Our next destination was Lausanne, on the northern border of Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman, depending who you ask!). Lausanne is the highlight of the “Swiss Riviera” with a perfect climate, wonderful lake views, and vineyards throughout. We toured the Olympic Museum with a thorough history of the Games and memorable moments (both athletic and political), enjoyed the extensive lakeside beach and park at Bellerive Plage, and ventured into the heights of the old town.
Our next stop was Lucerne, a stunning city in central Switzerland. The highlight and photogenic marvel is the Kappellbrucke, a wooden bridge dating to the 1300s. The city’s medieval city walls and towers remain well-maintained and provide an excellent spot to peer down onto the city below. The experience was capped with the “Golden Round Trip” – a boat ride across Lake Lucerne, followed by a cogwheel train to the top of Mount Pilatus.
My mom and dad came to visit in the middle of the month and we had a whirlwind tour through central Switzerland, the “Swiss Riviera”, Lichtenstein, Austria, and the Bavarian castles. It was a wonderful time for all. We began in Zurich, where we strolled through the Aldstadt, enjoyed lunch on the lakeside, and climbed the Grossmunster towers for a panoramic view over the city below. And of course, enjoyed our share of fondue, raclette, and chocolate!
I traveled to Zermatt, the small mountain village at the base of the Matterhorn – the region is a mecca to the outdoors, with hiking, rock climbing, and summer skiing abound. I greatly enjoyed the 5-Seenweg (“5 Lakes Trail”), which traversed the mountain passes past 5 lakes offering stunning views of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains. I definitely captured the Toblerone View and more! The Matterhorn itself is absolutely stunning against any backdrop – the view becomes dramatically different each time a cloud rolls off the cliff faces.
This year (and month!) celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, on July 14th, 1865. 7 men who reached the summit of the once “unclimbable” mountain; however, 4 were killed in a fall during the descent with still-unknown circumstances surrounding their deaths. The Mountaineer’s Cemetery – capturing ascents from the 1800s to present day – is a chilling testament to the danger of the climb.
My scholarship program sponsored an educational trip to Bern to discuss issues in Swiss-American relations. It was an excellent opportunity to meet other researchers working in a number of different fields throughout Switzerland. Following our time in Bern, we stayed in Luzern and ventured to Mount Titlis.
At 10,000ft (3238 meters), Mount Titlis is one of the highest peaks in central Switzerland. The peak and crowning glacier are reached via gondola from Engelberg in the valley below – and the surrounding peaks are covered with snow, even in mid-July! The mountain top has a glacier cave and the highest suspension bridge in Europe – not to mention the stunning views of the Alps in all directions.
On a 98deg F Sunday in Zurich, there is no better place to be than in the water – Zurichers head for the lake and rivers for a chance to take a dip. The flussbad “river pool” on the Limmat is exactly that – a quarter-mile long section of the river that has been sectioned as a pool, complete with decks, ladders/stairs, concession stands, and lifeguards. No better place to pleasantly float along the river current and enjoy a sunny day in Switzerland.
Basel truly has it all – a a beautiful historic old town, a thriving art/culture scene, and a strong economic backbone. The city sits at the intersection of Switzerland, France and Germany – in fact, the Dreilandereck has a dividing pylon where one can cross all three borders. A joke among Baselers is it is advantageous to work in Basel (high income), live in France (low property taxes), and shop in Germany (low prices and sales tax). The distinctive, ornate red-and-gold Rathaus (city hall) dates back to the pre-Swiss-Confederation era. The city is also home to Art Basel, one of the highest-profile art exhibitions in the world, and a is a culturally dense city with 40 museums within 37sqkm. Situated on the fast-flowing Rhine, Basel is the only major Swiss city with ocean access; its status as a trading hub parlayed into a color-dye industry, which transitioned to pharmaceuticals, including the international headquarters of Novartis and Roche. The Rhine also provides a cooling float on a hot summer day. The day of my visit nearly matched the record for hottest day in Basel’s history (!!!); needless to say, every Baseler was enjoying the water. A common pastime is floating down the Rhine with a Wickelfisch raft-bag; of course, I purchased several to enjoy in the USA (Happy July 4th to me)!