Undoubtedly, a much sought after tourist destination and one of the most visited places in the world , Switzerland with its snow capped mountain peaks, shimmering lakes, cool climate and picturesque sights is mesmerizing.
Excitement, anticipation and an incredible feeling of am I really there ? marked my first visit with family to Switzerland. Heading from Paris to Interlaken (the most beautiful town in Switzerland) on the hi-tech , super fast euro-rail , was exciting. The spick and span luxurious train glided with hurricane speed – the view of the countryside from the window was breath-taking. A wholesome lunch of fish, potato and apple pie along with white wine was delicious and lifted our spirits. As we entered the swiss territory, leaving Paris behind, the scenery magically changed into the picture perfect lake district. The water body seemed like a huge, glistening piece of emerald embedded between mountains and forests. The entire countryside with its rolling hills, symmetrical cottages ,greenery, woods replenished my soul. The air out here is absolutely fresh and pure !
Interlaken in Switzerland is a charming, fairy tale hill station, with lakes, a gurgling turquoise river flowing through the town and surrounded by snow capped mountains .The winding roads have very sparse traffic . Being far away from the pollution and chaos of city life and hence a perfect place to rejuvenate the weary traveler. Interlaken is one of the most calm and peaceful places , a perfect destination to unwind. On the hind side though one thing lacking here is that cabs, specially at the railway station, are not easily available, though buses run at fixed intervals. Rides on horse driven carriages are popular with tourists. And one can see majestic horses trotting on the cobbled streets with delighted passengers taking a ride on these magnificent carriages.
A trip to the Harder Klum peak was a great experience. Traveling by the cog wheel train on the steep mountain slope – is indeed an engineering marvel. One can get pleasant aerial views from the summit of Harder, of the snow capped peaks in the horizon and the beautiful town of Interlaken, the lakes and greenery below .
Any trip to Switzerland is incomplete without a boat ride on its huge, pristine lakes. Our boat trip of two and a half hours was from Interlaken to a small town in the interiors called Thun. The experience of having wood fire baked pizza in an Italian restaurant with the gushing rivulet flowing close by was fabulous.
One of the highest and famous mountain peaks in the Swiss Alps a is Jungfrau. The summit being at a height of 13,500 feet above sea level, temperature below sub zero level throughout the year. Our trip to this place was full of excitement and adventure. Amazingly, even at such a height, these mighty mountain range is connected with the rail system (built in 1912), covering most of the distance inside the mountain itself . Intermediate stations with panoramic windows provide splendid outside views of the alpine region. The eurorail system is absolutely top class – sleek, well maintained and super fast.
When the train climbed onto a steep mountain , my heart skipped a beat …… as it moved further up, intriguing snow clad mountains all around came into view. After going through a series of tunnels, we finally reached the icy cold, water dripping station which was our destination. The viewing deck for tourists had full length glass windows for an out of the world sight of the massive, pure white mountain range. Indeed, seemed like paradise. Though icy cold and chilly till the bones, me and my family did venture out in the slippery, cream like snow, Children had fun playing in the snow here. A blizzard negated all visibility and numbed by the extreme cold , we had to hurry back inside the ice museum.
From Interlaken we again took the very convenient luxurious train to Lucerne, which was our next destination.! Explore Lucerne by taking a boat ride on the lake, stroll on the centuries old wooden bridge or simply stroll around the charming place. This pedestrian friendly town also has the exquisite Lion monument, which is carved out of a single stone.
Lucerne has proximity to two of the most famous mountain ranges in Switzerland – Titlis and Pilatus and is a premier tourist base in the heart of Switzerland. To reach Mt. Titlis, take the train till Engelberg and from here cable cars are available. Going on top of these high snow capped mountains on the glass rotoair is an exhilarating experience . I felt jittery as we glided upwards but nevertheless it was thrilling . Visibilty may not be great depending on the weather conditions, and we encountered dense fog. A must do here is the air flyer ride – which gives a real experience of the icy cold, windy and wet weather which is a hallmark of the Swiss Alps. Going full speed on the mist covered mountain glacier, we could’nt even see one metre ahead on this ride.
A thumbs up for Mount Pilatus. Though it is neither snow covered nor that high compared to Jungfrou or Titlis, but the top of the mountain peak had wonderful, far away, picture postcard views due to the clear skies and crisp air. It is quite popular with hikers as the terrain is non slippery.