So, although this blog will include a number of book reviews and conversation about books, I also want to use this space to share other aspects of my life which have shaped who I am and my view of the world.
I got married in July and my husband and I decided to go to Switzerland for our honeymoon. When we told people our chosen destination they were a bit surprised. Most married couples we know had chosen exotic beach-based honeymoons in far-flung corners of the world. Who wants to be like everyone else though?! Switzerland appealed to us because we wanted to experience a different culture and take in its stunning scenery which we had seen in photos.
We are not well travelled as a couple despite having been together since the age of 16. This has mainly been due to the fact that with busy university and work schedules life hasn’t lent many opportunities for us to have holidays. Our first holiday abroad together was to Malaga in November 2015. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it gave us a desire to do more travelling, especially to explore more of Europe.
Once we had decided on Switzerland as our honeymoon destination we found a Thomson Lakes and Mountains package deal for the Golden Pass Tour. This was perfect for us because my husband is something of a train fanatic and the Golden Pass Tour is a trip around Switzerland on trains! We started off in Lucerne, a city in central Switzerland on the shores of Lake Lucerne, and as soon as we stepped off the train we were both stunned by how beautiful it was. From the train station we crossed over the Reuss River with the incredible view of the mountains in the background. We knew at this point that we had made the right choice for our honeymoon. We stayed at the Hotel de la Paix which was just a short walk from the main attractions. This family-run hotel provided us with a lovely stay, the staff were amazingly friendly and we enjoyed delicious four-course meals each night. The set menu each evening generally consisted of a very tasty soup, access to a salad bar, lean meat served with seasonal vegetables and delicious sauces, and fruit-based puddings. It was healthy, well-cooked food. We had continental breakfast each morning consisting of lovely Swiss bread, gruyere and ham. For lunch we fended for ourselves and sampled some of the delicious pastries from Bachmann’s bakery – delicious! We stayed in Lucerne for 4 nights and while we were there we spent time exploring the city. A particular highlight was the stunning Chapel Bridge which was adorned with colourful flowers. We also took the opportunity to go on the ‘Classic Round Trip’. This involved taking the boat from Lucerne to Vitznau and then taking the cogwheel train to Rigi Kulm at 1798m. The view from the top was stunning. We then travelled back down the mountain firstly on the cogwheel train before swapping to the cable car at Rigi Kaltbad and travelling down to Weggis. I have to say the cable car journey was not an experience I particularly enjoyed – heights and confined spaces all rolled into one equals my worst nightmare! The weather had been stunning but by the time we reached Weggis a huge storm had rolled in. We just made it back to the boat station before the heavens opened – phew!
From Lucerne we travelled to Interlaken through the Brunig Pass on the Golden Pass panoramic train. Unfortunately the weather on the day we made this journey wasn’t ideal. The views of the passing scenery were still incredible but low cloud meant that we missed out on seeing the mountains. We were surprised by how steep the inclines on the train journey were and it made for a really exciting and unique trip.
Interlaken is in the Bernese Highlands region of the Swiss Alps. As the name suggests, Interlaken sits between two lakes; Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. We stayed for three nights at the Hotel Carlton Europe; there was a very different feel to the hotel as the staff were slightly less friendly but this seemed to be a more traditionally Swiss hotel with the female staff wearing traditional Swiss outfits. Again we were treated to delicious soups, lean meats and our first chocolate dessert (up until this point there had been a disappointing lack of chocolate!) Interlaken itself is a strange place as on one hand it has breathtaking scenery and on the other it has huge chintzy hotels, casinos and McDonalds. Clearly appealing to skiers there was a multitude of watch and chocolate shops with very hefty price tags on most items! The highlight of our time in Interlaken was the trip we took to the Schilthorn. We took the cable car from Murren, which we were informed inspired Tolkein’s ‘Rivendell’, and rose to the summit which stood at 2970m. The panoramic view from the Schilthorn of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, known as the ‘Top of Europe’, was absolutely incredible and will be hard to beat.
From Interlaken we travelled to our final destination, Montreux, on the Golden Pass Classic train with vintage Pullman carriages. Again there were fantastic views of the scenery, especially the descent into Montreux with amazing views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Riviera. Montreux was a real contrast from Lucerne and Interlaken. The highlight for us was the incredible view from our hotel room balcony. We stayed at the Hotel Rene Capt for four nights. The food was amazing with very intricately assembled desserts and the taste of the food was enhanced by being able to sit on the beautiful Terrace which provided unspoilt views of the Lake. We found that there was less to do in Montreux but we thoroughly enjoyed a ride across Lake Geneva on a paddle steamer, and after having packed in so much to our honeymoon it was nice to simply relax and enjoy the views. As a fan of Queen it was brilliant to see the Freddie Mercury statue next to the Lake and visit the Queen Studio Tour Experience, a small exhibition in the local casino. It sounds strange but was a really interesting and quirky part of our visit to Montreux.
For my husband and I this was a trip of a lifetime. We are so pleased we chose Switzerland as our honeymoon destination as it was truly breathtaking and magical. Every time I look back at the photos we took I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to have visited such an amazing country.