4 October 2023

A Holiday, A Birthday And Chocolate, Lots of Chocolate

I have had a fantastic holiday in Switzerland with Rail Discoveries, part of the Great Rail Journeys group.

32 of us met our tour guide at St Pancras where our trip started on the Eurostar to Paris then another train to Strasbourg for an overnight stay. We had some spare time in the afternoon before dinner. 

I went to the Cathedral but it had closed early so I didn't get to see inside,
it is HUGE. 

The following morning I did a boat trip around the city
followed by a brief walk around Petite France.
            Petite Frace courtesy of Wikipedia Commons            and a postcard

This is the most picturesque district of old Strasbourg. Fishermen, millers and tanners once lived and worked in this part of town where the streets have been built level with the waterways.
The magnificent half-timbered houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Their sloping roofs open out onto lofts where hides were once dried. 

With cobblestone streets, narrow lanes, canals and locks, and scarlet geraniums everywhere Petite France is beautiful. I think it looks stunning at night time.
I would liked to have stayed longer, sit and linger over coffee and cake, drink in the views, and watch the world go by, but I had to return to the hotel at midday for our onward journey.
We boarded a train to Basel, then to Interlaken and finally to the lovely pretty village of Winderswill.

My room was bijoux. It's most annoying that price per person solo travellers pay more but we get the smallest rooms. It is what it is though. It was pretty, warm and the bed was very comfortable, I slept well. The shower room was modern and spacious.

The view from my balcony.
All meals were included, breakfasts were a cold buffet with a huge variety of delicious breads, cereals, croissants, jam, honey, yoghurts, meats, cheeses, eggs, juices, tea and coffee.
We had packed lunches every day, a choice of cheese, meat or tuna sandwiches, a boiled egg, cake and a piece of fruit.
Dinner was three courses with all inclusive drinks from 7 - 9. They weren't rubbish drinks, the beers and wines were very good.

These troughs have fresh mountain water flowing into them,
we filled our water bottles every day.

Our first day was a free day. I took the train into Interlaken using my Swiss Half Fare Card included with the package. Our tour manager was going into the old town and asked if I would like to join her.

We walked along the river to the old town where we parted company,
she had some work to do. I meandered around the lovely shops

then sat in a park watching the paragliders landing
 whilst eating my picnic packed lunch. 

After lunch I took the funicular up to Harder Kulm

the views are spectacular. Everywhere we went the beautiful rivers and lakes looked as if vats of turquoise dye had been poured into them.

The next day was an organised trip,
scenic journey on the Schynige Platte Railway

 19th-century carriages hauled by a vintage electric locomotive.

There is a cafe and lots of lovely walking trails.
I'm not much of a hill walker nowadays

I did a gentle walk through the Botanical Alpine Garden with hundreds of species of delicate alpine flowers, sadly now past their best, but in
spring it would look gorgeous.

There is also a hotel where the Alphorn players sounded beautiful.
I should have done a video.

It's also a great place to see the Jungfrau mountain. I'm not sure
but I think this range is the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch.

The next day was a free day. I took myself off to Thun. The train from Interlaken was a double decker, very smart, quiet and fast, and much cheaper than train travel at home.

With its historic buildings, promenades steeped in history, the white castle and fantastic views over the lake set against the backdrop of the Bernese Alps, Thun is popular with locals and tourists alike.

The weir

The water passes through the weir at such a speed it creates waves that are hugely popular with surfers.

This girl was so good.
They grab hold of the rope that is attached to the bridge, get on their boards

manoeuver themselves to the middle, then when they feel confident let go and surf, or fall off! I could have watched them for ages but there were sights to see, a castle to visit, and a nice spot to be found for lunch.

I strolled through the cobblestone streets with lots of lovely small shops, through the old town

 up to the castle

where I found a lovely quiet shady spot to have my lunch

The eggs were painted in pretty hues of red and yellow.
On the way back to the station I stopped off for coffee and chocolate!

The next day was exciting - it was my birthday.
The hotel put this lovely heart on my door.

