There’s a lot more to Switzerland than mountains and chocolate. It’s definitely a place I want to return to — when I’m rich, of course. Switzerland is EXPENSIVE with a capital EXPENSIVE. I’m talking more then Scandinavia. That didn’t take away from our experience, though.
The first day we arrived in Zurich, we got to our airbnb by late afternoon and decided to go swmming in Lake Zurich. We took the subway to the lake and found an area with a lot of swimmers. Something I didn’t expect (but I don’t know why it caught me off guard) was that it was kind of a nude area. Europeans in general are much more open than Americans, so I don’t know why it surprised me, but it was kind of interesting. We spent several hours wading and treading in the water. Andi read her book and Sami and I swam for a while. The water was perfect — slightly chilly, which was nice on a hot summer day. As we left, Andi commented on how she felt the area we had been swimming was very body positive.
“I wish it was more like this in the US,” she said.
I couldn’t help but agree. People weren’t staring at others or checking out their bodies. They were just enjoying the water and the sun — there was no judgement or shame, which I thought was pretty cool.
The next day was a big one for us. We bought train tickets to Mount Rigi, a Swiss Alp, to go hiking. We took the 6:30 train and started hiking around 8 a.m. It was a cloudy day, but usually you’re supposed to be able to see half of Switzerland from the top. Even though we couldn’t see much but fog from the top, it was a great hike. We all kind of went at our own pace, but we passed local farmers and cows and wildflowers on our way up. It wasn’t too hot, so even though I was sweating like a dog by the time I got to the top, it wasn’t unbearable.
We’ve done quite a bit of hiking on this trip, and I just want to take a second to talk about it. I love hiking and being outside. When I’m in the woods or walking up a mountain or alone in the wilderness, I can’t help but feel a spiritual connection to what’s around me. I can’t see views like the ones I saw — big or small — and not think about the Creator. What I love about hiking and just being outside is how majestic every part of nature is, how everything is made with purpose and intentionality. I was alone for most of the hike, going at a bit of a slower pace than my companions, but I loved every second of it. From the creeks to the trees to the cows to the flowers, the hike was majestic because it reminded me of a Majestic Creator who pieced it together.
After we hiked up and down the mountain (it took us about six hours in total, but a lot of people train to the top for about €140), we found a park to — you guessed it — nap in for a while. We wanted to swim, as there was a lake right next to the park, but I napped under a tree and Sami and Andi found benches that suited their fancy. We made our way back home later that evening and hit the hay pretty easily that night.
The next day, we slept in (thank goodness, because I was exhausted after about 16 miles of hiking). I found flights from a small town, Basel, to Brussels that were leaving the next day. With luggage and everything, the flights were only about $50/person, which is bananas. Anyway, we decided to just stay in Basel that night since our flight left at 6:30 a.m. the next day. So after we woke up and stretched, we hopped on a train to Basel and were pleasantly surprised by this cute and small town. We wandered into the downtown area and found the river, which is a common place for locals to swim. They bring floaties and hop in at one end of the river and just let themselves float down a while! They’re usually floating for a couple of kilometers. It was really cool to see, especially since a lot of rivers in America are dirty (especially those in the center of cities). We wished we had our swimsuits with us, but decided to just make our way back to the hostel. After all, we had an early morning to prepare for.
Things I’ve learned
- Switzerland is more expensive than Scandinavia.
- Time and time again, I’m reminded that getting into the small towns in countries is worthwhile.
Tips for travel in Switzerland
- Hike an Alp! It’s pretty freaking sweet.
- Go swimming in a lake
- When I Return: Go back in the winter and go sledding, Hike an Alp when it isn’t cloudy, buy Swiss chocolate (all the stores were closed when we tried to do that this time!
- Take the time to go to a town like Basel. There’s more to Switzerland than Zurich and this gives you a chance to see that.