Switzerland is extremely compact, as everyone is reminded whenever there is a massive land war in Europe (although it was probably not always so easily navigable). Luckily it is now, and not only can the trains take you everywhere, but they do so on time. The only catch is that you will spend at least 200 francs if you want an unlimited train pass, so be sure to put that sucker to good use.
I flew in to Zurich, on a flight that started it’s descent 45 minutes before the scheduled landing time, which coupled with the fact that the flight attendants made us turn off all our cell phones completely, and that I thought I heard the words “emergency landing” bandied about, made me think I was about to die before I could even set foot in Switzerland. It turns out the Swiss are just really efficient and we disembarked 20 minutes before our scheduled arrival time. Then I spent two hours in Zurich with my friend who lives across the border in Germany as a start to my whirlwind Swiss city tour.
I stayed in Lucerne with Monika for four days, although I didn’t do much sightseeing in Lucerne itself. There’s apparently an old bridge you should visit? Whatever. I was busy with other stuff.
Home to Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty die. After seeing the Reichenbach Falls, I think maybe Conan Doyle could’ve picked a more impressive waterfall. But maybe I need to wait for the snow to melt.
This is where we hiked off into the snow, a bit too confident in our trail reading abilities, and almost died. Also, we took a nap in one of the reclining benches and I got sunburnt on my scalp. Always put sunscreen where your hair is parted, ladies! Also, the sun in the mountains don’t mess around.
The first thing I noticed about Geneva was, Damn, this place is super French. The second thing I thought was, Damn, I can’t believe this cappucino is 4.50 CHF but at least it’s pretty good coffee. Also, everything here is faaaancy. It looks completely different from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Well, not completely completely different, but noticeably different. Especially if you’ve lived in Europe for two years. Anyway.
I saw this town on my way to Geneva and it looked so cute that I stopped on the way back to Lucerne. Apparently Lake Neuchâtel is also known as the Swiss Riviera, which seems pretty accurate. It looks like it belongs in the south of France, also I went a bit crazy with the filters when editing these photos.
This tiny, tiny town was a long, three-hour train ride with three transfers in the middle of the Gruyere region. I wish I could say I ate a bunch of cheese, but I actually went because Maison Cailler has their chocolate factory here. The air smells like chocolate. You can tour the chocolate museum then eat unlimited chocolate at the end. Yum.
My friends Florian and Viviane live in Biel, which is right on the border of German vs French Switzerland. All the street signs and names are in both languages, which can be pretty confusing when you’re looking for your German stop on the bus and the menu is still in French.
It is also a city that causes many Swiss people to give you a sideways glance, as it seems to be widely considered the most dangerous and ugliest city in Switzerland. Which… I mean, yeah, I guess, if you’re only looking at Switzerland, I suppose the bar is pretty low. As it is, it’s much nicer than any place I ever lived in the US, and sure, I suppose some people get stabbed but call me when y’all start getting drive-bys.
I actually loved Biel because of this so-called ‘edginess’. It was still beautiful and charming but also felt like places I was more familiar with: more worn around the edges, more diverse, more immigrants. Less money for the rent, something I can really get behind.
My last stop, a bittersweet one. Goodbye, Switzerland! You were so beautiful and amazing! Worth every time I looked at my bank balance and cried!