So it happens that my Swiss adventure started in Italy, near the beautiful lakes of Como and Maggiore. We followed the shores of lake Como and stoppped for a couple of hours in the wonderful town of Bellagio, a perfect honeymoon destination, then we drove to the town of Stresa, on the shore of Lake Maggiore, and from there to Zermatt, a small but charmful winter sports resort in the Swiss mountains. Zermatt is situated at an altitude of 1620 m, at the feet of Switzerland s highest peaks, such as Matternhorn Peak, 4478 m. To prevent air pollution, the entire town is a combustion engine car free zone, this meaning that when you drive to Zermatt you have to leave the car in a parking at the bottom of the mountain. Also, in Zermatt you will find the highest open air railway in Europe, running up to over 3000 m and a connection to St. Moritz. via the Glacier Express.
From Zermatt, there s a short drive to Chamonix, in France, the resort which hosted the first winter Olympic Games in 1924. There, you can either climb the Mont Blanc Peak, 4810 m, the easy way, via cable car, but you won t get to the extreme top this way, or choose to have a look at the Sea of Glace, on an open train ride across the mountain. The Sea of Ice is a 7 km glacier located on the Northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, and if you dare to take the couple of hundred stairs down the mountain, you can actually walk through a glacier. It is an amazing sensation to actually step through carved ice all around you, but your feet might freeze if you do this wearing summer shoes.
The road will take you further, to Geneva, in time to take a sunset walk along the lake and have a chat with the white swans. They will follow you everywhere, from the moment you give them a piece of you attention, no food required. However, if you want to go for a Swiss beer, visit the United Nations headquarters or the unique Swiss Watch and Clock Museum, you might need to find some other company.
From Geneva, there s a long drive via Lausanne and Bern to incredible Interlaken. Bern is one of the top ten cities in the world with the best quality of life and very few people know that Albert Einstein lived there between 1903-1905. Situated also in the Swiss canton of Bern, Interlaken ( meaning between lakes) is an amazing place where mountain, water and sky meet in the perfect shape possible. Take the time to have a cup of tea on your hotel balcony with a dream view to the never ending lakes and make the most of the sparkling sunshine on the water.
The road will take you further to Lucerne, another charming Swiss town, known for the bridgdes crossing the Reuss River, particularly the 14th century Chapel Bridge, a 204 m long wooden covered brigde, the oldest in Europe. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century, depicting events from the town s history. Part across, the brigde runs through the octagonal Water Tower, a 13th century fortification.
Further on, there s Zurich, world center of banking, opera and of course, chocolate. No doubt you will enjoy visiting the two 9th century churches, Grossmunster, declared by Charlemagne imperial church and Fraumunster, which has some interesting Marc Chagall stained glass windows and join a boat for a cruise around Lake Zurich. But, take the evening off from being a tourist and join the locals for a pizza and a beer in a less formal restaurant, let s say an outdoor garden surrounded by tall buildings, with a small pool where people can sit wherever they want, on benches or on the staircase, listen to older music and forget for a couple of hours they are all bankers spinning the finnances of the world.
From Zurich, there are some more interesting sights to the East, such as Lake Konstanz, on the German border, the town of St. Gallen and, to the south, the luxury resorts Davos and St. Moritz. The interesting thing about St. Gallen is the charmful old town, with colorful painted houses dating from the 16th century up to the 18th century and a library which hosts books from the 9th century.
But let s not end our story without actually talking about the main character of the play : the Swiss chocolate. Apparently, the Swiss produce over 150 000 million tons of chocolate every year and half of it is consumed within the borders as the Swiss population has the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption. They started to produce processed chocolate in the 17 th century and by the 19 th century some of the famous contemporary brands were born, such as Suchard in Serrieres, Sprungli in Zurich or Lindt in Bern. Take a piece of advice and, as soon as you are in Switzerland, go to a supermarket an buy different types of local chocolate, even cheap one, it is unlikely to be other than absolutely delicious. And, if by any chance you are not so fond of chocolate, I m pretty sure you have friends and family who will appreciate the gesture. This sublime taste can, of course, be better appreciated while having a walk in the green mountains.