Just where is Switzerland?
As the map on the left shows Switzerland is another one of those European, land-locked countries. The five countries that border Switzerland are Italy, Germany, France, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
I visited Switzerland as part of my first holiday abroad but it was brief and so this report is just a taster.
I was not sure what to expect but had in my mind's eye a vision of beautiful green rolling hills, tan coloured milk cows and yodelling Swiss maids. Apart from the last item Switzerland did not disappoint; in fact it surpassed all expectations.
Our journey from the UK to Switzerland took 36 hours in total. This included a brief ferry crossing from Dover to Calais but other than that, the rest of the journey was by coach. This was tiring, at times frustrating and something I would never do again. When I go to Switzerland again I shall take the plane.
Our final coach journey was extended as the driver got lost. I must admit this gave us some breath-taking views from the coach window but was tiresome. After sleeping on the coach overnight we were all just ready to disembark.
Whilst he was trying to get his bearings the driver stopped at a magnificent viewing point over Lake Thun. Little did we realise that such sights would be around every corner in this beautiful country that is called Switzerland.
Switzerland is divided into distinct regions which are called Cantons. Switzerland remains one of the richest countries in the world and some would that is in part due to its so-called neutrality during WWII. Check out 'The Sinister Face of Neutrality' online here.
The country has lovely rural areas which are only slightly populated and some fine cities. As during the last world war Switzerland remained neutral despite the raging war in its surrounding countries it did not experience war damage.
The people speak a mixture of languages and the Swiss spoken varies from Canton to Canton. Sometimes it has Romany roots, other times French. You may find in the rural areas that English is not widely spoken.
Amongst the best buys in Switzerland are hand made cuckoo clocks, watches, gold jewellery, cheese and chocolate.
Our resort to this day remains nameless to me. It was a tiny village in the region of Lake Lucerne. The village had stunning views all around it and was great for walking in the summer evenings ( we visited in early September ).
Our room in the guest house was at the very top. The lady who took us to it apologised but we loved it. It had slightly sloping ceilings and views over the mountains. With the clear starlit nights it was certainly beautiful. All I could think of was my childhood illustrated book of Heidi. The scene when she sleeps with the stars shining through the open roof sprung instantly to mind.
Lake Lucerne was so beautiful. The driver offered a choice of arriving in Lucerne by boat or by coach. Hubby and I opted for the boat even though we are not huge lovers of boat trips and it was worth it. As you approach the town of Lucerne the scenery is breathtaking. We were also very lucky that the air was clear and crisp on the day we visited.
Lucerne has a distinctive bridge which in recent years suffered fire damage needing restoration but when we visited it was perfect.
Lucerne oozes wealth, the shops have expensive goods on sale and there is a bank on every corner. However it was a lovely place to stroll around. It was hard to see why Lucerne, at that time, had a local drug problem. There was some evidence of this culture around the bridge. Perhaps the beauty is not enough if you are down on your luck. Maybe it is only special when experienced rarely but really who knows. For me, at that time it was one of the most beautiful places I had seen in my entire life.
Make sure you do not drop any litter at all though as you will be in big trouble. Everywhere in Switzerland is exceptionally clean. There are no or few public toilets but you just go into a bar or cafe and use theirs. These toilet facilities have large displays of flowers and ornaments decorating the area and are spotlessly clean. Traffic stopped at lights has by law to have their engines turned off. No wonder the air is so clean.
Our journey back to our accommodation included a tour of a cuckoo clock workshop. The goods were a little pricey but it was interesting seeing the work in process.
I guess my favourite place though was Grindelwald.
This village is set beneath mountain peaks including as the Jungfrau and is stunning. Again I guess we saw it in all its glory. It was a hot bright sunny September day and the sky was bluer than blue. The snow capped peaks which surrounded Grindelwald set the scene perfectly. Each of the wooden houses had balconies full of flowers, often pink ones and it really was picture perfect.
Interlaken was also on our itinerary
This is a little further from the base of the mountains. It is set in the vale and is flat for walking. It has expensive cake shops but a little treat was in order and it was yummy.
My final memory is of visiting Lake Thun at closer view and travelling over the Bernesse Overland. Both were yet again breathtaking. At the top of the Bernese Overland there is a huge reservoir. One side is full of water and the other resembles the landscape of the moon.
We sat on the terrace of a local restaurant, eating our lunch and surveying the scene. All was definitely right with the world. Our all too brief stay in Switzerland was over and Austria beckoned. However Switzerland will always have a special place in my best memories.
If you love clean fresh air, beautiful scenery, expensive classy shopping and the simple things in life Switzerland could be for you but take plenty of spending money!
My Switzerland tourism
(Images are grainy as they more than 20 years old and via a non digital camera-(C) Eileen Kersey)
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