Friday, 1 January 2016

Heaven on earth-Switzerland

At first when my parents told me would be going to Swiss, I had doubted them, both for trying to fool me or for maybe leaving me with my family members in Bangalore. I have never thought or imagined that I would be going to Switzerland in near future. But it turned out that they were serious. Yes I am going to Switzerland, “The heaven on earth”, the most rated Tourist spot, the place where one must visit in his lifetime.

And finally the day arrived when we are at Chattrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai waiting for the plane from Swiss Air on 16th September 2015.The whole Mumbai city was decked up for the most vibrant festival “Ganesh Chatturti”. The plane trip was quite a long journey. I managed to watch just one movie and dozed off to sleep. When I woke next morning and looked out of the window I saw… nothingness.  I just saw a massive void of blue and white. I realized we are above the clouds. But a few seconds later there was an announcement telling us we were about to land at Zurich airport.

So Near So Far

Day One

The first thing we did when we landed in Zurich International airport was to board a train to the city of Basel. We did not have much time to spare as we had to be at Basel by 10 am. Even though we haven’t yet properly looked at the city, I was already awestruck by what it looks like in the station itself. It was very clean and tidy and not crowded. I had already started to like this country.

Light drizzle  kept me guessing.

The duration of the trip from Zurich to Basel is approximately one and a half hours. I was not even sitting down on my seat. I don’t exaggerate here but my face was stuck to the window most of the time. The scenery outside was just lovely. There were mighty mountains in the background, nice and small wooden houses, and a few buildings and the walls are almost covered in graffiti. And just when I was about to point out something to my dad, my view was blocked by a tunnel followed by a station: Basel SBB.

After we reached Basel SBB and head out of the station, I could not help looking more than necessary around Basel. It was just unbelievably extraordinary. We boarded a type of public transport called a tram. It is a kind of train but has tracks on road and is slow moving, which allowed me to look out of the window. What I did notice as I read the tram schedule is that the trams are spot on time and have special orders to which of the trams should arrive when. Our tram number was eleven by the way.

The house we stayed in Basel is just ENORMOUS. It was fully made out of wood and the shelves had stacks and stacks of books. Our host was a nice, young lady called Layla. There were also other inmates who we caught glimpses of. Layla said that she was doing masters in literature (that explains the bunch of books). No wonder we bonded well. She managed the entire house. Isabella, whom we met very regularly, is a Doctor, Una, who I once found while heading downstairs for lunch is an artist, and Timo, who I never met, is a musician. Layla mentioned that the house was more than hundred years old and belongs to her great grandfather.

Spacious dining room

Very Artistic Living Room

Charming Ladies Layla and Isabella and my mum

We rested for a while and then we went all the way back to Basel SBB and boarded another train to Zurich. We explored a lot there and also went for a cruise! It was just thrilling and we took around 200 photos because it is beautiful from every angle. Actually, I don’t think there are good enough words to describe how I felt during the cruise. It was a two hour journey.

My clicks

When we reached back home, Isabella and her friend were having dinner. We shared our theplas (popular Indian food)and some sweets with them in return we got some rice pudding which was delicious. We were so tired after the journey we almost hit the bed immediately.

Day Two

The next day, we headed off to a nice waterfall called Rheinfall. The train station we reached was called Schaffhausen. The duration of the trip was one hour and thirty minutes. Let me give you some more information on Rheinfall. The Rhine Falls (Rheinfall in German) is the largest plain waterfall in Europe. The falls are located on the High Rhine between the municipalities of Neuhausen and Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen, near the town of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland, between the cantons of Schaffhausen and Z├╝rich.


We had to first walk down a huge slope to see the Rhine Falls. We then walked through a long passageway with the falls at our left. The waterfall is awesome.
After a while my parents rested, I went to play at a nearby park. But we realized that the weather was not going to be great at noon. So instead of going for the cruise around Rhine Fall, we headed all the way back up the slope and just explored a little bit and then back home at night.
Picture perfect

                                            Day Three

In our third day in Switzerland, which was probably one of the most exciting days, we visited the beautiful city of Thun. We visited a gigantic castle which was on the North-west side from the Thun station.

