Sunday, December 20, 2015

A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 10

We arrived in beautiful Vevey, Switzerland at about 6:30pm or so.  It was dark outside and Bill was stressed out from the mountains and switchbacks, along with the steep inclines and descents.  He says he's going to get the brakes checked on the Toyota.  I mention this only to remind folks headed for Alpine territory by car to make sure your brakes are in fine working order.  You will definitely need them more than ever there.

I had had my eye on Grand Hotel du Lac in Vevey since the first time we lived in Germany.  Back in 2008, we took a trip to Italy and Switzerland and Bill had wanted to visit Gruyeres then.  I had tried to find us a place to stay, but had no luck finding something we could easily afford.  Back in those days, he was still paying child support for three kids, one of which was not legally his responsibility.  None of those kids speak to Bill now.

Anyway, somehow that hotel got added to my list of bookmarks.  I wasn't necessarily planning to go there when we decided to visit Switzerland.  In fact, we weren't sure where we'd want to go.  I suggested Gruyeres when I remembered that Bill wanted to visit the H.R. Giger Museum.  I also know how much he loves cheese.  Once again, feasible lodging in Gruyeres seemed lacking.  Having never been there before yesterday, I didn't know how many hotels were available.  It sounded like the parking situation might be difficult there.  So I decided to just go ahead and splurge on Hotel du Lac.

The first thing to know about Hotel du Lac is that it's a five star establishment.  It's expensive, but save for a couple of fairly minor hiccups over the weekend, we had an almost flawless stay.  It started when we pulled into the hotel's small parking lot in front of the impressive facade.  The door opened and a young man came out and parked our car, steps from the front door.  He then took our bags for us.

A young woman opened the front door and welcomed us.  We sat down in the hotel's office and she and her colleague offered us house made Swiss chocolate.  Then we got down to business.  I had booked a deluxe room, which was priced at $387 (390 francs) per night.  That did not include the charge for breakfast (39 francs a person) or parking (40 francs).  However, even though I spent a lot of cash on this hotel, I would say it's probably one of the best I've ever stayed in in my lifetime.  The deluxe room included a balcony, which looked over Lake Geneva and The Alps.  Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate with us when we were in the room and the view was mostly wasted on us due to fog.  We did enjoy the large balcony, though.  It would be especially nice when the weather is totally clear.

As you may know, Switzerland has four official languages: Italian, German, French, and Romansch.  Vevey is in the French part, very close to Montreux.


Wonderful, plush, king sized bed.  A lovely housekeeper stopped by and did turn down service for us.  She left us with Swiss chocolates.  When we got back to the hotel last night after going to Gruyeres, she set the television to play classical music for us.  The room uses a card to keep the lights on, but she had kindly left one for us, so we didn't come back to a dark room.


Beware!  Outlets in Switzerland are different.  I had forgotten that about Switzerland last time we visited and stayed overnight back in May 2008.  I will have to get some adaptors, because I'm pretty sure we'll be back again sooner rather than later.  The hotel did provide us with a universal power adapter, which took care of our needs.


A view of the bedroom. 


A foyer with two closets and a minibar.  The closets light up and there's a full length mirror.  The minibar has typically overpriced stuff in it, though it was relatively well stocked.  I'm not paying the equivalent of five bucks for a Kit Kat, though.


The bathroom.  The toilet is in its own stall, as is the shower.


The tub is generously sized.  They even give you bath salts.  I wish I had thought to indulge last night.  I was tired after our day trip and a bath would have been nice.


Large sink, complete with makeup mirror.  There was also a scale that I didn't use.


Nice toiletries, generously restocked.


Shower.  The towels were awesome... huge, with ridges so they had a massaging effect.  There were matching bathrobes that one could purchase.  


Complimentary sparkling water and fruit... and yes, more Swiss chocolate.


Our car was literally parked outside the front door.


The front was all lit up for Christmas...


The view from our balcony...


The hallway.




Furniture in the hall.


We took a stroll, stopping at a bar called Sherlock's Pub.  We only had one beer there because we got a weird vibe, although it looked like it could have been a great place in the right hands.   But the bartender couldn't be bothered with us and there were a few shifty looking folks there.

After walking around Vevey, which is a very charming town, by the way, we passed through some kind of food fair, attended by many locals, a couple of sheep, and a donkey.  Near the fair, we stopped for pizza at this little hole in the wall place called L' Armailli...  It looked like an Alpine bomb shelter and it was packed with locals!  The food turned out to be outstanding and our waiter spoke excellent English.


I had a large Cardinal beer, as did Bill.


Taking in the Swiss chalet atmosphere and enjoying the way the place smelled... heavenly!


Bill had lasagne.


I had a Sicilian pizza.  This was served with ham, capers, peppers, and cheese.  It had a thick crust and was manageably sized.  I really enjoyed it.

Of course, eating out in Switzerland can be pricey.  We paid about $50 for this meal, plus tip.  But it was definitely worth it and, as Swiss meals go, quite economical.  



The front of the fabulous pizza joint.  I think that may have been the best pizza I've had in a very long time.


I kind of wish I'd bought a pair of those slippers.

We came back to the hotel, once again welcomed by the nice lady who checked us in.  A pretty Asian woman was sitting at the piano playing and singing, sounding a little karaoke-ish.  I decided I needed to go to bed.  I slept very well.  The sheets were absolutely exquisite.  Better yet, I didn't wake up feeling stiff and sore, like someone had beaten the hell out of me like I did in Italy and even Austria.  Damn, I'm getting wimpy in my old age... but so is Bill.  He had similar complaints.  

The next morning, we decided to have breakfast at the hotel.  The lady running breakfast on Saturday morning was absolutely awesome.  We approached her and she knew which room we were in.  She invited us to choose a table and then said if there was anything we wanted not in the buffet to let her know and they'd take care of it.  I wish I had asked for Eggs Benedict, but I ended up getting my breakfast from what was laid out.  The restaurant was very beautifully decorated and the server was so expert and proficient at her job.  She made us feel very welcome.  We left with a wonderful impression...  which sadly slipped later, but more on that in an upcoming rant/post.


Bill enjoys what tasted like French pressed coffee...


The orange juice was fresh squeezed and delicious.  The buffet had a very impressive array of treats available, all labeled with calligraphy.  It was very nice.  


A view of the front door during the morning.

After breakfast, which cost us 78 francs plus tip, we made our plans for the day...




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