In our quiet worship of invigorating freshness surrounded by lush blues and greens with puffy white accents, we heard the hollow clanking from below. We couldn’t see the cows, but we knew they were there.
There’s so much to love about Switzerland, and nature tops the list.
My friend Jessica and I spent a week exploring Switzerland: Geneva, Lucerne, and Lugano. It wasn’t intentional, but we ended up sampling a region from each of the country’s three main official languages.
French Geneva offered the most chocolate options. Milk chocolate seems to dominate Switzerland. However, I found the most dark chocolate—my favorite—here than anywhere else. Most of the country’s vineyards are also concentrated around the city. Chocolate. Wine. My two favorite food groups.
German Lucerne positioned us for our mountain excursion. There were two options: Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Rigi. I learned from a Swiss that Mt. Pilatus looks like a dragon and has local lore surrounding it. One hike called Dragon Way winds through the mountain with “windows” carved in the rock looking towards Lucerne. Supposedly there’s a terrace on the mountain top, and when you’re facing the Alps, you see the dragon’s head lying down on your left.
Instead, we went to Mt. Rigi. We had to choose one and were told that Mt. Rigi was more picturesque and had better weather that day. Our journey included a boat ride to Vitznau and a cog railway ride up to the top. There was visibility all the way until we arrived at the very top.
Returning, we started with the cog railway and then switched to a gondola that took us to Weggis, ending with a boat ride to Lucerne. To say that the trip was amazing is an understatement. The views were incredible. So was the freshness of the air and even the clunky sounds of cow bells.
Italian Lugano gave us the best pizza, risotto, and gelato. At times, it was hard to remember that we were in Switzerland. We didn’t mind. It also gave us the beautiful, glacial Lake Lugano. Any boat ride on the lake is totally worth it.
As we traversed the country, experiencing each regional character, we started to wonder—what is the Swiss identity?
I don’t have an answer for this. Do you? We did some research, but never felt like we landed on anything comprehensive from a real authority. We know about Swiss neutrality. In addition, the people are smart and friendly. There’s also a high quality of living, which translates into a high cost of living. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you should know that the country is expensive. And when I say expensive, I mean expensive. I just couldn’t fathom spending the equivalent of US$28 on a burger (and didn’t). But there are ways to mitigate expenses. Of course, none of that gave us the answer to our question. If you have answers, let me know!
Instead, we are left with the knowledge that Switzerland is a beautiful country. To me, it’s best represented by a mosaic of Mother Nature’s blues, greens, and whites accompanied by a chorus of bells. Not a bad legacy at all.