Our Road to the Bernese Oberland

A great nights sleep is always a good way to start a new adventure, and today was no exception. The luxury and comfort afforded us by the Chateau Courban combined with the excellent Discovery Menu and a fine Chablis to provide the great cocktail for that beauty sleep!

Fortified by an energetic swim and a mini work out by the pool, breakfast was a heavenly mix of home baked Quiche Lorraine, jams and pastries accompanied by several mind blowing espressos!

Back on the road, I set about the serious business of Blogging whilst Gillian took the wheel. The first part of the journey out of the Côte d’Or was fairly plain. It wasn’t until we were well into Franche Comte and past Bessancon that things started to become more interesting.

Past Pontarlier the landscape takes on more of an Alpine appearance. This is the real essence of Franche Comte. Road side stalls selling wheels of their delicious aged Comte cheese, alpine pastures decked with cows, their bells creating a beautiful little symphony.

We crossed the border into Switzerland shortly afterwards. Sneeze and you’d miss it! A crossing so easy and effortless that it was a far cry from the painful, numbing queues at Dover!

Before too long we had reached Lake Neufchâtel and went about the important business of finding a suitable location to carry out a spot of open water lake swimming.

We turned off the Swiss route 1 and headed towards the picture postcard mediaeval town of Estavayer du Lac. Access to the lake was not that easy and some distance from where we could park! I looked at iMaps on the phone and navigated us to a little hamlet called Vernay.

At the end of a twisting narrow grit track there opened up a grassed parking area right by the Lac and the most delightful little beach without hordes of people.

It was getting close to 3pm and the cooling waters of the lake called.  The first 20m were really shallow and so although the lake is fed with alpine fresh water the heat of the sun had warmed it to a refreshing but tepid temperature.

Revived and refreshed we pushed on into the heart of the Bernese Oberland, passing the rather industrial capital Bern. As we passed Lake Thun we started to fully appreciate the dramatic nature of the lake mountain combination, even so we were quite unprepared for the sheer beauty of our final destination that day, the stunning Grand Hotel Giessbach.

Our arrival no less dramatic on account of the white knuckle ride along the steep narrow road with multiple hairpin bends passing the iconic Giessbach Falls before arriving at the Hotel.

Our arrival was made all the more welcoming due to a charming young Swiss Bermudan called Jonathan Wenger. Although only on a work experience placement he was a real ambassador for the hotel. Helpful and courteous and accessing the many complex Swiss rail timetables to help us plan our mountain hike for the next day. I’m sure that one day he will be the General Manager of a Leading Hotel of the World!

Feeling tired we deposited our bags in our room and hastened back to the bar where we met the lovely Giota, a Greek ex pat who ran the bar with the charismatic Swiss Toni.

Having ordered the Giessbach burger and fries we indulged in a cocktail with our table over looking the lake on one side and the Falls on the other.

Always keen to try something new Giota introduced me to the local speciality, the Hugo, while Gillian opted for her favourite, the Margarita!

The Hugo

Fill a tall wine glass with ice.

Add some crushed mint to the glass and a squeeze of lime.

Pour over about 30ml of finest Swiss organic elderflower cordial and fill 1/3 with Prosecco.

Top up with a little soda water to taste …… Perfectly refreshing and best enjoyed with a mountain/lake view.

After dinner we indulged further by asking Toni if he could make us a nightcap of Esspresso Martinis, he obliged with two killer numbers that sent us off into a golden slumber with a lullaby of the sound of the water crashing over the nearby Falls.



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