A Feast for the Senses
As seen in the April 2019 issue of enRoute
Nothing prepares the senses, or the soul, for Switzerland. Imagine the lazy clang of cowbells charming your ears on an Alpine hike as happy heifers saunter by. Add to that the freshest air, a rich mix of four European cultures, and scenic trains that can take you to the "Top of Europe". Iconic mountain ranges, warm people and ja, some yodelling, cheese and chocolate (but only the very finest on Earth). It’s high time you restore yourself in the healing heart of Switzerland. Trust us, you can’t miss going Swiss.
FEEL ITHugged by the creamy turquoise waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, idyllic Interlaken is a sweet sliver of countryside in the serene region of the Bernese Oberland. Here, cradled between the iconic Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, dense forests and mountain meadows beg for a brisk hike. Bring comfy boots. But if you’d rather catch a ride, Europe’s highest train station, Jungfraujoch—Top of Europe, cleverly sits amidst this coveted spot at 3,454 m. For more unparallelled 360-degree vistas, head early in the day to Mount Schilthorn and treat yourself to the famed James Bond brunch.
TASTE ITTucked between the edge of Lake Geneva and the foothills of the Alps is Montreux, a city peppered with restaurants that run the gamut from hearty local fare to fine dining. And it is fine: the area boasts the highest density of Michelin-starred restaurants in the country. And yes, where there’s food, there’s wine. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, run the northern shore of Lake Geneva for 30 km from Château de Chillon to the fringes of Lausanne and can be traced back to 11th-century Benedictine monks. Unsurprisingly, the local wines bottled here will be some of the most unique to ever grace your lips.
SEE ITHappily, the grandeur of Switzerland can easily be seen by rail. The panoramic passenger car windows of the GoldenPass Line will reveal wonders architectural and natural as you’re carried from Lucerne through Zweisimmen and into Montreux. Hop off and slow down in Gstaad, a fairytale village of charming chalets. The Bernina Express and the aptly named Glacier Express will shuttle you past dramatic frozen landscapes and quaint hillside hamlets in comfort and style. Do say hi to the original gentle giants at the Barry Foundation—the kennel honours and protects St. Bernards in Martigny. Later, enjoy vistas of Europe's largest glacier, the UNESCO-protected Great Aletsch Glacier.
LIVE ITSwitzerland’s capital, Bern, is a merry microcosm of the rare juxtapositions that make up the country itself. Architecture like the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), built in the 12th century, stands comfortably alongside far more modern urban structures. The marvel of Bear Park and its revered inhabitants—Bern’s namesake, the brown bear—definitely merits a peek. And it’s right in the crux of Old Town, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded charmingly on three sides by the winding, and refreshingly swimmable, river Aare.
Pro-tip: don’t leave Swiss territory without a stop in the hidden gem that is Lausanne. The Olympic capital of the world and longtime sanctuary for artists and poets the likes of T.S. Eliot, Hemingway and Byron is overflowing with museums, cathedrals and Roman ruins.
Start your Swiss adventure!