FROM a lofty Alpine summit look down upon this land,
It lies there like a volume all written by God’s hand;
The mountains are the letters, as leaves the fields unroll,
Saint Gothard is only an asterisk in this gigantic scroll.
And they who join in the chorus are surely of heavenly birth
~ Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg
Have you ever been on the receiving end of picture post-cards – sometimes carrying a detailed message – sometime a brief one? Possibly, could you be one of those who take time out to buy picture post-cards at whichever place you visit, and promptly send to all the near & dear ones (just to make it clear – to the ones not travelling with you; you would agree it would be useless spending money for sending such post cards to your fellow travellers!)?
Well, either way, irrespective of the length of the message scrolled at the back of the post card, a common way to end these is with a simple “Wish you were here”!
Now imagine, you get to enter into one such picture post-cards.
Difficult to imagine? I am sure your answer would be, No! After all imagination is something all of us human beings are comfortably capable of.
Possible to enter such picture post-cards? For a muggle, not a believer in the magic world of Harry Potter, if you are a polite person, your answer would be an emphatic NO. For those otherwise inclined, the counter-question to me would be, have you gone off in your head?
Well, not really, because I have been into a land which is nothing short of a picture post-card.
As a result, when those nice people at www.yatra.com decided to run this contest called "Creating Happy Travellers", I could think of no other place but this one.
Land-locked, situated at a height amidst the mountainous region of Alps and its valleys, here exists a part of this earth, which is nothing short of natural beauty personified, and further enhanced by human efforts. This is a country, which Bollywood has made us Indians dream of romancing in.
Yes, this is about Switzerland – A country which inspired Thomas Campbell to go absolutely lyrical as he wrote
It was Sunset, ……
And tinged the lakes like molten gold below.
Its flush of love, with consentaneous glow.
Switzerland is where the nature can be seen in its resplendent glory – perhaps because the human beings have respected it enough and have styled their life so as to preserve its bounty. Be it snow-clad mountain peaks or the valleys – ever smiling in the language of flowers or the huge lakes inviting those at the banks to take a cruise to experience how free breeze feels like; Switzerland has it all, like the garden of Eden, without a lurking snake though, for making an entire family happy.
The best way to tour this lovely country is through its vast & very efficient rail network – whose punctuality & cleaniliness could come as a shock to most of us Indians. (Ain ji, trainen itni saaf bhi ho sakti hain?).
So, this is what we would do first, to pick up a Swiss rail pass for the family, and then, off we go, to celebrate a vacation that has no parallel in the world.
If you find time from the pampering that the train staff gives you, including providing a live music performance, the view outside could be as varied as from the view of lake & mountains overlooking the train to the train overlooking a street where houses resemble a Lego-land.
Lugano also provides one of the best vantage point for the breath-taking landscape of southern Switzerland with a lake straddled by the mountains on one side, and a bi-secting drive through that takes you further down into Italy.
The view, available from San Salvatore, can be accessed by reaching the top through a funicular - which while taking you to the top, also provides a lovely view of the Lugano town.
Situated amidst Alps, the country naturally provide a choice to those who are interested in experiencing being on top of the snow-clad mountains - without having mountaineering skills & the preferred destinations are Mount Titlis & Jungfrau.
Of course, for those, inclined for a bit more adventure, there are also opportunities to go for skiing destination around. The truth is, a few hours spent in those lovely mountains can create an impression that may last lifelong, and no one would be surprised by your reciting the poem by Johann Uhland:
|The mountain is my own domain:
|It calls its storms from sea and plain;
|From north to south they howl afar;
|My voice is heard amid their war.
|The mountain boy am I!
If the end of one of the most ardous rail journeys in the world through these mountains has left you tired, there is always a cruise through lake Lucern, to refresh the body and the mind.
Lucern lake and the city at its banks, is one one of the most romantic locations in Switzerland, inspiring someone like William Bowles to write:
SHORES of Lucerne! where many a winding bay
Shone beauteous to the morn’s returning ray;
Where rosy tints upon the blue lake shone,
And touched the rock with colors not their own;
A perfect trip any day would end with a stroll around one of numerous small lakes, with setting sun, spraying its beams, making the shadows longer. Yet, in a land like this, melancholy would be far, far away
These scenes, these sounds,
could many a joy impart,
With sadness mixed.
The wandering youth, whose heart
Was sick with many sorrows,
resting here At such an hour,
forgot his starting tear;
This setting Sun, would be the cue for me to send a picture post-card from this land of beauty to all you at www.yatra.com and the only thing scrolled at the back of the card would be:
Thank you for making me go down my memory lane for taking this journey.
Wish, you were here too!