After a quick 24 hours stop in Zurich, we caught the train to the Ascona, home to the Eden Roc Hotel – set right on the banks of Lake Maggiore.
Lake Maggiore – along with Lake Como and Lake Garda is one of those amazing lakes you find in Italy. It’s also one of those places that’s typically home to the rich and famous and a popular vacation spot for many-a-traveller like ourselves. It’s also about 2 hours away by train (nearest stop is Locarno) or 2.5 hours by car from Zurich and so, rather easy to get to.
The journey through the Swiss countryside is also quite picturesque and goes down rather well with a glass or two of bubbly (just saying…).
Ascona is on the more Italian side of Switzerland… which brings me to a little sidebar – Switzerland has 4 official languages – French, German, Italian and Romansh. Zurich is on the more German side (and the architecture there reflects that too), Geneva is more French (Architecture also reflects that), Ascona here is more Italian and as for Romansch, I’m still trying to figure out the heritage of that one.
The Hotel Eden Roc is part of a small family of rather fancy hotels in fantastic locations in Europe and this particular hotel is very much old school Italian glam. The designer (who we coincidentally got to meet the next day on the pier while having drinks) looks and dresses like someone you’d see as the patriach in a Dolce and Gabbana advert.
We wasted very little time settling in, tucking into the welcome basket (that lunch in Zurich didn’t last us long thanks to all the walking around)….
…before heading out to catch the last of the sunset – bubbly in hand. (Yes, there was a lot of that going on over the time we spent here – not that I’m complaining about that of course).
Another huge reason why we visited Lake Maggiore and Eden Roc was a huge party that was happening that very evening. It was a party quite unlike any other I’d attended and I did have any clue about it until we were asked to head to the kitchen for dinner.
The kitchen was all lit up once we arrived, DJ at the ready and amazing food almost magically appearing in every single corner of the kitchen! There were about 40 or so of us in total – some of whom I knew, other who I would get to know over the course of the night (and what was bound to be an inevitable hangover the next day). It was incredible!!! (I’ll have the video on Facebook and YouTube very soon).
There was even a section of the kitchen where you could see the incredibly talented chefs whipping up some amazing meals for the evening. In retrospect, I guess, I’d kinda done something similar in Copenhagen but that time, we had to make our own stuff – this one had the gourmet chefs delighting and surprising up at every corner we turned – quite literally too!
Seeing as I’d started with bubbly, I decided to stick to that – Lloyd switched over to the red and it wasn’t 2am that we finally hit the hay back at the suite in the hotel. Talk about a welcome to Lake Maggiore, eh?
The next morning, I woke up rather surprisingly hangover free (very much to my delight – though I think my greed from wolfing down too much delicious food had a huge part to play with that) and, so after breakfast, we headed down to the pier by the lake where the hotel had arranged for a boat to take us to what they promised was a delightful island in the middle of the lake.
For starters, the idea of an island in Switzerland (which is one of the smaller or perhaps even one of the smallest countries in Europe) seemed like a surprise in and of itself.
Then there was the ‘boat’ – which definitely wasn’t your average boat. This boat was built like a restaurant on the ‘ground floor’ with a bar at the back and the upstairs being more of a lounge area – complete with chairs and bean bags.
The views as you sailed through the lakes were absolutely amazing – snow-topped mountains which dipped into the lakes, cascading colourful houses and those natural mountain silhouettes Italy and Switzerland are famous for – all soaked up with glasses of bubbly as we sailed by (hey – I did say there would be a lot of this over this weekend).
Soon enough, we started to see where we would be spending the afternoon appearing in the distance… that place was Brissago Island – home to a stunning villa and beautiful gardens!
But more on that in my next post!