The things inside the castle had lots of things that were there in my history chapters going on in school. There were tridents, shields, swords, guns, tapestries, old canons, gallows, suits of armor and many more. They also had communicative things like there would be cardboard boxes, into which you put your hand into and guess the animal (toy)inside it, and also cardboard helmets, wooden swords and wooden shields.
After the trip to the castle, we explored Thun more an we had yummy ice creams.
City of Thun

Later we visited the capital of Switzerland Bern. Bern is quite populated if you compare with other city, mostly the tourists.
Capital Bern
We also visited Albert Einstein’s house. Bern did not excite me, may be because of the crowd and I saw some litter on the road which is very rare in the spotless Switzerland.
Chess ,How can I live without you?

Day four

Last day in BaselFirst day in Luzern

Waking up the next day made me feel a little sad as we were already going to leave Basel. But when I asked my mom where we were going today she answered that we weren’t going anywhere- we were going to explore Basel. That cheered me up a bit because the thought of living in a place but not knowing it is a little weird.
After a little bit of shopping here and there in the Coop, we headed to another city- Luzern. The train trip was a pretty fun one and I cracked jokes with my dad and commented on the buildings. The hotel we stayed in was called Ibis Budget. Instead of checking-in, which took almost half an hour, we just put them in a sort of luggage room and then took a bus to a lake which is coincidentally called Lake Luzern which is what our apartment is called back home. I took control of the camera for a few minutes as my mom and dad booked the tickets to a cruise which started in half an hour. We quickly explored a few shops (which were amazing) and then sprinted all the way back to the dock and boarded the cruise ship.

Apperently I live in an apartment called Lake Lucerne

But only later did we realize that this cruise went on for almost five hours. So we got off at the upcoming dock and just prowled around waiting for it to come. After what felt like ages the cruise ship finally came. I had been told that there was a secret awaiting me.

Isn't it beautiful!

Massive Transport Museum worth a visit

We reached back to the port and go to a special monument- The Lion Monument.
It is one of the most famous monuments in Switzerland. It is a carving of a lion in a wall which is called the ‘dying lion’ and it has a small claw pierced into the back of its body. It represents the soldiers of Switzerland who died during a fire to rescue lots of people. It is the most emotional monument ever.

Look at the pain in Lion's eye

It was late in the night so we went back to Ibis budget, checked-in and entered our room with the luggage. It was pretty fancy and I liked it. My mom and dad slept on the bed below but I got to sleep on a bunker above them. We talked a little bit but then just slept.

Day five (IMP!)Mt.Jungfrau

Today I got up very early and jumped on the bed with joy- I was going to Jungfrau! I was going to the mountain peaks which meant I would finally be able to see snow! I had been waiting to see real snow since ages. It seemed like a really long time while I got dressed- layers after layers of clothes to put on- inners, t-shirts, shirts, sweaters, jackets, UV jackets and one extremely thick and fat jacket. We finally set off.

Bright Sunny day the top

We switched between two to three trains and took the route through Grindelwald and finally a separate train called Cogwheel which is one of the greatest marvels of Europe. The peak is around 3400 meters high. When I had my first look at the peaks through a viewpoint it looked no different than vanilla and chocolate ice cream.  Only it was with microorganisms because the snow on the peaks was the vanilla. The actual peaks were the chocolate. And the microorganisms, or let’s say bacteria, were us humans.
I touched the snow and let it crumble in between my hands. I sensed a movement behind me and some sixth sense made me grab a snowball and hurl it backward. It hit my dad squarely in the chest. Snowballs are a little hard like ice, but perfect to throw. I spent a little bit of time battling against my dad and mom. In the end my mom managed to throw a snowball into my face which sent me flying backwards into a snowy mountain. We then headed off to a glacier cave with sculptures carved into ice which was very slippery. I teased my parents to come catch me while I smoothly moonwalked with my face to them. But soon I actually started to shiver. I was whisked off to a restaurant type place and found that my gloves were full of snow. I took the last pair of gloves and ate a few cookies.

