour of the city, which required beaucoup de exercise. The medieval city is built on a section of hills and valleys, but the view from the Cathedral de Notre Dame at the top of the city is worth the hike.

Lausanne City Tour

After our morning walk, we hopped the train yet again to head to Geneva, which was an easy and scenic hour’s ride from Lausanne. We spent Saturday night walking around Vieille Ville (the oldest part of Geneva) and taking in all the Fête de l’Escalade craziness.

Where we stayed: City Hostel Geneva. That’s all we have to say about that right now.

Where we ate: In Lausanne, we warmed up with a pint and light lunch (you know, if light means blocks of goats cheese and potato soup) at Brasserie Bavaria. For dinner in Geneva, we waited in a long line to dine at the famous Relais de l’Entrecote. HEAVEN. There may or may not have also been a can of Pringles that came into play back at the hostel, thanks to the many glasses of wine consumed throughout the night.

Day Four: Bern & Geneva

Because our Swiss Passes made hopping from city to city so easy, we decided on Sunday that one more day trip was in order. We settled on the Swiss capitol of Bern and left Geneva bright and early since we thought the journey might take a while. We were pleasantly surprised to find the first train we got on went directly to Bern, stopping only in Lausanne and Fribourg along the way. Having gotten used to the French influence along Lake Geneva, we were completely blown away by the more Bavarian city of Bern.

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We spent the morning and afternoon walking around the perfectly picturesque and extremely quiet streets (Europe on Sundays…interesting). We eventually (and somewhat sadly) hopped the train back to Geneva just in time to catch the culmination of Fête de l’Escalade.

Where we ate: We were in search of Bavarian deliciousness in Bern, but ended up in an Italian restaurant near the Marktgasse. Our food was absolutely delicious, but the highlight of Pizzeria Molino FOR SURE was the Italian/Turkish/Swiss/?? waiter who kept us laughing throughout the entire meal. For dinner, we escaped the Fete de l’Escalade to hide out in Au Carnivor. Shout out to our waiter who finally solved the mystery of Escalade–which we will gladly detail in a future post dedicated solely to the extravaganza.

Day Five: Au revoir, Switzerland!

After another quick, easy train ride from Geneva to the airport on Monday morning, we said our sad goodbyes to snowy Lake Geneva and hello to the Emerald Isle.

xo!

the romantic & the wino

– Though Switzerland Tourism sponsored our Swiss Passes, all opinions are 100% our own. We swear it.

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17 Comments

  1. December 17, 2012 / 08:36

    Great write-up about your whistle-stop tour of Switzerland. I need to go back in 2013 I think, it’s been too long! Also, the photo of the huskies in the snow is too cute 🙂
    Fiona recently posted..Christmas Shopping in DublinMy Profile

  2. December 17, 2012 / 13:39

    The photos are absolutely amazing! It is such a beautiful place, even with all that white stuff that i am not a huge fan of. It sounds like you had so much fun on your much needed break from work.
    Nathan Nehmer recently posted..Alaska Wilderness by SeaMy Profile

  3. December 18, 2012 / 10:12

    That looks like the perfect winter Swiss getaway.. loving the snow covered rooftops, so pretty!
    Kieu recently posted..Tasting Hungary in BudapestMy Profile

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