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Switzerland In My Mind

August 8, 2011

Let me walk down memory lane today. On this day, two years ago, I first set foot here in Switzerland as a tourist. As the plane taxied slowly to the runway, I was one of those passengers straining my eyes to the windows (and wishing that I got window seats and not center aisle) and looking out to get a glimpse of what was waiting for me to unfold for the next 20 days or so. What I saw surprised me – an immense stretch of verdant hills and mountains. “And I’m in Zurich?” To me, it being one of the world’s largest financial centers, I must be greeted by skyscrapers and other tall structures. I obviously did not do my research well. I did not know at that time that in this Alpine country, urban districts can exist side by side with the countryside. It is made up of 3 distinct geographical regions: the mountains in the northeast to southwest (Jura mountains) and in the south (Alps), and the central plateau.

For the next 3 weeks after that arrival, I explored Switzerland and its surrounding cities like Venice, Italy, Freiburg in Germany and Colmar, France. It was a roller coaster ride, 1 or 2 days spent to discover a Swiss city, and 2 or 3 days for the neighboring place.

Two months before what would be the second year from coming here the first time, I came back once more albeit with sturdier intentions, that is, to establish a family and home.

Don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help but still feel like a tourist here. For example, when passing through the Chapel Bridge (Kapelle Bruecke) in Lucerne or walking along the Old Town of Bern, I still feel that nostalgia upon discovering the inscription and graffiti, the historic buildings and houses, the colorful painted fountains – almost like seeing them for the first time. I love visiting these 2 compact cities because they can easily be explored on foot.

Chapel Bridge is a footbridge, the oldest bridge in Europe. The tower called the Wasserturm has served as lighthouse and prison

Flowers line both sides of the wooden bridge. It has become the symbol of Lucerne.

Old Town Bern With The Zytglogge (central gate adorned with a clock that has bears and crowing cock. These figures start their procession on the clock's east face 4 minutes before the clock strikes the hour).

the old district of Bern as seen from the opposite bank of the River Aare

When my calves are tired from walking, I know I can always find a seat near the fountain where I can have my water bottle refilled. Yes, the water from majority of the fountains in the public streets in Switzerland is safe to drink. Those that are not potable are marked with the notice “Kein Trinkwasser,” “Eau non potable” or “Aqua non potabile,” or a picture of a crossed-out drinking glass is hoisted nearby.

Allow me to show you pictures of these fountains in Bern and Lucerne. Most of these water fountains bear historical figures.

A fountain in Lucerne with the statue of Fritschi, a legendary character associated with spring and joy. He is celebrated every year during Fasnacht, a spring festival.

A Fountain With the Statue of Samson Subduing A Lion


A Fountain Of Moses Holding The Ten Commandments

A nondescript fountain but equally important as the others

Swiss tap water is pure and safe. Thus, it may be considered as a silver lining for those who plan to visit the country but are a bit hesitant because they will be on a budget trip. Just bring a handy water bottle with you and your liquid consumption from Geneva to St. Moritz, Lugano, St. Gallen, Zurich, Basel, Bern and Lucerne, is assured. Find the public fountain yourself, and fill your water bottle there. Do not, however, order tap water in a restaurant for some of these commercial establishments charge you for it.

If you want your water to have fizzles or bubbles then it’s a different story, for you have to buy it.

One cannot have the same confidence in drinking water from public fountains in other countries. About 10% of a travel bum’s budget is for bottled water, or even more, depending on where you are going.  After all, who wants to get sick on a holiday from drinking contaminated water?

Switzerland continues to dazzle my tourist’s mind. I hope I can explore more nooks and places, events and cultural feasts, in the country that is now my new home.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 12, 2011 8:04 am

    Really enjoyed reading a few of your posts here! Amazing adventure living in Switzerland! The butchered calf one was a bit tough, but creative post. The photos are fantastic! I have a terrible time figuring out photos on mine. I just got started about 7 wks ago though, so I’m picking it up. The theme thing caused me all kinds of stress, figuring out which one to use, etc… your site is very professional and cool looking; nice work! thanks again for checking out my post (Grass is Greener) and taking the time to comment. You might enjoy some of the older posts on my site (the road trip ones), as we seem to share a similar taste for adventure! And beef. 😉

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