The Swiss Riviera
Lake Geneva and stories of the past add to the Swiss glory.india Updated: Jan 12, 2010 20:01 IST
I started my Swiss adventure from Lavaux, which is perched above the sparkling blue Lake Geneva. Here I rode the Lavaux Express, a ride that offered the luxury of the scenic beauty of yachts reflected on the mirrored lake.
Lavaux was placed on the UNESCO heritage site two years ago, the first such classification in western Switzerland. As we rode past, I was sure that this was because of the symmetric and gorgeous vineyards. When the train stopped at Jean Vogel’s Vineyard, I tasted the best Syrah ever.
Around Lake Geneva
The boat ride around the lake was invigorating. The lake is so big, it is kind of like the centre of the city, with a waterside and cute little cafes and boats, etc.
Did you know Lake Geneva is the largest Alpine lake in Europe (as big as Lake Tahoe) and that the Rhine River feeds and exits the lake? The water is crystal blue and there are huge chateaus surrounding it.
From Lavaux I moved to Lausanne, where I had booked a room for two nights. Later in the day, I strolled around in the old towns of Vevey and Montreux. Approximately 3 km east of Montreux was a castle, part of which is built on a rocky spur on Lake Geneva. It was interesting to discover what life was like centuries ago in medieval Switzerland. The furniture, paintings, Aula Nova (banqueting hall) and the prison were fascinating.
No trip to Switzerland can be complete without a stop at a chocolate factory. I visited the Caillier chocolate factory where I got to watch up close how cocoa is processed and turned into fine chocolate.
I was told that international chocolate makers Nestlè acquired Caillier in the 1980s and took over this facility. History apart, the chocolate tasting was the best part, of course.
Best Way To Reach: Fly Swiss Airlines to Geneva (local carriers are always the most economical). From Geneva, take a train. You can even fly in and out from Zurich.
Moving Around Locally: Buy a Swiss pass for the duration of your stay. It works for all modes of transportation including boats, trams et al. Indians can buy it from Rail Europe India.
Visa And Currency: Indians require a Schengen Visa to enter Switzerland. The currency used is the Swiss Franc. 1 CHF is equal
to Rs 46 (approximately).