And it was the day for our trip up to the Jungfrau Sphinx Astronomical Observatory. At 3,571 mtrs above sea level, it's one of the highest observatories in the world. Accessible via the underground Jungfrau railway.

The stunning Aletsch Glacier - a World Heritage wonder. This is another panorama that I didn't know I had taken!

Very cold Ice Palace

My birthday, the highest point in Europe and Lindt chocolates, chocolate in all it's deliciousness. It was a GOOD day. Back at the hotel at dinner I enjoyed a chorus of 'Happy Birthday'

and a piece of chocolate cake with a roman candle in it!

Before departure I was checking the weather forecast almost daily and it was grim - lots of rain. Then a few days before departure it was looking much better. Nevertheless I took an assortment of clothes, a warm sweater for the trip to Jungfrau, a dress, a couple of light jumpers and shirts, a couple of short sleeeved t-shirts, and a couple of camisoles. As you can see from the photos we had glorious blue skies and lovely warm weather, people were wearing light cotton trousers and sandals.

The last day was a trip on Lake Brienz. A few of us left the boat half way to take a trip up to a very nice hotel and a waterfall that you could walk behind. There was a queue for the funicular, someone said it would be just as quick to walk up.

It was a pretty walk but took longer than expected, whoever timed it was younger and fitter than us oldies! We only had an hour before catching the next boat to Brienz. B
y the time we reached the top there was no time to visit the waterfall

not even time for a coffee in the lovely hotel. We took the funicular down

Brienz is very pretty

I strolled along beside the lake, into the old town

then met up with a lovely couple from my group for a last iced latte before catching the train back.

I met these lovely, lovely people at the beginning of the holiday, just after we went through passport control at St Pancras. They invited me to join them for dinner every evening and I spent a bit of time with them on a few days.

I have lots of wonderful memories of a fantastic holiday.

Dear reader if you are still here after such a long post, thank you for staying!
I hope you have enjoyed the post as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

∼ Be safe and well ∼

Polly x


  1. Happy Birthday, Polly! Wonderful to see photos of you. What a glorious trip -- spectacular scenery, charming towns and cities, good food and CHOCOLATE! I've never been to my grandparents' homeland which they left to emigrate here to Canada a hundred years ago. I'd love to go but my mobility issues nowadays has put an end to my international travel.

    1. Thank you Debra. I'm sorry you won't be able to visit.

  2. Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday - you certainly celebrated the event in great style. As a man who fell on to the bed while putting his trousers on this morning, I can only admire the poise and balance of those surfers!

    1. Thank you John. ha, ha, I've done that. I wanted to go the week before but it was fully booked, but I'm glad I went when I did because I had a lovely birthday and the weather was glorious.

  3. What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday -- and Happy Birthday, Polly. I loved each and every photograph. Never having been to Switzerland, it's fascinating t see these charming towns and beautiful scenery. What a treat for you -- and for us, vicariously!

    1. Thank you Jeanie, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos :-)

  4. Happy belated bday! What a great great trip:)

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog Polly. I really enjoyed reading about your Swiss trip - and the photos are lovely.
    Crossing the pond tomorrow night - I’ll wave to you when we get close to Essex!! Fingers crossed Devon weather will be pleasant.
    Mary (A Breath of Fresh Air)

    1. I will look out for you Mary :-) I think the next few days are going to be sunny, I hope the rest of your trip will be sunny too.

  6. That looks like a wonderful trip, especially with better-than-expected weather. The scenery is spectacular. You must have wanted to prolong the trip for a few extra days! Oh, and a belated Happy Birthday.

    1. Thank you Nick. The weather was a welcome bonus compared to what I though it was initially going to be.

  7. Happy birthday to you.
    You had a great journey. One of pleasures in beautiful mountains is to get wonderful pure water there.

    1. Thank you RC. You are correct about the water, beautiful, pure mountain fresh.

  8. Belated Happy 🎂 Birthday wishes to you Polly and what a fantastic way to celebrate with snow, mountains and chocolate! Your trip looked wonderful, thanks for all the great photos of such a photo-perfect adventure!


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