Thursday, July 5, 2012

Switzerland trip with buddy - June 2012

Day 1 :

Flight was on-time. I had two friendly well-behaved teenagers as co-passengers who kept the flying experience going with their witty comments. A little prelude to the upcoming few days with my dear friend from undergrad days and as her husband often comments "you guys giggle a lot but leave no stone unturned in pulling each other's legs".

Air France magazine cover - temple and priest of Karnataka
With a little bit of drama at the Paris airport where I had my connection to Geneva in 2 hrs but which miraculously appeared too short, I made it just in time. Everything is so "far" off in CDG, Paris! If someone can take my suggestion, they need a flight from one terminal to the next! ;) The Paris to Geneva flight company was a newly wed couple who kept smiling all through the trip! :) Finally, reached Geneva at 9AM.

A little jet-lagged coz no matter how tired I am, flying acts like caffeine for me and I am a wide-eyed owl through the trip! I make the exit and lo-and-behold, my friend is waiting there for me. I was seeing her after a good gap of 2.5 yrs! She is like a sister to me - so even though in the current age, 2.5 yrs is not that long a gap to meet anyone, this was quite long for me. We wanted to do this with a few of my other sister-friends (just coined this term - my copyright now! ;) ) but that did not work out - we will do some other place with them sometime soon! :)

Back to Geneva, we both immediately got chittering-chattering with no concern of where we are. There was so much to catch up on! Immediately we hit the SBB CH (Switzerland Railways) counter with our numerous questions - one thing that hit me immediately was that the lady in the counter was so relaxed, patiently answering our questions and no display of expression to shoo us away as soon as possible and move on to the next-in-line which is so visible in most US service counters (don't get me wrong - US service counters are also very helpful but the hurried and stressed look is very prevalent). She explained to us our options and when we explained our itinerary to her, she gave us the best deal and included the 15% discount they have ongoing when two people travel together without our asking for it. When I remembered and asked her if it was included, she graciously clarified that it was already provided for.

We took the 8 day Swiss-pass which includes all the trains except the special ones like Jungfrau and Glacier express (you have to pay reservation for these but your Swiss pass does get you a discount) With the rail tickets out of the way, we were hungry! We hit the Tea Shop right next to the SBB counter and had one of the best pizza and hot sandwich there - with some friendly banter as condiments! :)

New place and since we were not sure how far and convenient it will be to reach our resort, instead of going around Geneva tagging the luggage, we decided to head towards the resort. After the breakfast (or dinner - whatever you want to call - my body-clock was all messed up anyways) we ran and caught the first train towards the resort.

The refreshing views of Geneva lake with the mountains in the background and the number of weekenders enjoying the sun and the water is exhilarating. I felt a surge of excitement that shooed away my jetlag for some time. The clear blue waters with the long lines of old-time houses and vineries lining the mountain from Lausanne to Montreux is quite a sight. It was reassuring that we are in the right place for a vacation.

We reach Martigny and go looking for the bus stop. A helpful gentleman not too well-conversant in English directed us towards the bus stop sign. In our excitement to reach the resort, we troubled the driver of the standing bus. It took some time for us to understand that he was leaving for lunch break and then the same bus will leave for our destination! We surely must have taken up 5 mins of his lunch time - wonder if he understood when we apologized! People are really nice there - did not hear anyone yell or show their displeasure all through our trip - this dawned the realization on me that for a given place's tourism to grow, it is not just the government's initiative and push but the people themselves should reciprocate as well.

The bus ride from Martigny to Leytron was equally fun-filled! I was just immersed in the greenery and lovely scenery - everything looked like a picture postcard! It all felt so peaceful as well. Luckily there was a scrolldown monitor in the bus that showed the next upcoming 4-5 stops so you knew when exactly to expect your stop.  There is a small red button available for each seat so as your stop is highlighted in the monitor, you press the button and the bus will stop there.

