This past weekend was a 3-day bank holiday weekend so we had been planning for some time with Matt & Trish to go away somewhere. There was lots of discussion on where and in the end, we sort of randomly chose Switzerland. Even until almost the last-minute we were changing where in Switzerland we should go and therefore what airport to fly in to.
We chose Lucerne. In the north. On Lake Lucerne. Charming and I think I read the number one visited city in Switzerland by tourists. Probably because of the beautiful old bridges that traverse the water that runs through this very small city. The church spires and water-side cafes and beer halls. But most likely it’s the view of snow-capped mountains that dominates every frame of every vantage point. The food is pretty good too.
Switzerland fascinates me. It ticks all the boxes of my strange amateur obsessions with ethnopolitical geography. Or something like that. It is a country that has four official languages, three borrowed from its neighboring countries of Germany, France and Italy and then a fourth, Romansh, that I am not sure very many people use. There is no such thing as a Swiss language and so you get the feeling topographically and culturally that this beautiful country is simply an extension of its bordering nations and that your experience has everything to do with which one you are closest to. Swiss German represents the dominant language by percentage of population and I would also say cultural perception of the rest of the world. Mountains and rolling valleys and yodelers and cows with bells around their necks grazing and happy blondes in lederhosen and schnitzel and sausage and beer and pretzels. And to a large extent you can experience these things on a visit. But the French have snuck in their chalets and fondue and the Italians have snuck in paradise. More on that in a moment.
So I was on a bit of a hunt over the four days to try and figure out what the Swiss identity is. In a nation where you can drive one hour and everyone is speaking a completely different language and eating completely different food, it’s hard to pinpoint right away. Perhaps it’s the tax haven for wealth, the craftsmanship of watches, the best chocolate on earth, the folding army knife that also has a nail file, the cow bell, the neutrality during global conflict. Whatever it is, it’s a great place to visit. Our holiday in pictures:
The very, very, very, very famous Chapel Bridge
Mount Pilatus – we took a boat and then a cog wheel railway to the top (where all we could see were clouds/fog), a cable car halfway down to have some beers (since the tobogganing was closed) and then a tram and bus back to the town below.
In Lucerne, one couple was most excited to look at Cartiers and Breitlings, the other was excited about bretzels. I’ll let you guess who’s who.
Saturday night is apparently big for local bachelor/ette parties (stag/hen do’s). These intendeds were all the nicest I have ever encountered.
We wanted a day trip and our nice hotel staffer said in his adorable Swiss German accent (where ‘v’s become ‘w’s) that we simply must drive 2 hours south and as soon as we emerge from the longest tunnel in Europe (under the Alps), we will be on the Italian side of Switzerland and we will have entered paradise because the mountains keep all the moisture and cold on the other side. He was right. Where the highway exit signs give way from Ausfahrt after the mountain tunnel to Uscita, you know you’re in Locarno on the Lago Maggiore- just spitting distance from Lake Como fame. Vineyards and pizza and pasta and palm trees and gelato await.
The crazies decided to do this bungee thingy
German words are surprisingly fun to laugh at
Jonah was, as always, the most amazing traveler. He just wants to be in the mix, to people watch, to see something new, to be moving, to be eating, to be laughing. As long as he continues to enjoy it, I hope his passport stamps keep coming. I am proud to be his momma and co-adventurer.