It was an odd time to visit this much hyped about place. It was already November and winter had already started showing up its head even up in Stuttgart. But we had 3 days to ourselves and with no other long breaks likely any time in the near future, we set out on a Thursday morning on an Audi A3.
Our first destination was Zürich. We crossed the border (not before revving up the Audi to 230 on the autobahns, off course) at Schaffhausen. The contrast with Germany was only gradual, the scenery did not change dramatically but the roads did – they had speed limits :) . Zürich was a pretty nice city, we intended it to be just a short stopover and walked a little bit on the city streets. The rest of the city we saw from the car. Nothing of note, except that I got a little scared when I found myself across the tram track with two trams heading towards me!
We headed towards Flüelen, a nice small town alongside a lake. The drive was just brilliant through the winding mountain roads alongside a lake. You know, after that I started thinking maybe speed limits in Switzerland is probably a good thing. You can see a lot more and take in the beauty and appreciate it much better. At Flüelen we parked alongside the lake and took a stroll. It was really beautiful. The mountains and lakes presented a view as if it was right out of a picture postcard. After a few hours we moved towards Luzern our halt for the night. We had difficulty finding the youth hostel, so we got to see a lot of the city in the car thanks to a very crappy navigation system (which I heard was manufactured by Bosch). Finally after we managed to reach the hostel, we did explore the city a little bit on foot in the night. The ‘flower bridge’ was really good, maybe even better if we had seen it during day. The whole city had a nice classical touch to it. Great!
Early morning on Friday we dragged our lazy selfs towards our nächster halt – Engelberg. Again located in a very rural part of Switzerland the drive was fun all the way, especially the long tunnels and Ginu driving for the first time in Europe ;) (just kidding, he did drive great for a first timer). Our navi enabled us to see some probably unexplored areas of Engelberg, including a nice wooden bridge across a small brook with no civilization around. It was a good experience. We finally reached our actual point of interest, the cable car station to Mt. Titlis. We were expecting high costs and bad weather, but it turned out to be just the opposite. We were going in off season, so prices were nearly half and you couldn’t really ask for better weather at this time of the year. What luck! Mt. Titlis was an amazing experience, first time really up close with so much snow. We had our fun, playing like little kids with the snow. Too bad we couldn’t take any souveniers (you see, snow melts). Needless to say, the view was breathtaking. And as customary, I did fall stepping on some hard and slippery ice, and that too while encouraging Renu to be not scared and keep going up a small snow slope. Well embarrassing, but I am getting used to it as the falls are now getting fairly regular :D .
Another thing I noticed about Mt. Titlis (and generally Switzerland), I saw a lot of boards in Hindi. I was a bit surprised at first, but seeing the number of Indians there, well… The Swiss people are really smart, they have made very good use of Bollywood! Indians seem to be flocking to every corner of this beautiful country. It doesn’t end there either.. we even got some delicious Samosas from a very European restaurant at a rather cheap (by swiss standards) price!
Our stopover for the night was Grindelwald. I feel like I am repeating this too often (ah! guess who works for Bosch navigation systems.. hehe.. Anu.. no offense :D) but the navi, this time both the machine and the human variant (Sandeep) led us to a different hostel up a very scary hill only to find out that it is closed from October! I switched to a slight panic mode, but soon we realized that it was not the youth hostel we were supposed to reach! Hmmph.. what a relief! The youth hostel at Grindelwald was a good one – the Downtown Lodge – I would recommend this if you are on a visit. The city (or rather village) was a sleepy little place with a nice park (meant for children I think, but who cared, we all played! :D ).
We had planned to go to a place called Trümmelbach the next day, but unfortunately it was closed. We had Plan B, Plan C and Plan D and we kind of switched back and forth between which plan to actually take since we were always on an ‘unknown road’ according to the navi. Finally we decided to go to Geneva. We didn’t have much time to see a lot of the city because we had to reach Stuttgart by nightfall. But we did manage to catch quite a good glimpse of it and driving on the streets of Geneva was almost comparable to driving in a less trafficy city in India. I had a lot of good fun.. I could hear cars honk! Where else in Europe!! Felt so much at home
By midnight, after a splash and dash on the autobahns again, we were back in Stuttgart. It was a great trip, probably a great time to visit Switzerland if our experience is anything to go by. It was incredibly cheap, cost us one-fourth of what it cost most of our friends who went in summer. But luck has to be on your side, we were blessed with brilliant weather… Whatever it is, do visit Switzerland sometime, unlike a lot of other things, it lives up to the hype… :)