jc travels

Left my heart (and wallet) in the Alps

It’s summer now, and I’ve got a bad case of the travel bug. And it seems to have spread to a couple of my co-workers as well.

I’ve been taking for granted the fact that Germany is so centrally located in Europe, and that weekend trips are something that I should be doing more often. Is it too late to make my resolutions for the year?

It was going to be the hottest weekend of the year, a whopping 38°C (about 100°F – but it’s about time I try to get acquainted to the idea of Celsius). A week before, a series of mundane work hours led to an impulsive booking of a flight to Zurich. What better way to escape the summer scorch by running away to the mountains where there’s snow year-round? (Although ultimately we didn’t get to the snow because we couldn’t afford it. Surprise, surprise!)

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To be quite frank, I didn’t find Zurich to be so interesting. From what I saw, nothing really stood out or gave it a unique character – except maybe Altstadt (Old Town), the Limmat River, and the areas around it. Or maybe because the extortionate prices were a total enthusiasm buzzkill (7,20 CHF for an iced coffee?? No thanks!). But really, the best part of Zurich for us was the convenience of traveling to neighboring cities, with more things to do and see.

Our first excursion was to the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) in Neuhausen, just outside of Zurich by a little under an hour. Not only was it beautiful, but the cloud of tiny droplets misting upwards from where the waterfall met with the Rhine River was just the refreshment we needed under this blazing morning sun.

We took a short and bumpy boat ride upwards against the current and right to the base of the waterfall. From there, we trekked up a steep, free-standing boulder until we were just level with the top of the falls. Although not an especially spectacular waterfall, it was a perfect getaway to kick off the weekend. How wonderful that something as simple as water can bring so much relaxation.

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We returned to Zurich afterwards and spend the rest of our afternoon and evening walking around and exploring.

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Sunday was my favorite day – we took a train up to Lucerne bright and early. I haven’t been here since I was like 9, so it was like seeing a place for the first time. The city in itself – although not as dense with bars, restaurants, and shopping malls – was much more appealing right off the bat. The buildings maintained an older style, the water of Lake Lucerne was far cleaner and expansive than that of the Limmat, and the streets were quieter and more serene in general. Here, nature plays the leading role, and everything else is secondary.

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Today was fairly cooler, and the sun was a little less harsh. We took a pedal boat out onto Lake Lucerne, floating aimlessly with the soft currents, gazing up at the Swiss Alps that surrounded us. What a peaceful Sunday morning. It’s nice to finally get out of the city atmosphere, away from busy streets and densely packed neighborhoods.

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Later in the afternoon, we took a boat to Vitznau, passing by various cute lakeside towns, with modest homes and restaurants perched atop the mountain sides that gently cascaded into the lake. My favorite town was Weggis, which looked cozy and friendly, yet full of life as they happened to be having a rose festival at the time. From Vitznau, we took a stuffy cogwheel train ride up towards Mount Rigi. The climb was so steep that I found breathing more and more difficult the higher the altitude became. But it seemed only I had this problem, and Mount Rigi is actually the lowest out of the 3 main Alps destinations. Is this a sign that I have been avoiding the gym for far too long now? Hmm.

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On our way up, we made a short pit stop at Rigi-Kaltbad, a small town with mineral spas, quiet (and moderately-priced!) restaurants, and a killer view. Small tip though – if you do decide to stop here, the train up comes once every 45 minutes or so, so plan accordingly!

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And then finally, we arrived at Mount Rigi. The views were nothing less than spectacular – sweeping, 360° view of endless mountains, fields of green, and large bodies of water. In the distance, we could see the snow-capped Mount Titlis (that sort makes up for not being there, right?). But I have to say, this doesn’t beat the view from the route heading from Interlaken up towards Jungfraujoch. That takes the cake. So if you’re planning a trip to the Alps for the first time, that’s for sure what I would recommend!

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On our final night in Switzerland, we were quite exhausted coming back from the Alps. We went to a small supermarket and picked up a pre-made salad and chicken nuggets for a quick, no-fuss dinner at our apartment. Sometimes there’s nothing better than just getting home a bit earlier, taking a cold shower, and doing absolutely nothing. Especially in the company of great friends. As the night came to a close, we looked through pictures from our trip and laughed at the stupid things we’ve done along the way. And at the end of the day – every penny counted.

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1 comment
  1. Daniele says: July 12, 20158:38 am

    Nice one ;) but You forgot tomention King’s cup ahahaha

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