Ian's HomeSwitzerland & France, Christmas 2005Switzerland and France, Christmas 2005
Switzerland & France, Christmas 2005
|We departed from Embankment on 23 December 2005. Fortunately Piers and I obtained the seats with the most leg room (next to the emergency exit) – saving the trip from being an uncomfortable disaster. We were surrounded by Tiffany, Rebecca, Sian, Kelly, Annabel and Michelle. Despite a no drinking rule, the fist few drinks were well under way well before we left London city. With only very basic facilities on board, the drinking was fairly controlled. We drove all night. Sleep was hard to come by and the floor became a favoured option until it became too cold. It was an uncomfortable night to say the least.
We arrived in Lucerne on about three hours of interrupted sleep. The morning was spent touring the city. Lucerne is beautiful and very quiet. It is set on Lake Lucerne and has a couple of old covered foot bridges connecting the two banks. The city is surrounded by a medieval wall on one side, and the lake, and mountains on the other. We slept the afternoon away.
Our rooms were excellent, despite the fact that I broke my bed (and a chair) on the first night. We partied that evening in the hotel club ‘Adagio’ – quite a large underground venue that became packed by the early hours of the morning.
Breakfast the next day, Christmas Day, primarily comprised bread rolls and meat – not the bacon and eggs many of us craved. We were then taken to Mt Pilatus – 2132m. I was pleased it started snowing on our arrival – a white Christmas. We took gondolas up to the peak and enjoyed the fresh air and absolute silence. It was quite cloudy so the views weren’t terribly good, however, the distant mountain peaks/ranges rising above the clouds were impressive.
The highlight of the trip came on our decent. During a change of gondola we spied a stack of sleds. Piers, myself, Kelly and an Australian couple proceeded to ‘borrow’ them for a quick trial. Almost 40 minutes later we arrived at the next gondola station. It was an impressive ride amongst snow covered trees, deep, soft snow, hills (jumps), fresh air and silence (excepting for the laughter). An excellent time!
We made it back to the bus late, not the last, but by far the happiest. We then drove to Interlaken for Christmas lunch. The scenery during the drive was impressive – stereotypical Swiss villages/cottages bordering still lakes and surrounded by snow covered hills and mountains. Christmas lunch, however, was McDonalds – not a lot was open on Christmas day. Having said that, Piers and I did stumble across a Hooters bar. Yes, the Hooters - probably one of the least likely establishments that I expected to stumble across in such a historic, chic and autonomous country. A quick beer was in order. It was then back to Lucerne for a quieter night of a formal Christmas dinner at the hotel, and a few quiet drinks in a local bar.
On Boxing Day we departed for Reims. En route we stopped at Metz for a late lunch. Metz was another picturesque city that put on a very impressive snow fall.
We arrived in Reims in the evening and were quickly out experiencing the local bar culture. Thankfully Bel could order our drinks for us and the night was soon well under way.
The next morning after a fleeting visit of the Cathedrale, it was time for our Taittinger Champagne cellar tour. It was a very interesting tour through the chalk caves dug out by Romans in the fourth century and established by monks for champagne storage in the thirteenth century. It was then onto the bus for the long drive back to Dover and London. It was snowing in England too –heavy snow fall near Dover brought the motorway to a standstill and even walking through Clapham I received a light dusting.
Overall it was a good trip – nice to start travelling again and finally reach mainland Europe.
Locations Visited: London, Lucerne, Interlaken, Metz, Reims, London
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