Most people probably associate Switzerland with mountains & lakes, as well as cheese and chocolate!
Of course, this picture isn’t wrong, but there is so much more to Switzerland than the Matterhorn and Toblerone! I was amazed to find out how much history, culture and diversity you can find in such a small country.
My Swiss journey began in Basel which is situated on the Rhine River and is famous for its pharmaceutical companies like Roche and Novartis. Frankly, I was amazed what Basel had to offer! The city feels so cosmopolitan and yet it was so peaceful strolling through the old town. It was almost like time had stood still in the little alleyways. I discovered that Basel used to be a very rich city due to trade and the past wealth could be seen all around the very well preserved old town.
The next stop on my trip was Berne, which is of course the capital of Switzerland and famous for the bear pit and the Zytlogge Tower, with its 15th-century astronomical clock. Again, it’s a wonderful old city and due to its relatively small size, it’s best explored by foot. The best views over the city are from the River Aare.
Of course, no trip to Switzerland is complete with taking at least one train journey! I was very fortunate to experience several train journeys; the Glacier Express, Bernina Express and Gotthard Panorama Express.
The Glacier Express is the slowest Express Train in the world and runs from Zermatt to St Moritz. Zermatt is famous for the most iconic mountain, the Matterhorn. I had seen many pictures of Matterhorn before, but nothing comes close to being there and experiencing the mountain in person. It’s just the most perfect mountain peak imaginable!
The train journey itself is about 8 hours, at a very relaxed pace. The landscape is mountainous but there are also lush meadows with the famous Swiss cows! One highlight of the journey is the Albula Line which is a single track metre gauge railway and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even though this was a long journey, it went by in no time and I even had a gourmet dinner on the train. My overnight was in Pontresina, which is a small little village next to St Moritz. The scenery was spectacular and when I opened my window in the morning, I was greeted with a wonderful mountain panorama and some of the freshest air I have ever inhaled! Quite an amazing way to wake up!
Another highlight of my journey was the Bernina Express train. The route runs from Pontresina to Tirano in Italy and is truly magnificent. The journey was through pure and unspoiled nature and one can only wonder how the railway was built in the mountainous terrain.
The Bernina Pass is the highest point at around 2,250 metres above sea level. However, to me, the highlights were the glacial lakes along the route; each of them had a different colour and you could see the reflection of the mountains in them. And, what a treat to see this landscape in glorious sunshine!
Once in Tirano I took the post bus to Lugano, passing through Lake Como which is probably the most famous Italian Lake, thanks in part to George Clooney! The third-largest in Italy and the fifth-deepest in Europe, Lake Como seduces visitors with its glacial landscapes and jaw-dropping beauty.
My last train journey was the Gotthard Express Train and although the weather wasn’t good on that day, it was still an amazing experience. The train takes the old Gotthard route instead of the new base tunnel route and it runs from Lugano to Lucerne. It was fascinating to learn about the history of the tunnel construction back in the 19th century. Again, the landscape was spectacular for sure, but I was in awe of the construction of the railway. The highlight of this journey to me was Lake Lucerne which has a very interesting shape and many bends. Although it’s one big lake, it seems like many small lakes, one after another.
Sadly this is all I had time for during my trip, but there are many other areas of Switzerland which I would like to explore next time. The Bernese Oberland and the Lake Geneva area are on top of my list and I can’t wait for my next trip to this most wonderful country.
Senior Business Development Executive