Right across the Leytron Bus Stop - Ovronnaz is in the left mountain

We had about an hour-long stop in Leytron before the next bus to our resort in Ovronnaz which is up in the mountains and you can see it from Leytron actually. I had the grand idea of walking down one of those days - no time for that since as you will soon read, we got ourselves a tight plan once we got down to planning our trips for the rest of the vacation! :) We continued our friendly banter while waiting half-realizing that this bus stop will remain an integral part of our trip! No matter where we go, we will spend a few mins here in the morning as well as evening...and ofcourse, God forbid if we miss our last connection from here to our resort! :) I named it our "hub" while my friend had serious doubts on my understanding of what a hub actually was! ;)

View during the bus ride from Leytron to Ovronnaz
We met a friendly lady in the bus stop and she told us more about the area and Ovronnaz. She helped us when we reached the Ovronnaz stop for our resort while we were ready to step down at the very next bus stop that would come up! :D Many thanks to her for getting two jet-lagged tired souls into the comforts of their resort...
View during the bus ride from Leytron to Ovronnaz - Grape vines adorn!

Checkin was done in a jiffy..we realized very few people speak English in the resort and in the coming days, I could almost hear the heartbeats fasten as they would see us approaching them with our "English" questions! :) But the staff was more than helpful - they were such sweethearts! Language is no barrier if you have the right intentions..hope you are nodding! :)

So we hit the room next - it was a spacious room for four with a huge personal balcony with awesome views of the mountains. And yes, there was a can be a chore in normal days, but I love it during vacations! Love the challenge to make up something quick with limited resources - treat it as my "ingredients basket" challenge that is a part of most of the current cooking competition shows! ;)

View from our room in the resort
So we again go chit-chatting and somewhat unpacking and exchanging the thoughtful gifts we had both carried half-way across the world..:) When my friend was laughing at my bulging luggage, I could not help laughing only to realize she would more than compensate to keep the bulge! Hmmmp..loved the gifts..her mom had so thoughtfully sent different types of home-made was very difficult to not finish it off but with Aunty's standing orders to take them for R, we played nice and did not finish it off as much! :) I should add here that Aunty is one of the best cook I have ever met - when I used to visit her in Chennai, she would stuff us with such wonderful delicacies - she is amazing!

Beautiful houses of Ovronnaz
After sometime, we both decide to go for a short hike since night falls only at 10pm up there! It was nice walking around there watching the other vacationers - we also found a COOP closeby and bought some of the stuff we needed for our stay. We felt so elated when on our way back, we could help another vacationer find COOP - we were home! :)

COOP and Migros are the prime grocery stores that you can find almost anywhere in Switzerland.

Items in the COOP Store - wanted to bring them all!
Fried Maggi for my buddy!
For fond memories sake of college and the importance of Maggi in keeping us alive through those years ;), I had carried a Maggie packet with me! Crazy, isn't it? ;) Using some canned veggies, we doled out a delicious Fried Maggi dinner for the two of us similar to the recipe here.

With some frenzied "homework" involving iPad, pen, paper, brochures planning out the next two days! We were up till 11pm planning it out - can you believe it? We just don't know how to take it easy is what I feel at times! BUT it was fun...can't wait to share the rest of the days with ya all!

Day 1 - Geneva to Resort in Ovronnaz, Valais
Day 2 - Trummelbach Falls and Isenfluh, Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken
Day 3 - Jungfrau and Grindelwald
Day 4 - Basel and Bern
Day 5 - Lucerne, Golden Pass Tour through Zweissimen, Saanen, Gstaad, Montbovon, Montreux
Day 6 - Zermatt and Glacier Express to Andermatt
Day 7 - Back to Geneva and home

Day 1 Travel was primarily this:


Sanoli Ghosh said...

Wow...what a lovely trip. Photos are really amazing....Thanks for sharing your experience.

Follow foodie said...

Good trip!

Pragyan said...

Hi Sanoli and follow foodie - thanks, dear! Have a good one!

sra said...

Hi Pragyan, loved reading about your trip. Hopefully, I'll also do this one day.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

ya I hope to do it with friends one day too! Well not sure - if it will happen! But enjoying yours here... I hope you had a great time!
Will be reading the rest too!