So my grand 2017 vacation concluded last week. I visited Switzerland and France (mostly France-I talk about that in the next post) for a total of 14 days. I spent three days in Switzerland, saw most of the country on a train ride from Zurich to Geneva and was too lazy to scale Mt. Titlis. I met my scientist cousin and his good looking scientist friend and had a fun night in Zurich. Highlights from my whirlwind Swiss trip.
Day 1 : Zurich
Standard questions for Indians (and anyone of colour), because I will leave my high paying legal job to be a homeless immigrant in Europe. They take biometrics of everyone who comes in except the United States and the United Kingdom.
Zurich is a small city (misnomer, I’ll take that). The centre of Europe’s Banking & Finance (excluding the UK, but the Brexit might change that) and home to one of Europe’s richest streets. I arrived in Zurich, bleary-eyed, exhausted from the connecting flight from Abu Dhabi, but so hopelessly excited to be out of mundane corporate life.
Swiss hostels are extremely clean and well maintained. I was stayed at Zurich Youth Hostel, a conveniently located accommodation close to the bus and tram stations. The staff is super helpful and the breakfast is yum (and free!)
Being in Switzerland in the summer means you will undoubtedly encounter other Indians, loud conversations and often looking for vegetarian food. Zurich can easily be seen in a day (actually a couple of hours). Some of the things I did in Zurich included strolling along the city centre, starting from the Bahnhofplatz , where you can see the four famous churches, including the Fraumünster (literally, the Church of our Ladies). A common occurrence in Zurich’s architecture is the regular presence of a bluish green stone. The colour sets beautifully against the dull grey or brown of the body of the monument.
I took a boat ride along Lake Zurich, taking in lakeview houses, some impeccably done (Banker’s capital after all). You can see people have a better standard of living when they’re swimming or walking their dogs in the middle of a work day. I strolled along the lake, listening to soft jazz gig by street musicians.
Day 2: Lucerne (first half) and Bern (second half)
I woke up super early and headed out to Lucerne (French) or Luzern (Dutch/German). Lucerne turned out way prettier than Zurich, probably because it has more history to it. Lucerne has an old town charm to it, typical of European towns that I can never get bored of. The town is home to the famous wooden bridge that is fitted with Renaissance-age paintings and is adorned by roses and smaller flowers.
Lucerne is also famous for a fortress of sorts, unique because each mast of the fort is built with a different design and not all nine towers are open to the public. It was quite a walk (read: hike). The wonderful thing about Switzerland is that there are water fountains everywhere, so you don’t have to worry about clean drinking water (or spending 2 euros for 500ml of water). The Lion Monument is also worth a visit!
Bern was a rather spontaneous decision, because I thought I would take longer to see Lucerne. Thankfully for my Swiss Travel Pass (it comes highly recommended-you can go everywhere with just this one pass), I just took the next train to Bern.
Bern is understated, that’s for sure! Home to Switzerland’s Bern bear, the capital city has some charm of its own-it’s different from Lucerne or Zurich. The buildings in Bern are brown, different from Lucerne, where most buildings are white. A fascinating thing of Berne is dungeon-like hideouts used during the world wars are now used as clubs, discos and dancing clubs.
Day 3: Geneva
Geneva is, well, disappointing. Sure, its clean and the Jet d’eau is lovely to look at-for all of five seconds. Walk around the Broken Chair Memorial, the Gandhi statute, see the UN from afar and you’re done.
That’s for Switzerland. Next post will look at my adventures in La France!