I landed in Zurich Airport with my family and a mind loaded with images ―images of lush green valleys dotted with exotic alpine blossoms & the snow-clad Alps at the backdrop. Oh yes, how could I forget the cogwheel train cleaving its way through a blooming dale?
Yet, the train journey to Berne seemed just commonplace! Where were the limpid lakes with snow-white swans? Where were the snow-topped hills? Where were the Arnicas, the Chamomiles & Edelweiss? We changed trains at Berne & headed for Interlaken & the landscape of my dreams began to unfold..
Azure waters overseen by jade green hills, all spelling cheer and joy began to unfurl. It was as if a toy train was chugging slowly into some kind of a magical fantasy land!
We alighted at Interlaken Ost & hailed a taxi to our homestay. I’m indeed going to wax lyrical; not that you don’t know why..
It was cold & the warm sunshine formed the perfect hygge, warming up our hearts. The colors of the Earth seemed clearer; the scent ―purer, tree trunks ―browner.
The roads were spotless and even the stones sparkled!Amid the standard white houses, were a few colorful ones too, done in brick red and chrome yellow, but they too apparently blended with the scene.
We had entered a silent valley that echoed with a quiet cheeriness.It was a lovely day and a mackerel sky cast its summery glow over the Earth. And on this blue firmament were people paragliding freely into the wide blue yonder..
The atmosphere was celebratory even in the absence of garish clamor. I felt the presence of humans yet the roads had very few people. It was as if an unfading spark was already present in people’s heart and hearth.
The very few who moved about, did so without much ado, as if they had a happy mission to accomplish & another day to look forward to.
Colonial homes & shops lined the neat paths & each establishment had a patch of green sprinkled with countless colorful blossoms.
Each seemed to beckon us for a cup of coffee and convivial conversation. The salutary air of well-being & prosperity rang loud and clear.
We took a peek from the patio of our homestay & a few Pines and snowy peaks peeked at us from afar. Summer, & the day stretched interminably.
Pin drop silence & nary a soul in sight. Yet, there was life. The chirping of birds & the gentle zephyr were a comforting constant.
Soon, the mountains that resembled icings on the cake, began to appear as if sprinkled with cheery cherries! The sun was going down and the snowy mountains were aflame with a crimson glow.
I soaked in every bit of what was visible till the Earth plunged into darkness.
Dawn dawned & progressed into a sunny noon & we headed for Lake Luzern.
An hour long train ride brought us to the lake.
Limpid & pristine, the lake served as a mirror for a whole lot of elegant structures that had surrounded it, perhaps to marvel at their own reflections on its pellucid waters.
We took a cruise that had halts at several villages. The wind blustered aloud, casting ripples across the waters & in our hearts. The skies were streaked in silver & grey.
Every village seemed straight out of a fairy-tale book.
Rolling green hills dotted with charming little chalets ―each flaunting a garden sprinkled with resplendent rhododendrons & other spring blossoms, greeted us.
Hours sped by & it was time to disembark.
As we had started late, we missed the iconic Chapel Bridge. New Year calendars of yore portraying spellbinding pictures of chapels & chalets, lakes & bridges almost always had a picture of the Chapel Bridge & thus the icon will always remain a nostalgic vestige of my childhood days. Sadly, we had to give that a miss..😭
Nestled in the heart of the town was Hohematte Park that was brimming with life. With flowing fountains, chirpy birds, frolicking children, bookworms & folks who indulged in brown study, the park wore an Edenic look!
Each seemed to be on his own, happy & enjoying the moment & none seemed to bother another. And overseeing this blissful hamlet were the snow-capped mountains resting peacefully like aged parents ―content after a parenting job well done!
Lo & behold! ‘Garden Angels’ of the Earth had sown the choicest of Nature’s bounties and the Invisible Gardener had perhaps conspired to shower the best of colors & features on this gentle soil.
Pansies & daisies spilled forth & vied with violets & tulips, gentians & primroses, yarrow & azaleas.
Every corner appeared gay & vibrant, yet the garden in its entirety looked gentle & soothing ―its colors carefully chosen from Nature’s sparkling palette.
The place had the power to brighten the weariest of eyes, to spruce the dullest of spirits, enliven the dreariest of moods. It had the power to heal & enthuse!
In short it was a breath of fresh air in an already paradisiacal land!
Its strategic placement at the heart of this heartland was perhaps purposeful. On one side were entrapments to satiate human wants & here was this oasis that we so need.
While tourists moved about with a newfound joy, locals did so with a quiet confidence that comes with order & harmony.
Paragliders landed here with a wowed look & eye-popping wonder, after having surveyed this heavenly haven from the heavens above. Lovestruck couples on their honeymoon went arm in arm with a surety that life was surely a bed of roses.
And it rained…
A mild shower the following evening had cast a unique spell. A pall of gloom & a veil of mist hung over the snow-swathed Alps, deepening the mystery further.
We were to beat a retreat but in no time, the erumpent sun served as a silver lining, throwing a new light on this peachy place.
Dew drops danced atop the countless flowers & foliage, which pirouetted merrily with renewed vigor.
Like sacred altars, these pretty posies had their pride of place at every nook & cranny, every intersection on the streets, every home & every inn.
Back in our inn, despite the frosty weather, we gathered at the patio to capture the rain drenched scenes. The mist had cleared & the snow mountains yonder beamed with a renewed pride.
This literally unmissable beauty spot should never be missed! I say this because we had made a few mistakes & one was to have shortened our stay in Switzerland. So, due to paucity of time, we had to content with only a glimpse of the façade.
Every morning we vowed to visit in the evening but when evening came, we hurried back promising to visit the following day. And the days just passed..
Those who’ve stepped in were so entranced that they had to drag their feet out, I’ve heard.
The next day’s drizzle had drenched the streets & structures, & this marvel looked even more splendid, its silhouette sharper & the backdrop richer in color.
How I wish we had more time!
Above is the memorial of Adolf Guyer-Zeller, the Swiss entrepreneur whose brainchild is the Jungfrau Railway that has made the Top of Europe accessible.
How could we leave Interlaken without posing with Bollywood’s renowned bigwig ―Yash Chopra?
This life-size 350 kg statue is undoubtedly a tourist honeypot. That the Bollywood behemoth, a recipient of Brand Ambassador’s Award for promoting Switzerland through his many movies, has left his footprints on foreign soils, is definitely a matter of pride for Indians.
The following days saw us traveling to Mount Titlis & Mount Jungfrau. However, every evening, it was to Hoheweg Street, Interlaken that we rushed back to lock in the beauty & look for souvenirs.
Switzerland ―Clement climes, perfect soil, perfect people, a flawless government, canny decisions of the past, adherence to armed neutrality had all gone into the making of this land of milk & honey!
Nothing was amiss. Not a twig of a tree out of place, not a roof run down; not a person peccable.
This was the land of Tissot watches, of Swatches & Lindt chocolates, of Rolex & Omega.
So, little wonder then that this was undoubtedly a wonderland that turned boons into phenomenal sensations, benisons into gratitude.
This is also perhaps God’s vacation home that he fashioned Himself, which no humans could taint. Perhaps that’s precisely why the Edelweiss is invoked to ‘Bless my homeland forever’..🤗, to bless the borders, to bless the neighbors..
PS: Do join me on my train journey to the Top of Europe on my next post ―again on Switzerland..