To listen to this episode click here:
To watch this episode on Youtube click here.
Pristine lakes, gorgeous mountain ranges, castles, watches, chocolate, and cheese. These are just some of the many incredible reasons to visit Switzerland! Since February, most of the Covid-19 restrictions in the country have been lifted, including the requirement of mask wearing in public settings and pre-arrival Covid testing. The latest statistic I’ve seen is that 69% of the country is vaccinated, and the number of cases has dropped significantly in recent months.
I was in Switzerland last November at the beginning of a river cruise, and found the city of Basel to be completely enchanting. Set on the river’s edge, Basel was a fun mix of cobblestone streets and modern shops. I personally can’t wait to get back to Switzerland!
Read on to find out more about this amazing country.
FUN FACTS ABOUT SWITZERLAND
1. With over 7000 lakes, Switzerland is a great place to go for a swim. The fresh water is so clean that the word is, you can drink out from lakes and rivers. Lakes are only considered dirty if you cannot see the bottom.
2. Switzerland ranks high in quality of life. Switzerland may have expensive cities to live in, but Swiss citizens get great value for their money.
3. Switzerland is a world leader in recycling and waste management. The Swiss recycle organic and recyclable waste and convert the rest to energy. Switzerland provides almost all CO2-friendly electricity to its citizens. Nuclear power plants provide 39% of the electricity, while 56% is created by hydroelectric power plants.
Switzerland has some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in all of Europe, thanks to the astonishing Swiss Alps. Even if you're not skiing or hiking, just admiring the majestic Alps will be sure to amaze you. Everywhere you turn, the scenery looks like something out of a Bond movie with snow-covered peaks rising high about you. While you're there, keep an eye out for Matterhorn, which is the most iconic mountain in Switzerland.
Cable cars and gondola rides are two of the easiest ways to experience the Swiss Alps; a more adventurous way is to hike. If you get to experience the Alps, keep your eye out for the local wildlife, especially the chamois, a goat-like animal known for being an agile climber against the rocky terrain. Another local favorite is the Alpine ibex. This mountain goat is instantly recognizable by the male's large and ridged horns.
Another adventure in the famous Swiss Alps is a scenic helicopter flight. Surround yourself with soaring mountain peaks, including the famous trio of Eiger, the Mönch, and the Jungfrau in Interlaken. Fly near the peak of the magnificent Matterhorn, where you might even be able to catch a glimpse of some hikers as they reach the summit. If you're are feeling extra adventurous, you can even go sky diving in the foothills of the Alps!
SOUND OF MUSIC
Like the didgeridoo in Australia, the Swiss alphorn is one of the world's original wooden wind instruments. The alphorn had long been a tool used by shepherds used to call the cows from pastures into the barn at milking time. Although the alphorn had more or less lost its primary function in the mountains, it has won the hearts of its audiences as a musical instrument as a tourist attraction and a symbol of Switzerland.
Switzerland is home to some of the most spectacular castles in Europe. The country is famous for its military neutrality, and this can easily be observed through the fantastically preserved castles, many of which date back to the medieval times. One of the best examples of this is the Chillon Castle. Located on a rock on the eastern side of the picturesque Lake Geneva, the castle dates back to 1150 and is one of the most visited castles in the country.
The art of watchmaking, as we know today, only came into existence in the 14th century, and the trade didn’t even reach Switzerland until much later. In Geneva, the watchmakers set strict industry standards, which resulted in some of the best-made timepieces in the world. A watch is determined to be ‘Swiss made’ by law only if it meets a specific set of conditions. The first is that the mechanics of the watch are of Swiss origin. Secondly, the mechanics must be laid within the borders of the nation of Switzerland, and the third is that the manufacturer carries out the final inspection on the watch within the country.
For many people, Switzerland is associated with chocolate. And not just any chocolate, rich, smooth chocolate that melts in your mouth. In 1819, the first mechanized chocolate factory opened in the town of Vevey, kickstarting one of the nation’s most beloved industries. In 1867, chocolatier Daniel Peter decided to experiment by adding milk powder, made by his friend Henri Nestlé, to his product in order to increase sales. In doing so, he gave the world its first milk chocolate!
It doesn't get much better than eating warm, melted cheese on a cold winter's night. In Switzerland, fondue is a staple dish that the Swiss indulge in throughout the winter months and even on occasional cool summer evenings. Fondue now knows few limits in Switzerland. You'll find it across the country from rustic mountain chalets to big city restaurants and is not just about melted cheese, but also melted chocolate. To the Swiss, fondue isn't just about dunking a bit of bread into a pot of melted cheese; it's also a kind of festive ritual with its customs and rules of etiquette.
SWISS RIVER CRUISE
The magic of a Swiss river cruise is an ideal way to explore the Swiss countryside. Discover lush scenery, snow-dusted peaks, and cultural towns as you glide peacefully down the Rhine River. Sail through large cities like Basel (like I did), while also stopping to discover smaller quaint towns. Enjoy authentic Swiss cuisine, prepared fresh daily using local ingredients from each region you pass through. See the fantastic landscape of Switzerland transform right in front of you when you take a river cruise.
One of the best ways to see it all is by taking a ride on the Glacier Express. The train connects the two major mountain resorts of Zermatt and St. Moritz and whisks passengers through the central Swiss Alps. The train cars have a glass ceiling, providing uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside along the journey.
What a magical country! I’d love to help you plan your next incredible vacation to Switzerland; let me know when you’re ready.