We all love to travel with friends. In fact, life is meant for good friends and great adventures. This trip of ours to Europe was a keenly anticipated affair involving some of the most beautiful destinations and experiences in Switzerland, France and Belgium. I was so excited that the long travelling time i.e., close to 12 hours from Kolkata to Geneva did not dampen my spirits. Although while approaching Geneva, lightening hit the wing of the flight with such deafening thunderous sound that I could feel my ‘Titanic’ sink on its maiden voyage. My husband till date says that I was over-reacting, but I am glad we landed safely. The first thing that made me feel at ease there was the cool soft climate and warm sunlight, even at 9 PM.
After being in Geneva for a day, we were going to meet our friends and drive to Zermatt together. Zermatt is a charming village at the foot of Matterhorn- a glacier peak famous for skiing. Matterhorn is all natural, somewhat pyramid-shaped, and is one of the highest and also one of the most photographed mountains in the world. It is also a symbol that you must have seen on the delicious chocolate brand – the Toblerone! Although we were tired of travelling the whole day, we were not short on enthusiasm as the soothing sound of Alpine Horn greeted us with a warm welcome. The day ended with all of us strolling aimlessly on the near empty streets, singing songs, laughing and planning for upcoming adventures.
The next morning we decided to go for the 5-Seenweg (Five Lakes Walk). This hike that we went on starts with a ride up ‘inside a mountain’ funicular train. It goes up at a very steep angle and is actually pulled by a cable. Then you have to hop on a gondola which takes you up even higher. After that you have to walk uphill around the Alps passing by five lakes on the way. The combination of the clouds, the snow, the blue sky, mighty Matterhorn and the glacier creates a truly magnificent view that blew us away. The Alps are beautiful and any pic you take means nothing at all compared to the real thing. You can practically see the clouds moving around the highest peaks; tiny waterfalls streaming down the cliffs; lakes you can see through because that’s how clean the water there is! The word ‘excitement’ falls short of describing what I was feeling to be there. To be amidst the scenery straight out of a poster is a heavenly feeling. It is so delightfully beautiful that you almost forget to breathe. The snow-capped Alps, crystal clear lakes, glacier-fed streams gurgling merrily, the place seemed like God’s own abode! And being there with your best friends!! I tell you, you have to have luck like me 🙂
We stopped for a while at Stellisee Lake. The sight of the Matterhorn reflected on its mirror-like surface is breathtakingly beautiful, and is made for magnificent photographs. The vast stretches of snow can get a little intimidating. The years of watching a Bollywood hero and heroine romancing in snow-covered mountains had conditioned me into believing that a girl with chiffon sari will surface any minute with “Lalala lala” reverberating in the background. That did not happen unfortunately but we did see a Russian man stripping down to his undies and jump in half frozen Stellisee Lake.
I must admit it was a wonderful experience and an experience that I cherish with all my heart. I look forward to many more such travels with my friends. After the hike we were happy to rest on the ride back down to Zermatt. We headed back to our hotel immediately before doing anything else that involved standing up.
Set amidst the stunning Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and in the heart of famous Jungfrau Region, Interlaken is the place to be if you want to experience the best of nature. Not to forget, this place also lets you experience some adventure topped with romance. Now you know you are in Interlaken when the sight and sound of newly-wed Indian female, wearing red chuda up-till her elbow gets to your ears, ” Jaaaanu dekho strawberries!!!” and her husband talking loudly over his phone…. “Mummy hum pahuch gaye….” There are ample of Indian restaurants here and you can give a break to your munching on Haldiram bhujia and Jeera biscuits which you had packed in dozens just in case you don’t like the local cuisine. By the law stated by Yash Chopra, you cannot miss the shooting locations of iconic DDLJ and other YRF films and enact Raj and Simran for at least one photograph whilst in Switzerland. We duly checked in all the locations 🙂 Please find given below the proof attached:
- Raj Simran train act….
2. All the girls on famous “Palat” bridge…
3. Having a heart to heart with BFF Yash Chopra style, beside the picturesque Thun lake…
4. All the boys waiting for their Simrans in Shahrukh Khan style..
5. All of us blocking the Raasta in Gstaad incase Simran runs past through us drunk just as in “Zara sa jhoom loon main”….
The visit to Schilthorn was also a memorable one. Schilthorn has a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view of the Swiss skyline. Heaven on earth, literally, at the top of the mountain you stand above the clouds. The famous Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, had been shot here and we had a great fun spending time at the interactive exhibition of “Bond World 007”. Our journey to The Schynige Platte was a step back in time on the area’s oldest railway, running from Wilderswil just outside Interlaken. It zig-zags up through meadows and forests and one instantly feels carried back to the pages of western history. The wooden benches in the coaches of the nostalgic train as well as the vintage rolling stock dating from the nineteenth century exude the flair of times long past and revive the spirit of a bygone era.
We were on foot most of the times. The weather there is so awesome that a few minutes of pause to look around the manicured meadows with cuckoo-clock like houses decorated with seasonal flowers and cool alpine breeze refreshes your body and soul. No wonder Switzerland is the most expensive travel destination in Europe. I went shopping in a swanky looking store, surveying dresses, shoes and home decors. My eyes rolled up in horror as I saw the price-tags and I happily moon-walked myself out of the store just with this beauty. Meet my very own personal “Bagwati”.
Travelling never ceases to have the power to amaze or bedazzle. This summer, when we finally decided on this holiday, little did we know that this will turn out to be the trip of the lifetime. Not to take away credit from the picturesque locations that we chose, I think the company we had, turned it into a memory of a lifetime. Switzerland was the best possible start to our holiday and we made the most out of it soaking up in the glorious Swiss Alps and its labyrinth of lakes and villages. Endless talks, laughs, walks continued as we wrapped up our holiday in beautiful Switzerland and headed to France and then Belgium.