We just came from a Euro trip & many have been asking how it was, which was our favorite destination & etc. We were able to experience France, Switzerland, Italy & Spain, well, some of its cities. Hope to explore more places of the said countries & even all the other parts of Europe in this lifetime. Going back to the places we’ve visited, each has its strengths & each truly a wonderful place to experience. But if I have to choose one or the best of the best from where we’ve gone to… oh Switzerland captured my heart!
If you see a white cross over a red surface, it doesn’t necessarily relate to medicine, it could be the Swiss flag! To the Swiss, the cross represents Jesus’ crucifixion. Switzerland, also known as “Confoederatio Helvetica” (CH) derives from Latin words “Confederation” & “Helvetier”, Helvetier was the name of the people who inhabited the area. Its capital city is Bern which was founded in 1191 by Duke Berchtold. It was said that this new city that was founded would be named after the first animal that they saw. They saw a “bear”, thus the name Bern. Bern is also the capital of its canton/ state.
B E R N
Fun fact: Albert Einstein, one of the revolutionary inventors lived in Bern. You’ll see in one of the photos here.
Switzerland consists of 23 cantons, namely, Zürich (ZH), Bern / Berne (BE), Luzern (LU), Uri (UR), Schwyz (SZ), Unterwalden (UW), Obwalden(OW) / Nidwalden (NW), Glarus (GL), Zug (ZG), Freiburg / Fribourg (FR), Solothurn (SO), Basel (Basel Stadt (BS)/ Basel Land (BL), Schaffhausen (SH), Appenzell (Appenzell Ausserrhoden (AR) / Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI)), Sankt Gallen (SG), Graubünden (GR), Aargau (AG), Thurgau (TG), Ticino (TI), Vaud (VD), Valais / Wallis (VS), Neuchâtel (NE), Genève (GE) & Jura (JU).
Among these, we stayed in Aargau & was able to visit Bern, Zurich, Luzern/ Lucerne, Schaffhausen & Geneva.
A A R G A U
Z U R I C H
L U Z E R N
S C H A F F H A U S E N
G E N E V A
Switzerland has four different official languages German, French, Italian & Romansh. Its currency is called “Schweizerfranken” (Swiss Francs) or “Franken”. Visiting anytime of the year is all good, depending on what you want to do. Take note of its seasons!
Winter (January- February)
Spring (March- May)
Summer (June- August)
Autumn (September- November)
However, temperature change in Switzerland is normal. So be ready for some scarf, waterproof coat, good walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm & more!
Other than these facts, Switzerland is famed for heavenly cheese, chocolates (anything dairy actually), sausages, sauerkraut, banking havens, watch manufacture, knives, guards for hire & our sweet escape, the magnificent Swiss Alps!
In the middle of our trip my sister asked “How’s Switzerland?” with astonishment, I replied, “It looks unreal”. Is it even possible that a place soooooooooooo beautiful exist? Every place that we went to, even the views of our train ride, were like postcards. Pinch me!
Some of our train ride views.
And here’s us during one of our train rides. Smooth ride & on the dot. Experienced running fast from switching trains. Nope, they don’t wait for the passengers, even if you’re a senior citizen.
Lush green meadows with flowers blooming & bright, clear & vast lakes reflecting towering trees, clean & systematic roads, houses & old towns well- preserved (felt like I was in the set of Beauty & the Beast, really), delectable creamy cheese goodness, delightful chocolate treats, I could go on but this is what really got me, the majestic Swiss Alps, as far as your eyes can see… aaaaaahhhhhh. This was really IT.
The magnificence of God’s creation in the Alps got me speechless. This to me was “the magical feeling”, but it wasn’t magic… it was real & it wasn’t just a feeling… it was a grand experience to have set foot on such beauty!
We stayed in Switzerland for about 7 days, besides bonding with family & friends & strolling old towns, we visited 3 spots to see the Alps.
Before sharing further here are some vocabulary to understand this piece better. I too needed to refresh myself to avoid confusion on these words. looked them up to make sure content is on point.
Alps- (plural noun) a mountain range in S Europe, extending from France through Switzerland and Italy into Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. Highest peak, Mont Blanc, 15,781 feet (4810 meters).
Alp- a high mountain.
Mountain- (noun) a natural elevation of the earth’s surface rising more or less abruptly to a summit, and attaining an altitude greater than that of a hill, usually greater than 2000 feet (610 meters).
Alpine- (adjective) of, pertaining to, on, or part of any lofty mountain, very high, elevated, pertaining to, on, or part of the Alps.
Summit- (nonu) the highest point or part, as of a hill, a line of travel, or any object; top; apex or the highest point of attainment or aspiration.
Peak- (noun) the pointed top of a mountain or ridge, a mountain with a pointed summit, the pointed top of anything or the highest or most important point or level.
The Swiss Alps
Approximately 60% of Switzerland is covered by Alps & about 100 peaks reach to 4000 meters or 13125 feet above sea level. Getting to some of them are made accessible through trains, cog railways, cable cars and other means of transportation. And besides simply watching the grandeur of the Swiss Alps, there are many activities you can do there if you feel a little or crazy adventurous! You can do climbing, skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, paragliding & more!
Here are some of the most famous mountains/ alps in Switzerland & their elevation:
Monte Rosa (4634 m), Dom (Mischabel) (4545 m), Weisshorn (4506 m), Matterhorn (4478m), Dent-Blanche (4357 m), Grand-Combin (4314 m), Finsteraarhorn (4274 m), Breithorn (Zermatt) (4164 m), Jungfrau (4158 m), Mönch (4107 m), Schreckhorn (4078 m), Piz Bernina (4049 m), Eiger (3970 m), Glarner Tödi (3574 m), Piz Corvatsch (3451 m), Titlis (3238 m), Gornergrat (3135 m), Chasseral (1607 m), Lägern (866 m).
