Switzerland, Winter 2016

It was expensive.

I put down $500 to change into Swiss francs, spent another $520 on the Swiss Travel Pass, spent another $200 on my card to step on the top of Europe (Jungfraujoch), and I am officially poor. And that’s only travelling from London, so I think Edina got the bigger brunt of the damage. To reduce our damage we went on beggar mode — we brought packets of instant noodles from London, 3-in-1 milo packets and bought bread at the supermarket to dip our milo in. On some good days we decided to treat ourselves to some supermarket burgers for 3.35 francs (~$4.70) and MacDonalds. We had one good meal too.

I think acting like a beggar to see so many more mountains is absolutely worth it.

1. Montreux and Geneva

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Chillon Castle along Lake Geneva. We dropped off at the Montreux station and took a bus to this place — although we missed the stop by one and ended up having to walk back. It was a lovely walk though, given that we were walking along the lake with this lovely view (and therefore the camwhore). We got free entry into the castle given our Swiss Travel Pass, so we spent quite a bit of time around here.

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Inside the Chillon Castle! What lovely blue skies we were blessed with on our first day 🙂

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Afterwards we headed to the Christmas markets along Montreux and saw llao llao! We got so excited upon alighting from the bus, only to find out that it was closed. We probably wouldn’t have gotten a Sanum for ourselves unlike our usual holidays anyway, it costed CHF 11.90 (i.e. SGD $18 for a sanum… really?!)

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Here’s the UN HQ in Geneva, where we were kept out because it was not the visitor season. So near yet so far, we could only take photos outside the gate. Couldn’t even sot the Singapore flag amidst the long rows of country flags.

2. Zermatt

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The lovely town at night, I think this would be my favourite town. We stayed here for 2 nights and walking along the streets at night was really lovely. Above the low-lying buildings and shops were mountains and this was especially beautiful in the early mornings. It felt slow, quiet and relaxing, and thankfully the accommodation in Chalet Aeschhorn was large and spacious with a kitchen (to cook our instant noodles!).

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We went up the Matterhorn early in the morning! It was quite pricey (CHF38 for a return trip) so we decided to make a stop at every single station along the railway up. So this was where we found ourselves at the top at the first railway that left the station. Matterhorn was otherwise known as the Toblerone mountain, I guess that would make it easier to recall HAHA.

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I should have wiped my camera lens before this photo, because otherwise it would have been such a nice profile picture… It was so slippery up to this position of the Matterhorn, and we (maybe I) were panting so heavily because the high altitudes made breathing so difficult. I was having problems ascending quickly but it was all worth it for all these nice photos hehe.

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We stopped at the second stop of the railway again to take a picture with the Matterhorn — always so thankful when there are passerbys to help us take photos hehe.

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This picture was taken by a rock on self-timer hehe, with the Matterhorn beside us once again.

After that we descended and went to get some lunch, went home to utilise our kitchen and out again to walk around given the blessing of such a lovely weather.

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The weather became even more lovely in the afternoon! Perfect and clear blue skies :’)

3. Bern

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We literally moved on from a town to a city, Edina’s request to visit this “UNESCO World Heritage Site” HAHA. It was a lot more happening I presume, with many restaurants and extremely well-connected via public transport. We unfortunately had shitty weather most of the day, and it was really cold so we found ourselves in more museums most of the time — we spent so much time in Einstein’s house and Einstein’s museum that I find myself knowing so much more about Einstein now.

He had an affair, what a terrible smart boy.

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The one good meal that we allowed ourselves to have the whole time given the overpriced restaurants in Switzerland — Edina’s cheese fondue. It however reeked of alcohol and it wasn’t that enjoyable as we thought it would be — the ham and mushroom rosti was really good though, especially since we were being quite deprived of meat over the entire holiday given that we were surviving on instant noodles.

dscf2736And there was one morning it was snowing in Bern! It meant sucky weather for the rest of the day, but I would much rather snow than gloomy and cloudy with no signs of rain 🙂

4. Jungfraujoch

We were extremely lucky on this one — the most pricey mountain and the most beautiful skies. We had perfect blue skies for most of the morning, which turned only slightly cloudy in the noon but still very much perfect. Thank god we did not waste SGD $200 to come up here to gloomy weather.

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To be honest the background looks so blue and perfect that it looks a little fake, but yes it looks amazing and it looked even more amazing standing there in -10 degrees. It was cold and windy but we had to endure through it for the beautiful photos and I am thankful for our endurance then. We even made a trip into the warmth, warmed down a bit before getting out again for more photos with less tourists in the background. This explains the vast emptiness in our photo — no tourist (except us) made their way into this shot as evident hehe.

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Yeah extremely windy, it unwrapped the scarf around my neck automatically (and made me so much colder).

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The Ice Palace which was part of this entire Jungfraujoch package. Here is me at my best attempt to make a split.

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Taking a photo of the lovely sun shining into the white background at -10 degrees. Here we were standing 3571m above the mean sea level, with what Switzerland proudly terms “the top of Europe”.

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On the railway down and the skies are still beautiful, here we had tourists taking pictures for us in the middle of two railways hehe.

5. Mount Rigi

Before I came to Switzerland I managed to talk to a senior who talked me into visiting the Mount Rigi because it was free with the Swiss Pass. I happened to be planning a day in Lucerne and found that a day trip out to the Mount Rigi was extremely common, and since it was free, why not?

A pity we were not expecting clear blue skies unlike the previous few days but I guess we ought to be satisfied because the weather had been really kind to us the past few days.

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Lucerne and the Chapel Bridge, with slightly less than desirable weather given the expanse of clouds.

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We made our way to Mount Rigi through the cogwheel train at Arth Goldau to Rigi Kulm, and it was such a lovely view all the way up. This picture actually looks much more perfect than it really was, the winds we experienced at the top of Rigi was much worse than what we had experienced the past few days in the different mountains and “chill to the bone” would be a really appropriate term to describe the winds we felt. I felt so cold I was standing behind a rock and an information board to hide from the wind, before emerging out to take more photos.

Tourists are us and tourists will always be tourists 🙂

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I regret not bringing my beanie, my hair was in an absolute mess by the end of it all.

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After taking the cogwheel train away from Rigi we took a free boat ride (courtesy of the Swiss Travel Pass) back to Lucerne crossing Lake Lucerne, and we had to take this signature picture with the flag, just like I did in Norway. Thank god for the free travel pass!

Switzerland in sum was extremely beautiful especially with the blessing of great weather throughout our trip (except the cold), but really expensive. I would definitely consider a return visit back because I don’t think you ever get tired of these lovely mountain views. I was also spoilt by the efficiency of the public transport system — buses came every 5 minutes and they arrived at stations really punctually given that they ran on the railway lines. Trains were also extremely punctual and left on time, with platform details released way beforehand. Lots of planning evidently went into all these arrangements and I thought that this was something London and Singapore fell back really far from, although our public transport fares are probably not even half as expensive as theirs.

I really enjoyed my stay and the company this time and this felt like a really good break from all the coursework stress and catching up of readings that I have been chasing after ever since HT left London. It’s been a month but I have barely progressed much and am starting to get worried — suddenly slightly thankful that I have been rejected from the Paris field trip because it means that I will have a whole reading week to catch up on a lot of work that I have been missing out on ever since I went on holiday mood in early November.

Not too excited for the ski trip given that I have done absolutely nothing in preparation (have not even bought the ski equipment that I very much require). Let’s hope I do not regret the trip because it would put me very far behind in school work; let’s think positive and here’s to remind myself again and again that it will be my last chance for a ski trip given that I am definitely returning home next Christmas.

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