Switzerland! Hear the word and you start imagining the snow-capped mountains, glittering lake-shores and breath-taking landscapes. Just like they show in films. Wow! And this is how I felt when I was packing for my trip to this beautiful snow-laden picturesque country.
At the airport while queuing up for my boarding, I looked around and felt that most people in the queue looked ‘expensive’. Yes ‘very expensive’. Well, some men were wearing fine luxurious jackets while some were pulling posh label trollies but almost all ladies were carrying high end designer bags.
Once inside the flight, I was totally sold to the hospitality of the Swiss airlines. They are warm and friendly people, I must say. Except for once when I had a bad experience with this airline while flying from Switzerland to Nice. And that’s because the planes are crammed and they will only allow a ladies purse as hand luggage even though they mention “8kgs allowed”. Watch out!
Due to work commitments my hubby couldn’t accompany me so my trip itinerary was planned by a lovely guide ‘I, me, myself’. I was putting up at Zurich and planned to move mostly around the city with ‘Bahnhofstrasse’ being on top of my ‘To-visit’ list.
The Friendly Swiss
At the tram stop I had little difficulty figuring out the travel zones so I asked a man standing at the stop. But to my dismay, he did not understand English but he could make out that I was asking for directions. He tried his best in his Swiss German but with words like ‘Strasse’ for street and ‘Flughafen’ for airport, my brains couldn’t comprehend any bit of it. He waited for someone else to arrive at the stop and then to my surprise he asked the other person on my behalf for help. I was really moved by his helpful nature. Believe me Swiss are the most helpful people on earth. So, if you ever get lost in Switzerland and you do not know the local language, do not panic; you are in a country of great people. You will reach your destination safe and sound.
I reached Bahnhof, the main railway station of Zurich and looked around for the tourist information centre (i). One thing I have learned about Europe is its tourist information centre is pretty good.
You can be sure of getting not just good information but city guides, maps and one can even book tours here. Obviously Pricey
I took a stroll through the Bahnhofstrasse and realised this is one of the most expensive streets. Chanel, Hermes and Gucci stores – all high end designer brands were here. At the stores, it was easy to connect with the salesperson with a simple greeting ‘Grüezi’ meaning hello.
And my adventures
I had known that James Joyce, the great novelist is buried in Zurich, so I decided to visit Friedhof Fluntern I reached early in the morning and I was surprised not to find a single soul around than I. The place had the quietude of night and all I could hear were my feet pressing against the leaves on the pathway. Suddenly the silence was broken by a loud noise. A noise like a growl of wild dogs or wolf or may be a tiger. What tiger? I turned back and started running so fast that I was about to slip the road. I became tired and stopped to look back only to realise that there was nothing behind me. And as I looked ahead I saw a familiar looking statue sitting on a rock with an open book and a cigarette in an uplifted hand. It was James Joyce’s statue. I felt wonderful and clicked a few pictures. May be the growling noise was only in my head or may be Joyce wanted me to come to him swiftly. In either case, my heart was beating fast.
My adventure trip continued into the evening as I decided to take a walk around the lake. Somewhere half way through, I walked into a lane and lost my sense of direction. It was getting dark and to figure out anything out of the map was straining my eyes. I had no internet connection on my phone. Just then I saw a group of people coming towards me with their leading man dressed like a vamp. It occurred to me that this group must be on a night tour and of course that man in vampire’s outfit must be their guide.
Well, it was already dark and my map was of no use so I decided to follow the group. Following the group, I came across a lovely pebbled street and it led up to a place called the Lindenhofplatz from where you get a great view of the city. The city looked stunning at night and I captured the sight in my phone camera.
Finally the Snow
Well no trip to Switzerland is complete without going to the mountains, so towards the end I decided to to go to the beautiful snow-laden Mount Titlis. I was gushing with excitement to see the snow; the snow I had never touched, never played with, and had never ever felt.
My journey from Zurich to Titlis started with a train ride with warm and pin drop silence compartments while outside the window it seemed like a slideshow of beautiful paintings one after the other. On reaching Engelberg, we were transported through a cable car to Mount Titlis. The Gandola ride took us even further on top of the mountain where I was welcomed by a big poster of a popular Bollywood film – DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge). The temperature was minus five degrees here and I had dared the snow in my canvas shoes. So, after an open chair ride called the Ice Flyer lift and a tour through the ice cave, I finally came to a café where I was surprised to discover Café Baileys on the menu. I placed my order and relished the small pleasures of life.
Here are some more pictures from my trip. Hope you will enjoy them and may even plan a visit to the beautiful Switzerland. The country lives up to the hype every bit and a must visit if you ever get an opportunity.