Finally, we got the motivation to finish this long overdue blog from our travel to the famous Swiss Alps. This blog should have happened about three years ago after that trip. Thanks to the hit “Crash Landing
on You” Kdrama where few of the scenes where shot on similar locations we’ve been to. It brought a little bit of nostalgia and the push to write this blog finally happened. World renown Swiss watches – Patek Philippe, Rolex, Piaget, Jaeger Le-Coultre (to name a few), tastiest chocolates whether its homemade or the branded ones, numerous lakes, idyllic sceneries of the Alps — ah I still would like to call it paradise on earth.
It is amazing how this country is so clean; I remember walking into an outdoor shop at Bern to pick-up a portable water filter for our refillable bottles. Yes, to reduce waste & it cost less if you have your own water bottle every time you travel. Anyway, when we were about to pay the item at the counter, the salesperson quickly asked if we were to use it within Switzerland before we could say a word she blurted that we don’t need it there since the water is so clean that you can directly drink from a stream. She saw the look in our face and just smiled politely. We headed out of the shop happy and stunned, like how could this country be so clean? More of a mountain person than a beach person, my heart now belongs to this country.
So from Bellagio, Italy (check out our 16 day Italy Itinerary), we arrived in Lucerne via a 6-hour bus ride. We have been driving around almost our entire travel within Italy, so we took a bus this time. The change in scenery from Italy to Switzerland was notable. The rustic vibe, cypress topped hillsides transitioned into an endless view of snow-capped mountains, Swiss chalets, cows grazing in the meadows with those large bells – all add up to the infectious Alpine charm. And without further ado here’s our 7- day itinerary:
Day 1& 2 Lucerne
Day 3 Bern
Day 4 Interlaken
Day 5 Grindelwald, Murren, Wengen & Lauterbraunnen
Day 6 Zurich
Day 7 Flight to Manila
Day 1 – We arrived late afternoon in Luzern known as the most beautiful city in Switzerland. It was chilly must be the wind coming from Lake Lucerne. Tired from the trip we decided to just head to our Airbnb and rest for the day. One thing we realized was that renting a car is cheaper than taking the train in this city. Surprisingly, lots of locals still take the local commute to & from the city. Still, we decided to rent a car the following day since the upcoming trips are headed to the Alps.
Day 2 – We got up early and explored the city center. First stop was the ancient Chapel Bridge “Kapellbrücke” which was constructed late 1333, one of the oldest in Europe and Switzerland’s main tourist attraction. This bridge connects the old part of town to the new one on the left and served as a fortress against the attackers from the southern part of the lake. As usual we found the old-world charm of old town more appealing as it gives you a sense of how ancient Lucerne operates.
A lot of pastry and cheese eating happened as we passed by the weekend market. Local food is a must-try. Chocoholics beware, the chocolates here are pure heaven even those found in tiny shops. We especially enjoyed the mouth-watering chocolates of Laderach. Chocoholic friends, this is the right time to indulge!
Ah for those of you watch connoisseurs, the streets are filled with watch shops – from the latest to vintage, affordable to the most luxurious. Stepping into Bucherer a Swiss watchmaking manufacturer since 1888 was remarkable because you’ll get to see & buy watch models that are considered rare. Checking the watches was such a treat to the eye though the items come with a hefty price tag. If your goal is to visit this country and buy a swiss watch as one of your souvenirs, might as well give-in since
tourists enjoy a tax-free purchase.
Day 3 – We head out early in our rental car to Bern. The place is just 1.5 hours’ drive away from Lucerne but the views along the way was breathtaking. Since the extra time was intended for countryside appreciation, we did multiple stops on quaint towns and villages. The Alps was remarkable, the green meadows littered not with trash but huge cows with large bells around their neck who seemed to be well acquainted with humans. Not trying to be Dr. Doolittle here but you look at them and they stare at you as if they are saying, “Oh! Hello there. Nice to meet you. Where you from?” You know that scene straight from story books and magazines that says Switzerland? It was all that and more!
Bern, finally we arrived. We headed straight to the old town which was more worthy of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has preserved much of its medieval character – typical cobbled streets, narrow alleys that extend for miles like a maze within a city. Low rise buildings with cafés, bookstores, shops, and restaurants on the lower level. While the upper levels are the residential apartments, & a few offices. We stayed in one of those with a balcony of course. There is nothing more relaxing than sipping coffee on a cold morning on your balcony trying to feel the warmth of the sun (with a little people watching)
Around Bern’s city center, you can visit Albert Einstein’s old apartment in the old town. For all you Einstein fans out there if you happen to be here, take a short tour inside his home (now a museum) and you will get to discover Einstein not printed in books. He did some of his impressive work while living here including the Brownian Motion, the special theory of relativity and E = mc2.
