So, as many of you know I’ve had a trip to Switzerland in the last week of April. I had so much fun and experienced amazing things and ate delicious food, so I wanted to share all that with you guys. Hope you like cheese, chocolate and architecture because you’ll be seeing a lot of that. 🙂 This is also the main reason I’ve neglected blogging for a while lately, and I hope you guys don’t mind, I’m getting right back in now!
Day 1-2: Bus travel and Geneva
Airplanes are quite expensive if you live in a backwards country like Serbia, so most major European tours are taken by bus. In our case, it took around 22 hours to get to Switzerland. The horror. The leg stiffness. The 15 minute breaks where 50 people rush to the same bathroom on a gas station in the middle of nowhere. That moment when you decide you don’t have to pee, get back on the bus and then instantly change your mind, but the next break is scheduled in 4 hours. That’s how the first 18h went by.
When we rose from our bus coffins at around 6 am it was all worth it. The Alps are beautiful and that image above means nothing at all compared to the real thing. You can practically see the clouds moving around the highest peaks; tiny waterfalls streaming down the cliffs; rivers and streams you can see through because that’s how clean the water there is. We had few short hours of those gorgeous views until I smelled burning rubber. I dismissed it as a hallucination because I was dead tired, but then the grandma in front of me asked what is burning. We, sitting on the left side next to the windows, looked down and saw huge white smoke billowing from our bus’s tires. Mass panic ensued and after the bus stopped we ran out over each other’s heads to see the front left tire burning.
Our brave drivers, and a part of the view we had on our break.
So, naturally, we had a 1,5h stop in the middle of nowhere, Alps, while our brave drivers put down the fire and fixed everything. Serbs will be a pack of Serbs, even in the cultured Europe, so of course a fellow passenger got stuck in a self-disinfecting toilet, and got herself disinfected, while the instructions were clearly written on the doors. The upside of all this was that we finally got to take some amazing shots of the Alps, which we previously complained about, how we can’t take proper pictures through the windows. Thank you, karma.
When we finally got to Geneva in once piece, we (of course) had troubles getting to our ¨hotel¨. When we did get there, we were made to wait in front of it in the burning sun, exhausted and with our suitcases, until we finally got inside. Inside was…well, mostly being renovated with dust flying in our faces and drills working for hours on end. My sister and I went to our room and found it even filthier than the renovating parts of the hotel. Toothpaste stains on the sink, hair knots in our sheets, dust three weeks old covering everything…yuck. Luckily, we didn’t spend much time there. The few shared toilets and showers per floor were even worse. We were literally repulsed to go to pee and shower, so if you ever need a hotel near the Geneva Airport – avoid F1 (Formula 1), and go to the neighboring three-star Novotel. F1 successfully proved its 1 pathetic star.
On to the happier memories, once we had a two hours rest in our beautiful hotel, we went to Geneva for our first sightseeing tour. I don’t remember much from it, except dragging in the streets with our group, because I was exhausted, but I did take pictures as evidence. The most interesting thing we saw that day was the Reformation wall, with sculptures of John Calvin, John Knox, Oliver Cromwell and other protestant personalities and documents. In the center of the city, near the lake, is the Brunswick Monument, which is actually a mausoleum where Charles II, Duke of Brunswick is buried. He left his entire fortune to Geneva, on a condition that they build him a magnificent mausoleum. I think he’d like it, I did. Oh, and there is a huge flower clock close to the lake, which is one of the symbols of Geneva, so naturally there were a bunch of people taking selfies in front of it.
Day 3: Annecy, France
On the third day, we packed for our trip early in the morning and went to Annecy, which is 40~ minutes away from Geneva. I only knew of Annecy because of their international film festival, which is very important for animation (and I love animation), but nothing else. Annecy is in fact a gorgeous, quaint, fairy-tale-like town, where you seriously shouldn’t go if you’re on a diet. We happened to come on one of three days in a week when there’s a town market in the winding streets and alleyways. Cheese, meat, olives, wine and sweets everywhere. The smell is so good it’s unbearable, and they give out free samples. Yes, free samples. So we had our lunch trying out every possible thing they offered, and I bought two cheeses, one of which was awesome but the other one burned my throat like the fires of hell.
After that we went to an ice-cream shop. They had 70 different tastes so we spent at least 30 minutes deciding. I got violet (flower), speculaas and some dark chocolate one. The scoops were so big I barely ate it. Other than food, there’s a lot to see there, but we mainly stayed in the town center and around the lake, which is one of the cleanest ones in France, you can basically see the bottom through 2 meters of water. Annecy is awesome, go there if you have a chance.
Day 4: Zürich and Bern
On day four we had a whole-day trip to Zürich and Bern. We first went to Zürich, which is hella expensive except chain supermarkets which have similar prices throughout Switzerland. I didn’t really like it there, because it’s mainly a financial town with a lot of banks, except the old part of the city which is nice, but it was cold and raining the whole morning so it kind of ruined the impression.
Bern, on the other hand, is a gorgeous city. Perfectly preserved old houses and cathedrals everywhere you look, and the whole town is a one gorgeous view. There are also a bunch of fountains with colorful statues, that tell a certain story I was too tired to remember. There is a bear pit in the town center, which serves as a sanctuary for three bears. Bern is named by a bear, so it’s apparent wherever you go that a bear is their town’s symbol. By the time we arrived there, it was sunny and warm and we had the best few hours there, and two of the bears went out of their homes to drink water and sunbathe so we got to see them. I really love animals so naturally I have 50+ photos of bears, ducks, cats, even one snail and one bumblebee. 🙂
Day 5: Geneva
The last day we spent sightseeing parts of Geneva we’d missed earlier, including the headquarters of the United Nations, with a huge broken chair sculpture across the street, which symbolizes people hurt by landmines. After a brief photo-shoot we went to the botanical garden. This wasn’t planned, I suggested it to our guide, so we had only 30-40 minutes to go through it, which turned out wasn’t enough. There are hundreds of plants grouped by various continents and regions, like Siberia, South America, Antarctica, Japan, etc. And there are several greenhouses. We only had time to enter two, and I think we chose well.
The first one had a chilly and dry temperature with a lot of cacti and palms, some even several meters high, so we climbed to the top to look at the palms closely. The other greenhouse was better but also a shock, as it was three times hotter inside than on the outside, and the humidity was extremely high. It was a rain forest, filled with various odd plants and flowers and even some small waterfalls. There was a small connecting room which was both a relief from the humidity but also a curse. The temperature remained the same, so we took our jackets off, but the air in this one was so dry it was hard to breathe. There were various cacti and plants here, but we had to run for air. When our group gathered some girls showed me pictures of Flamingos which I’ve somehow missed and I wanted to cry because I adore them.
After that, we went to the broader center of Geneva, where there’s an entire neighborhood that is weirdly built and is very colorful. We saw some awesome sculptures there covered in mosaics.
Then we got hungry and went to the city center and into a cottage cafe by the fountain and the mausoleum I mentioned earlier, near the lake. We had coffee and ate and then 4-5 sparrows came to serve themselves on the leftovers, so naturally I took photos of them too.
Day 6: Bus travel
Fortunately, no tires were set on fire on our way back, which we spent mostly snacking on our cheese and chocolate hoping we won’t get sick in the bus. We had a lovely trip, can’t call it a vacation since we were walking up and down for hours, but I would do it again, minus the hotel.
Have you guys ever been to Switzerland? How did you like it? If not, would you like to go some day? I want to see as much of the world as possible before I croak, because experiences like these are priceless and worth much, much, much more than brand shoes and jewelry and other stupid stuff. Except books of course. 🙂