This weekend Furman celebrated its 2017 homecoming. Although, I was afraid I may suffer from fomo I got to make my own homecoming this weekend in the mountains of Switzerland as I reunited with Eliza and Cate. This week was very laid back as my body told me that I needed to slow down and recovery before traveling again. But, no amount of rest would prepare me for the craziness of a trip that awaited me.
It started Friday morning bright and early at 3 am as I made my way to the Copenhagen airport to catch a 5 am flight to Switzerland. I had a layover in Brussels where Cate and I jumped on the same flight and arrived in Geneva around noon. After dropping our bags off at the Airbnb, we used all our energy to explore the city on foot. We had a beautiful day a little overcast, but warm. Well…right now anything above 55 degrees and not raining is warm. The most immediate difference in Switzerland is how hilly it is. We have all joked about how out of shape we must all be as our heart rates soar every time we walk more than 10 minutes.
Our day in Geneva started by walking up the north tower of the Pierre Cathedral which has one of the most fantastic views of the city. From there we want to the reformation wall where Cate, an international relations major who loves history, gave me a very in-depth lesson on Martin Luther and the significance of this monument. This year also marks the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Thesis … aka the ‘downfall of the Catholic church’… so there is a lot of really cool and interesting discussions that are going on all over the country. Next, we headed to the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève, a free museum in the heart of the city which we both –as Sociology and International Relations majors – thrived in. I’m not proud of it – well I kind of am– but we were so tired that we opted for an ice cream dinner and headed back to the Airbnb to wait for Eliza.
On Saturday, we started our trek to Zermatt at 4 am (YAY for an extra hour of sleep lol). Our original plan was to ski, but since the horse incident and the dramatic change in elevation, we opted to just go sightseeing. This honestly could not have been a more incredible trip. After 4 hours on the train, we landed in the most picturesque and breathtaking small city –Zermatt. The city itself lies in the Swiss Alps at about 5,000 ft. above sea level and has less than 6,000 inhabitants. It is known as a car-free city so that there is no combustion engine pollution ensuring that the view of the Matterhorn (the main peak) is always visible. It’s for sure a ski-town and one of the only places in Europe where you can ski all year. Even though right now is still the summer season it snowed earlier this week and on Sunday which made for an even more spectacular day on Saturday exploring the mountain.
After a little confusion on how to actually get our tickets, we took three separate cable cars up to Matterhorn. Matterhorn is the logo of Toblerone chocolates (Don’t worry I’ve brought back chocolate treats for everyone) and a staple in the Swiss countryside. At the top of the mountain, temperatures were about 27 degrees even though the sun was in full force. It was a huge shock for Eliza’s who is spending the semester in Italy, and now sweet Cate has rosy cheeks and a slight sunburn. We went to panoramic deck (which is the highest you can go if you aren’t skiing) and also ventured into the depths of the glacier to view their ‘glacier paradise exhibition’. Words and pictures cannot adequately show the natural beauty of this landscape!
Being the smart travelers we are and fully understanding the outrageous prices of Switzerland, we packed snacks and secretly picnicked in the heated café overlooking the Alps in Italy. Our perfect day ended with a perfect dinner and my first experience with Fondue. It was a much-needed carb load after the long day we had. One thing that I have found is that it has been very difficult to eat gluten-free here. Even the supermarket has a limited amount of fresh or gluten-free foods. But, I have survived and made it through by eating really big meals to tide me over for the majority of the day.
All and all this trip was exactly what I needed. Most of the trips I have taken thus far are very fast paced in the heart of busy cities and are jam-packed with museums and set excursions. In some ways, this trip resembled the others since we did have crazy transportation schedules, but for the most part, it didn’t and it was exhilarating. The day was spent outside in nature. We had limited cellphone service which was a blessing as we really focused all of energy and attention taking in everything that this beautiful country-scape has to offer. We drank so much glacier water and spent some of the best moments of the trip laughing and catching up in these magnificent panoramic trains truly taking in everything Switzerland has to offer.
Cheer to Zermatt, Toblerone, and best pals finding each other in Europe!