My yearly vacation – which like every Wanderer, I really look forward to – heading away from the daily rigors – the stress, the constant emails, deadlines and more – and this time around, it was in the midst of rolling hills of Switzerland and the warm smiles of the Italians that held the promise of working its way into creating a whole new chapter in my travel diary.
What more could I ask for…a romantic sojourn with my wife, Kiran had us discovering the quaint and offbeat Italy and Switzerland – (Bellagiom Mennagio, Cadennabia in Italy ) and (Zurich, Interlaken, Lucerne, Lugano, Berne, Geneva, Locarno, Ascona in Switzerland) – a world away from the tourist traps!
Both of us are avid travelers – we love our sojourns to be quaint and unique – learning about cultures, flavors, the exotic – it’s what we believe travel should be all about.
Switzerland - to many may seem cliched as a getaway – but what I realized was that it’s a land of much more than mountains, cheese and gnomes.
It’s a revival of the senses.
It’s the crisp freshness of the air, the scent of pine, the riotous splash of wildflowers, and the taste of sweet milk straight from the cow…
It’s the chance to free yourself and seize the most from life, day after challenging day.”
The gorgeous weather - Escaping the Indian summer, the weather was cold throughout between 6-18 degrees. We caught Jungfrau at -1 degrees which actually fell to -8 the next day. The cold winds made for a perfect mixture of snow sights melted into the greens of the mountains.
My first impression of the country: Diverse and beautiful, Switzerland has something for every traveler. A Must see on every Wanderer’s list, it changes from green to greener to greenest in the most serene ways.
Our first encounter was actually with Bellagio in Italy wherein the lake breeze shook us before we entered a very warm and friendly Italian culture.
And Italy – well, Lake Como was an irresistible choice because of the proximity to Southern Switzerland. But, the vibrant layers that unearthed along the way left us asking for more…
Capturing the essence of the country – When it comes to Switzerland, you cannot miss the fresh air and the pristine picture perfect surroundings. And you cannot help, but fall in love, with the fantastic cities – Berne and Geneva.
What I discovered was a wonderful way of life - which helps you reconnect – a slow pace of life. Walk, stop, look.The little villages – so laid out (a mixture of nature and nurture to be sure) that wherever you are, you can change your mind. Walk further, linger over lunch, stop to look at the rare mountain flowers, watch the baby marmottes playing, picnic in the sun by a fresh water lake.
Switzerland is all about feeling free. Within the multi-cultural population, in the air, in pursuit of interests, in variety, there is a smell of freedom within.
The mixture of a German, French, Romensch and Italian makes Switzerland a melting pot of various cultures and actually extracts the best out of them. Wherein we felt that Lugano was in Italy, Geneva seemed completely French.
Swiss chocolates and fondue landed in between our scenic drive between the villages.
And the Italians -
Their warmth envelops you…their loud emotions make you part of their gaiety, their food delights your soul, their fantastic architecture and beautiful lakes mesmerize you and their adventurous streak – ahhh…even before you know, you are waltzing along with them and their way of life. In fact, I’ve always felt the Italian demeanor to be a lot like our Indians.
Especially in Bellagio wherein the people aspect struck us most. From the receptionist to the cook, to the shopkeepers, everyone was extremely warm and with a ready smile.
A must experience:
Stay in the typical SWISS CHALET in Switzerland which is a page out of a fairy tale book.
In Italy, experience the animated conversation – of the people – really loud and very passionate – it is a sheer delight watching them.
Swiss Fondue peppered with wine is delectable. Really delicious and we had it in the perfect setting of a Swiss Chalet in Cold Interlaken. Top it up with an ice-cream and it is the perfect recipe.
Savor the White Wine.
A whole new chapter in my travel diary:
The city walks of Berne and the panoramic view of the city. The Bears of Berne have a heritage and a great story to tell. The UNESCO World Heritage site is a must in any trip to Switzerland. The Berne City square which has the Big Clock is unforgettable
Getting up in the morning in Interlaken, peep outside the window and let the magic of the beautiful Jungfrau envelop you.
Trip into Ascona and Locarno from Lugano – an off the beaten track – but sinfully beautiful. They resemble the villages of Italy through their beautiful architecture, lakeside walks and adorable city centers.
Visit Lake Brienz which would rank amongst the best lakes ever seen. It is actually the stillness of the lake which makes it absorb a really captivating blue color. An surreal and unforgettable experience.
My two week sojourn came to an end…but the memories still linger. Enjoying the long city walks and gazing up at the snow kissed rooftops in Winter is a sight which holds the promise of luring me back.
- Rishiraj Pruthi
About Rishiraj Pruthi
Family Man, avid traveler who loves his wife and his car (in that order!) – he believes in Wandering into the off beaten tracks and exploring the local culture and savoring every moment of his Wandering Ways. He celebrates life and believes in living every moment of it to the fullest!