I’ve been fascinated with Switzerland, right from my childhood, thanks to all the Bollywood movies I grew up on. To the uninitiated, Switzerland was a favourite destination for one of the key filmmaker in India, who changed the face of Indian and Bollywood cinema with his stylish direction and magical story-telling.

I am talking about the late Yash Chopra, who put Switzerland in the Bollywood map and who even got honorary Swiss citizenship for his contribution. My friends and family who have visited the place have always raved about it, some calling it heaven on earth.

A lot of times, when I go somewhere with such great expectations, it tends to not live up to it. However, Switzerland did not just exceed my expectations, it was beyond magical. So, without further ado, here are my top breathtaking Swiss experiences.

  1. Jungfraujoch Cogwheel train ride:
Jungfrau cogwheel experience
Jungfrau Cogwheel experience

The Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe station is at 3,454 m. This makes it the highest mountain railway station in Europe. Hopping on a cogwheel train to reach here was not in our plan but after exploring Wengen we were in a train to Grindelwald and a fellow traveller who worked in Wengen told us to take the cogwheel train from Klaine Scheidegg station. We are glad we got lost and took this stranger’s advice. The cogwheel train experience became one of the best train experiences I have ever had. 

Jungfrau Cogwheel experience

The Cogwheel train lets you enjoy the majestic Alpine panorama without you having to break a sweat. Throughout our journey, we had our jaws and eyes wide open, taking in the sheer natural beauty. Green vistas dotted with beautiful cottages, and the snow-capped Junfrau standing there, tall and proud.

2. Mount Titlis:

  • Mt Titlis cable car experience

When you are in Switzerland, exploring at least one mountain is a must. We decided to explore Mt Titlis, located between the cantons of Obwalden and Bern. The best way to reach Mount Titlis is via a cable car. From Lucerne, the Lucerne-Engelberg Express takes you to Engelberg. From there, you take a bus to the 8-seater Titlis Xpress gondola cable car, and then you ascend to the midway station at Stand. The Titlis revolving cable car takes you up to the mountain station at 3020 meters.

The journey on the Mt Titlis cable car to the summit station is about 10 minutes long. En route, you are greeted with views of sheer cliff faces, deep crevasses and snow-covered mountain peaks all around Mount Titlis. A word of warning: Be sure to reach Engelberg early. Mt. Titlis is a tourist hot spot and even in summer, you can experience a good bit of snow. If you want to avoid long queues at the summit station it is advisable to reach early.

  • Mt Titlis experience

Titlis is a truly spectacular experience. Right from the beginning when you hop on the cable car and meet cows lazily grazing grass to slow nearing the mountain and able to touch and play with snow even in summer! We had a fabulous time playing with the snowmobile, exploring the rather chilly glacier cave, walking precariously on the Titlis rope bridge.

The icing on the cake was definitely the Ice Flyer. Costing about 12 CHF, this flyer is a chairlift that takes you from Mount Titlis’ mountain station to its glacier park. It reminded us of a snow-filled theme park ride.

3. Walking and exploring Wengen village and nearby areas

Switzerland has many beautiful little villages, perfect for walking or hiking. We were originally planning to go to Grindelwald but ended up in Wengen– a decision we did not regret. Wengen is a picturesque Alpine village located in the Bernese Oberland region. Known for its timber chalets and belle époque hotels, Wengen also offers great cycling roads.

Wengen village, Switzerland

Wengen has a somewhat hippie vibe with several quirky cafes and sustainable coffee houses. On South of Wengen are the Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls, accessed via underground paths.

Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls
View from the waterfalls

From Wengen, you can easily take the cogwheel to top of Jungfrau or a train to Interlaken. After finishing Jungfrau, we made our way to Interlaken. Now, I wish we had stayed in Interlaken for a day or two. It is a haven for hikers, walkers and thrill-seekers.

Lake Thun

Unfortunately, we had just a few hours left before going back to our hotel in Zurich hence we decided to just walk near Lake Thun. With crystal clear waters and a relaxing vibe, Lake Thun is a place where you can just sit, relax and get lost in nature. Something you need after a day of walking and hiking.

4. Lake Lucern boat trip

Lake Lucern
Lake Lucern

If you are short on time, like us (5 days in Switzerland) and want to pack many different things then doing a boat trip is highly recommended. With a Swiss travel pass, you can get some discounts on most boat routes. From the open deck of the boat, you see the beautiful sights of Lucerne.

The boat meanders on a calm lake and passes through steep fjords all along giving you a glimpse of daily life, the pretty cottage houses, old Town and waterfront buildings.

5. Lake Zurich and Zurich old town:

When talking about Switzerland, how can we ignore one of its biggest cities–Zurich–the global centre for banking and finance. A very cool and sophisticated city.

