by Joanne DiBona / © 2017, The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Walking along with my guide, Gundela, through what was undoubtedly one of the most spectacular wine trails I have ever experienced, I had to wonder how, nearly a thousand years ago, the Lavaux terraced vineyards were planted on these dizzyingly steep slopes along Switzerland’s Lake Geneva.
“We are pretty certain the Romans planted the first grapes in this area, but our documentation only goes back to the 12th century, when monks settled here and began to cultivate the vineyards,” Gundela explained as we trekked along the 3-mile walking path through this UNESCO world heritage site.
And it was no easy task for those enterprising monks. Because of the steep slopes, fortifying walls had to be laboriously constructed of stone, and they are still in existence—and doing their job—to this day.
This was the first of many a magical moment experienced during a week’s visit to the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland.
The journey begins
Getting there was a breeze, thanks to the efficient Swiss rail connections and a Swiss Travel Pass (available online for pre-purchase), which allows the bearer unlimited use of the country’s trains, buses and excursion boats, as well as entry to select museums. Within 30 minutes after my plane landed in Zurich, I was comfortably seated on an express train headed to my first destination, the town of Vevey, a trip of just under two hours.
Despite my jet lag, I couldn’t resist staring out of the train window to savor endless views of verdant, cow-studded countryside and medieval villages and castles situated high above pristine lakes. However, the view that will always remain in my mind is when the train made its final pass through a long tunnel—and Lake Geneva emerged in all its glory.
Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune online.