What do you think about Switzerland?

Old Jun 6th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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What do you think about Switzerland?

This has been in the back of mind for a while now Ö.

What do most folks think of Switzerland? Especially folks who have been to the US and Canadian Rockies and the Cascade range on the western side of North America. I know itís a general question but a general, personal opinion answer is what Iím looking for.

Ever since I went to Colorado (three visits) and saw pictures of the Canadian Rockies, I always put off the thought of visiting Switzerland. DH and I started traveling over the past 3 years. Weíve been to London, Paris (twice), Amsterdam, Brugge and Brussels. Next on my list is Northern Italy followed by either Southern Italy or Greece (having to choose between these two is torture). Then I might want to see something different like HongKong or Bangkok. Somehow I keep putting off a trip to Switzerland. The idea of visiting Geneva excites me but when I think of visiting the alps (something I wanted to do earlier when I was still living in India) I feel that I could see equally good mountain scenery in North America on a long weekend and should not ďwasteĒ (please donít kill me) my once a year Europe trip for Switzerland. I know the alps that some pretty unique swiss/european ambience that I wonít find here in North America. Am I crazy? Just wanted to know your perspectives for the simple reason that I donít miss out on something is worth a lot more than what I think. And who better to discuss this with than you folks.

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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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I love the parts of Switzerland I visit, but I have friends living there and am crazy about some of the towns, the food, the festivals, the scenery and atmosphere outside Geneva along the lake in the french-speaking part of the country. I wouldn't necessarily urge you to go to Switzerland if seeing mountains is your main interest. Yes the mountains do have similarity IMO to other ranges you mention.


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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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Some folks will tell you that the only reason to go to Switzerland is for the mountains but as mountains go, in terms of height, the Alps are far down the list after the many Himalayan and South American peaks, not to mention the several peaks in the US and Canada which are higher than the highest alp (Mont Blanc) and the highest peaks in Switzerland (the Dufourspitze, Matterhorn, etc.) but the alps as well as the mountains in the Berner Oberland are impressive nonetheless.

But Switzerland is, IMO, a lot more than just mountains and I find it unfortunate that so many people pass over the other very scenic parts of Switzerland.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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Well, everyone has his/her own opinion on these sorts of things and there's no right or wrong. I've spent quite a bit of time in both the US and Canadian Rockies, the Cascades, the Olympics, the Sierras, the Chugach and Aleutian Ranges (southern Alaska), the volcanoes of Costa Rica, and a couple of different locations in the Andes, along with various and sundry other mountain areas (not the Himalayas, which I hope to remedy some day). I think the Berner Oberland has them all beat for scenery, and when you add in the Swiss ambience there's just no comparison. I would say the same about the French Alps and the Dolomites. It's very hard for me to explain exactly why, but there's no doubt in my mind about it. Others will disagree, I'm sure.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 02:04 PM
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I guess it depends on how well you like mountains. I will visit both the Canadian Rockies and the Swiss Alps again this year.

Whether or not you will be enthralled with the high Alps is a matter of personal preference. I happen to like them, and the whole Swiss alpine setting. So I go back.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 02:16 PM
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Switzerland is beautiful and quite much its own luxurious environment. We combined it once with Austria and Northern Italy.

You could do that at some time and not just be in Switzerland the entire time.
I must say that Switzerland is very expensive, IMHO. For instance, you could do Southern Italy for much less and still have beautiful lodgings etc. But I would very much return to Switzerland, and to tell you the truth, I am not as big on mountain regions as the average USA traveler seems to be.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 02:24 PM
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The only thing Colorado and Switzerland have in common are mountains - no Swiss cows and chalets, been to Colorado and it's just mountains in Rockies whilst Switzerland with its villages, flower-studded chalets - no comparison. Like saying i'm not going to Italy because California has the same climate and landscape in my opinion.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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In my opinion the Alps are special because they are more accessible to the average person. There are easy ways to climb and discover wonderful views for the fit but not mountain climber.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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I agree with PalQ. I found the Alps to be much more scenic than the Rockies, and I love the towns and villages, culture, food, etc. I also agree with Intrepid1. There are plenty of gorgeous areas of Switzerland that are not in the more mountainy BO region. We spent a few days in Appenzell a few weeks ago and loved it. The town is closer to Germany and Austria, and is in a more rolling valley area. The mountains are gorgeous, just not as rugged or striking.

