Category Archives for "Switzerland"

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in the Switzerland.

Kandersteg – Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Walking on Top of the World

Of all the images of Switzerland, the most enduring is that of a snow-dusted winter paradise. But early-19th-century visitors put it on the map as an aristocratic summer destination prescribed for its invigorating and bracing alpine air. Today’s summer visi­tors are lured by the network of high-terrain foot trails and marked walking paths that make the Alps among the world’s finest loca­tions to rejuvenate the body and nourish the soul.

With such a concentration of glorious mountain scenery, the choice of where to start can be daunting. Enter Fred Jacobson, Swiss alpine mountain guide par excellence and self-proclaimed “alpaholic.”

Among the many and varied trips he leads for every level of ability, the beautiful broad valleys and vertical limestone cliffs of the folkloric Appenzell (in the less-visited area of eastern Switzerland) and the more steep-sided ravines of Kandersteg in the popular canton of Bernese Oberland are two favorite regions. (Jacobson also offers downhill and cross­country ski trips for all levels of experience during winter months).

The cozy, quiet village of Kandersteg draws return hikers for any number of reasons, including the promise of a picnic lunch high on the bluffs over­looking the clear waters of the gemlike Lake Oeschinen, one of Switzerland’s most striking natural wonders.

Trekkers will have plenty of opportunities to stop and catch their breath among the staggering mountainscapes and to stop and smell the wildflowers in the lush alpine meadows.

Jungfraujoch – Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Staggering Views Riding the World’s Highest Railroad

The scenic wonders of Switzerland all come into focus in the central region called the Bernese Oberland, and the rail trip up to the Jungfraujoch is the acme of all high-altitude excursions.

At 11,400 feet, the Jungfraujoch terminus has been the highest railroad station in the world for more than a century and, as one of the most popular excursions in Switzerland, it can often seem like Grand Central Station at rush hour.

Come early or late in the season to avoid the worst of the crowds, and treat yourself to some of the most stag­gering mountain scenery anywhere in the world. There are stops along the way and things to do once you arrive, including a visit to the chilled depths of the famed Eispalast (Ice Palace), a cavernous area carved out of a glacier and featuring permanent ice sculpture on display. Check out the Sphinx Terrace, from which the views of the Mönch and Jungfrau peaks are topped only by that of the 14-mile icy expanse of the Aletsch Glacier, Europe’s longest.

Head for the Top of Europe restaurant for a lunch break that gives new meaning to “haute” cuisine (the food is definitely not the point here). Vary your return trip by taking the route to the traditional mountain village of Grindelwald, which shares its first-class ski area with equally adorable Wengen. It is one of the region’s most picturesque year-round resorts (especially favored for its high-terrain hiking), dramatically set beneath the towering north face of the Eiger peak. In Interlaken, stay at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa.

With refinement and service as lightweight as an eiderdown quilt and as efficient as a Swiss-made watch, the hotel is a monument of luxury, seemingly untouched (thanks to frequent but seamless renovations) since it was built in 1865.

Gstaad – Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

A Royal Playground Above the Clouds

At the confluence of four alpine valleys, Gstaad is the pearl of the magnificent Bernese Oberland, one of the world’s best winter playgrounds. Make that summertime playground as well.

With its 155 miles of downhill runs, 60 miles of cross-country trails, and a host of year-round activities, this is where royalty and the world’s celebs ski, but who knew it could be so unspoiled and unpretentious. It has almost the air of a country village, albeit a very affluent one: those stores are mighty expensive and none of the gorgeous hotels are catering to the have-nots.

Gstaad is so low-key and quiet you might even find it a tad boring, unless you’re staying at the Palace Hotel Gstaad, one of the most sought-after hideaways in the world.

Towering over tiny Gstaad like a neomedieval castle dreamed up by Mad Ludwig, this 107-room hotel, built in 1912, bills itself as Switzerland’s largest family pension, but don’t let the cozy and rustically decorated rooms fool you: this hotel is the epicenter of the local social scene. Guests check into this splendid fantasyland for extended periods of time, drawn by the management’s motto that “Every king is a client, every client is a king.”

In addition to great service, great food is also readily avail­able, but for real local alpine gemütlichkeit (homeyness) take the cable car to the mountaintop terraced Berghaus Eggli restaurant for raclette or fondue and a view you’ll never forget.

Restaurant Bruderholz – Basel, Switzerland

With Shoes to Fill and a Culinary Torch to Carry

Master chef Hans Stucki was one of Switzerland’s culinary giants until his premature death in 1998. Those in the food world reverently dropped his name the way aspiring artists do that of Picasso. Good news: the torch has been picked up by one honored enough to have worked under his tutelage in the kitchen for close to a decade.

At the forefront of Switzerland’s (and Europe’s) new guard of stellar chefs, Jean-Claude Wicky effortlessly maintains the standards of Stucki, retaining such specialties as Suprème de Dombes (quail prepared with morel mushrooms and black truffles), and a tender loin of lamb that hints of rosemary sprigs.

The décor, mood, and menu have lightened up, but the culinary style remains assertive and the international clientele – although a tad younger – is savvy enough to know what the wonder and genius of Stucki continues to rule. Wicky carries his rendition of that legacy into the new millennium with ease.