Winter trip to Switzerland: Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken and Locarno
We landed in Zurich on a Friday morning. As usual, we didn’t have a solid plan on what to do. We had been warned that going around is expensive (it is!). So we took the 4 day Swiss pass that cost 251 CHF per head at the airport. Although it sounded pricey, it was totally worth it. You could get on any transport medium in Switzerland including their super-connected railway network, boats, trams and buses.
Lucerne, the boat trip and Weggis
We went straight to Lucerne which was just an hour from Zurich since we didn’t have a lot of time after arriving from Barcelona. A small and beautiful town with a nice lake. There were these bridges over the lakes one of which was the chapel bridge shown below. The insides of the bridge had paintings resembling the Way of the Cross.
We decided to take the boat trip from Lucerne before the sun set. It was beautiful but sun sets pretty early here during this time. We got down at a town called Weggis and walked around planning to catch the boat on its way back.
We were cold and tired in sometime and decided to go for a beer with half an hour left. We got the bill 5 minutes before the boat and then for lost in some conversation. ‘oh damn!’ we said when the clock showed 18:05 and ran to the port only to see the boat just leaving the dock. Swiss precision, as always.
Food and Glut wine in Switzerland
Being the last weekend before the holidays, Christmas markets were a common sight everywhere we went. A girl we met on the train mentioned that when they were kids, going to one of these markets were fun. Mostly because the parents would start drinking in the first stall and the kids had complete freedom to go around. A lot of them also had skating rinks. Very convenient for the patents.
Most of the food we saw around were Bratwurst, curry-bratwurst, other sausages, cheese and potato. Maybe the cold (or the cycling) helps them burn the fat. Or maybe it’s just the food commonly available in the street and they actually eat much healthier at home.
We also had a lot of “glut wein” — a kind of heated spicy wine perfect for the cold. That was the most popular item in Christmas markets.
After a morning Glut wine at the HB, we went to the lake. We met some random people at Zurich Lake and shared a drink with them. Some tourists from France and two girls, one of whom grew up in Zurich and is now studying in an engineering college in Kerala. She said this vacation felt like a parole. One of the guys turned around and dropped his sunglasses into the lake. Although he was pretty pissed off, we calmed him saying that it would be awesome if he could come back to this place in summer, go for a swim and find his sunglasses.
We thought of going up to the tower and having a good view of the city and surroundings. We decided against and decided to have a walk along the lake instead. Proved fruitful. The walk and the lone trees along looked like the marine drive in Kochi. Even the ambiance and purpose of the place matched.
We had to make full use of the 4 day Swiss pass and took the team whenever we could. Even when we didn’t want. The trams are nice. We always ended up going through the same place though. We passed through Bahnhofstrasse (below, with festival decorations) at least 6 times. Small town, this is.
Train trip to Interlaken
This is the most beautiful train trip you can ever take. It was first recommended by the lady who sold us the Swiss pass at the airport. The ride itself is through mountains and lakes. I don’t want to explain. See pictures below.
Yes, all these were taken from inside the train from a mobile camera. Imagine how it felt to see it. Pristine blue lakes with snow capped mountains in the background and small houses with lush green Plains. What more can you ask for?
In between there was a place called merge me where Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes series. And that’s where I started to write this post. Interlaken is a link between two lakes. It’s mostly a stopover for skiers. The boats and cable cars were closed. There was a cable car to a very high point with a nice view that we missed. We managed to go to one of the lakes on a bus. Although our eyes were filled with beauty, it was still fantastic.
We’re next went to Bern. But it was already dark. There’s a super tall church that looked like most other Swiss churches called the munster. And the huge Swiss parliament building.
Southern Switzerland: Train to Locarno
We had our flights from Milan. So we decided to go somewhere in the south of Switzerland during the day and then go to Milan. We boarded the train undecided between Lugano, Locarno and Ascona. All three in the Italian part of the country.
But a girl we met in the train told that Locarno had more of a warm small town feeling. Lugano was big and Ascona was for posh tourists. She was a local and seemed nice. So we chose Locarno. Oh, the train ride was beautiful as usual. The change in colors was obvious. It was a bit less greener than before.
As soon as we got down, we asked for directions to Milan airport and the nice people at the train office gave is detailed instructions. We could take the train at 17:47 and reach Milan airport in time for our 19:55 Ryanair flight.
Locarno is a gorgeous town. A beautiful Lake, mountains all around, much less crowded than the other towns we had been to. And people spoke animated Italian.
Even the buildings started to get colorful compared to up north. Smaller cobbled streets were also common in typical European small town style .
We walked up through the stairs and a small streets until we found this view of the town with the lake and mountains in the backdrop.
We could have gone up a lot higher and it looked tempting, but it was getting time for the train and had to run. Plus we realized that our flight was from the smaller Bergamo airport and the train schedule they gave us from the Locarno station was to Malpensa. Luckily, we figured out that the connections could take us to Milan and then get an airport bus to Bergamo.
Well that’s all for now. Let me know of your thoughts. Cheers.