We visited Switzerland for the first time in December 2014 and it’s safe to say it was love at first sight. The natural beauty, the people, the food and of course, the efficient public transport system made it an ideal destination for nature/transport lovers like Dalek as well as clueless-but-enthusiastic-travellers like me. Since then, we’ve grabbed every chance to visit this beautiful country – be it Zurich, Geneva or Zermatt.
This year, we spent our Easter weekend in Switzerland exploring Interlaken (sneak preview above). Located roughly at the centre of Switzerland, this region is insanely popular with travellers, tourists and locals alike, mainly because it serves as a gateway to some of the most exquisitely beautiful locations. We did take a little detour to Geneva first because we wanted to meet a friend who lives nearby (he’s a brilliant academic who skateboards and runs marathons, ladies! ). This was our second time visiting Geneva and so different from our usual travelling days, but we enjoyed it immensely. Here’s to good friends and good food!
Highlights of Our Day
We’re not the most social pair of people so we get excited when we meet someone we know on our travel path. Our evening was filled with laughter and conversations in some beautiful settings by the lake. We got an insight into university student life in Switzerland from our friend, it sounds as fun as everywhere else 🙂
1. Bains de Paquis
This is the best place to chill out in Geneva if you have 2 CHF to spare. Bains de Paquis is a set of baths on a tiny island in Lake Geneva connected by a small bridge. More importantly, it is also home to one of the most affordable restaurants in the city for creamy white-wine fondue with a spectacular view of the lake. Apart from the fondue, the three of us chilled out at the pebble beach and took in views of the Jet d’Eau. This is a photo spot par-excellence.
Tip: Reservations are so highly recommended for the fondue, it is not even funny. The simple ambience dining room had every table with a reservation post it note on it.
Tip: The restaurant is cash only (a rarity in Switzerland). A 2-person sized fondue (23 CHF per person) easily fed the 3 of us.
2. Downtown Geneva
It takes 15 minutes of walking to get to Bains de Paquis from the Geneve train station. We took a leisurely stroll through the picturesque downtown and lakeside areas. We got a bit carried away capturing the Jet d’Eau because we were disappointed that it was not operational during our first visit. We also treated ourselves to icecream by the lake because sunshine.
Tip: Most water fountains in Switzerland provide drinking water so don’t be shy to fill up your bottles and stay hydrated.
3. Failed excursion
Here is where a planning fail happened. Swiss railway stations have luggage lockers (7 CHF for 6 hours) which are perfect for trips like this one, we got off the train, dumped our bags (containing our non first-world passports) and set off to get to the top of Mont Saleve just across the Swiss-French border. We failed to take into account that the bus stopped on the Swiss side meaning we had to cross the border on foot. There are checks on the Swiss borders as Switzerland has its own Customs so without our passports, we were sitting ducks.
We’d have gone across had we gotten out passports so make sure you have ID on you when visiting Mont Saleve. Here is a shot of it from the border. On the plus side, Yoda got to sit indoors in a bus for an hour to avoid the “too sunny” weather.
Public Transport Logistics
- Flew into Geneva from the UK on a dirt cheap Easyjet flight.
- From the Geneva airport baggage claim, you can print a free public transport ticket valid for 80 minutes for travel into Downtown and surrounding areas.
- Bus 5 takes you to the Swiss-French border to visit Mont Saleve from Gare Geneve.
- We took the SBB train to Interlaken changing at Bern on or way out. Read our Swiss transport guide to see how we save 50% on every train ticket we buy in Switzerland. Our timing were constrained this time around as many people snapped up the limited Supersaver tickets during the peak travel hours.
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