I started off 2019 travelling between 3 countries with my best friend and if that’s not the best way to start a year, I don’t know what is. There wasn’t any early morning gym classes, green juices or plates of veggies to “start the year right”. Just us, our suitcases and a craving for adventure.
We had a calm morning flight from Paris to Geneva but once we landed, we ran into some trouble with the rental car we’d booked the previous night as the booking had not gone through. After haggling with a couple of companies, we had to settle with a smaller car for double the price than we’d previously booked. Moving on from that pretty quickly, we set out to find some breakfast in Geneva hoping we’d find a breakfast thats better than what the French can offer! We ate at a cute cafe called Birdie that was delish, we both had full meals of eggs, bacon and swiss cheese on toast *drool* then we hit the road to Montreux where we based ourselves for the couple of nights in Switzerland. The drive is mostly along a highway which is nice and straight forward, its about an hours drive and when we came into Montreux we got the most beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It happened to be the most stunning day and we were soaking it up! We had some time before we checked into our accomodation so we wandered by the lake and visited Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva which is very picturesque. Its been used for a lot of things since it was first built in 1160 (and since had many renovations) and is one of Switzerland’s most visited historic monuments. We then checked into our AirBnB that happened to be in the tallest building on the lake front and we were staying on level 22 which meant our deck and every window in the apartment had amazing views of Montreux and we were fizzing for it! We ended the day with a walk through the town and a
dirty yummy Thai takeout. Montreux reminds me of Queenstown but on crack, lol. The town is compact with food and shopping, the surrounding mountains topped with snow, the still lake and cold temps… you could sit and take it in for hours. I go to sleep thinking “I’m really here in Switzerland” and I can’t wait for what’s ahead.
We hit the road driving from Montreux, through Aigle and up the mountain to Le Sépey, aiming to get to Glacier3000. However as the drive got more and more snowy and I have zero experience driving in sleety conditions (but how magical is it to drive in snow right?!) we decided to stop and enjoy the snow fall at Le Sépey before turning around and heading back down. I’m not a winter gal (but thats fast changing) and have hardly experienced snow but this snow fall was so beautiful! It was falling pretty heavily *I think*, landing on our clothes and hair. We parked up and got out, probably on some private property, and enjoyed it for what it was. The little town we had stopped in was dead quiet and had a pretty airy feel to it but had cute wooden snow cabins and piled wooden logs all around that set the scene. As we headed back down, we were told by a local running a food truck on the mountain that it wasn’t the weather for Glacier3000 so we were glad we followed our instincts! We stopped in Villeneuve on the way back where we discovered a tree that is verrrrry similar to the Wanaka tree in NZ. We then planned to go to the supermarket to pick up some ingredients to make dinner but when we got there, it was shut along with most other shops around which caught us so off guard as it was only 5.30pm on a Saturday! We wandered around town looking for a dinner spot and settled at a cosy pub for a nice dinner and dessert. It was a beautiful drive today and we got to see some hidden gems around Montreux. I think its easy enough just to get in the car and drive and you’ll come across some beautiful places around Montreux no matter what way you head.
We got up early, grabbed breakfast on the go and made our way to Zermatt which is around a 1hr 45min drive. This is easily what we were looking forward to the most in our Switzerland trip and hoped the sky would clear for us as we drove towards the snow. The drive is again pretty easy, along a lot of highway with a bit of weaving up the mountain near the end. It does get better the closer you get to Täsch though as we drove passed frozen waterfalls, more snow cabins and icicles hanging off a lot of rocks and tunnels. I almost can’t imagine that its not always winter in this part of the world?! We arrive in Täsch which is 5km out from Zermatt parked the car, as Zermatt is car free. Täsch has a large parking building that connects to the train station and we pay around $16CHF for a return ticket to get on the train that is a 12min scenic ride into Zermatt. Zermatt is the cutest! There are horse & carriage and golf cart look-a-likes to get around but we walk around the whole town trying to find the gondola to go up the mountain to the Matterhorn glacier but end up catching the Gornergrat train which we got on “happy hour” for around $50CHF for a return ticket. The ride up the mountain is UNREAL and as we rose above the clouds, we came into an absolute bluebird day on top of the mountain which we were stoaked about! With the matterhorn coming into view, we pinched ourselves that we are actually here, amongst the Swiss alps! We get off at the last stop, Gornergrat, with an elevation of 3089m and some crazy minus degrees. We spent two hours on top of the mountain, taking in the views and taking lots of pictures, only stopping to warm up our hands. The Matterhorn mountain is in full view, it sits on the boarder of Switzerland and Italy and has a stunning pyramid peak. Its also otherwise famous for being the mountain on the Toblerone packet so Brooke and I have come prepared with Toblerone bars to get THE pic. We thoroughly enjoy the ride down again as we open the train windows and hang out, our noses red from the cold and our adrenaline pumping. We’re so glad we got to Zermatt and would’ve liked to stay a night or two there to explore some more. Its definitely a do-able day trip from Montreux though and easy enough to figure out. We get Thai takeout again for dinner (there is honestly not much food choice in Montreux and everything is $$$) and settle for a night in our warm AirBnB watching Netflix.
We fly to Rome at 6pm so our day was pretty much checking out of our accomodation, wandering around Montreux again and then driving to Geneva to catch our flight. We did want to grab lunch at Le Deck but it was closed until later in Jan and when we got to Geneva a bit earlier than we needed to be, we didn’t really know what to do so it was a day of aimlessly wandering and driving, being a bit tired but thankful and very grateful to have experienced and seen what we had in Switzerland.
Montreux and its surroundings are beautiful, I’d say having great accomodation was a huge plus this trip as coming back to the views was like the day never had an end. Definitely hire a car. Everything is expensive, be very prepared for that! We didn’t eat at any food place that blew our minds, it was all actually very average (and still $$$) but if I had the chance to come back again, I would. I’d definitely like to explore a lot more of Switzerland as its such a stunning country but for now, its time to head to another city, see you in Rommmmmaaaa! XO