It is a rather rainy and cloudy Friday morning at the Grand Central Station in Basel, the scheduled train is delayed about 5 minutes. I am looking at the other passengers standing on the platform, nearly all of them are starting to look nervously at their shiny, Swiss hand-made watches. I am not stirred, I am totally used to late trams and buses, I live in Cracow. However, the Swiss are definitely not. I am timidly asking in my shaky French ‘Excusez-Moi, le train est en retard?, I am getting an instant reply “Non, ce n’est pas possible!’.
Willkommen in der Schweiz
I have got to be honest a few years ago I was not much of a traveler. I did not have any special desires to explore other cities, and countries. Yes, I have been to the US numerous times, however, between my last US trip, and the next abroad journey more than 3 years went buy. Unfortunately, I was not aware how much I was skipping in my life.
Despite the fact that I am frightened of flying, for the last two years, I have been lucky enough to visit a list of wonderful European regions. I have been thrice to the sunny Italy, a capital of Hungary – Budapest, Catalonia in Spain, rocky Slovakia, and Polish cities like Torun, Wroclaw, or Tarnow. Right now, I am returning from astonishing Switzerland. Even as sceptical as I was, it became clear to me that travelling is worth every dollar spent, and every hour sacrificed. I can easily state that traveling is not about either moving from one destination to another or resting and relaxing. As far as I am concerned, it is all about the process of constant learning, and opening new horizons.
My first impression of Switzerland is that this small Alpine country is exotic on its own. Situated only about a thousand kilometers from Poland’s border, doesn’t have a lot of in common. The country’s incomparable organization is seen wherever we set our feet. The trains and buses run on time in a shocking fashion, the people tend not to talk unless they have something concrete to say – especially while interacting with the foreigners. It is quite ordinary for the Swiss to drink water straight from the multiple fountains thrown here and there.
Zurich itself is a marvelous example of a city where the history meets with the modern. At the first glance, it looks the whole architecture was built of gray rocks and solid stones back in the 15th centrum. But, do not let it fool you, just outside the old city there are dozens of glorious glass offices and skyscrapers rising proudly creating a specific skyline.
The historic city center reminds me of Budapest, and I mean in a good way. It is easy to notice that Zurich is full of medieval and gothic churches like ‘Munters’ that make the place majestic. Everywhere you go there, everything is kept clean and tidy, barely ever you find any rubbish rolling on the sidewalk. In addition, most of the inhabitants segregate the trash on a daily basis.
As we all are aware, the Swiss capital is one of the biggest world’s financial center and the most expensive cities. It can be verified not only by the number of international bank headquarters or countless designer shops around every corner but also from a car-spotter point of view.
***I am just flying over the Alps, and the visibility is like 100km. This is a view that I am unable to describe with the words… extraordinaire***
If you wish to have a chance to find your favorite Need For Speed vehicles, there are very few better places in the world to do so. While I and my friend were walking down on of the brilliant alleys somewhere in the city, we were discussing the new episode of the Grand Tour Motorshow and the cars shown in it… suddenly we bumped into three of them in the next two minutes – Ferrari 488, Ford Mustang and BMW M2. This is just plain ridiculous, and you should see my smile right now;).
What surprised me a lot was also the fact that during my three days in Switzerland I did not manage to see a single Police patrol. None. Do not forget that one in four citizens in Switzerland owns a rifle, and half of the Swiss are proficient in using handguns. Shouldn’t there be shootings everywhere? Isn’t it ironic?
As a tourist on a mission to buy souvenirs I strongly recommend not to buy any fridge magnets (they are horribly expensive ~7chf per one), instead make a decision to buy something like: Victorinox Knives, Classic Swiss cheeses, leather gloves, chocolate or watches (if you are not on a budget trip like me). By the way, the CHF notes and coins are a masterpiece itself (there is even a 1/2 CHF coin – not 50)
Since every rose has its thorn, I found one thing that annoyed me greatly – the weather. It is as unpredictable as the CHF rate, and when it rains there is a small cascade fall coming from the sky, really it just does not stop. After it was pouring like there was no tomorrow, the next day, or even the same evening is sunny and the temperature is rising dramatically. This is what happened when I was in Luzern.
Luzern is a calm and picturesque place to spend a day walking down the colorful old-fashioned streets. Having a glass of fine wine and enjoy the view at the Four-Cantor Lake and the Magnificent Alps in the background. I am not going to make it lengthy, let the images speak for themselves.
I have yet to decide where I would like to travel next, but I doubt it will happen until the next spring. Now I am throwing myself in a heavy workload period, and I really feel replenished with the fresh energy. The short trips always work best for me, I have plenty time to rest, and after coming back I do not disorganized. I encourage each of you, pack your bag, and see what the globe has to offer.
What did I learn this weekend? The World differs so much, even on the distance of a 1.5h plane flight. I also rediscovered how beautiful French really is and I made a choice: Je veux parler Francais tres bien.