Switzerland – A feast for the eyes – Dec ’16

Geneva – Interlaken (via Bern) – Montreux – Zurich

Before I share my time in Switzerland, there is one thing I hope travellers would do it right. The country itself is not called “Swiss”. It is Switzerland in English, Schweiz in German, la Suisse in French and Svizzera in Italian… The people of the country, are the Swiss. Even if Swiss seems easier/ faster to write/ type, I hope you would address the country correctly.

Geneva

My husband is a die-hard fan of physics so his must-go place is CERN in Geneva. I made an advance-booking for a free tour (appx. 2 hours) in CERN for both of us through their website. The tour is super popular and fast-filling.

For once, I would become one with physics 😛

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The Swiss government sponsored CERN to put a permanent exhibition for public interest and knowledge. To start off the day, we went to see the Universe of Particles before our tour.

The tour was guided by a CERN physicist and he brought us through the history of CERN, physics (which got my head exploded lol) and the different important rooms/ segments of CERN.

  • The ATLAS control room where physicists observe the micro Big Bang
  • The very first CERN building is now a permanent exhibition with part of the 1957 accelerator and CERN history video. Here houses CERN’s first accelerator.
  • The 600 MeV Synchrocyclotron (SC), built in 1957, was CERN’s first accelerator. It provided beams for CERN’s first experiments in particle and nuclear physics. In 1964, this machine started to concentrate on nuclear physics alone, leaving particle physics to the newer and much more powerful Proton Synchrotron (PS). The SC became a remarkably long-lived machine. In 1967, it started supplying beams for a dedicated unstable-ion facility called ISOLDE, which carries out research ranging from pure nuclear physics to astrophysics and medical physics. In 1990, ISOLDE was transferred to a different accelerator, and the SC closed down after 33 years of service.

It was a very worthy and knowledgeable morning.

From CERN, we took the train to UN Headquarter and its surrounding attractions. One of which is the Broken Chair. Broken Chair is a monumental sculpture in wood by the Swiss artist Daniel Berset, constructed by the carpenter Louis Genève. It is constructed of 5.5 tons of wood and is 12 metres (39 feet) high. It depicts a giant chair with a broken leg and stands across the street from the Palace of Nations, in Geneva. It symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva.

Interlaken

On the way to Interlaken, the train bypassed Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The emerald lakes topped with some icy layers of winter offer stunning views of the Bernese Alps. It became sub-zero at night at Interlaken. We took a walk around the lovely town which was so peaceful and quite with tranquil scenery.

From here, we took the Goldenpass panoramic train which was more than just a journey as we immersed ourselves in breath-taking scenery. The ultra-modern trains that operate on the GoldenPass Panoramic line have some unique features. In addition to being extremely comfortable, they are also fitted with panoramic windows that were specially designed at our workshops in Chernex. Thanks to these windows, we can enjoy the nature outside and be one with the landscape.

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Montreux

On the way to Montreux, our initial itinerary was to change at Montbovon for Broc Fabrique (Chocolate Factory), backtrack to Gruyères (Cheese Factory) and then back to Montbovon and continue on to Montreux for the night. However, due to unexpected health condition, we decided to skip the two attractions and headed directly to our hotel in Montreux.

The town of Montreux nestles in a sheltered Lake Geneva bay, surrounded by vineyards and against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered Alps. The long, tranquil lake promenade which links Vevey and Montreux going all the way to Chillon Castle is simply asking to be strolled along. We had a great morning walk along the lake and breath in the freshest air.

Zurich

Since it is expensive everywhere, we rented a studio apartment in the heart of Zurich and enjoyed our staycation.

Swiss people, in my opinion, are more friendly and open. We had great time chatting with the locals during our train rides and had a sneakpeak at how expensive cost of living in Switzerland is. A beautiful local friend we made along the trip gave us a Swiss chocolate bear as present, how sweet of her. We also hitchhiked a Chinese/ Italiano uncle to the main train station.

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We would come back and spend more time in Switzerland next time.

*Tips:

  • Train pass is much cheaper when you are young! (below 26)
  • Talk to Swiss people, they are just truly amazing
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