Tuesday 20 October 2015

Gems of Switzerland August 2008

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20th August 2008 Wednesday
Woke up at 2:00 in the morning got ready and started our journey to London Heathrow airport Terminal 5. It was me and my friend Sinu from Bedford and we hired a taxi that took us to the airport. The flight was scheduled to leave at 7:10 in the morning; we reached the terminal at around 4:15AM, well ahead of time, checked in our luggage at 5:00AM. This was our first flight from Heathrow Terminal 5 which was opened in 2007. The flight time to Zurich is 1 hour 15 minutes. We were in Zurich at 8:30AM London time which is 9:30AM Swiss time.
After finishing all the formalities at the airport we boarded our tour coach which took us to various different places of interests. We went to the city of Lausanne which is the second largest city in Switzerland. There we went to the Lake Geneva took some nice photos, and then went to the Olympic museum. Finally we checked into our hotel in Lausanne.

21st August 2008 Thursday
We woke up at 6:30AM. Had a continental break fast which included cereals, pan cakes, eggs, fruits, etc. We departed for Geneva where we went for a short city tour. We saw the UN (United Nations) building. There is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the entrance. There is Bollywood park where most of the Indian films are shot. We saw the location in Interlaken where David Dhavan shot most of his films with Govinda. We saw another place where most of the South Indian films are shot. Later in the day we saw the floral clock, the English Gardens, and the Rose Gardens. Later we proceeded to the capital of Switzerland Bern. Bern stands for bear, which was named by the duke after a bear he had killed. Then we went to the river Aare to take some more photos. On our way we stopped at a place called Vevey where there is a statue of Charlie Chaplin. Charlie Chaplin settled in Vevey in later part of his life. We also stopped at the chocolate factory where we saw the entire chocolate making process. Switzerland is very famous for its chocolates and one of the biggest companies being Nestle. We tasted lots of different types of freshly made chocolates. Finally we got to Bern. Here we took some photos of the clock tower. We also saw the Einstein House. Later in his life Einstein lived in the city of Bern.
At the end of the day we went to Engelberg. Post dinner we checked in to another hotel called Terrace in Engelberg. This hotel is located along tall mountain ranges with amazing views from the windows. The hotel itself is quite big with facilities for dining/breakfast, lounge, bar, indoor sports rooms, etc.

22nd August 2008 Friday
Our day started early at 6:30AM. We drove to Stechelberg in the valleys of Lauterbrunnen from where we took various cable cars to reach the peak of Mount Schilthorn. This is 2970m high and was the location for thrilling action scenes in the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. There is a special video show in a small theatre on top of the mountain which shows various scenes from the film. There is also a revolving restaurant on the top of the mountain called Piz Gloria, we had a nice lunch in the revolving restaurant. We then got down and headed to another place and visited a small mountain called the Harder Kulm. We used the funicular railway (means inclined railway) to climb up. This is a special type of railway which is specifically designed for steep climbs. A cable is attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails that moves them up and down a very steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. This attractive vantage point offers fine views of capital city Bern. You can clearly see this city lying between the lakes of Brienz and Thun. Later we drove towards the town of Interlaken, a prime destination for shopping and Bollywood filming. This was the end of the day and we proceeded back to the restaurant in Engelberg for our dinner.

23rd August 2008 Saturday
Our day started a bit earlier than usual at around 6:00AM. Post breakfast we drove to Lauterbrunnen valley from where we took the tunnel lift to reach Trummelbach water falls. The Trummelbach Falls in Switzerland are a series of ten glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain. We then drove to Lauterbrunnen train station. From here we took a cogwheel train to the peak of Mount Jungfrau. Lying at 3,454 meters above sea level, this is Europe’s highest altitude railway station. Whilst at the top, we visited the Ice Palace, which is 30 meters under the surface of the glacier. The ice sculptures were amazing.

24th August 2008 Sunday
Woke up at 6:30AM. We drove to the base of mount Titlis which is less than 5 minutes drive from our hotel in Engelberg. We had to change 3 cable cars to reach the top and the last one being the revolving cable car. This is the world’s first revolving cable car. The peak is over 10000 feet above the sea level. We enjoyed spectacular walks on the snow clad mountains and some trekking. At the summit of mount Titlis there’s a small ice cave where there are small sculptures. Later in the day after our descend we went to the town of Luzern, where we saw the famous Lion Monument. This monument is of a dying lion which symbolizes hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 French Revolution. We also saw the Chapel Bridge which is about 670 feet long crossing the Reuss River. It is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Much of the bridge was destroyed in a 1993 fire, though it was quickly rebuilt.

25th August 2008 Monday
This was our last day in Switzerland. We drove to Zurich city. Here we saw the famous Swiss bank which is actually a group of various banks. Took some photos and the bank vault where the money is kept was right below our feet under the pavement. Obviously it is secure enough so you can't just dig in and get access to it :). We then went to the Rhine falls which is the largest water falls in Europe. Finally we went back to the Zurich airport and boarded our flight to Heathrow at 7:10PM.
Over all it was a fantastic trip. The whole country is cut through the mountains. There are lots and lots of lakes and rivers everywhere and tunnels that run through the mountains with the longest being around 19KM. Switzerland makes lot of its money through tourists coming in from India, and Bollywood filming that takes place around the country. You get to see lots of Indian flags hoisted throughout country at prominent locations. There are food stalls selling vada pav, samosa pav, gajar halva, etc. at most tourist places. These are some best selling Indian snacks.  In fact at mount Titlis there are tourist signs in Hindi and even Indian National Anthem is played there.

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