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Saturday, 05 July 2008

Switzerland: A Second Honeymoon - Page 2

Written by Scott Haas
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A couple of decades ago, although it seems as if was more recent, say about 15 years, my girlfriend and I, newly married, honeymooned in Switzerland.  The placidity of the surroundings suited us just fine after the tumult needed to seal our lives together.  This past June we returned to the scene as empty-nesters on our first holiday without the children who were now grown up enough to attend colleges and use my credit card for an impressive variety of goods and services.

The newest cultural addition to Bern is the Paul Klee Museum.  The entire museum, a stunning structure designed by Renzo Piano, changes twice a year; its huge catalogue of art enables it to do so.  When we arrived, on display were paintings that showed the magical relationship between botany and Klee’s art.  The effect was stunning and original.

From Bern it was off to Geneva.  We stayed in nearby Satigney at an oo-la-la Relais & Chateaux joint named Domaine de Châteauvieux.  I had not researched how to get from the tiny train stop in Satigney to the property, however, and ended up lugging a pair of suitcases alongside a very busy street for over two miles in the summer heat.  I tried to convince my wife that we were just like Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable in, “It Happened One Night,” dressed up and wheeling luggage as cars and trucks veered by us, but sensibly she was having none of it.  The final ascent to the hotel was most memorable, but not in a good way.

It helped enormously that we were lucky enough to splurge that night on food prepared in the kitchen of Philippe Chevrier.   While the Domaine’s rooms are outstanding, the chef’s cuisine is ethereal.  It was one of those long meals where you feel as if you are tasting everything for the first time.  As such, it was erotic and yet really comfortable.

The next day we walked on a wooded path beside a stream to the Satigney station in order to take the 10-minute train into Geneva. Geneva is a lovely city, sort of, but guarded and dowdy with little that is remarkable in its character.  Mostly it serves as a summer residence for the Saudi royal entourage and the center of many world nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s).

I was happy to leave for one of my favorite cities on earth: Luzern.  The best things about Luzern are the spectacular views it offers of the mountains; its quiet, long pedestrian street; little cafes along the Reuss River; and, what I consider the world’s finest cheese market.

The city is poised on the Vierwaldstattersee.  Boats, which are included in the 8-day pass, offer a serene way to enjoy the surroundings.   I also ran in the morning on a pathway circumnavigating the lake.  Huge, magnificent hotels, like the aptly named Palace, gave the time there a fairy-tale feel.

Recently renovated, the Palace captures what it was like before the age of modern travel through its sturdy architecture, and has added to this history with a 24-hour gym, a spa, and a fine, modern restaurant named Jasper.  Here, former East German Ulf Braunert presides over the kitchen.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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