Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Jungfrau International Inferno Race! 21st to 24th January 2015

Taking place every January in the picturesque Jungfrau region is the 4 day event known as The Inferno down hill race. First starting in 1928, it has rapidly become one of the most exciting down hill races to watch, as well as being considered the largest amateur ski race in the world!

This nerve-wracking race requires participants to set off out of the starting gates and to hurtle down the piste over several lips and into a series of S-bends at high speed.

inferno_2014_giant-slalom_001.jpg

Boasting a large 15.8km stretch, The Inferno starts at the top of the Schilthorn (where you can also find the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria) 2,970m up from the finish in Lauterbrunnen. The course is compiled of mainly black runs and is suited more to the all round skier. This is because there are different sections which require varied skill sets. For example, the upper section requires downhill turning with optimal lines and the middle section requires downhill speed and fast gliding. Each competitor is pushed in all aspects of downhill, giant slalom and cross country skiing to really test their abilities!



Numbers are limited to only 1800 participants so applying early to secure a place is ideal (for application please visit www.inferno-muerren.ch). Proficient skiers can finish the course is a leisurely manner usually in 45 minutes. Where as, winners normally complete it in less than 15 minutes. Moreover, with race preparations in the evening and excitement building up, a figure of the devil is burned to warn off bad spirits in order to bring luck to competitors the night before.

inferno_2014_umzug_001.jpg

Being the unique and world renowned race The Inferno is known for, this is a must have  opportunity for the hardcore skier to tick off their bucket list. For those not competing but want to ski the Inferno it is open throughout the winter season!

If skiing isn't your thing you can still spectate and enjoy a nice warming schnapps during this fantastic yearly event with plenty of evening activities in Lauterbrunnen.
 

Lauterbrunnen and other Jungfrau resorts such as Grindelwald and Wengen all have relatively easy access via transport systems to watch this race and other event throughout the year. For more information about staying in the Jungfrau Region and Swiss Travel System please check us online at www.SwissPasses.com and www.otp.uk.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Rhine Falls - largest waterfalls in Europe

As the more pleasant weather approaches we’re given the opportunity to take a look away from the covered cities and the mountains with their gradually receding snowlines, and one of my favourite fairer weather attractions has to be the Rhine falls at Schaffhausen. Lying in one of the Northern most parts of the country, an hours train ride from Zurich, the falls are located on the High Rheine between Germany and Lake Constance and are believed to have been formed in the last ice age, approximately 14,000 to 17,000 years ago. One of the most intriguing aspects is the formation of the falls themselves, during the Wurm Glaciation, the Rhein was pushed to a channel far south of its existing course, and the previous courses of the river, now filled with gravel, can still be seen.




As well as being accessible from Zurich by train, if you have the time for it, there is the fantastic river cruise along the Rhein you can take afterwards, either the full 5 hours to Kreuzlingen on the shores of Lake Constance, or the shorter route in which you leave the boat at Stein am Rhein. On the full 5 hour cruise you are taken past many sites of historical and natural significance, from the Munot Fortress, built in the middle ages, at one end of your journey in Schaffhausen, past the medieval town of Stein am Rhein, with more than 1000 years of history, including its involvement in the reformation and it being one of the few sites that suffered at the hands of the allied airplanes towards the end of WW2. Not to mention the breath-taking views of Lake Constance.




When at the falls, with their claim of being the largest plain waterfall in Europe, at 150m wide by 23m tall, with the average water flow being 700 m³/s, there is plenty to be seen, from the awe inspiring views of the falls themselves, accessible by foot, at viewing platforms or boat tours, upon which you can get up close below the falls. There is also the on-site tourist information points detailing the history of the surrounding former mills, and old course of the river and the town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall, where the Schloss Worth Castle, and Villa Charlottenfels, a castle like building originally intended to house a factory in the 1850’s.
 

