Might have noticed there are lots of posts by Pamela in recent time – wish she would have done before from our other trips also. It is GREAT that she is so active on this now a days.
Firstly, a PDF map pointing all the places we been in Switzerland. Thanks to Pamela again for her idea.
My laptop is an old Pentium-III, digital camera is a 3 mega pixel, my mobile phone is 4 years old. Hmm....for mobile phone although is not really true as I lost the new one within 4 months of use.
I hope to upgrade my camera to a new Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX2 as soon as it is released and gets real good review from other users, not those blur image its current sibling has. I hope to carry it all the time compared to my current bulky one.
Get an Apple MacBook in black when apple removes the current $200 premium – hope apple does that soon and before X-mas.
A cell phone that can sync with I-Sync and Outlook something from Sony Ericson k750 which has all that but no rush let the price drop.
Yes, there are always lot to write about Switzerland when we are comparing with Paris and when one is seeing through Indian eyes. Where all the pavements of the side walk are made of granite stone, all routes being well-marked, not only that you can always be sure to find toilet paper in any remote restroom and moreover clean restroom. Last but not least even public telephones are equipped with electronic phone book which can be hardly seen in Paris.
Coming to the point what made me write this post is ‘Lassi’. Yes, you heard it right. You must be wondering whatz there to say about Lassi and especially it might be nothing for Indians staying at UK. But to our outmost surprise we noticed this product on the shelf in one of the small ‘all-in-one’ store in Swiss-railway station. Later, we found the same product in big store even which can be hardly seen in Paris rather I should say can’t be seen at all.
According to old tradition, lassi is served at the end of the main meal or taken at lunch time because that's when appetite and digestion are at their peak. Lassi is meant to help digestion and to be served at room temperature, not chilled but as cold beverage usually taken in summer season.
Our trip to Switzerland has ended after all those C.B.G (châteaux, bateaux and gateaux) trips around Europe but indeed it was a different experience altogether. It is all about the greenery, mountain streams rushing along, water falls, snow clad mountains, sounds of cow-bells tickling on the alpine meadows.
I am not sure if every one is happy with their first trip to a new place or not. But, I am always very happy and excited to go to new places. I always live with some desire or feeling that was not filled in that very trip. It keeps me motivated to go back to the same place once again. May be it is my way of exploring and traveling.
The beauties of all those places we have been in Switzerland are so vast that I think - “I can explore them for years to come if I am there all the time”. But I know that is not going to happen (soon for sure!).
Here are few things that one should not miss while traveling in Switzerland – starting with what we missed.
- A Video Camera a MUST along with normal camera – to capture the Alpine divinity while traveling in train (specially for those panoramic one)
- Ask for window seat if your train needs reservation.
- Hiking Pole – if you are hiking and that includes downhill.
- Make sure your watch is giving correct and precise time - the train/bus leaves platform on dot. To demonstrate this you just wait on a platform you will find the train starts moving as soon as the time posted and time on the big clock on the platform matches.A good pair of hiking shoes if you plan to walk a lot.
- Warm clothes even in summer for going to the top of the mountains.
- Good sunglass – Normal sunglass only stops little compared to those special glacier sunglass, you need them to save your eyes from the reflected sunlight from glacier at high altitude.
- Polaroid filter -for your camera if you happen to be lucky on the mountain top with clear blue sky.
Lady - "Do you speak English? Santanu - Yes, we do(replied enthusiastically thinking may be she overheard something and want to ask us something)Lady - I think you might not have noticed that sign (pointing to the picture showing silence compartment on opposite window) as its not there in your window. You are in silence compartment.Us – (in unison) Oops!!! – Sorry
We were not hurt by her comments but it might have been better and less humiliation if she warned us before, not waiting for the very last moment.
YES, it was another new experience with Swiss Railway, next day while traveling on a normal compartment Santanu silently sneaked into one of this special compartment to get this picture.
Traveling by train to Zweisimmen on the Golden Pass BSL train, offers panoramic views of the Swiss Alps, mountain slopes and valleys with picturesque chalets which is something different to experience. Train snakes through the Simme Valley passing through the rural Simmertal where one can see Swiss cows grazing on the Alpine meadows. Listening to the distant sound of cowbells tickling on the pastures is very amusing.
We came to Montreux from Lausanne after keeping our luggage. We took a relaxing promenade on lakeshore to go to Chateau de Chillon. This 13th century castle has lots of history to tell in itself. Lord Byron's famous poem “The Prisoner of Chillon” was set on prison which is at the cellar of the castle. We spent almost 2 hours there and at the same time it was raining heavily outside.
