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Switzerland

9 mins. read

Published in the Saturday Navbharat Times on 24 February, 2024

As I reached for the door to board the train, it suddenly shut in front of me, and with a sudden jolt, the train departed! There we stood, Ritu and I, on the platform, watching the train fade into the distance as if it was bidding us farewell. We had missed it! "Never mind," Ritu said calmly, "we'll catch the next one in an hour."

I was in Switzerland for a travel conference, and after the event, Ritu, who worked for Switzerland Tourism, and I decided to explore new destinations in Switzerland that we could offer to our Veena World guests. One visit to Switzerland, and you just can't help but fall in love with the country and yearn to return for more.

Like most of us, my first introduction to the snow capped mountains of Switzerland was through movies, especially the enchanting creations of Yash Chopra. His adoration for Switzerland was evident, as the country often served as a central character in his films, transforming each movie into a visual masterpiece. Whether it was a romantic song sequence amidst snow-covered slopes or an entire movie set against the backdrop of Switzerland, Yash Chopra's films showcased the country's beauty in all its glory.

For years, the image of Shahrukh and Kajol dancing on the bridge in Saanen has been etched in our memories, inspiring countless travelers to explore these picturesque destinations. Even if you're not an avid movie buff, it's hard to resist the allure of these cinematic landscapes. I vividly remember watching a movie with my childhood friends years ago. Though the storyline may have been lacking, the breathtaking scenery of Switzerland captivated our young minds. I recall one friend's exasperated comment, wishing the actors would step aside so he could fully appreciate the beauty of Switzerland!

So, when I finally set foot in Switzerland, I was determined to embrace the cold weather and stroll through the streets of Zurich with an ice cream in hand! And after indulging in the famous Swiss chocolates, my journey became even sweeter. Needless to say that after the ice cream, I just had to visit the shops for the  famous Swiss chocolates. Whats even better is when you are on a Veena World tour to Switzerland you can visit a chocolate factory and actually witness how these chocolates are made and the variety of chocolates is sure to blow you off! While on tour in the chocolate factory I learnt that it's the Swiss cows that make all the difference! The wonderful air, the greenery all provide the perfect environment for the cows to graze and all this results in delicious milk that results in the creamiest and most wonderful chocolates that are distinctively Swiss! As a self-proclaimed chocoholic, no trip to Switzerland would be complete without a visit to Maison Cailler. The guided tour offered a fascinating glimpse into the art of chocolate making, from bean to bar. Of course, the highlight was the tasting room, where I indulged in an array of delectable Swiss chocolates and of course bought lots straight from the factory for friends and relatives back home. Whenever I travel, I try to buy souvenirs and gifts that are made locally and  chocolates are one of the best gifts to take back after a journey, which is actually Swiss-made!

Switzerland holds a special place in all Veena World's Europe tours, and it's no surprise that our guests often find themselves enchanted by its beauty. Many of them return for a dedicated tour of Switzerland or choose to explore it alongside neighboring countries like Austria or France. This allows them to immerse themselves fully in the wonders of each destination, taking their time to savor the unique experiences offered by Switzerland.

Being a landlocked country, Switzerland's culinary and linguistic diversity reflects its proximity to its neighboring countries. In the Ticino region, you'll savor Italian flavors, while the western region near Neuchatel offers a taste of French cuisine. The rest of Switzerland is predominantly Swiss German-speaking, adding to the rich tapestry of cultures found throughout the country.

For first-time visitors, Lucerne and Interlaken stand out as must-visit cities, both offering easy access to some of Switzerland's most exhilarating mountain peaks. Lucerne. Its cobblestone streets, adorned with medieval architecture like the Kappelbrucke bridge, whisked me away to a bygone era, evoking a sense of nostalgia and wonder.

From Lucerne, I ventured to the enchanting mountain resort town of Engelberg, a scene straight out of a postcard. This idyllic retreat serves as the gateway to Mt. Titlis, Switzerland's most beloved peak. Accessible via the revolutionary 'Titlis Rotair' rotating cable car, the journey unveils panoramic vistas of the majestic Alps unfolding before our eyes. Boarding the 'Titlis Rotair,' I was treated to a mesmerizing ascent, surrounded by snow-capped peaks stretching as far as the eye could see. With each gentle rotation of the gondola, I found myself immersed in a 360-degree spectacle of nature's grandeur.

Just 68 kilometers from Lucerne lies Interlaken, nestled between the stunning lakes of Thun and Brienz. Here, adventure beckons amidst serene beauty. From adrenaline-pumping activities like paragliding and river rafting to serene cruises aboard historic paddle steamers on Lake Thun, Interlaken caters to every traveler's desires.

While in Interlaken, a stroll through its picturesque streets is a must. Near the casino, a familiar statue stands tall, paying homage to the legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra. This tribute serves as a reminder of his profound influence in promoting tourism to this breathtaking region through his iconic movies.

Nearby Interlaken lies the captivating Jungfrau region. If it's been a while since your last visit to Switzerland, now is the perfect time to return and embark on an unforgettable journey aboard the Eiger Express from Grindelwald – a testament to modern engineering and the world's most advanced tricable gondola. In just 15 minutes, you'll ascend to the Eiger Glacier station, surrounded by breathtaking vistas of snow-capped peaks and untouched alpine landscapes. It's a remarkable contrast to the humble beginnings of cable cars, which were initially developed as basic means of transportation for Swiss farmers.

Standing atop Jungfraujoch at Europe's highest railway station situated at an elevation of 3,454 meters (11,332 feet) above sea level, I found myself mesmerized by the beauty that surrounded me. It's no wonder that this mountain top is aptly named Jungfrau, meaning "young woman" or "maiden" in German. The comparison to a beautiful young lady is fitting, as the mountain exudes an aura of grace and majesty.

Over the years, I've had the pleasure of exploring various cities in Switzerland, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. Geneva, with its prestigious status as the home of the UN headquarters, serves as a powerful reminder of Switzerland's commitment to peace and neutrality on the global stage.Nearby Lausanne beckons with its renowned vineyards, inviting visitors to indulge in the region's finest wines amidst picturesque landscapes. Meanwhile, Vevey has embraced its cultural heritage with the Charlie Chaplin museum, paying homage to the iconic filmmaker who once called this town home. In Bern, the capital city, history comes alive in its beautiful old town, while the Einsteinhaus provides insight into the life of the legendary scientist, Albert Einstein. Each city in Switzerland has its own story to tell, reflecting the country's rich tapestry of culture, history, and innovation.

Switzerland truly has something for everyone, whether you're seeking the tranquility of nature, the thrill of adventure, or simply a taste of Swiss hospitality. So come, immerse yourself in the beauty of this enchanting country, and let Switzerland's magic sweep you off your feet. It's time for you to star in your own movie and script your own story amidst the breathtaking landscapes and timeless allure of Switzerland

February 23, 2024

Author

Sunila Patil
Sunila Patil

Sunila Patil, the founder and Chief Product Officer at Veena World, holds a master's degree in physiotherapy. She proudly served as India's first and only Aussie Specialist Ambassador, bringing her extensive expertise to the realm of travel. With a remarkable journey, she has explored all seven continents, including Antarctica, spanning over 80 countries. Here's sharing the best moments from her extensive travels. Through her insightful writing, she gives readers a fascinating look into her experiences.

More Blogs by Sunila Patil

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