Two things you should know about me - I was in a relationship for the longest time and DDLJ has always been my favourite movie. That should explain my love for exotic romantic locations. I have always pictured myself with my significant other, posing on snow-capped mountains, wearing a bright-coloured chiffon saree. Okay, as filmy as it sounds, I have always been looking forward to moments like these.
Tarasp Castle, Chur
But as the story goes, fairy tales dwindle. The fact that one of my most important relationships ended, got me down and out. Even though I had amazing friends to help me out, it took a lot of time to recover. I had always known that a change of place gives people the time to introspect and heal from the wounds of the past and that’s when I decided I wanted to take a trip.
A beautiful view from Chur!
I have grown up listening to my parents talk about how much they wanted to go to Switzerland. So eventually it became the place I dreamed about. At any mention of Switzerland, I would think, ‘Someday…’. And that someday came and totally lived up to its expectation. So, here is my little story of my solo travel to one of the most beautiful places in the world, months after life gave me lemons (also, in the hope of meeting my Raj.) Here is a little snippet about my travel - I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed travelling!
Old town, Chur
I was welcomed by Andreas Nef, from Swiss Travel system at the Zurich Airport, who told me all about how easy it is to travel in Switzerland via public transportation. There is a station right under Zurich airport and you can take your trolleys right upto the train. The trains usually have space in every compartment for luggage. I had a first class Swiss Travel Pass for 8 days which entitled me to use all the trains, buses and boats of the Swiss Travel System during this period. You can also download the SBB app which gives you the timetable on your fingertips. I was amazed at how clean, timely and luxurious the trains were – perfect for ‘my meeting with Raj’.
The oldest house, Chur
After changing trains at Zurich HB, the main station of Zurich, I reached Chur. I was received by a local guide who walked me through the oldest city in Switzerland, which boasts of 5,000 years of civilization history. This was a city that surprised me – we went from the modern railway station to the pedestrian path, through the bustling city centre, along with the narrow winding streets of the Old Town and up the hill to the 800-year old Cathedral. Chur was once the most important city on the route across the Alps and much coveted by everyone. You can see the remnants of the medieval times throughout the city including the oldest house, which is still being used as a private residence. This was followed by an amazing lunch at the Museum Café where we were served the freshest salads, some great burgers along with the wine produced by the cathedral. We then visited the Museum of Fine Arts which actually looks rather exotic and a bit different from the rest of the architecture. I found out that the villa was actually donated by a cotton merchant who lived in Egypt for many years. So the mystery of the two sphinxes outside the building was solved then!
Museum of Fine Arts, Chur
There was no planned itinerary in the afternoon as I had just arrived in the morning but I did not feel like wasting even a minute in this beautiful country so I decided to do some exploring on my own. After talking to the receptionist of my hotel I found out that there were lots of options including a visit to the Landquart fashion outlets (which of course appealed to the shopaholic in me) but the idea of visiting another country within a few hours was too novel for me to resist..
I took a train and then a connecting bus to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein – a small country totally surrounded by Switzerland and Austria. It’s a quaint little country with a population of 37,000 headed by a Prince. Sounds romantic, right? Unfortunately though, I did not meet the Prince, who was up in his castle, but did get a chance to sit on the throne which was in the tourism office in the city!
Getting picture ready at Liechtenstein, Vaduz
Back at the Romantik Hotel Stern (you can see how influenced I am by Yash Chopra movies!) there was a special dinner at their traditional restaurant. I tasted most of the local dishes (quite a few were surprisingly vegetarian!) with some fantastic Swiss wine. The service staff, dressed in full traditional gear, were so warm and welcoming that I immediately felt at home - and amazingly full, of course! Trust me, it was the best meals I ever had!
The next morning was a bit of a highlight for me – a trip to the famous Viamala Gorge. I was picked up for a short drive to the Gorge where I had booked myself a guided tour. Once upon a time, the Gorge was hated. Travelers called this deep ravine in the Hinterrhein
Valley, the ‘Bad Path’. It was an obstruction on the journey through the Alps.
Beautiful, but wild and threatening. And today, that is exactly the reason why one
travels or hikes to the Viamala. Since 1903 over 300 steps lead down into its heart.
Hinterrhein Valley, Viamala Gorge
The view was just stunning and it was an awe-inspiring moment when I realized that this was made by the force of water.
After doing my trek down 300 steps and then climbing back, I was ravenous. A restaurant in the nearby village of Thusis was suggested to me by a local. The village was quiet and pretty as I had expected all Swiss villages to be but the restaurant in the Hotel Weisses Kruez was unexpectedly modern.
Amazing food at Hotel Weisses Kruez, Thusis
The afternoon was reserved for a visit to the Village of Flims which is famous for it’s pretty lakes.
A short hike and cogwheel ride brought me to the turquoise waters of Lake Cauma. Lots of Swiss people of all ages - single, couples and families - were there, enjoying the lovely day and making me feel very comfortable, soaking in the beauty of the place with a pint of chilled local beer.
Posing at the Lake Cauma, Caumasee
The later part of the journey took me to my favourite destination Zermatt, which I had only seen in movies. I took the Glacier Express – the world’s slowest express train to see the mighty Matterhorn Mountain. The train winds its way through the Alps, taking you from lush green meadows to steep mountains and icy glaciers. Lunch enroute is served on your seat and having that three-course Swiss meal was like fine dining in a movie theatre.
After three days in Switzerland, I thought I was getting used to the scenic beauty but Zermatt again blew me away. I took a romantic stroll through the Hinterdorf, the oldest part of the village of Zermatt. I later checked into the Best Western Alpen resort. The car-free resort is perfect for a solo getaway – everything is in walking distance, there are a lot of casual restaurants where you do a lot of activities from hiking and biking to paragliding and skydiving.
Watch out for the rest of my adventures in the next post…
*This is a sponsored post for Switzerland Tourism.