 
One of the most striking features of the falls, is the Rheinfallfelsen, a large rock remnant of the original limestone cliff, that stands in the middle of the falls, eroded very little over the years it stands almost as a monument to how pure the water has been, that has flowed from Lake Constance through the falls over the years, meaning minimal sedimentary erosion. The geological wealth of the area is just another of its great attractions.

 
Between the wealth of interesting history and geology surrounding the place, the awe inspiring views of the falls, the further sites of interest along the river and the great range of local walks and cycle paths, it really is a Swiss spectacle not to be missed!
 
 
 
Our excursion now includes the cruise along the Rhine, entry to Rhine Falls, the Glass Elevator, Belvedere Walk & Museum. All available at www.swisspasses.com - ENJOY!


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Pilatus ~ The Dragon Mountain is 125 years old

This year Pilatus is 125yrs old!

The railway that goes to the top of Mount Pilatus is one of the main attractions in the Lucerne region and central Switzerland. This year it is 125 years old. swissinfo.ch got aboard to discover the secrets of the steepest rack railway in the world.


The train makes its ascent from the station at Alpnachstad, on Lake Lucerne. It’s a steep climb at a brisk pace that takes the visitor up one of the most spectacular mountains in Switzerland – and also one of the most mysterious.

For centuries, Mount Pilatus was shunned and feared as a haunt of ghosts, gnomes and dragons. It is still the stuff of fairy tales for children.

A particularly forbidding presence that discouraged climbers was Pontius Pilate himself, after whom the mountain is named. According to legend, the soul of the Roman governor who condemned Christ to be crucified haunted one of the lakes in the area. In 1387, fear of the ghost – which was thought capable of causing violent storms when disturbed – prompted the then governing council of Lucerne to forbid climbing of the mountain. This prohibition was in force for several centuries.

It was only in the latter part of the 19th century that the genius of a Zurich industrialist finally opened up Mount Pilatus to mass tourism. It was the time of the first Alpine railways, and Eduard Locher had the idea – for many it was a crazy idea – of building a line to the Pilatus summit. He designed a system for steep grades using a new approach – toothed wheels rotating horizontally – which was so revolutionary that it was showcased at the Paris World Exhibition of 1889.

 
 Usually, the wheels of a rack and pinion railway are vertical like on other vehicles, as Werner Kramer, manager of the Pilatus railway, points out. “Ours is the only train in the world that has them horizontal. This maintains traction and a close fit with the rail. The system ensures stability, and can handle a very steep climb.”

Building the 4.6 km line, which reaches a record gradient of 48%, involved about 600 workmen. Many of them were Italians who had already worked on the Gotthard railway tunnel. The work was completed in only 400 working days, and on June 4, 1889, the train made its first trip with passengers aboard.


It was an immediate success. In spite of the steep price for the ascent – 10 francs, a week’s wages for the average worker – tickets sold briskly. In the first six months of operation 37,000 passengers were carried, four times more than the projected number.

Welcoming the world

Unlike a century ago, it is not just the rich who can now afford the panoramic journey. “Chinese, Japanese, Americans, Indians, Europeans – the tourists come from all over the world. Half of passengers are foreign, the other half are Swiss.
 
Half-way up, the section that goes through an Alpine pasture seems to have flattened out to a 'mere' 19%. It doesn’t look like much but doing it on foot and you’ll notice it!

 
 

Still the same equipment

When the journey goes beyond the tree limit, the traveller realises just how bold the vision of Eduard Locher was. In front is a grey wall of rock that would discourage the most intrepid mountain climber. And yet, cog after cog, the little train advances effortlessly, just like it has since the beginning.
 
A large part of the railway infrastructure is the same as it was 125 years ago, and the carriages date from 1937, the year the line was electrified. The original manufacturer no longer exists, so Pilatus produce a lot of their own spare parts right there.


About 30 minutes after leaving Alpnachstad you reach the summit. The tourists all head for the panoramic lookout. “The dragon  is portrayed on the cement ceiling of the station, and is also part of the railway’s logo. If you spend the night in one of the two hotels here on the summit you can hear the dragons call, rumour has it!
 
