I must admit, the only thing I really knew about Switzerland growing up was that it was neutral. In comparison to other countries in Europe, it never received much attention. So when my aunt and uncle moved to Switzerland, I was motivated to learn more about this small but amazing country. Little did I know that I would one day find myself there. While most people would tend to think of Geneva or Zurich when they think of Switzerland, I was lucky to see a lesser known but still stunning part. Since I was visiting my family, I was able to see Switzerland from a different perspective. One of my favorite things about traveling is immersing myself in the culture, and I have found the best way to do that is living like the locals and getting to know them.
Here are some of my favorite things about Switzerland:
- The landscape. Switzerland is an absolutely beautiful country. From the architecture to the Alps, to the endless fields and vineyards, I was amazed at how picturesque the country was.
- My aunt and uncle lived near Rolle, Switzerland. Rolle is a tiny village located on the northwestern shore of Lake Geneva between Nyon and Lausanne. Rolle is approximately 30 kilometers northeast of Geneva. One of the best parts of staying here was the view of the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva.
- The people! My aunt and uncle’s neighbors were extremely nice and welcoming. I’ve never met locals as friendly as I did in Switzerland. They would come over to see how we were liking the country and even offered to let us drive their cars if we wanted. The driving part would have been interesting as the house was situated on the side of a hill and the streets were narrow and steep to drive up, but their offer was much appreciated.
- Staying with a local. This made our trip so much more fun because my aunt and uncle knew their way around and drove us. Having people who knew the area was a huge bonus, especially when they drove us to Germany (discussed later).
- Lausanne was a favorite stop. Here we visited the Chateau De Chillon. Chillon is amongst the most visited castles in Switzerland and Europe. It is also known to be the inspiration behind the castle in The Little Mermaid movie. A great love of mine is history so I enjoyed touring this castle and would definitely recommend it.
- We walked around and got a taste of the French aspect of Lausanne. One of the interesting things about Switzerland is that it is divided into distinct cultural areas: French, German, Italian, and Romansh. Each area thus speaks its own form of the language as well as having traditional architecture of those areas. It was fascinating as we drove through the country to suddenly see the architecture and signs change, signaling you had entered into a different cultural part of the country. This aspect of Switzerland made it unique and added a different sense of charm.
- If you get the chance, I would recommend either driving though the country or taking a train through it. I would recommend this for any part of Europe really, but as stated previously, seeing the changes within Switzerland itself was something most countries don’t have.
While visiting my family, they drove us to Fussen, Germany. This area is famous for housing the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. While somewhat out of the way, touring these castles was one of my favorite parts of this European trip. The history behind the castles and their formation was fascinating, as was the location chosen. Inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland, Neuschwanstein was a sight to behold. We stayed at a hotel in Fussen that night, and I was able to have my first German beer at a local bar, a staple experience if you are in Germany.
That wraps up the first part of this European tour. We also went to Rome, which will have its own post, so be sure to check that one out too!