Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Eurotrip 5 - Switzerland and Vienna

Switzerland and Vienna


Dinner from Port Gitana, Geneva

From France, our next stop was Geneva in Switzerland. This was to be a one night stop over, just so we could mark it as 'been there' on our individual travel maps. I don't know much about Geneva beyond its famed lake so when I chose accomodation, I made sure we were right next to, and I mean, RIGHT NEXT TO, the lake. Rather than mucking around with transport, we took the easy route and had dinner at our hotel, Auberge Port Gitana. I have a feeling this site was better known for its restaurant on the lake than its accomodation facilities anyway. Our food was really nice, albeit on the pricey side.

Swiss chocolate

This post won't have a big feature on food because Swiss cuisine didn't leave a big impression on me. When I think Swiss food, I think of chocolate and cheese fondues. We had some of the former but none of the latter. Switzerland borders France, Germany and Italy so there are plenty of those influences around.


From our hike around the foot of the Matterhorn

This remains one of my favourite destinations throughout this trip. Zermatt is a mountain village in Switzerland. It is car-free so only electric vehicles are allowed within the town itself. We got there by train (jaw dropping views along the way) and were picked up by hotel staff. I'm not giving out many hotel plugs because we stayed in over 30 different accomodation venues but one I must recommend is Matterhorn Focus in Zermatt.

View from the bedroom out to the lounge and through to the deck at our suite in Matterhorn Focus

It is a beautiful set of suites and rooms with quirky architectural features and top notch attention to detail. From the Nespresso unit in our suite and quality spa products to go with the open bath tub (not for the shy), we felt groomed for royalty.

There is an indoor-outdoor pool at the hotel and the outdoor component opens to the foot of the alps. We braved the biting cold air and swam out into this section. The warm pool water and frozen mountain breeze... ah what a life.

During our stay in Zermatt, Marc and I took the rail to Gornergrat, which is right up on the peaks. I wasn't dressed the part at all (think stockings and ballet flats) but the sights were breathtaking. We stayed there for sundown and sipped beers by the snow.


Some kind of potato rosti thing

A trip to Switzerland isn't complete without a stop at its capital. Zurich was a nice city, in that like Brisbane, I could picture living somewhere like this. The public transport was on point. Why can't we have a tram system as convenient as this?

We visited a friend who lived locally and he took us around to see the city. Before our sleeper train to Vienna, we had many hours to kill so I spent my time shopping and eating. Zurich isn't remarkable but it's nice. We learnt by now that Switzerland was expensive. It wasn't ridiculous but it was equatable to Australia. When we first got to Europe, I expected my pockets to drain like quicksand but most countries were surprisingly affordable (in terms of food and accom). Switzerland was the exception.


Wiener schnitzel

We arrived in Vienna after a night on a sleeper train. This was an interesting experience I would prefer not to repeat, simply because we were gender-segregated and I hate sharing sleeping space with strangers. Tired as anything, we checked into our hotel.

What looks like a big blob of sauerkraut

I'll admit I didn't love Vienna as a city. My gut tells me Austria is more about its countryside than its cities. Yeh, there were some cool buildings and statues but within Europe, it was a bit 'so what'.

I really wanted to try some shnitzel and streudel, simply because that's what I think of as iconic Viennese food. For some reason, it was a struggle for Marc and myself to find places to eat in Vienna. I wasn't sorry to move on to our next location.

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