When the doors of the railcar have closed again, the locomotive driver says goodbye and takes off towards the other little train.

Mount Pilatus by numbers
Length of the line: 4.6 km
Steepest gradient: 48%
Altitude differential: 1,635 metres
Speed: between 9 and 12 km/h
Maximum capacity: 340 persons per hour
Passengers carried: 357,162 in 2013
Cost: CHF 1.9 million ($2.07 million)

www.swisspasses.com are official ticket suppliers for Pilatus and one of the best ways of seeing the Dragon Mountain is the Golden Round Trip ~ a scenic paddle steamer ride from Luzern to Alpnachstad before ascending on the cog train ~ the steepest in the world.


You can either then descend on the train or on the cable car down to Kriens - all included.
 
Mount Pilatus is in central Switzerland by Luzern, and easily accessible from all parts - so enjoy a day up on the Dragon Mountain with SwissPasses.com!
 
See you soon :)




Thursday, 25 September 2014

Matterhorn lit up!

The Matterhorn gets lit up!

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn on 14th July 1865 by Edward Whymper, the Matterhorn is now lit up at nights - and looks amazing!



Six years later, on 22 July 1871, Englishwoman Lucy Walker became the first woman to climb the Matterhorn – wearing a long flannel skirt as was appropriate for a Victorian lady.

Her ascent was seen as a jewel in the crown of female mountaineering.

Next year Zermatt will celebrate the epic pinnacle dubbed 'the mountain of mountains' and the alpine tradition of climbing it with events, experiences, festivities and special offers.

The main player on this stage besides the Matterhorn is the Hörnli Hut - a mountain hut located at the foot of the north-eastern ridge of the Matterhorn, 3,260 metres above sea level, which will reopen in July 2015, and many other events are planned as part of the celebrations.

video

You can ski in Zermatt every day of the year and there is a huge range of activities other than skiing in Zermatt during the summer too!

OTP offer holidays year round in Zermatt, so why not come and see the iconic mountain, enjoy the famous mountain restaurants, and join in the celebrations.



Zermatt is easily accessible from all Swiss airport by the famous Swiss Travel System - OTP holidays include these transfers but if coming independently you can purchase all Swiss Travel System passes from us online at www.swisspasses.com



See you soon!




Saturday, 20 September 2014

Your Winter 2014 / 2015 Team

Your team!

We are very proud to present your team who will be looking after you when you come on holiday with us this winter.

GRINDELWALD: Will Bishop





From Ampthill in Bedfordshire and with a BA in Business & Marketing, Will is the Resort Manager for OTP in Grindelwald and the Jungfrau region. 23 years old and with a strong skiing background and a definite 'people-person', Will is a top guy to ensure your holiday is the best!


 

NENDAZ, Les 4 Vallées: Tom Darlison

 
 
From Birstall in Leicestershire and with a BSc in Sports Therapy, Tom is the Resort Manager for Nendaz and the 4 Vallées region. 23 years old and a keen footballer, Tom is going to be an excellent person to show you the region and make sure your holiday runs smoothly.

 
 
 

SAAS-FEE: Tom Senior

 

From Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire, many of you will know Tom - OTP Senior Resort Manager and back again to charm you in Saas-Fee. Now a qualified ski instructor, Tom is 25 years old and a rock solid member of the OTP team for a number of years.
 
 
 
 

ZERMATT: Dave McCormack

 


21 years old, Dave is from Broadstairs in Kent. A graduate of Chatham House and Kingston University, Dave is Resort Manager for Zermatt and is a keen snowboarder (but promises to ski as well!) and is the ideal person to entertain and look after you in Zermatt!
 
 
 

ROCKY:

Let's not forget the long-term team member to entertain you at the Fondue Nights with his tricks (also on YouTube!) - Rocky, our team dog!
 
