II My first rendezvous with Switzerland was through the Bollywood movies of the nineties, where the lead hero and heroine will be frolicking in lush green meadows with the majestic snow-capped Alps in the background! So, when Tanveer asked me to join him in Switzerland during the spring break, I jumped with joy. Reminiscing about my childhood, I made up my mind to do a road-trip and discover the lesser known Swiss villages during my time there.
To say that the past few months have been crazy would be an understatement. A lot of things, albeit good ones, have happened. I, for instance, finally walked down the altar and moved to cold and snowy Boston (more on this pretty New England city will come soon on the blog). After finally unpacking and settling into my new place and job, all I could think of , even at work – was venturing deep into the quietness of the cute Swiss countryside!
Having no other knowledge source except said romantic Bollywood movies, I decided to reach out to the Switzerland Tourism folks in my eagerness to not miss anything. Some of the hidden gems we discovered, courtesy the fabulous people there, were priceless!
Starting off with my favorite – Zermatt is a present-day environmentalist dream destination. This place is completely free of automobiles. For commuting, you can use one of the many adorable horse carriages that still exist! The small streets and cobbled roads embody my definition of ‘cute little things’.
We literally stopped at ever cafe with good warmth from the sun to enjoy some capuccino and hot chocolate! (Yum!). It seemed like the whole town, from old to the yount, locals to travelers – had the same idea and enjoyed their time under the sun.
From Zermatt, we took a very scenic train ride up to Gornegrat. Though not exactly a village per se, some of my best experiences took place here. The train was filled with skiers, walking funny with their heavy skiing gear! Even then we did not take the hint and like two very misplaced tourists, we headed up the snow-covered hills to see the famous Matterhorn peak in our sneakers!
At the Gornegrat station, we stopped at the wonderful terrace restaurant to enjoy the view of the great Matterhorn peak while sipping on some piping hot chocolate.
After the hot chocolate, we thought it will be a cool idea to walk down the Alps in our sneakers, as skiers after skiers shot past us down to see the Igloos. YES! you read that right! These Igloos are some of the worst kept Swiss secrets!! These are reconstructed every winter under extremely harsh conditions and they are just simply brilliant. You can even stay at the Iglu-Dorf, but we chose not to as I preferred our warm beds to be honest. We were also quite surprised to see many people sunbathing near the Igloo ‘settlement’. Apparently, the warm sun rays reflecting off the white sparkling snow made it just perfect for people to take off their clothes and enjoy getting a tan!
Our next stop on this road trip was this tiny cheese town, where you will encounter images after images of cows grazing on wide green pasture land at every corner. Every part of this place is simply a picture perfect postcard.
As you must have guessed by now, this town is where the famous Gruyère cheese is produced. Hence, off to the cheese factory we went to indulge our cheese palate. We unfortunately, did not have the time to see the famous medieval castle in the town. But it is highly recommended by different people, both locals and tourists alike.
Next we made a pit stop at the Maison Callier chocolate factory. The visual demonstration of the chocolate story right from ancient mythology to the current processes was simply brilliant! Nestle has done a great job by luring people in with unlimited chocolate samples and I must say this place is a must visit.
Rivaz is a quaint little town in the Lavaux vineyard region, which happened to be our first stop in Switzerland. We spent an entire day here, tasting the amazing wines at the Vinorama. Post one too many wines, we found ourselves asking around and walking through the hills to our Airbnb rental in the village.
Colorful streets with the cute houses and windows, that I happen to only find in Europe, this place was unbelievably pretty. With such a view and nearby wine supply, I convinced myself that this is what my future home would absolutely need to have!
Anyone who visits Switzerland, will not miss Interlaken, and neither did we! This place was teeming with tourists at every corner even in cold March! But what nobody knows is that there is a small town, next to it,called Darligen. Overlooking the lakes and the mountains beyond, we enjoyed a couple of quiet days here away from the maddening crowds.
With spring setting in, this place is indeed a sight to behold. You can also do a quick drive to Bonigen or visit the St. Beatus caves nearby. Thankfully, we chose the latter and I was left jaw dropped when I entered these caves. Who knew that Switzerland apart from its famous chocolates and cheese, is also known for its 9000+ limestone caves? These are not just any ordinary caves but surreal ones with a whole new silent world inside! I loved every minute in there with the water gushing between the rocks and wondered what would it be to live inside.
If only we had more than a week here, I am sure this list of mine would have been longer.
Do let me know if you folks have visited any of these places and if so, share some more tips!