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A walk in the clouds

DC | SURUCHI KAPUR-GOMES
Published May 31, 2015, 6:02 am IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 1:03 am IST
Pristine and pure as a snowflake, Switzerland is a haven of beauty and bliss
Bernese Alps
 Bernese Alps

The cowbells, they are a ringing, and the vista is surreal — it’s as if God walked on Earth and placed undulating greens with tufts of shrub and matchbox homes amid church towers and swaying petals with landscaped precision! Switzerland can be overpowering in its perfection and our first stop here was the Jungfrau. It was a train journey in the famed Jungfrau Express that went through mountains and passed tunnels, overlooking snow-capped peaks that glinted on a crisp summer day. As we creaked along, the temperature dropped and the air became biting cold.

The two look-out points deep in the rocky face of the mountains had snow all over, like white chocolate melted to form its own cover, and the sun’s rays did their diamante work on their melting tips.  The affable French-German ticket collectors gave us Jungfrau (Lindt) chocolates that we gorged on. Then we spotted Jungfrau at 13,642 feet far away, almost like a dot. It is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, located between Bern and Valais. Together with the Eiger and Mönch, the Jungfrau forms a massive wall overlooking the Bernese Oberland and the Swiss Plateau, and is among the most gorgeous sights of the Swiss Alps.

 

As we entered the lifts through the dungeon station, we marvelled at the architecture and the construction that opened in 1865. It sits atop a disc-like mountain resort, where skiers, summiters and tourists walk into a fairyland dressed in white. A snow tunnel inside takes you to a museum that outlines the history of this quaint Cog Wheel station. But be careful when you venture here, as the air thins and makes it difficult for you to breathe.

We saw many heave and collapse due to lack of oxygen. There is a wonderful café overlooking the mountains, and a restaurant atop Jungfrau, which greeted us with huge photographs of Bollywood and even cricket stars. Surprisingly, the main stand-alone restaurant is called Bollywood and dishes out Indian food to the package tourist bandwagon. However, on the top of European peak, a Bollywood restaurant and Indian posters did seem like a bit of overkill. We walked to the summit — slipping and sliding — reveling in the beauty of the setting. There was snow as far as the eyes could see. They say, in Switzerland, when the angels walk, the sun shines and since this was a special holiday for the mommies and daddies in our group, we were in the company of angels, and the sun shone down on us.

Our next stop was Mount Titlis in the Uri Apls, located on the border between Obwalden and Berne. At 3,238 metres above sea level, it is famous as the site of the world’s first revolving cable car which is quite fun, considering it moves up and around! The cable car system connects Engelberg to the summit of Klein Titlis. And it was here that the cowbells rang clear as we swooped from one cable car to another, seeing the carpet-like green expanse, with the bluest of lakes amidst mountains.

The last part of cable car way leads to a glacier that’s resplendent in white and on that sunny day, a sight to store in one’s memory. At Klein Titlis, we walked an illuminated glacier cave and then had our hearts in our mouths on the Titlis Cliff Walk, the highest elevation suspension bridge in Europe where all the adventurous souls try to make the walkway sway, as if it’s not precarious enough. You can also take to the ski slope or go on a ride in cable chairs (as opposed to a car), as your feet hang over the deep slopes. There is a café for a nice drink of lager. Yes, in the ice, having an ice cold beer is something else. And of course, a Movenpick ice-cream stall famed for its creamy dollops.

Taking the bus route over the breathtaking miles of beauteous hills and vales, we also passed the Gotthard Tunnel, the third longest tunnel in the world at 16.9 km, to make our way to Lucerne. The Lucerne local market is truly a cheese and chomping haven — barrels and blocks of fresh cheese, strawberries, blue and black berries and olives...

Next up, we went to the Reuss River, which winds along the old town. Called the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a 204 m (669 ft) long wooden covered bridge originally built in 1333, it is the oldest covered bridge in Europe and flaunts some of the prettiest flowers that sent us into a picture clicking frenzy. The market with its cobbled streets is abuzz as people go about their daily chores in a city that has aged well.

We also visited Bertel Thorvaldsen’s famous carving of a dying lion (the Lion Monument, pictured above), that commemorates the courage of the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792, during the French Revolution. But our favourite place in Switzerland was Interlakken, nestled amid mountains. We enjoyed walking across this fairytale land.

Out of curiosity, we walked into one of the many sex shops. We came out somewhere between abashed and laughing at what humans do to spice up life. The sight of three Indian women walking out of a sex shop may have shocked a few Indian tourists around, but we, of course, giggled, and walked on.

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