 
 
My name is Jeff Michel, and I am the MD of OTP Swiss Holidays. I am so proud of the team we have this season and if you get the opportunity, come and visit us at the Manchester Ski Show, 24th to 26th October at Event City, Manchester and meet them, discuss your holiday and book! (Rocky is staying in Zermatt for a holiday)
 
 
OTP Swiss Holidays offers ski holidays to 30 Swiss resorts, so have a look at www.otp.uk and join us this winter for a great holiday. See you soon!




Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Manchester Ski Show 2014

OTP Swiss Holidays & SwissPasses.com are exhibiting at the Manchester Ski Show from 24th to 26th October 2014 at Event City - our stand number is D22



Ski Show 2013

We would be delighted if you could come and visit us and discuss your holiday requirements (skiing, MTB, Road Biking, Christmas Markets) and we will be selling Swiss Travel System tickets too.

We have a free Prize Draw on the stand with a 2-person apartment for a week in Switzerland as the prize - including cross-Channel or Transfers!



We even have 2 for 1 Transfer Tickets on sale at the show to make your Swiss holiday even better value!



Looking forward to seeing you there!

Information: for directions to Event City, just click on http://www.eventcity.co.uk/

At www.otp.co.uk we offer 30 ski destinations in Switzerland along with MTB Holidays, Road Biking Holidays, Christmas Markets, Golf Safaris and City Breaks.

www.swisspasses.com is a leading supplier of Swiss Travel System passes and tickets so if you have already booked your holiday, come along and get discounted Swiss tickets, ski passes and ski rental!





Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Les 4 Vallées is back!

Les 4 Vallées ski area is back!


Just announced that one of the largest ski areas in the world, Les 4 Vallées, is secured at least for the next 18 years, following agreements between the lift companies of NENDAZ, VERBIER, VEYSONNAZ and THYON.



Once again from this winter your full area ski pass will cover over 400kms of pistes and 100 lifts to 3330m in altitude with NENDAZ's glacier, MONT-FORT.



OTP is the longest established Tour Operator in Nendaz Les 4 Vallées and offer a range of holidays thoughout the area at www.otp.uk

The piste map can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1lPMuNo

Come and join us skiing in the huge 4 Vallées area, with easy access from all Swiss airports!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Saas Fee welcomes its first hostel! - wellnessHostel 4000!


Saas Fee is due to welcome its first hostel, wellnessHostel 4000. Due to open on the 5th September this year with 168 beds and at the entrance of the village next to the Postauto bus stop. The unique architectural design and direct access to the new spa and gym facilities in the Aqua Allalin leisure centre are certainly going to make this a fantastic place to stay! 



wellnessHostel4000

Being the very first hostel in the glacier village of Saas Fee, the idea had to be innovative and break new ground in the village. The hostel combines the typical laid back atmosphere and low prices of a your hostel with the modern requirements of a wellness centre and fitness facilities. With a great mix of contemporary architecture, easy going hospitality, sustainability as a way of life and high quality aspirations make up an offering whose informal style unites guests from all over the world.



restaurant4000 – fresh and regional

Laid-back and relaxed is the motto when eating here: delicious menus, always freshly prepared, can be enjoyed either on the sunny terrace or in the restaurant with its magnificent view of the mountains.

bistro4000

This cool lounge is the centrepiece of the hostel – the place to meet up with friends old and new for tempting Alpine tapas, refreshing lassis (fruit/milk drinks) or an aperitif around the cosy open fire.

Young and sporting

In addition to the sport and leisure facilities with swimming pool, saunas and gym, sports groups and clubs will also discover a seminar infrastructure and cuisine aimed at sports enthusiasts, making it the perfect environment with a great atmosphere for sports and training camps. The cable car valley station is a short 4-minute walk away.

Innovative and sustainable

The new wellnessHostel4000 is the first five-storey “hotel” to be built in Switzerland using timber construction. The building reinterprets the local barn style in contemporary architectural language and will be a model for the future. The highest environmental standards will be employed in its construction and operation, resulting in a building that fulfils the Minergie Eco standard and is connected to the local solar district heating system to meets its heating needs.

