Switzerland

Zermatt (3).JPGThink about Switzerland, and what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  Could it be chocolate?  The cuckoo clock perhaps?  Maybe you’re thinking of your last skiing holiday?  For me it is hard to pick out just one thing, because in my mind Switzerland is famous for so many things.  Not only do they have the most beautiful mountains, but they produced great thinkers like Einstein.  They are home to Gruyère cheese, cheese fondue, muesli and rösti.  They are also home to the International Red Cross, the United Nations, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.  And yes, of course we could speak about Swiss chocolate for hours and hours.

Did you know that Switzerland has borders with Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Liechtenstein?  There are four official languages Switzerland, including German, French, Italian and Romansh.  This last one is a bit like old-fashioned Latin and is spoken is some of the mountain regions on the border with Italy.

Discover Switzerland by train

The Swiss Alps are just beautiful – the perfect place for hiking in summer, the best place for skiing in winter.  There are several amazing train journeys to take.  The Glacier Express is probably the best, and really is one of Europe’s most beautiful railway journeys.  The word ‘express’ is a bit misleading though, because it really is one of the slowest trains around – it only travels at an average of 35 kilometres per hour.   But you won’t care about that, you will be having too much fun.

GlacierExpress (6).jpgThere are huge panoramic windows on either side of the train so you have the best possible views of the mountains as you choo-choo up and down the mountain side, and you will wish you had an extra pair of eyes to take it all in.  Just make sure you have your camera ready.

Zermatt (26).JPGThe journey starts in St. Moritz in the east, and along the way you pass Chur (at 604 metres the lowest point of the trip) and Oberalp, which at 2033 metres is the highest point.  By the end of the day you will have reached Zermatt, where you can take a look at the mighty Matterhorn.  From Zermatt there are several hiking paths that will take you up into the mountains where you will be astonished at the wild flowers and the large number of butterflies that flutter around – you will have a hard job not to step on them as you make your way up or down the mountain.

Butterflies3.JPGFlowers (4).JPGButterflies4.JPGSwitzerland has many lovely places that you should visit, including Geneva, Montreux, Lausanne (all three of them on the shores of Lake Geneva), and of course the capital city of Bern.

Beautiful Bern
Bern (4).JPG

The name Bern comes from the Swiss/German for bears, who used to live in this part of Switzerland.  It is only recently that the city stopped having bears in a special bear-pit by the entrance of the city.  What Bern does have, is more than 100 fountains and several of them have very bizarre medieval statues, including one called the Monstrous Ogre Fountain, which shows an ogre gobbling up a baby….  It is a great treasure trail trying to find all the fountains and statues.  Bern also has a great museum where you can learn all about Einstein, who lived in Bern at the time of his great scientific discoveries.

This text was taken from various sections of ‘My Travel Kit for Switzerland’.  If you would like further information, please contact me.