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2nd Trip - 18 days Switzerland Dec 2018 - part 3


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longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 26, 2018 - 1:29 PM

Our second…. 18 day trip to Switzerland - December 2018 – part 03

Last year we stayed in Montreux for just one night, and we were so taken with the place we decided that this time around it was definitely worthy of a few extra nights stay, so we booked four.

The weather was still producing the occasional showers the day we arrived, but was offering a promise of sunshine for the days following.

The first noteworthy thing about arriving in Montreux was that I found the hotel without any difficulty, which should have been expected seeing as it was the same hotel we had stayed in the year before. But after our last unscheduled search in Bern, my wife was relieved that I had still retained some directional memory of sorts and managed to easily find my way from the station to the accommodation, again in the rain. We had been very pleased with our room at this hotel in 2017, it was large, it was roomy and it was modern with a large bathroom and full shower. It also had a lovely view of the lake with a balcony where one could sit and freeze to death if one so desired. Why not book the same class of room a second time seeing as we felt we were obviously onto a good thing? So it was a bit of surprise when having booked the same class of room as our previous stay, to find that this time, while we were now placed on a higher floor, which without a doubt offered a better view of the lake and also looked down over the Christmas markets, the room was small, it was let’s say…. “not modern” and was definitely in need of an upgrade, and the bathroom was so small there was barely any spare floor space between the bath with cramped overhead shower and the toilet and outdated basin, all of which was conjoined by visible plumbing. There was definitely no room to “swing a cat” as they say, and in certain places, after glancing at the walls, I began to wonder if someone with very short arms actually may have recently tried…!!

I could see a certain sense of disappointment on my wife’s face as we initially entered this room, but by the time we had unpacked and sat down with a cup of tea and enjoyed the view and the sunshine streaming through the windows, we decided that we actually quite liked it. It was clean, it was cosy, and it was warm, and we knew we would spend more time away from it than actually in it, and truth be told, by the time the morning came we were both in love with it.

Since we have been back home in Australia and chatted about the various places we have visited both in 2017 and now 2018, both my wife and I agree that without a doubt, Montreux has the best Christmas markets we have encountered anywhere in Switzerland. The sheer number and quality of the stalls, the food, the festive atmosphere particularly at night, all make for a spectacular experience that really does get you into the Christmas mood and spirit. We walked them by day, we walked them by night and then walked them again whenever we ventured to and fro to pretty much anywhere and everywhere we went. We purchased some lovely uniquely made gifts for the family back home, wooden tree articles, glass candle holders, glazed tiles and miniature snowmen. All of which arrived home safely and in one piece after being packed securely in some extra Swiss made carry-on luggage purchased in Luzern at the end of our trip.

Our first excursion from Montreux was to Rochers De Naye. With Swiss Travel Pass the fare was reduced 50%, and the journey by train accorded some majestic views looking back to the lake and also to the mountains. By the time we had travelled about half the journey, the first signs of snow began to appear and everything slowly began to change to white and before long we were surrounded by the magic that comes from freshly fallen snow and picturesque mountains and valleys. The views from the top are good, but the facilities appeared to be very tired in comparison to most other mountain peaks we have visited, and not wanting to regret missing something when visiting a place we would be unlikely to visit again, we also checked out the Santa grotto, but personally felt it was a bit cheesey for our liking, though I’m certain that young children would most likely have felt it quite delightful and exciting. After a walk about in the snow enjoying the sunshine, we caught the next train down the mountain back to Montreux.

The following day things were wet again and the weather forecasts in the mountains not too supportive, so we opted for a casual day and decided to take a leisurely trip to Lausanne for a bit of a “looksee”. From the train station to the Old Town is quite an uphill walk, very steep indeed, and I believe from memory about an 85 metre elevation over-all must be traversed to get there. It is very steep. Once again we had to rely on our not so accurate GPS, and while I had a general idea of the direction we needed to take, there were a few twists and turns that were at times a bit deceiving. But we did make it and after a look around the Cathedral and the Old Town itself, we casually made our journey back to the train station and caught the next train back to Montreux.

Thankfully by late afternoon it was evident that the weather had submitted to the forecaster’s predictions and the cloud began to break and the sun broke through. We decided that tomorrow would be our best chance to tackle Glacier 3000.