Prices and more details can be found here

Check out the latest video from Allalin TV about the hostel here

OTP Swiss Holidays have been based in Saas Fee for many years now, we offer apartments both catered and self catered. A wide range of hotels to cater for all types of guests whether it be a couple looking for a quiet ski get away or a family looking for an exciting lively holiday. For more details and to receive a personal quote visit www.otp.co.uk

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Getting to Switzerland for your holiday

Now is the time that everyone is looking at planning their trip to Switzerland for this coming Autumn and winter (hopefully with OTP!)

Below we have listed various UK airports and the airlines that fly to Switzerland, to make it a little easier for you to plan your trip.

 

British Airways (www.ba.com)

London City
London Gatwick
London Heathrow

 

easyJet (www.easyjet.com)

Belfast
Birmingham
Bournemouth
Bristol
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Leeds/Bradford
Liverpool
London Gatwick
Luton
Manchester
Newcastle
Southend
Stansted

Flybe (www.flybe.com)


Southampton

Jet2 (www.jet2.com)





Belfast
East Midlands
Edinburgh
Manchester

 

Skywork Airlines (www.flyskywork.com)






Southend

SWISS (www.swiss.com)







Birmingham
London City
London Gatwick
London Heathrow
Manchester

Remember that SWISS include 23kgs of luggage allowance PLUS a ski / snowboard bag PLUS a boot bag so sometimes it is worthwhile looking at the national carrier and see if they work out cheaper - you get FREE CHOCOLATE too!


We offer Summer Ski, MTB, Road Biking and City Break holidays, and in the winter, Winter Ski holidays and City Breaks, so have a look at www.otp.uk and see if we can tempt you :)

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Your team at OTP

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Discovering the Beauty that Flows from the Mountains...

As the more pleasant weather approaches we’re given the opportunity to take a look away from the covered cities and the mountains with their gradually receding snowlines, and one of my favourite fairer weather attractions has to be the Rhine falls at Schaffhausen. Lying in one of the Northern most parts of the country, an hours train ride from Zurich, the falls are located on the High Rheine between Germany and Lake Constance and are believed to have been formed in the last ice age, approximately 14,000 to 17,000 years ago. One of the most intriguing aspects is the formation of the falls themselves, during the Wurm Glaciation, the Rhein was pushed to a channel far south of its existing course, and the previous courses of the river, now filled with gravel, can still be seen.




As well as being accessible from Zurich by train, if you have the time for it, there is the fantastic river cruise along the Rhein you can take afterwards, either the full 5 hours to Kreuzlingen on the shores of Lake Constance, or the shorter route in which you leave the boat at Stein am Rhein. On the full 5 hour cruise you are taken past many sites of historical and natural significance, from the Munot Fortress, built in the middle ages, at one end of your journey in Schaffhausen, past the medieval town of Stein am Rhein, with more than 1000 years of history, including its involvement in the reformation and it being one of the few sites that suffered at the hands of the allied airplanes towards the end of WW2. Not to mention the breath-taking views of Lake Constance.



When at the falls, with their claim of being the largest plain waterfall in Europe, at 150m wide by 23m tall, with the average water flow being 700 m³/s, there is plenty to be seen, from the awe inspiring views of the falls themselves, accessible by foot, at viewing platforms or boat tours, upon which you can get up close below the falls. There is also the on-site tourist information points detailing the history of the surrounding former mills, and old course of the river and the town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall, where the Schloss Worth Castle, and Villa Charlottenfels, a castle like building originally intended to house a factory in the 1850’s.
 

 
One of the most striking features of the falls, is the Rheinfallfelsen, a large rock remnant of the original limestone cliff, that stands in the middle of the falls, eroded very little over the years it stands almost as a monument to how pure the water has been, that has flowed from Lake Constance through the falls over the years, meaning minimal sedimentary erosion. The geological wealth of the area is just another of its great attractions.

