One of the smallest countries yet amongst the most influential in Europe, also on my European Top 4 (this is actually the last country from the list). It happens to be one of the most interesting for many reasons we will elaborate on further in the article. It has four official languages (German, Romansh, French, and Italian) and has a border with four countries (Germany, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy). It is also known for chocolate and watches despite the fact that it does not produce cocoa or have precious metals. Fair to say it is one of the most paradoxical countries on the continent.
I love the way they respect the environment and they can easily win the citizen discipline award. People follow speed limitations even with no speed cameras around.
The country is about 4.5 times bigger than Tokyo and ticks so many boxes, be it skiing, hiking, ice caving, watersports, camping etc...That country, folks, is Switzerland!
Getting to Switzerland
Thanks to its position as a business hub, there are plenty of options to fly to Geneva from London. (Around 100 flight options) and the Swiss city is less than two hours away from the British capital. Make sure you do enough research about your trip as Switzerland is the second most expensive country in Europe on the Nouche barometer.
One thing that used to freak me out was the price of a burger - 24CHF (£20/$26/€22)! I don't even want to compare it to any other country I have been to but it is one thing to bear in mind. Similar to the big mac index but I would call it Nouche burgernomics.
Where to stay?
Thankfully, I did not have to worry about where to stay as a friend of mine lives in Geneva, food alone was a big budget. If a normal meal would cost around 25CHF, I would not dare take a look at hotel rates - You are on your own this time, guys...🤷🏾♂️
I happened to have been to Switzerland a few times and quite frankly would not hesitate to visit again and because it is a small country, one can see so much of the country in a very short time (Just mind your pocket as well 📈)
To bust through the myth, Geneva is not the capital of Switzerland, Bern is. It is not the most populous city in the country either, Zurich is. Home of the United Nations, the biggest luxury watch brands among other international organisations, Geneva is just the second capital of the country. Despite all that, it still retains its fair share of green space.
Bains des Pâquis
So this is probably one of my rare regrettable culinary experiences. After having wasted a whole day of looking for a charger for my laptop I left back in London, I thought it was a good idea to go for a late-night "fondue", a Swiss traditional dish made of melted cheese. If you know me, you know I love all kind of cheese but, really, fondue was not for me.
A lovely place though, I may just return here as a commemoration of the hard times I have been through in here...
The lovely thing about Switzerland is that each canton is almost a world of its own with its own identity and differentiation from the rest of the country. Known for the yearly Jazz festival each summer, Montreux is more than that. Its unique microclimate thanks to its position between the hilly surroundings and the Lake Geneva makes it stand out from the already impressive Swiss crowd.
Loads of sculptures and decoration to give back to Montreux its Medieval feel
The capital of Switzerland is built around a crook in the Aare River and still conserves its medieval architecture.
There are countless bears throughout the city...
A landmark medieval tower built in the early 13th century. It has served the city as guard tower, prison, clock tower among other things...
She's beautiful, isn't she?
The second big city on the German side of the country, Luzerne is also known for its medieval architecture and the snowcapped mountains along Lake Luzerne.
Lion of Luzern
A rock relief carved in the shape of a lion to commemorate the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.
Unfortunately, there was some construction going on when I visited but the lion could still be seen from afar...
The mount is made up of several peaks and overlooks Luzern from its 2,128 m might.
It is literally a skyscraper in its own right!
Even the mountain was shocked when it saw me climbing up 😮
I can officially say I have been once in the clouds!
It was not that cold, I promised...
It still baffles me, the simple ability to be this close to the clouds. Nature is amazing!
I eventually put back my coat not to end up a block of ice...
Entrance fee: 58CHF (£49/$62/€55)
Grindelwald is a village near the Bernese Alps and is known for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. I initially went to Grindelwald to slide down the toboggan track but sadly it was close for either maintenance or due to bad weather in that period. I thought I was not going to let it stop me from making good use of my time in there. At least, I think so...
Mountains upon mountains...
You just have to love the chalet around the city...
The mountains have different characteristics based on where you are. If you look long enough that is...