Lorna Neale, Assistant Manager of our Thorpe Travel branch, took a short trip to explore the scenic landscapes of Switzerland. Her tour took her to Davos and Grindelwald.
Destination: Switzerland – Wilderswil and Davos
Accommodation (Hotel names/Ship name): Hotel Baeren – Wilderswil, Hotel Seehof – Davos
Duration: 4 nights
Swiss check-in was easy – we were taken to the desk in Heathrow Airport but they do have self-service machines as well. The aircraft was nice and the crew were friendly. The flight was only one hour and 30 minutes and within this time we were offered a complimentary soft drink, wine or beer and a sandwich followed by a chocolate. The legroom was generous too compared to other short haul airlines I have flown with before. Overall, I was really impressed with both my Swiss flights.
Hotel Baeren is a traditional, family-run, chalet style hotel. It is located a short walk from the train station. I really liked the hotel – the only issue being that it doesn’t have a lift, so carrying your luggage up and down the stairs may be a problem for some customers. The food was fantastic; a great spread of hot and cold items at breakfast and a menu for each night if booked on half-board. The room I had was very large with a balcony that offered views of the mountain (not all rooms have balconies). The hotel has a bar and a wine cellar which can be used for private functions – we had a welcome drink and canapes here and it was very cosy. Hotel Seehof is a modern luxury hotel (very different to the hotel Baeren). There is a bus stop outside which takes you through the centre of Davos and to the train station. The rooms were lovely and a fair size and they even have a pillow menu which offers about six different options of comfort. The breakfast was lovely; lots of choices including a cooked breakfast, cold items and an egg menu. The hotel has a wellness area which has recently been refurbished. The evening meal was superb and so I would recommend staying on a half-board basis.
Our trip was full of activities and sightseeing – we didn’t stop!
We took the train to Grindelwald where we walked through the village to the cable car station and travelled up to First – Top of Adventure. This is where we experienced the new First Cliff Walk, a walkway around the cliff to the restaurant. In nice weather, this would be a lovely spot to have a coffee and a piece of cake and take in the spectacular views. You can pay to use the First Flyer which is a zip wire to Schreckfeld but, unfortunately, due to weather, we couldn’t use this (to be honest, I was quite grateful as I was a bit scared). We then hired Trotti bikes which are a bit like scooters. We travelled through the village on them, taking in the fields, flowers and cows along the way. You can walk this trail if you prefer. We had a boat ride from Interlaken to Brienz. The boat does stop at different points along the way and we had great views of the waterfalls and the mountains. We walked through the village of Brienz and discovered the Brunngasse, which is the most romantic street in the village. We took the train back to Interlaken where we walked to the station for Harder Kulm, where we travelled by funicular. We enjoyed dinner at the restaurant and the views were superb; we could see Lake Brienz and Lake Thon. We also visited Schynige Platte – Top of Swiss Tradition, where we travelled by cog railway up to the Botanical Alpine Gardens. The journey was fantastic; we had views of the river and lots of cows grazing with their bells ringing. It was amazing at the top. So peaceful. There are many different walks that you can do here, at varying distances, but we chose a short one. The train departs every hour, so you can take as long as you like to walk around or stop for a coffee and cake if you prefer.
We used the local bus to take us to side valley Sertig to walk to the waterfall. This was a fantastic view and the walk was well worth it. I did struggle at times with the paths being very uneven, though. We had lunch at Restaurant Walserhuus Sertig where I had a local cheese fondue. From here, we hired Trotti bikes to visit ‘Kaffee Klatsch’ and sample some of their delicious cakes. I would thoroughly suggest you do the same. In the afternoon, we visited the Winter Sports Museum where we had a tour and got to see the different types of skis, the type of clothing the skiers would have worn, the different transport to take skiers up to the mountain and much more. This was fascinating to see how things have changed over the years. We had a horse and carriage ride to Restaurant Teufi which took one hour. We arrived at the family run restaurant to be greeted by a cosy atmosphere and the welcoming owners. We had a fondue Chinoise which is a broth that comes with beef, chicken and prawns that you cook yourself. I loved this idea and the food was great. We travelled to Schatzalp via funicular where we visited Alpinum Schatzalp and the historical Hotel Schatzalp. The scenery and views from here were stunning and it was made even nicer as we had snow overnight. We took a walk through the gardens and back down to Davos. On our way back to the hotel, we visited the Kirchner Museum, displaying paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. His works were very weird and mostly of people. We stopped at Nutli Huschi, which is located in Klosters, and had a tour of the main house and the outhouses. It shows you the history of the locals and how they would have lived in the past. This was a great insight into how it would have been before technology changed everything.
I loved the entire trip. To be honest, this is something I would have never done myself for my own holiday but now I would easily go back to Switzerland or something similar. It was great to sample so much the country has to offer – from the transport to the museums, the alpine gardens and the stunning waterfalls. I felt very comfortable getting around and using the train stations. It was lovely that everyone speaks very good English and when we had queries they were very helpful.
I cannot say that anything needed to be improved on, although it would have been nice to have more sunshine and less rain but that’s something that is out of everyone’s control. The weather changed every day so it’s worth preparing for.
I would most definitely recommend this trip and, in fact, I already have. It’s a beautiful country and the people are lovely. The trip would suit someone who loves to go on walks, has a passion for trains or generally likes stunning scenery with flowers and animals. Switzerland has something to offer for all ages and not just skiing. They have recently added First Cliff Walk and First Flyer to attract the younger market. I would recommend travelling to Davos. It may be a bit more expensive to stay here but, at the moment, Inghams and the local tourist office are offering everyone a free tourist card which allows travel on buses and sightseeing free of charge for the full duration of your stay. You can choose from 700 activities and save lots of money whilst in the resort. I would also recommend upgrading to 1st Class on the railway. It will cost more but it’s really worth it. I sampled 1st Class during my trip and it was lovely. There are smaller carriages, nicer seats and we always managed to get a seat on the trains. We walked through the 2nd Class and it was very busy and people were standing as seats were limited.
Must see? Visit Schynige Platte via the cog railway, walk around the botanical gardens and listen to the Alpenhorn being played at the station.
Must do? Hire a Trotti bike in either Bort (Grindelwald) or Sertig (Davos)
Must try? A local cheese fondue
If you like the sound of scenic holiday amidst the picturesque landscapes of Switzerland, we can help you plan something similar to Lorna’s trip. Visit your local Fred. Olsen Travel shop or contact any of our travel agents in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk or on the south coast.