 
Between the wealth of interesting history and geology surrounding the place, the awe inspiring views of the falls, the further sites of interest along the river and the great range of local walks and cycle paths, it really is a Swiss spectacle not to be missed!
 
 
 
The team are off to see Rhine Falls this week and we offer this spectacular excursion at www.swisspasses.com - ENJOY!


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Zermatt Unplugged



Zermatt Unplugged


Zermatt is set once again to host the brilliant Zermatt Unplugged festival from the 8th - 12th of April.

Founded in 2007 by Thomas Sterchi and Marco Godat as a singer and songwriter festival, Zermatt Unplugged has increasingly developed into a meeting point for fans of unadulterated sounds. Musicians and bands such as Suzanne Vega, Chris de Burgh, Alanis Morissette, Billy Idol, Lionel Richie, Jason Mraz, Stephan Eicher, OneRepublic or Mando Diao have been inspired by the Unplugged idea, and have performed on the Marquee and Club stages of the festival.

Zermatt Unplugged is the only festival of its kind in Europe, and is promoted by some of the major organisers in the Swiss festival scene.




The stages this year are as wide and varied as ever: 
The Marquee Stage, the Club Vernissage, the Sunnegga Sessions, the Mont Cervin Palace, 5 New Talent Stages and new The Alex as well as the Gandegghütte cabin in the Matterhorn glacier paradise ski area, 3,030 metres above sea level . Over 45 artists appear on 13 stages - 5 days of concentrated music in front of an impressive backdrop!






Details on the stages can be found here.



With Zermatt lying at 1600m and able to ski on the glacier all year round, it is an ideal resort for that late season 'snow sure' holiday, so if you're looking to get in one more ski trip before the summer, then spring skiing in Zermatt is perfect. Here at OTP Swiss Holidays we can cater for any requirements, everything from transfers, hotels/apartments, ski passes, rental and even catering. Take a look at our website www.otp.co.uk to find out more and to receive a personal quote. 

The snow on the mountain is currently standing up well to the heatwave we've had recently, which will only add to the wonder of next week!

More details on Zermatt Unplugged and tickets can be purchased from here.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Highest Downhill Glacier Races - Saas Fee



This year will bring us the 32nd edition of the glacier downhill races here in Saas Fee, on the 4th and 5th April. Participants from all over Europe arrive in Saas Fee to compete in various disciplines over the two days. 


The event itself is regarded as the worlds highest downhill glacier races. The race starts at Mittelallalin which lies at 3500 meters and finishes in Saas Fee at 1800 meters, with some of the participants completing the course in around 2 minutes 40 seconds! 

Program

Friday 4th April

Couples Race - Both participants starting at the same time
Club and Team Allalin Races
Club and Team Fun Races - fancy dress is welcome and no racing gear allowed!

Satrurday 5th April 

Individual Event Women and Men


With the Dom (4545m) mountain as the backdrop it truly makes this race very unique

With Saas Fee lying at 1800m and able to ski at 3500m on the glacier it is an ideal resort for that late season 'snow sure' holiday, so if you're looking to get in one more ski trip before the summer, then spring skiing in Saas Fee is perfect. Here at OTP Swiss Holidays we can cater for any requirements, everything from transfers, hotels/apartments, ski passes, rental and even catering. Take a look at our website www.otp.co.uk to find out more and to receive a personal quote. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Because there's more to life than short turns and big speeds.

            With the introduction of Skiers Halfpipe and the Slopestyle events at the winter Olympics this month, and their ensuing popularity, many have started to realise that skiing and snowboarding is about a lot more than just getting down the hill. Hungry for a bit more of the action but already missed this years’ winter X Games? Worry not, let me introduce you to the even more exciting event, The Freeride World Tour.                         

