Get Swissed Famil

Staff member: Jess H // Trip date: Jun 2012

We all touched down in Zurich in the early-morning fog of the 9th of June, exhaustion heavy on our shoulders, but our hearts full with eager anticipation.

We were greeted by the lovely Lisa James, Swiss Tourism representative, and we all made our way by metro, then tram to our wonderful Zurich hotel, the Crowne Plaza.

This hotel was an absolute pleasure to stay at. The rooms were small, but fitted with every amenity one could possibly want, including a small but very sweetbox of welcome Swiss chocolates.

The first day officially started in the lobby of our hotel at 12 noon, where we all gathered to make our way to lunch. Said lunch was perched high on the top of a local mountain Uetliberg. At the top, the views were superb and well worth the effort to get up there. At the lunch the tables were abuzz with excitement and the realization we were all in Switzerland and feeling like the luckiest agents on earth.

This feeling was soon to be dispelled somewhat as we questioned where we were to go from there. The lovely tour guide Albert pointed far into the distance at a tower that looked like it could be in Northern Germany. We all laughed and joked about how funny Albert was, but Albert was not joking.

We begun our five and a half kilometre trek into the Swiss wilderness and quickly became aware that five and half kilometres seemed a whole lot further when you are going up and down hills in inappropriate attire.

With a burning desire to finish the trek and reach the nearest WC at the end of the journey, I powered on through the walk and was the first to finish with my student flights side-kick Nathan as both my trusty companion and my beacon of moral support through the last traitorous part of the trying journey.

The end of our journey saw us at the top of the cable car/gondola in Felsenegg, and this was a very pleasant ride down the mountain with stunning views or Zurich along the way.

We returned to the hotel, dirty, damaged and exhausted. We all got cleaned up and met back down in the lobby for dinner.

Our hosted dinner in the old town was really lovely, but the day had taken its toll and the 35 agents were sleep-eating and dosing in and out of consciousness through the 3 amazing courses. We made our way back to the hotel by tram.

The following morning was met with a presentation from Zurich Tourism and Swiss Travel System. The benefits of using a Swiss Pass was highlighted to the group.

We then broke into two groups and left on a walking tour of the city of Zurich. The tour concluded at a small restaurant near the lake where we ate a delicious lunch.

Lunch was followed by a cruise on Lake Zurich, and after the cruise we all went back to the hotel to freshen up for the next hosted dinner in a renovated shipyard. The restaurant was quite modern and cliché and no one fell asleep at the table this time.

The morning broke with the promise of a change of scenery as we all made our way to Zurich HB, with our sights set on Interlaken and the warm embrace of the Jungfrau Region.

Our train changes were seamless, and even with limited connection time, this wasn't an issue with such a great user-friendly train system prompting us every step of the way.

We made a total of 6 train changes that day to make our way up and back down from the Top of Europe via the Jungfraujoch. The altitude favoured some and taunted others, but overall, the excursion was a great success.

We all transferred to separate hotels after making our way down the mountains, and had just enough time to shower and change before taking a small but mighty funicular up to Mount Harder.

What awaited us at the top can not only be described as one of the best views in Switzerland. The summer sunset lingered long enough for 100's of photo opportunities to be taken advantage of, and the sight of the majestic mountains directly ahead, as well as the glorious turquoise lakes on either side set the scene for the best night of the trip.

We were entertained by traditional Swiss entertainers, who yodelled and spoon-clicked their way into our hearts and left most of us with a tear in our eyes as a touching version of Edelweiss was played on a saw with a violin string. The night was only getting started as our Swiss entertainers left. In their place, a DJ settled in for the night and started playing fun and familiar tunes that had us all burning up the dance floor. The night ended on a high with "Land Down Under" being played and the mountain breathed a heavy sigh of relief when the gaggle of Aussie's & Kiwi's singing "Advance Australia Fair" finally got off the funicular at the bottom of Mount Harder after.

The following 4 days were spent in our respective 3 groups, off on separate itineraries exploring different parts of Switzerland.