Yes !!! We made it!!

The second part of my day in Jungfrau was the best. Down the hill where I had been throwing snow at my parents was a slope with sledges. The best thing was that if you payed 15 francs at the start you could go sledding down the hill as many times as you want. The first time I was a little scared so my dad took a sled as well and we both raced down the hill a couple of times. I learned to race on my own as well.

Fun Unlimited

We took a few pictures down the hill, had something to eat and headed back home. But it’s only when I switched off my light at home did I realize the journey isn’t over yet.

Day six (also IMP!!)Mt.Titlis

Waking up next day followed the same routine as yesterday. I wore the same clothes, inners, jackets and gloves. We took two trains to a station and then changed three gondolas to get to Mt.Titlis. My dad had checked the forecast today and said that it was going to be snowy. We walked through a narrow passage and entered another glacier cave. It was followed by another long passage which took us into…..a rickety bridge. I took one vivid step onto it and it shook and shook. I continued walking and it was very scary for it was a 780+ feet drop below me. When we reached the end I was shaking. Maybe it wasn’t that bad.

The view from 'The Shaky Bridge'.

We went through a thing which takes you on cables called ice flyer. It is scary but less scary than the cliff walk. But the view from the flyer is just WOW!!!!The weather had already started to detoriate. Strong winds were making my body go numb. I could barely see people around as it started snowing. Well, this was my first encounter with snow fall.

Ice ice baby

Still we managed to go to top of the hill and clicked pictures. We had to rush inside and grabbed yummy hot pizza. But going out from the restaurant was just not possible. We waited for some time, enjoyed the snow fall, later headed down back in the cable car. My parents enjoyed hot samosa and chai at the foothill of Mount Titlis. We came back to the room with loads of memories from the mountain.

Day sevenLast day in Swiss

Well, this was kind of a free day. We did not have any particular plan for this day. My mother says sometimes no plans make the best plans. And that’s what happened on the last day of my Swiss tour.We chose the city Lugano, which is situated near the border of Italy. It took 2 hours to reach this hidden gem of a city. Like rest of the cities even Lugano has a beautiful lake. But the houses and the language are more inclined towards Italian. The boat trip again was just great, though it was drizzling throughout.

Swiss city Lugano with Italian touch

After exploring the city for some time we headed to a city called Bellinzona. It is a small town and it consists of castles. We had lunch and went to explore one of the castles. It was very huge but again the strong winds and rain made it impossible to be outside. We had to stop the tour midway and came back to station to catch the train back to Luzern and then Zurich. Nevertheless we managed to click some photos of Bellinzona.

Bellinzona-the city of castle

Overall I am very happy with this trip. I have learned a lot of things from this wonderful place. They are always so kind here and very rarely honk. They also trust each other so much that they would leave their whole house to someone else to look after. That’s what happened in Layla’s house- sometimes she would go out somewhere else leaving only us three in the house. They would always offer something to us or had a very good hospitality. They kept the place very neat and clean. Also in Swiss if anyone makes too much noise, like in a night-party, the police might come over and fine them. They are also very particular about the time. One example is when we were waiting for a train and my mom asked someone if the train was at 4:10 and they replied “no”. And my mom asked if it was at 4:15 and they replied “no, it is at 4:13”. And the train came at the exact same time. The only thing I didn’t like was that there were lots of smokers and drinkers, especially at night, so it was a little dangerous to go anywhere at night. But since the latter was very rare, it didn’t affect my trip at all. And what I do know is that one day, one day I am going back there to Swiss. But right now I miss my home so I am glad to be back. Thanks Appa ,Amma for this wonderful trip,which I will remember for the rest of my life.
Thanks Appa ,Amma!!

Also, as I believe,
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page" quote by Saint Augustine

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