The famous Clock Tower, the 800-year-old Zytglogge, a medieval clock tower made in the 13th century. This is one of the most famous landmarks. Every hour, on the hour, something unique happens to the clock so make sure you are there before it hits a new hour. You will see a 3-minute spectacle of
mechanical creatures that comes out for a little show.
Most of our stay in Bern was spent in and around the old town due to it’s uniqueness in terms of culture and history. Just roaming around town you’ll get to see a number of ancient public fountains. These were built as early as the 16th hundred and still functioning to date. Still useful when you ran out of water. And, yes, they are well maintained with water still potable. So always bring your water bottle!
Day 4 – Ah #CLOY fans if you wish to visit the film’s shoot locations this is where you should probably start. Iseltwald is only about 10 minutes away from here. If you like beautiful landscapes, then make sure to visit this region. Interlaken is world-famous; it is part of the Bernese Oberland region of the Alps situated between two lakes -Thun & Brienz. This is the gateway to the land of mountains, lakes & rivers. Before, the region is famous for watchmaking till it became famous for outdoor activities like mountain paragliding, hiking, canyon jumping & wellness centers. Remember, Yoon Se-Ri’s little paragliding adventure that ended with a kiss from Capt. Ri? If that scene made your heart flutter, the picturesque views itself will add some more.
We went to Interlaken for a mid-morning walk, a mini hike so to speak that ended up with a quick meal say a traditional Swiss Rosti and coffee. This is the swiss version of a classic potato pancake, like a hash brown but better and more filling. Yummier when paired with salmon or poached egg. Our walk around the area was enjoyable. It was fun especially when we chanced upon a Filipino – Swiss owned souvenir shop. And because Pinoy, Ate extended a discount on the items we bought.
Then the drive continued. Again a few stops have been made because everything was just so picturesque, the photos and videos won’t even do justice.
Grindelwald, Murren, Wengen & Lauterbraunnen
Day 5 – We drove to Grindelwald & Lauterbraunnen – some of the most famous Swiss spots in Instagram.
The Alpine life! These areas are probably remote yet hiking and exploring the area whether by foot or train encapsulates the modest Alpine life. These areas turn into ski hotspots during winter. I especially love the hike around Lauterbrunnen, the magnificent Staubbach falls plunging into the village itself visible on the roadway is quite an attraction.
Other towns were explored via train, you may opt for a cable car but either way the ride is guaranteed beautiful. The cows, villages of narrow streets, beautiful swiss chalets set among alpine meadows, the multitude of wildflowers – how can we not forget them! Altogether, they looked like post cards from heaven.
From here we, decided to take the last train trip to Jung Fraujoch – the highest train station in the world. We could have taken an earlier train, but it took us time to decide because the train ticket is too expensive. We happened to be there towards the end of the high season, on average the ticket costs around CHF 210 – 235 per person. Since we are already in Switzerland, we decided to just go for it. The views and experience are worth it.
Capt. Ri famously quotes, “sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right direction”. There are actually several entry points when taking the cogwheel train to Jung Fraujoch, yet all trains lead to the same endpoint – Jung Fraujoch Observatory. Technically, all trains point you to the right direction. Remember that scene when the three of them boarded the same train?
Also, you will find one Lindt Chocolate factory inside the observatory which will give you a unique experience. Just imagine chocolates done above 3,454 sea level in the middle of nowhere. Temperature is freezing atop, so might as well take a sip of hot chocolate before hopping on the train before going
Day 6 – We drove to Zurich in preparation for our flight home the next day. Upon arrival, we explored the city center but mostly spent our time on the old town of Zurich. Then again, it pays to bring a water bottle with you since an order for tap water inside a restaurant is charged for three euros each. So, #CLOY fans if you’re wondering where that piano scene where Yoon Se-Ri mistakenly thought of the pianist as Capt. Ri, that was done in Zurich.
Our last day was spent doing last minute chocolate buying and we found out that supermarkets or groceries offer bigger discounts. Like who would not hoard on chocolates, ayt? Later that night, we met with an old friend who works for a tech company and capped off the night with food and loads of Swiss beer.
Day 7 – Return flight