Switzerland

A month and a half back, by God's grace, I got the chance to visit Switzerland. For years since I was a child, I had heard about multiple Swiss things - Zurich, Geneva, Alps, Mount Titlis, Martina Hingis, Swiss Knives, Swiss Banks et al. Finally, it was the moment to visit this beautiful city.

On a calm Thursday summer evening, I landed in the city of Basel. Basel has been popular in the past two decades for the Basel norms, which form the cornerstone of the regulations in the financial world across the globe. 

Basel is special for it's airport too. After you land into Basel, and you can exit into three countries - France, Switzerland and Germany. This is something I had never heard of. It was a pleasant surprise.

Next stop was Basel Train station onward to  Baden, where I was staying. A quick bus journey connected me to the train station. This is where I was introduced to the beautiful Swiss Railways, and their quick connections. Basel to Olten to Baden took me an hour or so. The connection was ultra short (less than 5 minutes), which meant I had run to run get onto the next train.

Connections on almost all Swiss trains are ultra short. However, most the connecting trains wait for the oncoming train to arrive before departing. Call it Swiss precision.

My sister had got me a three day Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Pass costed me around CHF 210. It offered unlimited access to trains, buses, ships, ferries and all means of transport across Switzerland. This is an extremely superb deal, considering that regular tickets are very expensive.

The next day began early. Destination :- Mount Titlis, in the Swiss Alps. We boarded an early morning train to reach Engelberg. This is the closest railway station connecting Mount Titlis. The scenic beauty along the way could not be described by words. Serene lakes, lush green fields, snow capped mountains - you could see them all.

Mount Titlis Switzerland
It took three cable cars and almost 30-40 minutes of travel to reach the summit of Mount Titlis from Engelberg. The last cable car was a rotating one, which turns 360 degrees as it makes the steep climb. That offers visitors a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps. A visit to a glacier was also a life time experience.

View from Mount Titlis
Mount Titlis was extremely popular with tourists. The place was full of Chinese and Indian people, among other nationalities. The peaks were snow capped, even though it was early August. The other summits in the Swiss Alps could be seen in the distance, including the highest peak in Europe - Jungfrau. The view was breathtaking. A cut out of the block buster Bollywood movie at the top, DDLJ, is a hit with the Indian tourists.

The Swiss Alps from Mount Titlis
Next stop was Lucerne. It is home to Lake Lucerne. The lake is majestic and wide, and nestles in the Swiss Alps. A few weeks before my travel, I had heard about Lake Como in Italy, and the beauty of the Swiss lakes. They didn't let me down. A lake cruise on Lake Lucerne is also included in the Travel pass.

Lake Lucerne Switzerland
After Lake Lucerne, the next destination was the Rhine Falls. Rhine Falls, on the Rhine river, is the widest waterfall in Europe, though not the tallest. The loud gushes of water coupled with the virtual absence of any tourists made the place extremely serene. The Rhine river flowed into infinity, carrying away many dreams.

Rhine Falls Switzerland
By the time we reached back to Baden, it was almost 11.

Next day began early too. After deliberating on the places to be visited the previous night, we had agreed on Interlaken. Once again, the Swiss Rails took us to Interlaken.

Interlaken is nestled between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Breinz, and hence the name. Its the starting point to approach the summit of Jungfrau - the Top of Europe. 

Jungfrau is about 4158 metres high. We decided to visit Mount Harder Kulm, which is almost 1322 metres high. A cog wheel train runs every 30 minutes from Interlaken to Harder Kulm, and takes you to its summit in 10 minutes. Harder Kulm offers you a fantastic view of peaks - Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch, and Lake Thun and Lake Breinz from the panorama point.

Jungfrau - Top of Europe -  From Mount Harder Kulm
Next stop was Lake Brienz. A river cruise from Interlaken to Brienz takes around an hour and 30 minutes. The green water of the lake, coupled with tall mountains on both sides makes the cruise a fabulous experience. The idyllic homes on it's shores reflect the dreams of a million people.

Shore of Lake Brienz

After Lake Brienz, it was Lake Thun. A quick train ride from Brienz back to Interlaken Ost got us in time for the cruise on the Lake Thun. Lake Thun is popular for its blue water, unlike Brienz. This lake is wider and offers a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps. 

It was nature at its best - Jungfrau, Top of Europe, just next to a Lake. God is great !! The cruise ship visits various ship stops on its way, picking up and dropping people. Families with kids were enjoying their calm Saturday in the waters of Lake Thun.

Lake Thun
Choosing between Jungfrau and the lakes at Interlaken was a difficult decision. If you have the time, do visit all the three. The extra time spent cruising in Lake Thun meant we could not visit Geneva, a place I wanted to visit. Interlaken to Geneva was three hours, and Geneva back to Baden was another 3 hours.

Next in line was Bern, a quick 30 minutes away from Thun. I was surprised to know that Bern is the capital of Switzerland. An old city, it had many fountains. You can easily drink water from any of the fountains. It's completely safe. A visit to the Cathedral, the Clock Tower, the Swiss Parliament, and a walk across the city made the few hours worthwhile. And by the time we were back to Baden, it was once again half past 10.

The last day began with an early morning visit to Zurich. Zurich is one of the financial capitals of the world, home to UBS and other Swiss banks. The Cathedral in Zurich was magnificent. ZUrich Lake was the next stop. The entire city is built around the magnanimous lake. A small boat ride through the lake took us back to the main railway station, Zurich HB.

Zurich Lake
Next stop was Uetliberg, a small summit near Zurich. At 869 m, it offers a panoramic view of the Zurich city. On a bright sunny day, you could scan the horizon. It was also very popular with fitness enthusiasts.

Back from Uetliberg, a small walk around Baden revealed some interesting treasures. Baden is home to some hot springs, though we could not spot them. 

The trip concluded with me making my way back to Basel and then to Brussels. The three days offered a fabulous view into the rustic beauty of Switzerland. 

If you are in Europe, do not miss Switzerland. A 4 day trip would be a good idea to visit the places. Don't forget the Swiss Cheese and the chocolates too !!

Switzerland Switzerland Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Saturday, September 19, 2015 Rating: 5

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