So that was 2013, the year when the Slow Train to Switzerland arrived in style. Its first print run sold out in a few weeks, it was featured in British Airways’ High Life magazine and became one of the travel books of the year in the Independent on Sunday newspaper. Not bad for a 150-year old train!
Other than seeing the book on sale, and signing more than a few copies, this year had two other highlights for me. Being one of the guides for Switzerland Tourism’s official anniversary tour in June was a week to remember. Not for the weather – it was the last week of gloom before the heatwave began – but for the costumes. Seven of us dressed up in Victorian outfits to replicate the Junior United Alpine Club, the group who went on that original Thomas Cook tour. Some of us walked through Interlaken that evening, much to the delight of many tourists, feeling a bit odd, as if we had just stepped out of a Dickens’ novel.
And then there was my favourite reader photo of the year. While I was speaking at the Swiss national tourist conference in May, someone in the audience took this shot of me and my slide. Possibly the first, and last, time I will be seen in public in front of such large and colourful breasts.
Not forgetting the competition to win a trip to Jungfraujoch, a soak in Leukerbad, lunch at the Grandhotel Giessbach and some signed books. From the hundreds of entries the random winners were: Flora Marriott and Sean Searl from Britain, Regula Hiltebrand and Kean Walmsley from Switzerland, Kurt Brandly and Linda Wyttenbach Gebhardt from the USA, and Pashmin Shah from India. Congratulations!
There are more Slow Train events coming across Switzerland early next year, and if you can’t make those then you can always listen to me on BBC Radio 4 (about 45 minutes in), read an interview on Swissinfo (in English) or in the Berner Zeitung (in German) or enjoy my article in the Financial Times.
Wishing you all a merry Christmas (Swiss or otherwise) and happy 2014.