Accommodation | Hotel Edelweiss, Engelberg | Montana Art Deco Hotel, Lucerne
Must Do | Try fondue, Soak in the scenery, Go up Mt Titlis
Worthy to Note | Allow yourselves a few days in order to catch the best weather – our first day was too misty/overcast to go up Mt Titlis, but the day after was all blue skies and white powder.If Venice lacked a little magic, then Switzerland sure made up for it. This country is picture postcard perfection. I had heard it was beautiful but couldn’t have fathomed what I saw. I even stayed awake the entire 9 hour rail journey from Venice to Engelberg staring out the window mesmerised. We arrived after the sun had set (it was 9°C) and caught a cab to our accommodation at Hotel Edelweiss. We scored a corner suite with a big comfy doona (each!) before making our way in search of dinner.
We awoke the next morning and caught our breath as we took in our beautiful surrounds. We had floor to ceiling windows and doors that overlooked the sleepy little village nestled among pine trees. There was a thin blanket of cloud at eye level separating the homes below from the snow-capped mountains above. It was serene and a moment I will never forget.
After rugging up, we decided to go for a walk and explore the village. I loved the gingerbread-style buildings and quirkiness of the stores. Around midday everything seemed to close so playing with autumn leaves it was. I’ve always wanted to do this… grab a big handful of leaves and throw them in the air… so I did. And now I’m happy.
We walked to the outskirts of the village (its only very small) and saw some fluffy-eared cows. Even the cows looked happy to be in Switzerland. Being in a jolly good mood we took the opportunity to do our only self-timered-selfie for the trip… I actually love how this picture came out capturing all the colours!
We decided to swing by Schaukäserei Kloster Engelberg after seeing a good review, and watch how they made the Engelberger Klosterglocke (pictured below). Entrance to the cheese factory is free and it was really interesting to see them turn large vats of milk into cheese. We ordered fondue for two (the cheese variety) along with some sausage and bread for dipping. It was really rich and smacked you in the mouth, but enjoyable in small portions.
Switzerland is expensive – even though our exchange rate is similar – you do end up paying at least one and a half times that of which you would pay in Australia. For this reason, we were unsure whether or not we should dip into our funds to go up Mt Titlis. Friends had indicated that it was only worthwhile if the weather was good, so we took this advice and waited until the next day.
At breakfast, the hotel host greeted us all smiles saying it was a good day to venture up the mountain. We took three cable cars to reach the summit of Klein Titlis (3,028 m) from Engelberg and we were blessed with a beautiful view. It was -5°C but with the sun shining on our layers of thermals, it was somewhat ‘warm’. Our host had earlier said she loved going up the mountain because it put life and its’ problems into perspective. I couldn’t agree more.
We took the Titlis Cliff Walk, the highest elevation suspension bridge in Europe (albeit in didn’t seem that far off the ground), and walked through the illuminated glacier cave. We laughed as we made our way up a steep embankment with James slipping over in his RM Williams every few metres (note: wear shoes with grip or snow boots, better still).
Since we decided to go up Mt Titlis, we didn’t leave Engelberg till later that afternoon. Our lovely host dropped us at the train station with the customary three cheek kisses, and we were met on the other side by a shuttle van to take us to our last stop in Switzerland. Lucerne, or Luzern as its spelt there, is in Central Switzerland with the city built on the shore of Lake Lucerne.
Our room at Montana Art Deco Hotel had a gorgeous outlook over the lake with the Swiss Alps in the distance. We joined others in the Louis Bar for a drink whilst enjoying the live jazz music from the pianist. Dinner was next and an affair to remember – our waitress even scraped the crumbs off the table between courses with a little silver instrument! Creamy pumpkin soup was served in large shot glasses and the beef fillet was so tender. We slept like babies that night, before making a quick stop the next morning to see the Lion Monument – it commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, and is hauntingly beautiful.
To this day, when I’m asked what my favourite country from our trip was, my answer is Switzerland. Sure I have a very close second, third, and fourth answer, but there is simply something about Switzerland that makes you feel like you have been transported to another world. The mountains. The snow. The lakes. Everything is storybook.