We boarded the 9:12 am train for Aigle then switched to the train headed for Les Diablerets. The post bus number 180 can be caught right outside the entrance to the train station, and this takes you all the way to the Col-du-Pillon cable car station. When purchasing the tickets (at half price with Swiss Travel Pass) we were advised by the counter staff that if we were interested in doing the Tissot Peak to Peak walk, that we should attempt to do so as soon as we reached the top, as the winds were very strong, and it was likely they would need to close it soon. It was great to hear it was open, not so great to hear there were high winds. By the time we reached the top, the mountain was bathed in full sun, betraying just how cold and strong that wind really was. As instructed, we headed immediately out and on to the bridge walk and headed for the other side. It was freezing cold and the wind very strong, but both my wife and I crossed it, taking pictures as we went, and with my GoPro strapped to my pack strap catching amazing video at the same time. I love these bridges and cliff walks and the like, they just add a fresh perspective and greater dimension to the whole experience. Once we had reached the other side we may have lingered just a little too long, because by the time we decided to make our way back, the wind was really up and it was hang on for dear life. The wind had gathered even more momentum now and while I’m sure we were perfectly safe, I did feel a real sense of relief once I reached the other side. Looking at some of the attached pictures below, you may find it hard to believe there was any wind at all, everything looks so calm and serene. We headed indoors for a great lunch while enjoying fantastic views, and due to the high winds and extreme cold decided afterwards that we would not tackle any other activities and headed down the mountain feeling pretty proud of ourselves for having tackled yet another 3000 metre peak..!! Within the hour, as we caught the train back to Montreux, I received a text message from my “mountain goat” son who has been living in Spain the last 4 years just to let me know that he had just finished climbing his 43rd peak over 3000 metres.!! No, the number is not a mistake….. 43 peaks over 3000 metres, and yes he climbed them, not rode them. He always finds a way to build us up and tell us we done great does that boy, but we still love him anyways….

Next instalment – Interlaken.

Kind Regards

Longservice

Last modified on Dec 27, 2018 - 7:26 AM by Lucas
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Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Dec 27, 2018 - 7:28 AM in reply to longservice

Thanks for the reports! Keep em coming. :)

Glad to hear everything went smoothly on your trips here. I quite enjoyed my trip to the Glacier 3000 last january - I also lucked out on sun (but no wind!).

A very lovely view from your Montreux hotel - do you remember the name?

longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 27, 2018 - 10:51 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

I wasn't sure if we were allowed to mention business names on the forum, so had not done so until now. The hotel was the Eurotel and our room with the view as pictured was on the 16th floor (top Floor) It is very handy to the train station, and the Christmas Markets literally run either side of its entrance onto the lake foreshore.

As I mentioned in my report, there were huge differences between the room we had last year compared to this year, even though we booked the same class. But as is always the case with travel, you adapt to the circumstances the best you can, and with a view like that, it could well have been the main reason for the contrast between the two. Incidentally, the service and breakfast at the Eurotel is truly superb.

Kind Regards

Longservice.

Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Dec 27, 2018 - 3:34 PM in reply to longservice

Great, good details to know. :)

jrecm
jrecm
14 posts
new member
Dec 28, 2018 - 3:52 PM

Hi Longservice,

I have enjoyed your trip reports. (Thanks to Lucas, Arno and others we had a great 15 days in 2018 and have already booked our tickets for a month in Switzerland in 2019 (We had used their links for passes and some accommodations last year). We aren't getting any younger, my husband is in his mid 60's and I am a bit "older" but able to hike a total of 150 miles on our last trip.

Longservice, My question is...Where did you stay in Luzerne? We never got to the mountains near there. I am checking all of MySwissAlps links but curious on your accommodations and if you liked them. Thank you

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
701 posts
top member
Dec 28, 2018 - 4:22 PM in reply to longservice

Hello again longservice

Loved this report and the pictures!

We have done 2 early December trips to experience the markets. We based ourselves in Biel/Bienne both times as it was easy to plan day trips from there. Montreux is definitely our favourite Christmas market for atmosphere and that French flair! Basel by contrast is very Germanic! We also liked Einsiedeln a lot and we found a small market in Trubschachen right by the Kambly biscuit factory which featured mainly local artisans who were not only selling their wares but also demonstrating their skills. Some of the things we bought there were therefore unique and special.

