Affordable Alpine Retreat in Switzerland
Guidebooks warn budget travelers that Switzerland is the most expensive country in Western Europe. I almost skipped the country altogether
during a five-month trip around Europe until my friend and I ran across a brochure for the Chalet Martina budget Swiss Alps retreat, run by an Australian
woman and her Swiss husband in Gryon, where dormitory-style rooms go for about $12 a night. Its a great place for weary travelers to catch up on rest
and experience life in the Swiss Alps.
The small village of Gryon is near the French border and the Swiss towns of Lausanne and Bex. Getting to the village is a beautiful
adventure of its own. From Geneva, take the train to Lausanne and then to Bex. From Bex, a glass-roofed cable car takes you up the mountain to the tiny village,
where you can follow the signs to the Chalet Martin. Gryon consists of only the Chalet Martin, a grocery store, a butcher shop, and a bakery.
There is plenty to do or nothing at all, whichever you prefer. Full kitchen facilities allow guests to cook big dinners together and
avoid the expense of eating out. (Expect to spend about $12 a day on groceries if you plan to eat well.) Weary travelers can sleep in, read by the fireplace,
or play board games with fellow travelers.
Or you can take to the meadow and mountain hiking trails for all-day hikes with breathtaking views, or soar above the mountains with
a paraglider (cost about $70). The chalet is also outfitted with its own ski shop. About $14 a day gets you boots, skis, and poles.
The hostel is equipped with laundry facilities, Internet access, area maps, train schedules to European destinations, and even movie
rentals. The staff (many from Australia) is more like family.
The hostel has created a website by the traveler for the traveler at www.backpackingeurope.com to help travelers feel
comfortable when they move on to a new place.
So there you have it, the full Swiss experiencethe sheep with their magical tinkling bells, the Swiss cows with their deep clanging
bell symphony, an old-fashioned wooden chalet filled with fellow travelers, and, of course, those soul-stirring Alpsall for an affordable price. To
reserve, call 011-41-24-498-33-21.