The view from the garden at Villa Principe Leopoldo

Lugano. This was the place where Vacations by Rail pulled out all the stops by housing us in the luxurious Park Hotel Principe, the only location in the ten-day itinerary that required a cab.

With good reason. The hotel is perched atop a bluff overlooking Lake Lugano, with a view worthy of the wrapper on a bar of Swiss chocolate. While we were there, a ritzy conference was being held at the adjacent Villa Prinicipe Leopoldo, where a Michelin-starred chef prepared meals for elegantly-dressed Fat Cats and Kittens.

The Cats all wore tailored suits and thousand-dollar loafers, but the Kitten they were all ogling was Louise. How she managed to pack natty attire for this journey (and why) escapes me, but natty she was, and she strutted into that fancy courtyard like she owned it. And she did: all the Cats were purring while she curled into a chair and ordered a twenty-five-dollar martini (vodka, with a twist, bring the ice in a glass).

We thought, briefly, about dinner but the least-expensive item on the menu was a $48 burger. We finished our drinks while creating elaborate fantasies about the Cats and Kittens as they strolled by, all bathed in a comedic cloud of cigar smoke exhaled by a contrarian at a table nearby.

The cigar smoker

The next day we did find an affordable burger, at an Irish pub a considerable distance down the hill. Switzerland is an OMG-expensive place to eat, and that $16 pub burger (with fries!) seemed like a gift.

That’s more like it: the sixteen-dollar burger that seemed like a gift

Our final night in Lugano found us lounging by the pool at near midnight, a bottle of champagne at our side. The Cats and Kittens had all retired for the night, leaving us in heavenly quietude in a garden villa atop a bluff overlooking a Swiss lake in late September.

And there, I had the cutest Kitten all to myself.