Friday, April 29, 2011

The Land of Chocolates, Clocks and Cliffs!

It's been a few days since we have been back from Switzerland, but I feel that the beauty of the country deserves a post at least.

To be frank, we all had the consensus that Greece was more beautiful than Switzerland. I really think it has to do with proximity though. We were immersed in beautiful sunsets, lovely white houses and a volcanic island in Greece, but we only managed to witness far-off peaks in Switzerland. Granted, we made it to the highest mountain range in Europe (Jungfrau, if you do not know it), but the remainder of the trip played out like sitting in a cinema watching a video. Only that we were in a train, of course - The Glacier Express. But I get ahead of myself. I should talk about the trip bit by bit...

We made our way to Switzerland by going through the Dusseldorf International Airport in Germany. That meant that we had to leave 4 hours before our check-in time to train all the way to Dusseldorf. That was also the first time we were taking EasyJet instead of our usual Ryanair. Somehow it feels a tad posher albeit still budget. Anyways, there wasn't anything interesting there.

We landed in Basel and immediately started scouting out for the prices of the produce there. Ian had warned us beforehand that things were going to be expensive, so we basically brought 4 days worth of biscuits, bread, and instant noodles with us to last through the whole trip. We got some weird stares along the way for eating our bread though.. I wonder if they think that we were too poor to afford meals or something. I still can remember 2 old ladies on 2 separate trains giving us weird looks of contempt...

Back to Basel! It was already dark when we landed, so we lodged at the YMCA Hostel there, which was well-equipped and -decorated as compared to any other hostel we have been to so far. Of course, we didn't know at this time that the Backpacker's Villa Sonnenhof in Interlaken was going to pwn it for miles and miles! The villa was almost all equipped. With a kitchen for your cooking needs, a ping-pong table, computers enough to start a LAN shop, a pool table, a POOL. Amazing. Add a good breakfast and good service to that, and it's no wonder why they got themselves so many awards from Hostel World and Hostel Bookers.

We went straight to Zurich the next day, leaving the exploration of Basel for our very last day in Switzerland. It's a pity that we didn't really manage to go to the main city of Zurich though. We spent our time in Hardbrucke, where we visited the headquarters of Freitag. There was an accident that happened to Chew there. She fell off a bicycle that she was taking photographs on, and we were scared to death by that. Thankfully, the staff of Freitag were kind enough to buy here some sugar and drinks to calm her nerves. We had heard about the hospitality of Switzerland before we came, but that was our first real encounter with that.

By the time we finished looking at all the bags, and finding the outlet shop that was nearby, it was about time to head on to Interlaken.

For the two days in Interlaken, we visited Jungfrau and took the Glacier Express that gave a view of all the different mountains in the Swiss Alps.

Jungfrau was amazing without question. I have never experienced winds so strong before. I really thought when I was on the plateau that I was going to get blown away if I didn't lower myself or hold on to the ropes at the side. If I look happy in that picture above, it's because I was glad to be able to hold on to the flag pole for support!

The view was of course, magnificent. Hopefully you will be able to see them when I get more time to update my Tumblr! The winds were so cold though, that most of us almost got frostbite, and we had to head in..

There was also an Ice Palace at Jungfrau, but it wasn't anything special. Not after you have seen the ice sculptures from Harbin, at least. Maybe it was because it's still the start of the tourist season, and most of the sculptures haven't been completed yet.

For our second day, we went on the Glacier Express! What was supposed to be a great journey turned quite sour because the passengers beside us kept reaching over to our table to take photographs without giving a care about us. Their armpits were literally almost in our faces lah! Also, because we were in a train all the way through, it didn't really feel real to me. Like I said before, it was much more like watching a movie rather than being there.

The Glacier Express took us about more than half a day to complete, and we had some time to drop by Lucerne before going back to Basel. It was a beautiful city that was rich in history, and and got to see lots of swans! We even coaxed one out of the water by luring it with biscuits. LOL. It was also in Lucerne where we saw this whole bunch of people dressed up as rabbits for Easter. More on that on Facebook! Anyways, watch this cute swan in action!

Exploring Basel on our very last day was just a matter of visiting the Munster because we were too tired from the trip to do anything else. I guess there wasn't much to see there anyways other than the multitudes of museums. And with that, we flew home to good ole Maastricht. And that was that =) Switzerland in a post!

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