Switzerland: Part 1

We spent five days in Switzerland around the New Year as a last minute get away to relieve stress. I have been incredibly stressed at work, without breaks and mountains of work to do as others took vacation or were on the road to meet a tight deadline. Regardless, I was past breaking point. Our original plan was to go to Iceland and stay at the spa, hang out in the Blue Lagoon, but airfare is horrendous. That canceled, we were going to stay home; then we decided a getaway was necessary.

30 December 2009

After picking up the Ford Fiesta, we ran the dogs over to the kennel (it was so sad!), then south we went. We stopped just inside the Swiss border at the town of Basel for lunch at the train station, which is when we found out how expensive it was to eat. The Swiss Franc is only a little stronger than the U.S. dollar, which is at least better than the euro.

We took a circuitous route farther into the countryside, tunneling through mountains, crisscrossing up them, and eventually driving up and along a narrow serpentine cliff-like road (with no guard rails!) before reaching our destination: the Emmantal dairy farm. Switzerland is known for its cheese and chocolate (and watches), and Emmantaler is one of the four main cheeses. It also happens to have an open floor plan for visitors to watch the cheese action live. It was worth seeing.

Afterward, we left for Zurich. We were upgraded to business room at the hotel, then went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I really like pumpkin risotto. 😀 A little after dinner, we had massages at the wellness center on the top floor, where the pool and exercise rooms are also located. All the rooms had a great view of the city, but I highly recommend NOT getting massages. They were okay, but the cost two or three times more than a normal spa. It was ridiculous; just go to Baden Baden.

31 December 2009

We spent most of New Years Eve in Lucerne. The city is gorgeous, with the Alps hemming it and a huge lake. There’s also a great shopping district we wandered through after checking out the infamous water bridge (it burned back in 1993 after standing for 500 years) and water tower. It felt great to be walking along the water front, and the birds were amusing to watch.

We got a quick bite at a pizza place (trying to stay in a budget with food is not easy), then headed around the lake to a small town with an aerial tram that met up with a rack railway train to take us up to the top of Rigi. The views on the way up were spectacular, but definitely not for the faint of heart (or heights). It was getting dark when we finally made it to the top, so we watched the sunset above the clouds and the city spring to lights (ha ha) down below. The moon was also much bigger from a peak in the Alps. 😉

The only problem with our itinerary was the running around we did on the peak made me dizzy and lightheaded, so when we returned to Zurich, I had no energy to go out to the New Year celebrations going on downtown. I wish we could have, from what we heard it was quite a party along the lake with live music and fireworks. As it was, we watched fireworks go off in different cities around the world in the comfort of the hotel room. I know, sad, but lesson learned; do not run around the peaks of the Alps (at least if you want to do something later).