Switzerland, people think chocolate, mountains and bankers. And they’d be right.
However, during Christmas time, it has all of these things plus this great Christmas atmosphere. The German sector of Switzerland loosens up a bit and you see more people smiling, the French sector you see more people kissing and the Italian sector, well, they just keep doing what they do everyday because Italians live everyday like their last.
Blanket generalizations, sure. This was Renu’s first time in Switzerland so we decided to hit up several cities and show her what there is to offer. We visited Zurich, Lucerne, Bern, Basel, Interlaken, Lausanne, Interlaken, Geneva, Zermatt and Monstein. Monstein? Yes, Monstein. Most of it was sightseeing, however we mixed in catching up with an old friend and some scientific exploration for good measure.
Switzerland calls me once every 3-4 years and i suppose because it’s such a small country and yet it’s geographically diverse. The German’s in the North, the Italians in the South and the French to the West. It’s kind of like a Mall’s food court, lots of diverse cuisines compacted into a really small space. Add onto that the beautiful pristine landscapes, strong Swiss pedigree and true commitment to green energy and sustainability (Not like the US claims to be, but actually isn’t…) and it’s a really formidable country in terms of tourist draw.
Maybe it’s analogous to buying concentrated orange juice, less physical size, but more dense with beauty and culture.
Ok, enough with the horrible analogies.
During the Christmas season, there is an awesome festive mood. Zurich’s old town serves Gluhwein and Punch, which was amazing, think of the Punch like an aromatic, hot apple cider but more tasty. All the major cities and many towns have a Christmas series of stalls hawking varies wares. It was like a Christmas gift mecca, all kinds of small trinkets and snacks.
We decided to go sledding down one of the alpine mountains known as Rottenboden. and that turned out to be a big mistake. While i grew up sledding and around snow in general, the sleds they provide combined with a lack of steering ability and then add the grade of the mountains… we luckily didn’t get hurt, but Renu let the sled go, and on that kind of grade the sled just took off on it’s own. So yeah, we walked half-way down the mountain, instead of sledding. Probably for the better.
Renu did some paragliding in Interlaken and we were lucky enough to go to CERN and check out some of the equipment. Amazing stuff.
One really new and exciting thing we did was Adventure Rooms. Adventure Rooms seems to have taken off and really expended around the world, but basically it’s like putting yourself in the middle of a hostage crises, where you are the hostage and you are responsible for your own freedom. They handcuff you to a fence and you are responsible for freeing yourself to the next stage. The way you free yourself to the next stage was by solving various engineering problems. The first one was making a simple tool to reach a key to un-cuff us. Next was using a FLIR gun to see which bottle was hot and find another puzzle piece to advance to another room, then a series of water experiments to get retrieve an item from a bottle. (Diet soda is lighter than regular soda.. FYI.) etc. It was really fun and amazing. The only downside was that once you’d done it once, you know the field and there is no reason to go back again to that exact location. Seems since we did the one in Bern, they have opened in many other places now.
Anyhow, Without further adieu:
Odd portraits at the airport. No idea why these were taken.
Zurich hauptbanhoff in the distance. And these cool little train cars in the foreground.
Cool murals in some of the alleyways in old town, Zurich.
This was a really random, but cool display. It’s like a pencil/paper drawn murder scene of a frog with the suspects mugshots above. Love this thing.
Einstein haus next to Schmuck Cafe, even nerds have a sense of humor…
Renu yelling at me to watch out for the bus that almost hit me.
Free dog with Dress purchase.
Nothing to say about this one…
Bern at night, i really came to love Bern on this trip. We had a blast and lots to do in Bern.
Beautiful landscape, even in winter.
Brunch on Lake Thun. This boat served a typical continental breakfast and drifted around the various towns on Lake Thun, highly recommended.
Again back in Bern, wintertime what to do? Oh i know, let’s do some tightrope walking over a river! Le sigh.
CERN. The Large Halldron Collider was even more impressive in person than in photographs. The size being 23 miles in diameter, we entered on the French side. The scale and depth into the ground of this project is truly unimaginable.
When servers have the word ‘Nuclear’ on them, i pause.
We visited our friends Simon and Malcolm Whittle owners of Elinchrom. The photography lighting company. Sadly, this was the last time we would see Malcolm. He passed away 3 days after our visit. Rest in Peace sir, you will be missed.
On our way from Lausanne to Zermatt.
Walking to our hotel, hotel Dufour from the Zermatt train station.
We flew in an AS-350 over the Matterhorn, what an amazing experience.
You can see the deep blue of the glaciers.
You can barely make out the little skiers coming out of the top of the mountain area…
This is like some James Bond evil lair.
Matterhorn at night.
Like a 30′ angle going up on the train…
See that sled?
Now you don’t.
Yeah, she doesn’t realize yet that it’s gone. We walked down the rest of the mountain.
So you live in Zermatt but only have access to a plane, not a train… what to do? Skydive home!
America’s contribution to Switzerland.
Lauterbrunnen town. Beautiful
At the top of Jungfraujoch.
Only a special kind of bird can live up at this altitude, where there is only snow and ice.
Ice caves…inside the glacier.
Mt. Pilautus never disappoints. Especially in winter.
Yeah, so the only thing stopping our bus from falling down a mountain is a small curb.
We ended in Monstein, a small village town outside Davos. It was amazing, we were totally cutt off from the rest of the world here. Just two restaurants in town. Would definitely come back here agian.