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The Swiss Honeymoon



By Sanhati Banerjee

With its quintessential charm of the queenly Alps, the pulsating stream of waterfalls and lakes to the geographical wonder of glaciers, it’s appealing reservoir of folk traditions and music, a charming offering of Alpine farming to travellers, not to forget the world famous Swiss chocolates and cheese, it’s no wonder that Switzerland is a top destination for honeymoons from all over the world.

There’s no Alpine experience quite like Switzerland, with the Alps’ dramatic snow-capped peaks, historic castles, emerald green valleys, and quaint medieval villages, you may forget all about the adventurous skiing that awaits you. Switzerland borders France in the West, Germany in the north, Austria and the principality of Liechtenstein in the east and Italy in the south and is that magical-romantic European honeymoon destination that you might have been dreaming about since you started dreaming about love!

What to Do

Here’s a list of activities that you can indulge in. Lots of honeymooners love to learn a new sport or participate in an adventure sport for that adrenaline rush and there’s no place to ski quite like the Swiss Alps, say travellers after partaking of this exhilarating experience. After that super thrilling skiing session, you can take a ride through mountain railway and soak in the glistening beauty of the glaciers! For yet more, go explore the metropolitan hubbub that Zurich is with its reverberating architecture serenaded in a romantic charm all through.

Enjoy world-class skiing: Make your way to Zermatt, and while there, ride up to the Matterhorn glacier paradise in the highest cable car in Europe for the best views in the country. After a long day of skiing, find a cosy lodge to warm up and cuddle in.

Ride the glacier express: After you’re skied out, take a ride through the untouched mountain valleys by mountain railway. Or ride the SBB train to Broc, home of the Nestle factory; swing through Montreux to see the Chateau de Chillon (the most notable castle in the country); then eat your way through Gruyeres and its many cheese factories.

Explore Zurich: Located just north of the Alps, Zurich is a metropolis set amongst lush mountains and the blue River Limmat. There, you’ll find a plethora of arts and culture -- Zurich is home to 20 museums and 100 galleries and houses some interesting examples of design and architecture, including the Fraumünster church houses and stunning Chagall-designed stained glass windows.

The Swiss Summer Destinations – Places to Visit

Zermatt

The location of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn and in the middle of an enormous hiking and ski region makes it one of the world’s most attractive vacation villages. The ski region encompasses 63 mountain railways and 360 kilometres of pistes. The region called “Matterhorn glacier paradise” is Europe’s largest and highest lying summer skiing region. The region is legendary amongst mountaineers: the Haute Route, a challenging international route that takes several days to complete, leads from Mont Blanc to Zermatt. Over 400 kilometres of hiking trails lead through and out of the Matter Valley, including the mule traders’ trails, which date back to the 13th century (a part of these paths is paved).

Walking, cycling, climbing and high-Alpine tours are popular activities in summer and autumn. Every year, the four-thousand-metre summits attract many Alpinists. 400-km-of walking trails also guide guests who are not overly adept at climbing through the mountainscape around Zermatt.

The cog railway operates between Zermatt and the 3089-metre-high Gornergrat. The summit offers spectacular views of the Matterhorn, the glaciers and the Monte-Rosa massif.

Tourist Attractions

  • GornergratA cog railway wends its way up the mountain to an altitude of 3089 metres; a magnificent panorama.
  • Matterhorn Museum It houses the items of equipment used during the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 which ended tragically.
  • Glacier Paradise / Klein MatterhornThe highest place in Europe (3883 m), able to be reached by a cableway, with a viewing platform and the highest glacier palace in the world.
  • Gorner Gorge A footpath across narrow bridges and steps as well as a fixed rope route guide visitors through the deeply scarped gorge.
  • Village of FindelnThe original Valais settlement with a small chapel; it has Switzerland’s highest rye crop fields at an altitude of 2100 metres.

Events Calendar

  • Horu Trophy Zermatt - The Horu Trophy is one of Europe’s largest Open Air Curling-Tournaments (January)
  • Swatch Skiers Cup - 16 of the best Freeriders and Freestyler face each other in two teams (February)
  • 1st Matterhorn Ultraks – Ski tour races in breathtaking mountain scenery (April)
  • Zermatt Unplugged – International stars at the Matterhorn (April)
  • Raiffeisen Open - International Tennis Tournament (June/July)
  • Matterhorn Eagle Cup – Golf Tournament in the alpine landscape of the Gornergrat region (July)
  • Swiss Food Festival – Feasting at the highest level (August)
  • Folklore Festival – Grand Folklore Pageant in the Village (August)
  • Zermatt Festival – The classical music and arts festival with soloists and ensembles of the Berlin Philharmonics (August/September)

Lucrene

Historic houses decorated with frescoes line the picturesque town squares as they do the ‘Weinmarkt’ square in the car-free old town. Lucerne is a city of town squares and churches. The Jesuit church dating from the 17th century is regarded as Switzerland’s first sacral Baroque building and the twin towers of the Hofkirche form an integral part of the townscape. The figure of a dying lion which was hewn from the face of rock in remembrance of the heroic death of Swiss guards killed during an attack on the Tuileries in 1792 is one of the best-known monuments in Switzerland. And with its 112-metre-long Bourbaki panorama, Lucerne possesses one of the world’s few maintained, mammoth circular paintings.

