Our Moscow guide Angelina has just returned from her adventurous Swiss trip to Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich.
Here are her observations, tips, ideas and things to do in Switzerland, one of the most beautiful, expensive, innovative, the cleanest and richest countries in the world, as well as Traveler’s Choice Destionation 2015, according to TripAdvisor.
Travel To Switzerland
Blessed are those who have enough courage to choose Switzerland as a destination to fall in love with in the late pre-autumn August days. This country is known for its expensiveness and high level of comfort, but even tourists of mid-budget still may come and enjoy the fascinating Swiss views.
One of the most important thing is never count like “well… how much is it in rubles?” That’s a dead end to your pleasure and joy. Everything is much more expensive there, so the best way is to just get ready to spend 10 CHF for a snack and about 30 CHF for a meal.
Where to stay
Cities are well-served with trams and buses and, what’s more important, they are rather small (in comparison to Moscow). All the sights are so close to each other, it’s a nice and pleasant way to stay fit when walking for hours from sight to sight. That’s why I would highly recommend choosing a hotel in downtown, the price of a Swiss 3-star-hotel may be compared with this of a 3-star-hotel in Italy, but like I said, try not ot think about it. J
5 minutes by tram and voilà, you are in the city center. If there is such a possibility, try to rent an apartment. Your own kitchen will also help save some money and spend it on something more romantic and cultural than basic food.
What to see
The Genève Lake, or, how they call it, Lac Leman – is definitely worth seeing. The view is simply the best. The water is crystal clear and there are lots of swans and boats. Everything is calm and… so cozy, very contrastive to Moscow river boat tourб which is mostly Soviet architecture focused.
Fun thing to do is to spend an hour watching the famous fountain in Geneve, eating plums and prosciutto bought in the nearest MIGROS supermarket, and counting the water-pumps with drinking water.
Geneve is just 30 minutes by Intercity express from Lausanne, the charming city with even more beautiful views of Lac Leman and the mountains. I am not sure what other tourists come there for, but for me the main highlight was the views, the atmosphere, the peaceful environment. If you want something more than that – there is a small museum Art Brut with a collection of marginal paintings nearby.
Zürich is a truly business city. Known as the most expensive city in the world, it isn’t the right place to choose for a weekend. People there earn a lot and appreciate their comfort above all. At 8 p.m. all shops are closed and one will meet no people in the streets, the city center is the only part which is “alive” – people sit and chill, walk and talk, laugh over a drink. Concerts are a nice exception from the rules. Still, if you are in Züri and have a couple of days to spend there, there are ways to gain some impressions.
What to see in Zurich
The museum Kunsthaus contains masterpieces by Van Gogh, Rodin, Monet, Degas, Edward Munch, Mark Rothko, Chagall and more. It is huge and you are not likely to see everything at once, but even a part is going to be just great.
The older part of the city and numerous abbots are always full of tourists. There is a bar called Cabaret Voltaire which is the place where Dadaism comes from.
Dadaism or simply Dada is a philosophical movement that encouraged people to self-expression in the 20th century. The first freaks were dadaists. Now it is just a place to have a drink, but the noise coming through the windows will soon make you stand up and go on exploring the older parts of the city.
What to do in Zurich
Renting a bike in Zurich is a must do, besides it is free here in Zurich. 20 CHF as a deposit and free riding till 9.30 p.m.
Visit the Botanic Garden: the Swiss really care for plants and trees, and it is a pleasure just to stay for a couple of hours in such a place, loved and treasured by its creators.
Do some shopping – there is a flea market every Saturday with numerous unique shops that you wouldn’t find in your own city or any other place in the world, so don’t miss the chance.
Free things to do in Zurich
Switzerland is famous for being luxury land, but even in this country some things are free. They are free for all people coming, but if one has the EU student card, probably one may continue the list ;) Actually, these are the best, the most interesting and the healthiest things to do, so let’s start!
1. Ride a bike – Switzerland is full of expensive cars like Alfa Romeo or Mustang, but half the citizens prefer to enjoy riding a bike. Bike is just the best way to cover even long distances, as all the cities are well-served with bike roads and bike traffic lights. In Zurich there is a net of bike rent stations, so one can give 20 CHF as a deposit and rent a bike for free; after the ride, you should return the bike to any of the stations and get you deposit back.
2. Visit any of the abbots and churches – as they are open most of the time you can come in in this divine institution and listen to organ music while enjoying the sun light coming through the stained glass. Your trip to Zurich would be incomplete without having seen the famous Chagall’s stained glass in Fraumünster.
3. Visit a vintage area flea market on Saturday and get some unique jewelry or home wares for reduced price or even for free!
4. Listen to a local reggae group concert in the open air on Friday night or at the week-end.
5. See masterpieces of the world’s famous painters and artists like Van Gogh in the Kunsthaus museum – the entrance is free on Wednesdays.
6. Feed ducks and swans in the Geneve Lake.
7. Drink water from local water pumps and feel how freshness is filling all your body- the Geneve Lake is famous for its crystal water which is supplied to all the houses as drinking water.
8. Just look around yourself and fall in love with the most beautiful views in the world.
9. Take a walk in the National Park, which looks like a forest but is full of cultivated areas and playgrounds for kids and adults.
10. Take a deep breath and understand that the Alps are so close and there’s nothing fresher that this Swiss air.
While travelling, we sometimes tend to concentrate on troubles connected with long flights, delays, hotel issues, but that is all completely minor if you realize that such a trip will never be repeated. Every second, every funny street-name will be remembered, and this is what makes our life precious. Eventually: why do people go abroad? For something unique. To remind themselves that they are unique, in every step and every thought.
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