TRIP COACH

Switzerland

A couple wants to hike in the Swiss Alps by day--and crack open a bottle of wine with fresh, delicious food each night.

"I foresee sunsets spent sipping a nice Swiss white, feet up on our railing, watching the colors change on the mountains," says Tammy.

Michael's birthday falls during the trip, and the Fines plan on celebrating with a special meal. They could head on a tram to the mountaintop Schilthorn restaurant, featured in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The restaurant platform revolves 360 degrees so patrons can take in the full view without leaving their seats. The first tram leaves Mürren at 7:25 A.M., and a special James Bond 007 breakfast ($18), which includes scrambled eggs and a glass of Prosecco, is served until 10:45 A.M. Alternately, a lunch at the summit can be magnificent. Either way, the point is the view, not the food.

For a truly authentic--and filling--meal, the Fines could order a Jäger Spiess ($28), typically served in the autumn hunting season, at Restaurant Jägerstübli. The dish consists of skewers of veal, beef, and roe deer meat roasted over a small fire by the table. If all that meat sounds like overkill, they could go to Restaurant Stägerstübli for a different Swiss signature dish--like raclette ($12), a specially melted cheese served with potatoes. To complete the Swiss experience, they should wash down their cheese dishes with kirsch, a cherry schnapps.

"Hiking is the best attitude adjuster in the world," says Michael. "It gives you time to think, to be inspired." The Swiss have hiking down to a science. Trails are marked with little yellow signs that often give estimated walking times. The most popular trails are dotted with Alpine huts that have big decks and hot food. While riding the Schilthornbahn tram to or from the revolving restaurant, the Fines might get off at Birg, a midpoint between Mürren and the peak. From there they can hike 45 minutes down to the Schilthornhütte. The rustic mountain hut serves bratwurst, pasta, and other hearty dishes, which most guests eat on outdoor picnic tables.

Tammy and Michael could also hike for two hours directly from Mürren to the Rotstockhütte for a casual lunch. If they're up for it, they might press on two hours further to Sefinenfurgge pass and more spectacular views. Along the way, there's a good chance they'll encounter mountain goats, ibex, and marmots. Another trail from Mürren leads to Lauterbrunnen's Trümmelbach Falls, a set of roaring waterfalls in a dramatic slot canyon.

To mix things up, Michael and Tammy plan to go bicycling one day. "We don't want to do any technical mountain riding, just some gentle terrain," says Tammy. Easy bike routes circle Interlaken's pair of stunning blue lakes, and the Interlaken Ost train station rents bikes for $21 to anyone with a Flexi Pass.

There's no guaranteeing Mother Nature will cooperate for a day of cycling, so we suggest a backup excursion. From Interlaken, they can take a train to Locarno and board a ferry to Ascona, a town on Lake Maggiore where locals speak Italian. If they time the trip right, the Fines will arrive for Le Settimane Musicali di Ascona, an event we're sure they'll enjoy. It's a classical music festival.

Lodging

  • Chalet Fontana Mürren, 011-41/33-855-4385, muerren.ch, from $94
  • Hotel Alpina Mürren, 011-41/33-855-1361, muerren.ch/alpina, from $114
  • Food

  • Staubbach Dairy Winteregg, 011-41/79-275-3577
  • Schilthorn 011-41/33-826-0007, schilthorn.ch
  • Jägerstübli Mürren, 011-41/33-855-1401
  • Stägerstübli Mürren, 011-41/33-855-1316
  • Schilthornhütte 011-41/33-855-5053, bratwurst plate $13
  • Rotstockhütte 011-41/33-855-2464
  • Activities

  • Interlaken Ost 011-41/33-828-7319
  • Le Settimane Musicali di Ascona 011-41/91-785-1965, settimane-musicali.ch, from $16
  • How was your trip?

    Marney Jones and Tarsha White had a fantastic time in Jamaica, where Tarsha was born and raised--and will soon be married to Marney's son John. "We want to thank you for the great coaching," says Marney. A day of Jet Skiing, swimming, and lunch donated by the Goldeneye resort (where this picture was taken) was a highlight. "They gave us the use of a villa, and made us feel so pampered and so at home. We felt like movie stars!" The group also had a blast while staying at the RIU resort. "I won the Jamaican dance contest," says Marney, "with the help of rum punches!"

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    Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
     

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