Switzerland Done Quickly
Time is flying by so quickly- it feels like I just arrived here in Milan, and now school will be over in around a hundred days! I know this is a special time in my life* so I want to preserve everything and savour my time of independence in Europe!**
I've never read any books or watched any movies or learned anything in school about Switzerland, so I had zero expectations when my three friends and I went to Switzerland very briefly last month. These three friends of mine (hello Reg, Donna, and Kat!) held actual meetings in Manila to plan their Swiss trip flawlessly and I just happily tagged along (like the useful friend that I am hehehe).
We took the train to Luzern from Milano and it was treacherously long! But we had a lot of fun because we had so much catching up to do, played charades very loudly (#mature) and were also very entertained by all the views (we watched snow fall).
About the train:
>We rode TRENITALIA from Milano to Lucerne. It cost us only Php 472.50 (I'm referring to the perfect excel sheet my friends made! Thank you so much, my beautiful friends!) because tickets were purchased way in advance. You can buy tickets online, and the train ride was around 4 hours long. Note that there are many stops that may make you question if you should get down already (LuzernSomething, LuzernSomethingElse) get down ONLY at the stop that says ONLY LUZERN -- this sounds so silly but had I been traveling alone and sleepy, I might have gotten down at the wrong Luzern-seeming stop.
>If you suffer from "biyahilo" -- remember to bring anti-biyahilo medicines. You might also want to make sure the seats you book are front-facing.
>If you are traveling alone, it would be best to bring a book to pass the time.
>There is food available for sale on the train and prices are pretty fair.
>Weather in Switzerland is different from the weather in Milan, so pack smart!
We arrived in Lucerne at a little past 7 pm. At the train station, we were greeted by the sweetest grandma-type lady in a tourism volunteer's vest who asked us if we needed any help. She taught us how to go to our hotel, Best Western Krohne. (This was a remarkable experience for me because I don't think this would ever happen in Manila or Milano, hahaha unless it was a scam... maybe in Tokyo this could be legit too LOL)
Once we got out of the station, I saw Lucerne for the very first time and OMG it was really the most enchanting thing ever -- this city overlooking a gorgeous river with all the lights twinkling and cobblestones underfoot and large lampposts everywhere.
The hotel is situated in the Old Town -- a really fairytale-looking place! If you've been to Disneyland Hong Kong, hahaha, the princessy town there is EXACTLY like Old Town, except of course Old Town is not Disneyland but the real world and the shops sell things a lot more interesting than keychains and stuffed toys (and the shopgirls aren't as friendly as those in Disneyland haha)
This is me being very happy in our hotel (which was a nice change from my student accommodation here in Milan. hehe)
About the hotel:
>Best Western Krohne was super-clean and the price was really fair! Our room was HUGE (four girls in one room! SLEEPOVER!!!) and cost Php 7,584 per person for a whole THREE NIGHTS. Breakfast was free! Location was also really nice -- only a short distance from beautiful Reuss river where we saw swans and ducks swimming and going about their daily business (if you love looking at animals like I do, this will keep you occupied and happy for more than a few hours).
We had two things to do: (1) take the Lake Lucerne cruise and (2) hang out at Mt. Titlis.
About the activities:
>Our concierge directed us to this tourist's info desk where the lady told us about the Tell Pass. Said pass allows you to do all sorts of activities and take all sorts of transportation for a certain number of days. We used this pass for both our Lake Lucerne cruise & our day at Mt. Titlis. Find out more about it here.
About the cruise:
It was a brief boat ride (2 hours for the return trip) and there's a restaurant where you can eat. We only discovered halfway through the trip that sitting outside is a lot more fun than sitting inside, so do that. I know a cruise might sound boring but it was actually really fun and a nice way to get some watery air (Milan is landlocked). Lake Lucerne was terribly beautiful, too!
The next day, we went to Mt. Titlis and spent the whole day (not joking) tubing down the snow. Hahaha! You may also opt to ski or snowboard.
I tried tubing headfirst and it was so much fun I got my friends to do it, too! Haha
Being annoying hehe
Mt. Titlis also has an ice cave (boring and manmade) and a cliff walk (which was closed the day we visited due to weather conditions). Note that both of these activities are also covered by your TellPass.
After each cold day we would trudge home to the Old Town and look for someplace to eat. On the first night, we ate at Zunfthausrestaurant Pfistern; for the next two nights, we ate at Restaurant Fritschi! Fondue is seriously the loveliest thing to eat in cold Switzerland with a lot of wine and wonderful friends. I recommend roesti, too.
Other things to note:
>We noticed that our Swiss meals cost 1.5x those of our Italian meals
>Switzerland is seriously the safest place in world -- only in Switzerland was I able to purposely leave my things unattended!
>Be very careful traveling to and from Switzerland -- when riding the train, watch out for shady denizens who take advantage of the boarding kerfuffle to try to steal your things. We encountered a pair of women (they appeared to be of Eastern European descent) in civilian clothing as we were boarding the train to leave Switzerland and go to Venice. They helped us drag our luggage up into the train and were suspiciously volunteering to help us put our luggage into the luggage racks. They also discouraged us from loading our luggage onto the overhead luggage compartments (the ones atop our seats). When we said that we were doing okay on our own and that we didn't need their help, thank you, they then asked to see a copy of our tickets (as if they were official train employees) -- and got frustrated when we refused. Another traveller (an Asian man) came along and they were "helping" him with his luggage but he immediately shooed them away. Later on my friend Reg realized that had she opened her bag to show them our tickets, they would have had easier access to the contents of her sling, and we might have ended up being robbed.
>You might want to visit the Lion Monument, but if you are traveling without a tour guide it will be very boring to look at if you do not know what it is about -- read about it here.
All in all, it was a really beautiful city!!! Especially at night!
*Well, I really hope that this will be a special time -- in the sense that I will go back to Manila and live happily ever after and just recall my sweet Milanese adventure through hazy and loving eyes as I head to work everyday and brave the Manila heat traffic. Hahaha! As opposed to staying here, braving another @#$%ing winter, taking care of my bratty self, living alone with no one to harass in the evenings hahaha HELLO SIS, and dreaming about the life I used to live in Manila. haha but don't get me wrong, I love living in Milan.. I will be writing about Milan soon
**Savor, she says! haha! let's see how I'll feel if i do end up living here, hahaha :p