Hello to all at My Swiss Alps
Had two lovely weeks in Switzerland in June. The holiday was made more of a success thanks to the patient advice from your team both before and during our trip. Thank you very much.
When we first arrived June 5th the weather was not so good but that only lasted the first three days and I would say that did not spoil things for us weather good or bad the spectacular surroundings are there and we went prepared for changeable weather so easy to put on a coat and still get out and enjoy.
We have had two fabulous holidays in Switzerland and hopefully will be back.
Goodbye for now and again thank you.
Trip report June 2019
Two wonderful weeks June 5th to June 19th
First week based in Brienz near Interlaken a lovely small town on Lake Brienz well located for trips within the Bernese Oberland and central Switzerland area. Had our car as we drove from Caen planned to use a mix of driving and utilising the excellent Swiss transport system. To this end we purchased a swiss half fare card which seems as per our experience last year to provide the best option. For accommodation we chose to stay in apartments as we like the freedom of sorting ourselves out re food etc
Having had a long journey we spent the first two days chilling out and showing our son around the local area with which we were quite familiar as we stayed in Brienz last year. So nice to sit in a local bar by the beautiful blue lake under the mountains.
Monday (June 10th) turned out to be a bank holiday Swiss Whit Monday so shops were closed. This was a bit unexpected so we were not able to shop. Fortunately we had provisions with us. We did find a Lidl open in Interlaken however. Also luckily the Rothorn mountain train we had planned to use was running. This departs regularly from Brienz and is a spectacular ride up taking I think about 45 minutes to an hour providing fabulous views on the way up down to Brienz and the lake. We set off in glorious sunshine but once at the top the clouds rolled in and the rain. Never mind there were breaks and still worh it for the journey up. It is a nice easy place to visit as it is not so high as to cause breathlessness.
Tuesday June 11th
Decided to make this a driving day. We had hoped to do a variety of mountain passes but due to some being affected by late snow not all were open. Not too big an issue as we did the ones that were closed last year. As my son wanted to see the Contra Dam (as seen in some films for example Goldeneye Bond film) we drove there via the Gotthard Pass. Well worth it if you want to put your driving skills to the test and see fabulous dramatic scenery. We arrived in Bellinzona and went in search of the car park for the dam. However we took a wrong turning and ended up in a beautiful stone village high above the dam, unfortunately I did not make a note of the name. The dam itself is awesome and bungee jumping takes place at weekends into a deep deep chasm. Not for the faint hearted. To round the day off we drove to Lake Locarno another beautiful area and very Italian feel, made even more so as it was much hotter in Southern Switzerland than the central area where we were based.
Wednesday June 12th
A visit to the other Interlaken town of Thun by train which has an interesting medieval old town and castle. We returned to Interlaken on the Lake Thun ferry boat. I did not enjoy this quite as much as trips we did last year on lake Brienz and Lake Lucerne and if I were to recommend I would say Lake Lucerne is the one to do. On returning to Brienz we drove up Axalpstrasse to Giessbach Falls
a huge waterfall which tumbles down to the lake. It is even possible to walk behind the waterfall and the wooded walk can be rounded off with a coffee on the terrace of the lovely Giessbach hotel. A truly fairytale location and very worth a visit. Apart from the drive up there is a funicular train that runs up from the lake. There is a ferry stop.
Thursday June 13th
A really good day. Took the train to Grindelwald. We had a look around the town and a coffee under the mighty Eiger. The location of this town is totally spectacular. Our son being the adventurous one took himself off to the First Mountain to partake in the activities to be found once up there. He raved about the time he had there and particularly enjoyed the kick bikes. https://www.jungfrau.c h/en-gb/grindelwaldfirst/
We took the more leisurely option and took the train to Lauterbrunnen a truly beautiful walk to be had through this stunning valley terminating at Trummelbach Falls https://www.truemmelba chfaelle.ch/e/. This is an underground set of waterfalls open to visitors, I was unfortunately unable to visit this as I have a poor sense of balance in dark and uneven surfaces. My husband however did and said it was worthwhile.
Friday June 14th
As this was our final day before travelling on to our second location in Valais area we just did the one trip to Stans near Lucerne and the Stanserhorn cable car. This is an open topped cable car and therefore a different experience. However the car has two levels and the lower level is enclosed ideal for the less brave such as myself! We were hoping to include a trip on the train up Mount Pilatus but we left it a bit late. Oh dear does this mean we will have to come back again. Any excuse.
Saturday June 15th
On to the second half of our holiday in Grachen a ski resort in Valais. Were not sure what to expect but what a place. Grachen is a picture perfect village/resort quite high in the Alps. A spectacular apartment with stunning panoramic mountain views. Being summer and out of the ski season it was quiet and uncrowded which suited us. It had everything one could want a large co op supermarket, several bars and cafes. A regular bus service to take us down the mountain to St Niklaus where we could catch a train for onward travel. We spent a lovely weekend taking advantage of the many walking trails and back to the friendly mountain bars.
Monday June 17th
What this week was all about Zermatt and wow....Matterhorn. Never thought I would ever see this famous mountain. Zermatt was so much nicer than we expected. Being so famous we thought it would be very commercialised but no not at all it is beautiful and so traditional. Loved looking round. We then took the mountain train to the Gornergrat Matterhorn viewing station, we went straight up but should one choose it is possible to stop at various stations on the way up. I really liked Gornergrat because it was what it was a nice uncommercialised location with just enough there a shop and eating area to admire Matterhorn. My son took the more active option to Klein Matterhorn which is more adventurous and has activities more suited to himself. He says he does want to come back and experience the glass bottomed crystal ride cable car which I believe was not available at the time. Also he says the altitude did affect him as it was high.
As Zermatt and Matterhorn was the main focus of this second week we did not do any more really major excursions and just toured around the area, we visited the scenic Mattmark Dam in the Saastal Valley where we had a nice stroll by the side of the reservoir and visited the Saas Fee ski resort on the drive back. This was again quiet being out of ski season actually less there than Grachen. Being nearby we took a drive into Italy to a small town called Stresse which was nice to do as we have never been to Italy but I found it rather too hot. On Thursday 20th we drove down to Lake Geneva to visit some friends who live near there and this was quite a strange drive as yet again it seems we dropped on a public holiday. This was strongly observed in the Valais Canton everywhere was closed and we saw hardly any people or traffic. Also we drove through completely different scenery as most of the area is wine growing country. We were quite surprised how extensive the wine growing region was as I have never seen Swiss wine in UK where we live. There seems to be a difference in observances because when we crossed into the Canton of Vaud suddenly everything was open. Not being a town person we avoided the very busy towns of Montreux, Villeneuve and headed for Pully a nice quiet little town on the Lake. For anyone who does like towns I would say Montreux and Villeneuve are worth a visit particularly to see Chillon Castle.
Friday being our last day we spent around Grachen as we had the long drive back through France to meet our ferry back to UK over the weekend. I would definitely recommend Grachen in the summer as it is beautifully located, easy to get to, albeit a steep drive, even out of ski season has enough facilities for leisure and necessary shopping. Not all gift shops are open every day but bars and cafes are and there are lovely walks and transport links are good.
Hope some of our experiences have been helpful and to future visitors enjoy this amazing and stunning country. Oh and check out for national holiday dates so you can be prepared for possible shop closures etc.