At the heart of Zurich lies the old town. And the beauty of it is that it spans the stunningly blue Limmat river that runs right through the heart of Zurich. You can lose yourself for hours in the winding streets of this historic centre, finding quirky shops and cafes and soaking in the eclectic vibe of the city. 

No trip to Zurich is complete without spending some time on the shores of the iconic Zurich lake. Apparently, a few of James Bond movies have been shot here. But more than that, Lake Zurich belongs very much to the people of Zurich, so there are parks and places to just sit back and enjoy the view or go for a view-ridden walk. 
If you want to take in the crowds and often some local music, head towards the left-hand promenade. But for a more peaceful and green-filled walk along the lake. Either way, if you want to experience true Zurich and indulge in some people-watching this is the place to go.

As you can see, Switzerland packs a punch with something for each kind of traveller. I am definitely glad that I was able to experience this truly spectacular and beautiful place and I can only hope to go back to experience the things I missed.

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As UK gears up for another spring, I can’t wait to breathe in the fresh, sun-shine filled air, take in the lovely daffodils that are springing up in every street corner and once again explore the lovely, dense, wild woods near my vicinity. If you are coming to UK or are in UK, I urge you to explore the wild, uninhibited woodlands UK offers. Here are my top three favourite picks from Hampshire.

The Vyne Woods, Basingstoke:

forest3-7

 

unfiltered blue skies-7

 

I love the tranquility, serenity and the promise of unexpected that woodland represents. The Vyne Woods situated in Basingstoke, Hampshire definitely encapsulates all these qualities. Basingstoke is notorious for being a place where nothing much happens; but this woodland wonder will change your mind. It is perfect to stroll around and exercise those tired limbs on a sunny, lazy afternoon. Adjacent to the stately Vyne gardens and the House; a 16th century country house; the Vyne woodlands is a place where you can easily and happily lose yourself to the untamed charm of nature. There are many walking trails that criss-cross these woods. And don’t be surprised if you come across owls, woodpeckers and even red Deer whilst you are walking. We had a taste of the unexpected when there was a flurry of action as a herd of deer passed us without any fair warning and out of nowhere but then that’s the beauty of wilderness it strikes when you least expect it. The 3.5 mile walk is great to enjoy some walking meditation accompanied only by pristine, untamed and unflappable nature.

New Forest:

New Forest

Every spring/ summer we have a ritual to explore this unspoilt and pristine ancient woodland either by walking or cycling. The New Forest is not actually “new” it was named “Nova Foresta” and was the hunting ground of William the conqueror way back in 1079. This 193,000 acre of land has 143 miles of walking/ cycling track. Needless to say, there are a number of endless routes and we are often surprised to discover a “new” path every new season. As you tread along its beautiful path, you will come across a plethora of picturesque villages, stately tea-rooms, gurgling streams and everything in between. And if you get tired of walking in woodland you can always visit the town of Lymington, check out a section of Solent Way or take a stroll along the beautiful coast line with magnificent views of the Isle of Wight. It is definitely my favourite place to get a whiff of fresh air and relax after a busy week.

West Wood, Winchester:

 

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

 

With its gently rolling arable farmland, small blocks of woodlands, dense and rich beech plantation, this 251 hectare freehold woodland, is a classic English beauty. Adjacent to the Crab Wood Nature Reserve this beautiful woodland area is also home to range of birds and animals like Roe deer, rabbits, stoats and buzzards. It is also packed with other rare flora and fauna as well as wild flowers like bluebells (which comes out in spring) and is a perfect place for getting to grips with nature.

Nostalgia has kicked in and before going on my break, I thought I will do two nostalgia posts. Here, I bring to you my top travels of this year. French writer, Gustav Flaubert, has once said, “Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” This year was all about that realisation and broadening my horizons intellectually and spiritually; something which traveling always teaches me.

Travel and Living

1. Kerala: It is God’s own country after all.

2. Amsterdam: The coolest and the most liberal city I visited this year.

3. Paris: Because Paris is always a good idea.

4. Longleat Safari Park: As I am a through and through nature’s girl.

5. Barcelona: A vibrant city which teaches you the art of doing nothing, enjoying everything and living.

6. Ibiza: Not just a clubbing heaven but pristine beaches, sparkling blue Mediterranean waters and scrumptious food.

7. London: My new work place and perhaps the most pulsating city in the world where you can never get bored.

8. Bombay: Truly a city that never sleeps and as Dorothy said, “there is no place like home.”

9. Oxford: A wonderful walking city and the seat of knowledge and learning.

Hope my next year is also as adventurous as this one and I am able to tick off few more places in my travel bucket list.

Have a great day and wish you all a Happy New Year.