Green pastures stretching as far as your eyes could go. The green is soothing to the eyes. White and spotted cows are grazing nonchalantly. The sea of green is speckled with small quaint colored houses which seemed to be picked from children story books. The scene is perfectly finished by snow peaked mountains at the back and clear blue sky overhead.
Any millennial fan of Bollywood would immediately recognize this setting from Switzerland which has been made dream vacation destination of millions of Indians by Yash Raj Films. Yes, Switzerland is as beautiful as shown in the movies. And of course it is not only limited to the famous spots as you see on the big screen.
It feels like every inch of Switzerland has been carefully crafted by nature and sculpted to perfection. We could not get enough of the green pastures, the tall mountains, the expansive lakes and the cute little houses. We could have spent ages just admiring the beauty spread before us.
In our brief sojourn we tried to touch the highlights painfully aware that we would only be touching the tip of the iceberg that was beauty of Switzerland.
Ferry across Lake Lucerne and journey to top of Rigi
Under overcast skies we jumped on a ferry across Lake Lucerne. It was freezing cold outside with the wind biting hard on our exposed skin but the gorgeous surroundings filled our hearts with a soft unique warmth. It was a damp evening which couldn’t damped our spirits as we made our way on to the cogwheel trams towards the peak of Rigi. We probably got the best views of the lake when we rode the tram to the top and on the journey back. The ride itself was one-of-a-kind experience. With such a steep slope, it was like riding a cable car but on land.
From the top we could admire the valley miles on either side. And when we thought we seen it all, the clouds parted to allow the setting sun peak through and engulf the whole valley in golden orange hue.
Magical land of Engelberg and Mount Titlis
Engelberg has to be one of our favorite places in the whole trip. This town captures in one place our complete idea of Switzerland. All what we had mentioned above and more. The green fields, the lined trees, mountain peaks, lakes and rivers along with the pretty houses. We just walked around the town and relaxed at random benches taking in the nature around us. And the topping on the cake was in fact the cheese factory where we saw the end-to-end process of cheese making while enjoying delicious fondue.
The trip to Titlis wasn’t as expected. It was overcast and the top of the peak was covered with clouds. We could only see limited distance and were left wanting for better weather. But the ride to the top and back was fun. We had to change the cable car 3-4 times. The final stretch to the top was the rotating car which gave great views of the valley. On the way back we took the ‘devil bike’ and rode freely downhill. It was exhilarating and super fun.
Adventure to Rhine falls
Rhine falls are beautiful falls on Rhine river in the canton of Zurich. We walked down to the river and then to the platform to get a closer view of the falls. The mist on our faces and the red glow of the setting sun made it a wonderful trip. We visited Rhine falls in the evening to allow a chance to catch the illumination of the falls. But waiting for the falls to light up, we forgot to catch the last train back. And we had to trek along the river in the night alone to the nearby station. A bit scary at first but then it was fun to go on this adventure.
Blown away at Jungfrau
There is no way you wouldn’t be swept off your feet by the beauty on the top of Jungfrau. And it is not just the top, it is the journey as well. The train goes through a tunnel straight to top at a steep incline and then generates electricity while coming down. We were blown away by this engineering that led us to the top and then were spellbound by what we saw at the top. It was a perfect day with clear blue sky and not a speck of cloud.
The blue sky was met by white snow at the horizon and then the white stretched right till our feet. Amazing scenes wherever we looked. And the station on top has been made into a complete varied experience. We have the ice cave with stunning sculptures, the panoramic view points, the colorful exhibitions and topped off with hot chocolates at the café. The best part of it all was becoming kids again and playing in the snow.
Charming town of Bern
We had stayed at a delightful small town of Wimmis in the canton of Bern. It was perfect stay at a wooden cabin complete with inbuilt fireplace. The picturesque setting of the village was something we couldn’t get over. The houses had distinct structure and were beautifully decorated.
The cobbled streets, the exceptional fountains and the curious looking insignia, the old city center of Bern transport you to medieval world. The landmarks have been well preserved and simply walking down the main street is a special experience. They have rightly included this as a UNESCO cultural world heritage site. We started from the railway station and walked towards bridge at the end of the city center. On the way admiring the nuggets of medieval architecture at the cathedral, the clock tower and the parliament.
Scenic rail routes
Switzerland, we believe, is best travelled on rail. With its amazing connectivity and on-time movement of trains, this mode trumps the drive (though many may disagree). Though all the train routes spill the classic Swiss natural beauty on you, few routes have been selected as the scenic routes and special panoramic trains are run on these routes. We ensured that we travelled on at least a couple of these special routes: The Golden Pass Route (Luzerne to Interlaken) and Wilheim Tell Express (Lugano/Locarno to Lucerne). Both rides justified the panoramic name adorned on them with wide-glassed windows running to the roof allowing a complete view of the lovely scenery.
So, was Switzerland everything we had imagined? Yes, a thousand times yes. Would we go back there? In a heartbeat. And were the days enough to enjoy the beauty? Definitely not. We are now thinking of taking out couple of weeks dedicated to Swiss beauty.
Do you have a story to tell about your Switzerland experience? Drop in a comment or send us a mail. We will definitely reply. All the interesting tales will be published in a special feature.