What was the most spectacular thing you saw in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a country full of natural beauty and stunning scenery but even with breath-taking views around each corner it is hard to beat that first glimpse of the Matterhorn. The Gornergrat railway, one of a plethora of great rail journeys you can undertake in Switzerland, climbs high onto the Gornergrat ridge to a viewing platform with unrivalled panoramic views of 29 mountain peaks, all over 4,000 meters. Coming from my home in the flat lands of East Anglia, this view really blew me away! The Matterhorn stands solo and proud in this majestic range and it’s clear to see why this mountain has been attracting visitors since the Swiss Alpine railways first carved their way through the valleys to Zermatt.
If you had to recommend one excursion, which one would it be?
The excursion to the world’s first revolving restaurant, the Piz Gloria, atop the Schilthorn mountain tops my list. The drive to Lauterbrunnen in itself is beautiful and the scenery just continues to impress all day long. I could barely put my camera down! A short train journey and a series of cable cars will transport you to the viewing platform at 2,970 meters. Weather permitting you will be greeted with incredible views of the UNESCO World Heritage trio of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. It is such a special place and even if other people are around, it can still feel as if it is just you and these formidable mountain peaks. Enjoy lunch in ‘Blofeld’s Lair’ which will last long in the memory with those jagged mountain views before making your way back down. On the return journey a stop is made at the 300-metre high Staubbach Falls before returning to the hotel. What a day!
How efficient and comfortable were the trains?
There is a reason the Swiss are famed for their efficiency and precision. The many great rail journeys are a personification of this; comfortable, clean, and reliable. Some of the cog wheel railways have kept to their rich history and still hold a wonderful charm and are a throw-back to times gone by. Still, with modern comforts these rail discoveries are the perfect way to enjoy the dramatic scenery of Switzerland. All of the trains are of a very high standard and the Glacier Express is the epitome of comfort, as well as being an engineering masterpiece. Sat in the luxury of the first-class panoramic carriages the views continually astound for the whole journey.
What was your best experience of Swiss cuisine?
World-renowned for its mastery in chocolate and cheese making, the fondue lunch in the picturesque village of Gruyeres was a highlight for me that showed this reputation off to a tee. Set in a traditional Swiss chalet the fondue and various accompaniments felt like the perfect way to enjoy the local cuisine and the cheese which owes its name to the village. All finished off with a couple of scoops of locally produced chocolate ice cream, it was a real dairy indulgence.
Describe your perfect day in Switzerland?
My perfect Swiss day would juxtapose the highs and lows of the stunning Alpine scenery, taking in the numerous mountains and lakes. I would start with a traditional bowl of bircher muesli for breakfast before enjoying the scenic journey to Lauterbrunnen. I would take a gentle stroll through the hillside village of Murren and then continue on up to the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant via cable car for lunch. The breath-taking view and great food would keep me busy for a couple of hours before descending to the valley and making my way to Interlaken. From here I would take the gentle cruise on Lake Thun with a hot chocolate in one hand and my camera in the other. Dinner at the Steinmattli Hotel would crown the perfect day as the sun sets and the moonlight casts shadows over the imposing surrounding mountains. That would really take some beating.
What were the best features of the hotel?
The Hotel Steinmattli is nestled in the chocolate box picturesque village of Adelboden. Waking up to views of the Engstligen Falls and the Wildstrubel mountain never tire; whether it is from your bedroom or the restaurant during breakfast. The high standard of the food compliments the setting perfectly.