Maggie

longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 28, 2018 - 5:10 PM in reply to jrecm

Hello jrecm,

150 miles.!!! That’s incredible. Well done. We averaged about 8-10 kms per day over our 18 days, none of which was hiking as such. It didn’t help me lose any weight though.!!

I apologise if I offer too much information here... hopefully some of this may be of assistance for you.

Obviously accommodation is always dependent on your budget and any special requests you might personally have. We by no means travel every year to places far away, so I’m no expert, but over the years have travelled enough to form certain personal preferences as I’m sure most people do. But the major thing we have learned is that if staying longer in a hotel than just a couple of nights, a truly bad hotel can really leave a bad taste in ones mouth and negatively influence ones impression of what otherwise might be a marvellous place. So I always do LOTS of research before ever finally making a decision on a hotel, I always try to book well in advance and I also always book a fully refundable room through a third party site if I can and only pay at the hotel as I leave. Sometimes you can get hotels cheaper by booking direct with the Hotel, but personally I have only rarely found this to be the case, and I also tend to find that their terms are not always as flexible as some third party sites.

Once I have booked, I regularly check the going rate over the months prior to departure and if in our favour I cancel my original booking and rebook at the cheaper rate. I have even done this twice once and saved quite a bit in the process.

On our last journey to Switzerland I managed to save almost 500chf by rebooking 2 of our rooms when they came up at a cheaper rate approx 3 months out from our departure. Also at one of our hotels we opted to just change to a higher class room instead because it came up at 5chf cheaper than our original booking of the lower class room.!!

I can tell you about both hotels we have used in Luzern, the first in 2017 and the second in 2018.

In 2017 we booked Hotel Cascada. Loved it. Not too far from the train station and easy to find. Breakfast was superb, very friendly staff and exceptionally clean rooms. Only drawback is the rooms are very tight. Not a problem at all for maybe one or two nights, but we stayed 4 and so this year we opted to book something else that could offer a bit more space for about the same class and cost as we were staying 5 nights in Luzern.

So in 2018 we chose Continental Park. It’s a bigger hotel, does cater for tour groups, so a bit of coming and going in the lobby at times, but it didn’t phase us in any way at all. The hotel is VERY close to the train station, I would say Cascada was probably 4 times the distance away than the Continental Park. We had a 25 sq metre room on the 5th floor. Lovely and warm, comfortable bed and full bathroom with rain shower...!!! I love those things.!! The breakfast was also excellent. I think it was good value for money and compared well to most of our other choices and by watching the going rate as I mentioned above, we managed to save 245chf on that hotel by cancelling and rebooking it about 3 months before we travelled. That was a 245chf saving over a 5 night stay.

My only complaint was the back wall of the room was not highly soundproof and we could clearly hear the nightly phone conversation of the gentleman next door. He did have a loud voice however, and fortunately used a language foreign to us, otherwise had we understood what he was saying it possibly could have annoyed us more.!!

Would I stay there again? Yes definitely. It was so conveniently close to everything, a great breakfast, lovely sized room and great facilities.

I hope this helps...

Kind regards

Longservice

longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 28, 2018 - 5:17 PM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie,

Thank you for your comments. I have to agree that it’s particularly the unique articles that we tend to hunt for and love. My wife is a Christmas tragic... and she just LOVES the Christmas markets.

Kind Regards

Longservice

Last modified on Dec 28, 2018 - 5:18 PM by longservice
jrecm
jrecm
14 posts
new member
Dec 28, 2018 - 9:47 PM

Hi Longservice

Thank you for your detailed reply. FYI The 150 miles of hiking also included another week in England along the Thames. Trust me, I picked the trails and the hikes that I could manage at 70+ We were blessed with glorious weather

rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Jan 8, 2019 - 2:47 AM in reply to jrecm

Hi jrecm,

We stayed at the Continental Park in May/June 2017 and can highly recommend it. You are literally 50 meters from the side entrance to Platform 1 at Luzern Station yet it is very quiet.

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