Tracy
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 03:04 PM
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A couple of years ago, my hubby and I (in early 30's) bought a Swiss Rail Flexi Pass and went to just about every major canton in Switzerland in under 15 days. Zurich is great for shopping and walking, so we spent the first few days there seeing everything. We took the train to cities such as Luzern, Bern, Zermatt, Lugano, Lausanne...etc. (not in that order)--all great for a variety of regional interests, hiking and sites. Finally, upon the advice of Fodorites, we went to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to base there for about a week. What advice! The 25+ waterfalls and alpine views from our quiet hotel room balcony were breakthtaking. The Rockies are great, but nothing can take away the feelings I had hiking there. From there, the train trips through the Berner Oberland, complete with funicular rides...oh...can't wait to go back! It's so clean, clear and quiet that it's hard to compare to Canada or Colorado. I just don't think those regions can beat the Alpine culture, where one can hear those sheep with the bells on in the distance or horns blowing. BTW--Seeing Italy for the first time in July!
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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It's not only about the mountains, it's about being in another country, listening (and maybe trying yourself) to another language, eating different food, looking at different villages.

You should do what you feel is right for you. I am in love with Switzerland, but not sure if or how soon I will be back - there are so many places I haven't been to!

Just keep in mind: everybody's experience is unique. You will need to go there some day to have your own opinion.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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It's hard to find wooden bridges that are 600 - 700 years old AND works of art(Lucerne) in Colorado. The history alone predates what you can find in the US by 100's of years. That is worth seeing.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 05:42 PM
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In terms of natural mountain beauty, there are a lot of places in North America that could bury Switzerland deep. But like others have said, travel is also about getting away from your own country and culture so as to see your country anew. New languages, new history, new customs, new food, new ideas. As a total package, I rate Switzerland very highly.
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Old Jun 6th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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Switzerland is a special place. I still remember taking our first train from the Zurich airport toward Luzern and seeing through my heavy eyelids (I was very tired after an all night flight) the most beautiful waterfalls and lush, green vegetation along the hillsides (and this was before we even stepped onto a hiking trail or a special mountain lift.) I thought I'd been dropped into the scene of a fairy tale. The Canadian Rockies are majestic too (& Lake Louise really is that lovely turquoise color) but not quite the same thing as Switzerland in terms of accessibility and the interesting aspects of Swiss culture. Do spend some time there if you have the opportunity; you won't be sorry!
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Old Jun 7th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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Thanks a whole lot for the input. This helps.
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Old Jun 7th, 2005, 07:58 AM
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It was a great question. I kept thinking about it after I posted. Because I have such a fondness for the country, and mountains have hardly a thing to do with it!
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Old Jun 7th, 2005, 10:49 AM
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suze -- that's exactly what I wanted to hear.

Quite by chance, I'm home in the middle of the day. And I'm watching Travel Cafe on the Travel Channel. I'm glad I still check it every now and then despite the constant World Poker Tour crap. They are doing a feature on Switzerland - the areas bordering Italy. I can see what you all are saying.

Thanks again!!
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Old Jun 8th, 2005, 05:38 AM
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What a good thread, lifetravel. One of my favorite things about Switzerland is the scale and the contrasts among the various cantons. In a matter of an hour or so, the scenery, the architecture, the food, even the language changes. The United States is just so vast, and Americans seem to take its magnificent places for granted. When I'm in Switzerland, I feel that its beauty and traditions are treasured and cared for. J.
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