Friday, April 13, 2007

Trip to Switzerland

Soon came the Easter holidays. Four free days demanded some outing to get out of boredom. A friend had earlier proposed of going to Switzerland. That seemed a good option. So off we went on Saturday morning to Zurich, the biggest city of Switzerland. We arrived just in time to catch a city bus tour which guided us in and around the city for four hours. The city lies around the mouth of a lake and goes up the surrounding hills. We also took a cable car up the hill to get a bird eye view of the city. The bus then boarded a ferry alongwith 15 other cars to cross the lake. Zurich has the best living standard in the world. The guide showed us the most expensive area of the city. He also showed us the place where Churchill raised the slogan "Rise Europe" to pave the way for making the European Union, of which Switzerland is ironically not a member. We then headed to search for a cheap hotel, not having booked one in advance. After about two hours of searching, we found a hotel offering 30 Euros per person lying on the lake-shore close to the train station. Zurich was surprisingly clean with staff collecting junk in trains at regular intervals. There was even a steward in train selling eatables and collectibles. Most of the train journey to the next city was underground.

The next morning, we abandoned the plan to go the third largest city Basel and instead set out for Luzern, upon recommendation from tourism people. The coutry was covered in clouds which were expected to clear in the afternoon. We took a trip in Luzern to a very high mountain through cable cars. The cable car journey itself took more than half an hour with two interchanges to take us to a beauty i had never seen before. We crossed the clouds to reach the top of the mountain, called Mount Pilatus (dragon). It was a rocky mountain covered by snow on its flat areas and naked on steep slopes. There were two tops guarding a small flat strip over which people lied on berths under the furious sun. The mountain crows made it their backyard playground accepting food from tourists with their yellow beaks. Two hotels bordered the strip with a restaurant serving hot meals. A radar and a communications antenna watched over the surroundings from two different peaks. A 500 meter slippery cave lined one of the tops supposedly housing the fire-breathing dragon. Not wanting to leave that scene we came back to find the city bathing in bright sunlight.

After touring the city on the high city walls and eating from the train station, we headed home on the last train, a big risk in Germany. And the feared happened, the train stopped at one point to load us into a bus to reach the next train station. The ticket-checker although assured us that the next train will not leave until she has boarded us in it and thus that train waited 5 minutes for us 5 persons. Thank God we reached home that night.