           Starting back in 1996 with Verbier Extreme, which was only for snowboarders until 2004 when freeskiers were allowed to enter. Over the years it has expanded to include events from all over the world, such as Russian Adventure in Sochi, Big Mountain in Fieberbrunn and Nissan Freeride in Tignes and St.Moritz. Then in 2013 the Freeride World Tour merged with The Freeskiing World Tour and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, to make one unified global 5* championship series.
            Entry for the FWT is achieved through a points based system known as the FWQ Ranking, with points earned at qualifying events, such as Nendaz Freeride, which itself has been running since 2007. Nendaz Freeride is run from the heart of the 4 Vallees which is well known to many for its fantastic, and seemingly endless off-piste opportunities, and the event is held over 2 days, usually mid to late March.

                                      Highlights of Nendaz Freeride 2013

          The first day is for qualification, on which 100-150 riders compete, with two chances each to show the judges what they are made of, being allowed one run from each of the two spots selected (from the top of the areas marked in pink below)on the backside of Le Dent de Nendaz. Public viewing of the event is welcomed, and can be accessed from the top of Le Dent button lift, above Tracouet.
            

          On the second day, the final 60 riders (approximate, depending on the weather) get to compete for the top positions, FWQ points and the prize money, with just one run from a preselected spot at the top of Mont Gond. This is often the best day to go along and watch, and the public viewing area is well signposted and marked and an easy traverse from the top of Plan du Fou, accessible from both the Nendaz and Siviez side, where you'll easily find a good spot to watch the action. Picnics, drinks etc are always a good idea, but remember to make sure you don't leave any rubbish behind.



            The only advance information the riders have about where their starting spots are through pictures released in the week leading up to the competition, and are allowed to check them out from the bottom, on the morning, so a lot of their route planning is very short notice, and there are no practice runs. This makes the Freeride competition a very exciting event for competitors and spectators alike.

The Nendaz Freeride runs from 14th-18th March this year (14th qualifiers, 15th finals, the other days are backups in case of bad weather). More information can be found at:

www.nendazfreeride.ch Where you can watch the event coverage from anywhere in the world.

And:

www.freerideworldtour.com Where you can keep up to date with all of the Rankings, Competitions etc.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Top 10 things to do in Switzerland

OTP’s Top 10 things to do in Switzerland in 2014!

1. Go Hiking/Mountain Biking
Switzerland has more than 48 300 km marked trails, and the nature that is right at the heart of it is second to none! The air is fresh, and you often find yourself alone with nature. Hiking in Switzerland is easy and varies in difficulty and altitude. Most of the time there are restaurants and hotels along the way. Hikers can choose between camping in a hut, or staying over in a hotel.
If hiking is not for you then just going for walks in Switzerland is a beautiful experience, at all times of the year. Even in wintertime, for those who aren’t so keen on skiing there are beautiful walks you can take up at the ski fields.

For those who fancy viewing these incredible sights at speed can make the most of our mountain biking holidays. If it’s your first time riding in the Alps then we offer a huge range of trails to build up your confidence and skills in this very different environment to British riding. We choose trails that will get you used to the exposure and the altitude, before then introducing all the Alps have to offer in terms of gradients. We time this progression with the ability of the riders and will only ever show the trails that will suit you and help you get the most out of your stay and make it a natural progression that your skills will improve.
However overall enjoying the nature in Switzerland is the number one thing to do, one way or another. 
 


2. Adventure Time in Interlaken
Interlaken has been described by tourists a big outdoor adventure park. Especially for the adrenalin junkie there is loads to do whether it’s sky diving over the Swiss glacier, water-ski or paraglide. It’s a beautiful area, and is also really close to the highest train station in Europe of the Jungfraujoch which you can find at over 3,400 meters high.

3. A Day In Bern – The Capital
Any trip to Switzerland has to include a visit to this beautiful city, and Capital. With a lot of history and impressive architecture, for those searching for a more relaxing experience it’s nice to walk around and let the old city take you back a few hundred years.



