An excited school child - that is how I left travelling through Switzerland the past 4 days. Every turn you took you saw a breathtaking mountain, village, waterfall or lake. Switzerland is one beautiful country, not sure what is was really expecting, but it beat my expectations because I was ‘wowed’.
My short trip to Switzerland and it can be short yet encompass so much, since Switzerland is such a tiny country, started out in Zurich. Elke and I arrived in rather late and encountered a ‘slow’ person who took a fancy to Elke and her skirt, very random and a bizarre way to be welcomed to a country. Our hotel was nice enough and had a great roof balcony over looking the city - which was very handy for yoga in the morning. We woke up to a sunning bright day and set off for site-seeing around the city. However our first port of call was to book onward train to Interlaken that evening, where we were asked if we wanted a fast train or a scenic train… very nice, nothing is slow in this country, just scenic.
Then we headed off down the main shopping street, luxury brands left right and centre, and we were apparently walking over the bank vaults far below us filled with gold! You could definitely tell by the shops, these people who lived in Zurich, or visited had some cash to throw around. We stopped at a church that had a huge clock face, most of the churches in Switzerland have a clock face on front of it, no surprise really. Then we walked down some pretty lanes to another church. We couldn’t get in at that stage, we did later, and it had some of the coolest stained glass windows I have ever seen, if you can classify stained glass as ‘cool’. We then did a spot of shopping and I may have purchased some Lactose trainers, but since they were for work, they were completely justified, obviously. Next stop a really funky art museum called Kunsthaus, it had Picasso, Monet, Dail, to name a few, it was a fantastic space and had some great pieces in there. From there we had a light lunch near the river and continued down the river to see the sleep sculpture… I was a little disappointed as it was modern sheep, i.e. didn’t exactly look like sheep. However it was nice to walk lake side. Next stop Interlaken, the train ride was very scenic.
That evening we walked to Interlaken old town, which was a relief after driving down the main street… McD’s, Casinos, tacky tourist shops and rip off restaurants. We ask our guesthouse owner where a really local place was. The place was good fun, no on really spoken English, yet the other patrons kept trying to spark up a conversation, we smiled and nodded. This is where it all turned a bit ugly - we ordered the fondue. Cheesy, cheese fest, although very tasty it was really too much cheese. Sadly no cheese dreams, can you believe that! We then headed back to the main road and stumbled into a chocolate shop, now sure how that happened!!! Bought a few more truffles to add to the ones earlier in the day, and it was an 8 truffle day. But it didn’t stop there, ended up purchasing a Swiss Army, as in Swiss army knife, pair of binoculars. Now I can see for miles, no Toucan will ever allude me again!
It was an early start and we were pleased to see Jungfraujoch (3454m) in the distance, our main destination for the day, with not a cloud in the sky. So we paid our 175 CHF and we were off. The train ride was stunning, I think the valley Grindelwald is in is the most amazing - the back drop was a huge rock face, the there were bright green pastures, dotted with chalets, it was very fairytale like. After Grindelwald we made our way up to Kleine Scheidegg, our final change before getting the train that cut through the mountain to get to the highest train station in Europe, its claim to fame. And that was also about the time the clouds started to roll in. By the time we reached the top we were snowed in, so we couldn’t see the glacier, nor more than a few meters in front of us, money well spent getting up there then! Just kidding it was a good laugh. Switzerland is very popular with Indian tourists; this is because many Bollywood movies have been filmed in the Swiss alps. This demographic, along with the Japanese tourist was very in the majority and well catered for, at the top of Jungfraujoch, there was a restaurant called ‘Bollywood’ perfect! It was fully walking around up there at that height, you had to take your time going up and down the stairs as you become out of breath.
After that we jetted down to Lauterbrunnen, via Wengen (popular with English tourists apparently). We had lunch here, rosti, which is grated potatoes with, you guessed it, cheese... and an egg. Not a bad little dish. Then we set off on a short walk to Trummelbach falls, I had never scene anything like it. The falls were set inside the mountain with cascades called the washing machine and corkscrew, the water was churning everywhere, apparently sending through 20,000L of water per second. We then walked back and to our surprise took a cable car up the mountain to the car-less village of Murren. And who did we discover working in the pub/guesthouse restaurant, but a NZer! He had been living there 14years, what a lifestyle. The town was picture perfect, very cute with the traditional Swiss chalets. Our first morning there was a little grey and drizzly, but we set our on the North Face walk in Murren’s surrounding hills, it was a lovely walk and would have been better if we could see the ‘North Face’ we were suppose to be viewing, highly amusing. We made it back into town before the rain really started to come down, and spent the afternoon catching up on some reading and sleeping - rancho relaxo.
On our last day in Switzerland we woke snow!!!
How exciting. About 20cms or so must have fallen before we left the guest house heading for Lucerne. Unlike Britain where a fallen leaf causes issues with the rail service, the Swiss rail service still hummed along, prepared for everything. The train ride back was magical as everything was covered with snow, very different from the way in. Lucerne was another very quant Swiss city, situated on a lake with a river running through it, there were many pretty bridges and church spires. We walked to our lunch destination in the rain, but worth it, it was a fresh vegetarian place, waiters were kind of snooty, but the food was organic and amazing. After lunch we headed for the old city walls for a great view down onto the city. Art time! We got Picasso’ed out, visiting a photography exhibition about him, which was very interesting and then a gallery with some of his work, again, some very nice galleries. And that was Switzerland we jumped on the train back to Zurich and then back to London to some more rain. Now I have started planning my next trip, must see the Matterhorn!
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