Swiss Family Bliss

March 15, 2011

This was definitely not a Maria moment. Standing on top of a snow-capped mountain, 10,000 feet in the air does not come naturally to me. The hills may be alive with the sound of music but this one was blimmin’ high up, actually. (Yes I realise the Von Trapps lived in Austria, but you get the idea).

Holidaying in Switzerland with three teenagers meant that we were going faster, and higher, than perhaps myself or their parents would have liked – all the way to the top of Mount Titlis in a revolving cable car, in fact. Luckily the brave dad among us was only too happy to jump in a snow tube with the kids, leaving us to watch through our fingers as they spun and sped heart-stoppingly close to the edge. This was followed by tobogganing in a long chain across the sparkling white powder and then a trip inside a glacier.

So far, so James Bond.

Fortunately for the Nervous Mums the rest of our holiday in Lucerne was slightly more slow-paced.

We took the immaculately clean and runs-like-clockwork train from Zurich to get to the city, a simple journey through breathtaking countryside. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to step into the alpine scene from a Milka chocolate bar wrapper, this is probably as close as you’ll get. Lush green pastures, vibrantly decorated wooden chalets, cows wearing noisy bells, and air so clear you can actually breathe it in without needing to cough afterwards. Yes, that Heidi was definitely on to a good thing.

Our hotel, the Seeburg, was stylish and modern and located right opposite the Lake. Unfortunately, however, not all the rooms have lake-views – something worth checking when you book, unless you want to look over the noisy car park (which we did the first two nights).

Still, it made a great base for the local attractions, including the transport museum. And if you go in summer, as we did (there’s snow on the mountains all year round), your children will enjoy swimming in the glacier-cold but crystal clear lake.

Of course we did the traditional Swiss things – we went to an alpine evening with some particularly dodgy horn-blowing which ended up in a riotous conga with a coach party from the US.

We also took a sedate paddle-steamer trip across the Lake. On board we enjoyed a particularly fine lunch of rosti (it’s like a giant hash brown stuffed with the filling of your choice and you can taste the pounds going on your hips as you eat it). Some of the guests had dressed up for the occasion, and it was all very Agatha Christie, only without Poirot or, of course, a murder. (The closest the kids came to excitement on that excursion was waving at the people on dry land and seeing how long it took them to wave back.)

Switzerland has a reputation for being expensive, but as we discovered you can eat out quite cheaply. A freshly baked roll stuffed with Swiss cheese or German salami costs around 5 Swiss francs – £2.50 – and a pizza costs around 10CHF – £5.

Swiss fondue, however, is surprisingly pricey, roughly 22CHF (£10) per head for a fish or meat one, which seems a lot to pay for what is essentially skewered stuff with sauce. But after all that fresh air, we couldn’t resist a sweet fondue – marshmallows and fresh fruit served with a delicious warm chocolate dip. And it came with a complimentary glass of schnapps. Ah, bliss.

*We travelled with Thomson Holidays. For more info on Switzerland, click here.

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