4. Try the Local Delicacies
Switzerland may be small in size, but every region has kept their own specialties and cultural traditions close to their hearts. Whilst boasting some of the worlds finest delicacies including specifically Fondue and Raclette.  
Its clear that these two internationally renown dishes have one core ingredient. Cheese. However this is regularly underestimated. It’s cheese of the best quality you can get. A favorite is to just melt it all down in a pot, especially for Fondue and dip bread in some bread – perfect!



5. Swiss Chocolate
Whilst remaining with the culinary theme, Swiss Chocolate is what automatically comes to mind when considering Swiss food. One of the most renown has to be that found in Buchs, in the North of the country. The enticing “Le Monde du Cacao” exhibition allows visitors to immerse themselves in the world of chocolate, and provides all sorts of interesting facts about the history of Chocolat Frey.




6. Alpine Skiing
Few places in Europe has as good skiing as in Switzerland. Many of the ski-fields are huge and often blend in with each other, meaning you can ski over to another ski resort. Whilst offering more resorts than any other tour operator in the country OTP have chosen the best ones for their excellent skiing, picturesque scenery and friendly atmosphere. Catering for any budget or party size, we have a wide range of quality hotels, apartments and chalets chosen to best suit you, whether you want a cheap get-away or luxury 5-star holiday with a swimming pool. Most importantly, we also include a 6 day ski-lift pass with your holiday, so there are no surprise costs when you get to your resort.
Many people who go skiing in Switzerland don’t actually go there for the skiing, but for the experience, with OTP we really are the Swiss specialists, there to make that experience as enjoyable as possible.
 


7. Take a Beautiful Train Route
Traveling by train can look expensive at a first sight, but there are so many deals and offers you can get that you may end up with an amazing route cheaper than a one way ticket. One example is their day passes where you can travel as much as you like, anywhere you want for a whole day. OTP’s sister company, www.swisspasses.com can provide you with all your ticketing needs to make your travel as easy as possible. To name but a few spectacular journeys there is the world famous Glacier Express route, and also the Jungfraujoch which brings you to Europes Highest Train Station, however there are also countless of other beautiful routes. Traveling by train is more than just a transport from point A to point B here, it’s a destination in itself.

 


8. Swiss Watch Making
When thinking of Switzerland apart from Chocolate, it’s watches that regularly come to mind. With the worlds top three watch makers all originating from Switzerland it is Rolex, Omega and Breitling which typically dominate the world market. One of the best museums is found in Biel. With its fascinating variety of objects, pictures and exhibits, the Omega Museum documents the history and highlights of the famous Biel watch brands.



9. James Bond Experience
Are you a fan of James Bond? Well then Switzerland is certainly for you! Ranging from the spectacular views from the Piz Gloria as seen in Her Majesties Secret Service to the infamous dam bungee jump at the start of Goldeneye in the Verzasca Valley, this is a great attraction for any fan of this true British icon.
 

10. Visit Zurich
Zurich is one of the top 10 cities in the world for tourists to visit next year, according to the Lonely Planet travel guide for 2014, which lauds the Swiss metropolis for its “Bacchanalian edge”. Switzerland’s biggest city ranks fifth on a list, released on Wednesday, headed by Paris, Trinidad (Cuba), Cape Town and Riga, the capital of Latvia. One of the most spectacular area’s has to be that of Zurich West, where “industrial decay has given way to nocturnal hedonism” states the Lonely Planet guide. Many will be visiting Switzerland’s biggest city for the European Athletics Championships, which it hosts in August. Although there is no mention as of yet regarding the ‘Street Parade’ a large outdoor event attracting over a million party goers many are hoping for its return this year. Zurich certainly is one of the most up and coming cities in Europe


For more information regarding your Swiss holiday get in touch with us at www.otp.co.uk OTP offers great value Ski holidays and Christmas Market short-breaks in winter, guided Mountain Biking and Road Biking tours, and also Golf and Summer Ski holidays to Switzerland's best resorts. We really are the Swiss Specialists and look forward to hearing from you soon!