Our group stayed in Interlaken and made our way to the open air museum of Ballenberg to catch a glimpse into the houses of the 15th, 16th and 17th century in Switzerland. This was followed up by a walking tour of Brienz and a short visit to a museum of traditional arts and crafts and a stroll down one of Europe's most beautiful streets.

We made our way back to our hotel by via a lake cruise and enjoyed a dinner hosted by our hotel Beau Rivage.

The following day we made our way back up the mountains to Grindelwald to First by Gondola, which was hindered by the heavy fog and drizzle. This was to be the "first flyer" 800meter flying fox down the mountain on a harness, however due to snow and rain, the brakes were damp and it was out of action. After much sulking and carb-loading, we made our way down to the 2nd part of the day, which was the Trotti bikes experience, which would see us flying down the mountain at break-neck speeds without a harness.

When we started at the top of the hill, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. The views at either side were picture perfect and the track was dry. Once we started down the mountain, at speeds which no human-cannon-ball could even achieve, it became clear that the skies were conspiring against us and we were soon drenched to the bone in icy water that made it hard to break.

Once we were finally all down the bottom, the sun came out again and it was like the last hour had never happened. We made our way back down the mountain to Interlaken and into clean, dry clothes for a traditional dinner of Fondue, Alpine Macaroni and Potatoes.

The next morning we made our way on foot to the e-bike tour departure point. The e-bikes were fantastic, with the bike doing 50% of the pedalling for you, you could take a moment to look around and enjoy the surrounding views. The tour took us on a brief ride around the city from East to West and back again.

After the e-bike experience, we were all transferred to a Ropes Course in the Interlaken forest. The group thoroughly enjoyed this, as well as the antipasto lunch provided, which saw us eating the first "pick your own" lunch of the trip.

After the ropes course, the rest of the group made their way to the River Rafting, but due to my fall from grace off the trotti bikeon the mountain, my ankle didn't agree with that part of the itinerary and I went back to the hotel until our farewell dinner at Balmers Hostel.

The next morning was again sun-kissed and vibrant, and left us wishing we could have some more time in Interlaken. We made our way to the station and boarded the Golden Pass scenic train. This journey required a train change in Zweisimmen, and before long we were soaking up the stunning views of Lake Geneva as we rolled into Montreux which seemed like more of a photo-shopped postcard than a real place. It was stunning!

After a spectacular lunch on the terrace of our hotel 'Grand Hôtel Suisse Majestic', conveniently located directly opposite the train station, we made a Swiss workshop involving a presentation and some hands-on activities.

In the evening we were transferred by bus to a castle where wine tasting was offered and a delicious dinner was cooked up for us. Each table was hosted by a different sponsor, and we were lucky enough to get the hilarious Fausto from Swiss Travel System on ours.

The night drew to a close and we were transferred back to our glorious hotel, where most enjoyed a nightcap on the outside terrace.

In the morning, we hopped on board a ferry which took up to Vevey, to visit the local markets. We then boarded a train to Chexbres-Village where we walked up the hills through the picturesque vineyards to a restaurant for lunch.

After lunch it was back down the vineyards and to the closest train station to meet our guide for a short tour of Lausanne. This was followed by a little time for shopping and then back to Montreux in preparation for dinner at a nearby restaurant.

The following morning came and we sadly waved goodbye to Montreux. The group transferred to Geneve station, then boarded the TGV Lyria train to Paris. The journey was smooth, speedy and most of all, very comfortable. In no time at all we were disembarking at Gare de Lyon and walking the 200metres to our Mercure Hotel.

Once settled and dressed up, we all transferred by metro to Paradis Latin Cabaret show. This was to be a very interesting experience. For many it was the first time at a show such as this, and many laughs were had.

At the completion of the night, many of the group took the metro to the closest station of the Eiffel tower to see it twinkle on display on the hour. It was a gorgeous clear night and well worth the effort to get there.

The following morning was our last in Paris, and after an hour long Bateaux Mouche - Seine River cruise, we were free to spend a couple of hours in Paris exploring before a bus came to collect us all to take us to the airport.

The famil was a fantastic experience, and the group were exposed to most modes of transport in Switzerland, making it a very thorough and educational experience as well as one that was really fun.

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