This is a long overdue trip report on our first trip to Europe during summer 2013.
A little background: We are a family with two little girls, 6 and 4 years of age, who have traveled extensively in Asia but was travelling to Europe for the first time.
Special thanks to Dukey1, swandav2000, PalenQ and all other fodorites for their valuable advise during the trip planning stage..You really helped make this trip a memorable once in a life time experience!
3N Montruex, 4N Wengen and 2N Luzern
3N - Salzburg
1N - Cesky Krumlov, 3N - Prague
3N - Vienna
Montreux - 3nights
16th JUL – We arrived in the Geneva Airport in the afternoon and caught the first available train to Montreux which was only a hours ride and arrived in Montruex around 4.30pm. At the train station we came across the golden pass tkt office and booked our tkts for train to Gruyere at 8.30AM.
We then walked down to the water front and then to the hotel, just a 10 mins down hill. The montruex jazz festival was on, lots of street performers were around, kids playing at the park, the atmosphere was great. The lake and the mountains were beautiful. The weather was perfect!
We were staying the hotel Eden Palace au Lac, the rooms were old fashioned but clean and lovely, no aircon though but they gave us a cooler for the room. Perfect location, just by the lake and close to Chillon castle and promenade.
We had friends living closeby and they picked us around 6.30 to go for dinner, we went to a small restaurant near a camp site by the lake, great fresh food with a perfect view!In the evening we walked a bit along the promenade to listen to some music and see the festival.
17th Jul – In the morning we went to the Migros, COOP just 2 mins from the hotel by the lake to get some snacks and also some breakfast croissants’, yogurt and milk/coffee. After having much by the lake we walked along the promenade to the Chillon castle. Beautiful flowers all over and the mountains across the lake had a bit of snow on top. It was a clear sunny morning. We took the audio guide for the castle and explored the castle and afterwards went to the pier to catch the boat to Vevey.
The ride was beautiful; And Vevey was a quaint lovely village. There was a merry-go-round by the water, the kids enjoyed a couple of rides. There were kids in the water fountain splashing about as it was quite sunny and the we had the greatest difficulty keeping the girls away from the water. We had our morning purchases for a picnic lunch by the kids park. After feeding some bread to the swans , we walked along the water towards the Charlie Chaplin statue. We walked inwards towards the town, explored a few streets and then caught the bus back to Montruex.
The jazz festival was in full swing, we listened to some music, had really yummy dinner from the festival food stalls and then headed back to the hotel for the night.
18th Jul – We took the morning boat to Cully. The views on the way were of the Lavaux vineyards were beautiful. We explored Cully and stopped by the small farmers market, then started our walk through the vineyards to Lutry. It was an easy walk, at one point we lost our way and there was no one to ask directions from, but somehow, we managed to get back on to the correct path and get to Lutry in a couple of hours. The views of the vineyards down to the lake were beautiful. The girls were happy to run along with a couple of snack breaks in between, except for a small way which was a step climb the rest was flat or down hill..an easy walk.
We entered Lutry near the lake playground, the girls went into wet their feet in the water and we rested a while at the playground. Lots of locals were out an about in the park having picnics and swimming in the water..We then went into to town and had lunch , the best Cheese and bacon Rosti we had during our entire trip…walked around the town after lunch and then took the back to Montruex..We stayed in the jazz festival area to listen to some music, watch street artisits, explore the stalls and grabbed an early dinner before heading to the hotel.
There was concerns that Montruex may be too crowded during the Jazz festival and that we should base ourselves in Vevely, but we are glad that we stayed in Montruex, we enjoyed our evenings of people watching and festival activities in Montreux..and we didnt feel over crowded at any of the sights or at the festival itself. we all enjoyed the food stalls, street performers and the music!
The long day from Montreux to Wengen via Broc and Gruyere
19th Jul – Early morning, we woke up to catch the train to Broc . Today was a long day with a visit to broc, gruyeres on the itinerary before heading to Wengen for the night. Hubby went and checked in the luggage for direct trf to Lauterbrunnen.
The kids and I walked to the lake front to pick up some breakfast and also to visit the morning farmers market..The stalls were just being set up..we were too early..but the bakery stall was open and we bought some delicious pastries and cheese tarts for breakfast.. We walked to the train station to catch the 8.45 train to Broc, with a change over at Montbovon.
We had booked the atelier chocolate workshop for the family which was a real treat for the kids!. We were given our very own aprons which we got to keep as a souvenir. There was a brief introduction of cocoa beans and chocolate and then we got down to business…To use melted chocolate from the dark/milk and white bowls to fill up the chocolate molds and use different flavor and topping to make our very own chocolate…After putting them in the freezer we unmolded them to take home our very own chocolate.. there were about 12-15 persons in the group, and were taken for the chocolate factory tour afterwards where we got to see how the machines work..didnt get to see much there but the kids were impressed. The free chocolate tasting room at the end of the tour was a nice finish to a great chocolate factory visit, which I would say was one of the highlights of the entire trip for the kids… The workshop is recommended if you have young kids!
After a quick look around the shop and making a few purchases, we caught the 12.30 train to Gruyere. The train station is just near the Gruyere cheese factory, so that’s where we headed first. After a quick visit to the factory to see the milk being churned in the huge containers and learning the process through the audio guides, we walked up the path to the Gruyere village.
The gruyere village is very picturesque, flowers all over, beautiful fountain at the entrance… our first stop was the Gruyere Castle. The castle was impressive, had a beautiful maze garden the kids enjoyed. We had a quick lunch of cheese fondue at one of the restaurants, had to rush lunch as were were to catch the 4pm train back to montbovon for the train to Wengen. When we got back down to the station, we realized we had a little more time for the train and ran in to the La Maison de Gruyeres shop to pick up some meringues and fresh cream..This cream was the best we had ever tasted!!1 and made for a wonderful dessert on the train whilst watching the views roll by..
The change over at Montbovon was easy and quick (a 4 min change over time which made me quite nervous was just perfect! Enough time to find our carriage and get a seat!) and we got to Lauterbrunnen late in the evening.. It was past 7 pm at the Lauterbrunnen station, the station office was closed so we didn’t think we could retrieve our luggage sent directly from Montruex, but when DH checked with an officer at the station, he helped to open the office and get our luggage just I time to catch the train to Wengen..The
views of the Lauterbrunnen valley on our way up to Wengen were stunning, we were tired and ready to get to our hotel, Romantik Hotel Schönegg. It was a 5 min walk from the station and we were shown our room with a terrace and fantastic views of the mountains. We had booked breakfast and dinner at the hotel, as we thought it would be nice to come back to the hotel after our long days of walking to a hot meal.. And the dinner the first night was fantastic.. All though the whole meal was very very good, after more than 6 months, I still remember how good the wild blueberry pie with cream was!!! All the dinners had at the hotel were excellent, some of the best meals we had on the trip!!
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This is a long overdue trip report on our first trip to Europe during summer 2013.