These are just some. And again, can you imagine 60% of Switzerland is occupied by these?
Among some of these Alps, we visited the Materhorn through Gornergrat, Titlis & our favorite…so far, Schilthorn.
The Majestic Materhorn, stands 4,478 meters (14,692 feet) above sea level. It is one of Switzerland’s striking symbols & is the most photographed mountain in the world.This is also one of a mountaineers’ aspirations as climbing the Matterhorn is very dangerous or challenging due to its ascent. Geez! I’m all good just looking at it.
The shape of Toblerone? They got it from this mountain! The Matterhorn stands in between Switzerland & Italy. With this, Matterhorn is the German name which means “meadow & “peak” while Cervino is its Italian name or Cervin in French which means “deer”. Geographically, the Matterhorn stands in the town of Zermatt. Getting to Zermatt which is only achievable by train, is your ticket to seeing the Matterhorn. From Zermatt, you can see the Matterhorn through 3 options. Let me start with the farthest to the nearest view, thereafter. First is going to Gornergrat where you ride a cogwheel train for about 33 minutes to get to the top. Second is going to Sunnegga- Rothern, a 10- minute walk from Zermatt railway station will get you to the Sunnegga- Rothern valley station. From there, you’ll be riding a funicular for only 3 minutes to get to Sunnegga then you ride a gondola to Blauherd, then a large cable car sends you to Unterrothorns summit, where you see the Matterhorn. Third is going to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise which has the highest cable car in Europe (3,883 m). From the Valley station, it’ll be a 45- minute gondola ride to the top. Any one of these ways are a sure win!
Some would want the third option where the view stretches to Mont Blanc in France, the highest mountain in the Alps as well as Monte Bianco di Courmayeur, Italy’s highest peak. This is also the peak of the international ski area & Europe’s largest summer ski area. Some the second one because they say this reveals the Matterhorn’s perfect form. While some say the third one because it’s just the right distance to see the Matterhorn & is the most comfortable one. You decide!
Our call was to go to Gornergrat. Weather wasn’t a hundred percent as the clouds covered part of the Matterhorn. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying what we had at the moment. Apparently that weather allowed us to experience our first snowfall!
Among the three we’ve visited, the experience going up Titlis was my favorite. They’ve got new cable cars going to the initial station which they call the “Gondola Titlis Xpress”. Then from there you get to ride the world’s first revolving aerial cableway called “Titlis Rotair”. But before you get excited going up, your journey would start via train or car to Engelberg. Not complicated, right?
From Engelberg, you ride a gondola to Trübsee, you can either go out to explore the area or go straight up to Stand where you can stop too. Or you switch to the Titlis Rotair which will take you to Titlis. I would always suggest for you to go up first before exploring intermediate stops as you’ll never know what will happen to the weather.
Titlis has an altitude of 3062 m above sea level where its winter all year round. It also features the only glacier that can be accessed. Other than that, some attractions are walking the suspension bridge fearlessly, riding the glacier chairlift, strolling around snow park Trübsee, rowing boats on Lake Trübsee, trottibike scooters from Alp Gerschni, four-lakes hike to Alp Engstlen and to Melchsee Frutt.
Side story- Our very last alps visit for the trip was Titlis. The whole time, since day 1, God was just showing His sovereignty & faithfulness. The day before visiting Titlis, we kept on checking the weather forecast & it showed bad weather… all throughout the day. We were really convinced we could not visit Titlis. Despite our faith wearing thin, we travelled to Engelberg. We thought, if it would rain, we wouldn’t go up but we’ll take our chances & prayed. When we got to Engelberg, the weather was perfect & there weren’t a lot of people due to the weather forecast & when we got to the top, WOW! BREATHTAKING! Titlis, more of the swiss alps aaaaaaaand a breathtaking experience of God’s move on EVERY DETAIL of our trip.
Otherwise known as the Bond World as this was where the James Bond Movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed during 1969 which is why they called it Schilthorn- Piz Gloria. From Muren, you’ll be on your way to the top through a cable car. On your way to the top, you can stop by Allmendhubel, (1907 m . 6257ft) then to Birg (2677 m .
8783 ft) then to the top- Schilthorn- Piz Gloria (2970 m . 9744 ft). This is where you can see the best view of Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau & a panoramic view of the majestic Swiss Apls! And as if just staring at the view isn’t already incredibly overwhelming, you can do a lot of things there. Although some might find it too commercialized, others find it rather entertaining or engaging. With this, you can dine at the revolving 360 degrees restaurant. Other attractions will take you back in time of the James Bond movie like the 007 Walk of Fame, Cinema, Igloo7, & some will challenge or scare you, like the “Thrill Walk”.
To get to Schilthorn, you’ll be riding a cable car from the town of Mürren which will take about 30 minutes to get to the summit. To get to Mürren, you can follow route via Interlaken – Lauterbrunnen – Grütschalp, or via Interlaken – Lauterbrunnen – Stechelberg. It will take about an hour & a half to reach Murren from Interlaken. Take note that one can get to Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen via train and car while Stechelberg can be reached by bus & car. However, the other parts can only be reached via train or cable car.
On Jungfrau, although it isn’t the highest summit in Switzerland, why is it so famous? I wondered. NO, it is not Switzerland’s highest mountain. Just to clarify, it’s because here lies Europe’s highest- altitude railway station at 3454 meters above sea level. And this has been up & running for over a hundred years! Aaaaaand I have yet to experience this on my next visit.
Others are definitely on our bucket list & will surely recommend Switzerland as one of the places one has to experience in one’s lifetime. And of course, nothing sweeter than to have shared breathtaking experiences like these with the one who takes my breath away!