For lack of anything much to photograph and write about at this time, I went nostalgic, and decided to look back to what is perhaps my most cherished trip, so far. I then dug into my archive of pictures that my wife and I took at that time.
It was spring of 2008 in the country officially named as Confodoratio Helvetica (CH), but more known the world over for their meadows, cows, milk, cheese, chocolates, the Alps, their watches, their knives and of course, the yodellers…Switzerland.
My wife was working there temporarily for quite some time, and so I went there to visit her, and at the same time to get a feel for a country that ordinary Filipinos like myself, generally don’t know much about.
It was May 16 when I arrived at my entry point, the Zurich Flughafen (Zurich Airport in English). I passed through immigration quickly, and after meeting my wife who was waiting outside, we immediately walked to the train station at the airport and headed to the city’s main station, the Zurich Hauptbahnhof (or HB as the locals call it, pronounced as “ha-be”). There we bought a Swisspass for myself, from the office of the SBB (the country’s primary railway company).
The Swisspass gave me an unlimited number of rides on all public transportation (train, tram, bus, and even boat) in the entire country, for 8 days. Priced at an equivalent of 20,000 Philippine Pesos, it cost an arm an a leg, but it did save me from a lot of hassles, especially since I was totally ignorant of their fare and ticketing system (which is ages ahead of how we do it here in Pinas), and assured me that I could roam to my heart’s content for the next week and a day, sans that arm and leg.
After spending a short while to freshen-up, we immediately headed out, to start the conquest of Switzerland. No time to waste, since I was only visiting for several days.
The city of Zurich sits at one end of the Zurichsee (Lake Zurich), and the order for my first day was to travel by boat to the small town at the other end of the lake, Rapperswil. From my wife’s apartment we took a train to Stadelhofen, a rather artsy looking train station one stop away from the HB. From Stadelhofen we walked a short distance to Bellevue, one of the larger tram stations in the city (along with Paradeplatz and Central). From there, I took my first tram ride to Burkliplatz, a small park close to the lake where the boat station was.
When we got to Burkliplatz however, we found that the boat that was doing the round trips to Rapperswil was not yet due to arrive for some time. We then decided to use the available time to visit two significant places nearby, Grossmunster and Fraumunster.
A short tram ride took us right infront of the Grossmunster, a large church dating back to the medieval times. Kept clean and well preserved, the two spires of this church are among the landmarks of Zurich’s skyline. In front of the Grossmunster, across the river Limmat which cuts through the city, is another significant landmark (which is also a church), the Fraumunster. The green roof of it’s single spire is immediately noticeable even from afar. Another significant church within walking distance is St. Peter’s, but we didn’t have time to go there.
After snapping a few pictures of these churches, we immediately headed back to Burkliplatz, to catch our boat. The boat ride itself was a very pleasant one, and allowed me to get a very good view of the villages around the lake. What struck me here was how clean and green the place was. The lake is dotted with villages, yet I can still see a lot of green all around, a perfect picture of how human habitation should blend with nature, not clash with it.
About an hour later, we were already at Rapperswil, a small medieval town with an overlooking castle that looks like it hasn’t changed much since the middle ages. It was a very compact town, we could walk from one end to the other without losing breath, yet the architecture of the buildings and streets loudly screams of “Old Europe!”.
We spent a couple of hours in the town, enough time to go inside the castle, and then stroll along the narrow streets. Our last stop was a very long wooden footbridge that connected Rapperswil to another town across the lake. After one full afternoon acquianting myself with this far-away country, we were on the train back to Zurich, and retired back to the apartment for dinner.
The destination for the following day is the federal capital, Bern. That will be part 2 of my story.
* We visited Rapperswil on May 2008. Photos taken by me with my Nikon L3, and by my wife with her Sony DSC T300