We wanted to go to Geneva to see “Jet d'eau” (water fountain) but it looked like it might be a better idea to be at Montreux as we would be running out of time. Later in the evening we boarded TGV back to Paris – and this time it was in First Class: D
Anywayz, we came back to the hotel for a very late lunch and Santanu wanted to take siesta. And you know, it suddenly started raining like cats and dog; we felt how lucky we must be to enjoy yesterday at top of Europe. It was raining sans cease even after 3hrs when we had to ride in rain to return the bikes. Pff..... :( It just stopped after we returned the same.
Top of Europe
In Switzerland prices are always astronomical so ticket to Jungfrau was no exception. Like always we carried “take-away” lunch before boarding the train. After reaching Lauterbrunnen from Interlaken we were to change and take cog-wheel train to reach to Kleine-Scheidegg a tiny, isolated resort surrounded by vertiginous scenery. In a short time, as we ascended, the villages below were barely visible. The presence of snow gradually increased, while the temperature gradually decreased.
From Kleine-Scheidegg we changed to the Jungfraubahn, another train, which tunnels straight into the rock of the Eiger. Stopping briefly for panoramic picture; looking at glacier from a rock window to say in simple words. This ride up is by world's longest existing cog-rail and quite extraordinary. I assume it is among the most fascinating scenery in the world we have ever seen.
Queen of Swiss Mountains
The train back from St-Moritz was a normal one which was good as that allowed us to take pictures with out glare. The journey from Chur to Zurich was also very scenic as the train runs along two lakes - Lake Walen and Lake Zurich.
After buying Swiss Flexi Pass from the Railway station, boarded a train to Visp. The train journey to Visp was nice as it gave the taste of Alps and its beautiful mountain ranges. The bus trip from Visp to Saas Fee was magnificent. We initially wanted to get the Glacier express today itself but being a special train we could not connect the same. So we spent only 20 minutes at Saas Fee also called pearl of Alps. Saas Fee is a very beautiful car-free resort nestling at foot of glaciers One local young gentleman invited us to little Himalaya of Europe while getting down from the bus. There we had our ‘take away’ lunch.
On our way back we continued till Brig by the same bus. From Brig we had two choices – either by a train or bus. Train goes to our next destination in the south of Switzerland via long tunnel while bus takes a longer route through Simplon Pass to some remote village of Italy from where we were to take a train after 2 hours to our today’s destination (Locarno).
Well, Santanu insisted on later uncertain one as we would have reached Locarno at 21:30 and we had no hotel booked for that night. No doubt the journey along this pass was breathtaking almost 2005m above sea level. As soon as we reached border station we were only 2 passengers left from the bus and we were transferred to a mini van where we had only one co-passenger. It was quite assuring that someone is going with us as it was already 5:30 PM quite late for a place in absolute no-where. We were told by our co-passenger in broken English and Italian that there will be a bus in next 5 minutes, but that 5 become 25 and we three are waiting for bus. There is no posted time table of the same. We started to realize that we were in Italy from the very systematic and punctual Switzerland. It was quandary that we were in. The last part of today’s journey to Locarno was a very memorable one as we got rescued by two gentle Swiss.
In short, trip via road across the most beautiful Alpine passes with spectacular views over the snow covered mountains, through narrow winding valleys, lakes and picturesque villages is something amazing.
He reluctantly noted one hotel address for Interlaken and booked one B&B for Sunday night around Lausanne. The train journey from Paris was not much event full as Santanu slept most of the time and I enjoyed the French country side while listening to music. Thanks to Santanu for getting the I-Pod while he was snoring mildly.
We spent that whole afternoon walking up and down its walkway. Starting our walk along the lake side from Olympic park to Château d'Ouchy. From there we went to Gothic Cathedral via central market after visiting Esplanade de Montbenon. It was bit long walk ascending all the time to the hill top.
While descending we realized the B&B that we booked was very far so we asked about hotels in tourist office and they found us some thing nice close to Olympic museum. After having bath we just walked along the lake shore which was very pleasant & relaxing. But the nice evening walk was very short lived as Santanu realized he does not have his wallet with him for which we had to make a sudden U-turn and walk fast back to hotel. Thank God it was such a relief to find it lying on the bed. We ended up having dinner in nearby lakeside restaurant.