Tradition and modernity stand side-by-side with ease in Lucerne, as the town has also earned a reputation for itself with innovative design. The futuristic Culture and Convention Centre (KKL), designed by the leading French architect Jean Nouvel, is one of the architectural highlights of the town. The KKL is also a landmark of Lucerne: Festival City and the venue for a wide variety of cultural events throughout the year.

Lucerne is the ideal starting point for many excursions to the highlights of central Switzerland. A trip up one of Lucerne’s regional mountains, the Pilatus or the Rigi – the queen of mountains – is a must. But excursions up onto the Stanserhorn, the Bürgenstock or a steamship cruise on Lake Lucerne with its many bends and arms are certainly no less worthy. The Wilhelm Tell Express originates in Lucerne and ferries its passengers to the foot of the Gotthard pass via Lake Lucerne and then continues by rail into Ticino, south of the Alpine ridge. The Cherry Road leads from Lucerne through the landscape of cheery trees and kirsch.

Tourist Attractions

  • Chapel BridgeOne of Europe’s oldest wooden bridges and the landmark of Lucerne, faithfully restored to its original design after a serious fire.
  • Culture and Convention Centre of Lucerne (KKL)It is a large concert auditorium, the convention centre and the art museum under its imposing roof.
  • Swiss Museum of TransportOne of the most diverse museums in Europe for transport and communication and the most-frequented museum in Switzerland; it has its own IMAX cinema on site.
  • Lake LucerneThe scenic beauty of the lake can be discovered on the many different cruises offered by paddlewheel steamers and motor vessels.
  • Pilatus, Rigi, StanserhornThese sites offer excursionson mountains made accessible by cableways, offering up picture-book panoramas of the regions around Lucerne.

Events Calendar

  • Lucerne FestivalSeveral concerts of classical music of a world-class standard, held throughout the year (Easter, summer, November)
  • LuzernerFasnachtOne of the most original and colourful carnival events in Switzerland (February)
  • FumettoInternational Comics FestivalIt presents comic art from the avant-garde and independent scene every spring (April)
  • Blue Balls FestivalAn important music festival in Switzerland; international stars take to the stage in lakeside venues and in the Culture and Convention Centre (July)
  • Summer Night Festival (Luzernfest)Music and stands around the lakeside as well as magnificent fireworks attract tens of thousands of eager onlookers from throughout Switzerland to Lucerne (August)
  • Lucerne Blues FestivalEvery year, aficionados of culture and music lovers eagerly await the release of the programme for the Blues Festival in the Grand Casino Lucerne (November)

Basel

Basel is Switzerland’s oldest University City. Historic landmarks of the city include the large market square with its richly decorated red sandstone town hall and the late Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. During a walk through the old town, past small boutiques, antique book shops but also shops of modern designers, a visit to the LäckerliHuus to try the traditional Basel honey cake is well worth your while. Basel is tradition-conscious and open-minded at the same time, a fact borne out by several modern buildings designed by renowned architects such as Herzog & de Meuron, Mario Botta, Diener&Diener and Richard Meyer.

Almost 40 museums make Basel the city with the highest density of museums in the country. Internationally known museums, such as the Basel Art Museum, the museum devoted to the iron sculptor Jean Tinguely, the FondationBeyeler and the Museum of Cultures attract a great many visitors, as do several galleries and playhouses. Basel is among other things home to the symphony orchestra and the chamber orchestra as well as the musical theatre featuring international productions. And a wide range of classical and contemporary productions are shown on the stages of the Basel Theatre and the Playhouse.

Basel is a green city. The Botanical Gardens, several parks and the banks of the Rhine are perfect places to relax and linger for a while. And the Etoscha House at the biggest zoo in Switzerland offers spectacular insights into the Namibian Savannah.

At nearby Augusta Raurica near Augst impressive ruins and a great many finds at the museum bear testimony to the busy lives of the Romans in the region in the past. The charming countryside of the Basel region with its many cherry trees in spring boasts a particularly beautiful display of blooms. Germany and France, the Black Forest and Vosges Mountains are only a stone’s throw away from the border city of Basel.

Tourist Attractions

  • Basel Art Museum - One of the oldest public art collections and biggest Holbein collection in the world.
  • Jean Tinguely Museum - The glass hall as designed by the Ticino architect Mario Botta and houses the unique metal sculptures by Tinquely.
  • Fondation Beyeler – A variety of art collections and special exhibitions are displayed in the 127-metre-long modern building designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.
  • Museum of Cultures - One of the biggest collections in Europe devoted to life in European and non-European cultures.
  • Zoological Gardens - About 600 animal species housed in eleven hectares of grounds featuring exotic flora right in the heart of the city.
  • Musical Theatre Basel - delights a wide audience with extravagant productions of international musicals.
  • Rhine Cruises – Boat excursions provide opportunities for views of the city from the Rhine and operate all the way to the big freight ports of Basel and Rheinfelden.

Events Calendar

  • Basel Fasnacht (Carnival) - Once a year, the cultural city loses its head and spends three days celebrating the biggest street party (February/March).
  • Baselworld- At the worldwide leading watch and jewellery fair, international companies provide an insight into current trends (March/April).
  • Art BaselThe exhibition with art from the 20th century is regarded as an important world fair of the international art market (June).

Lake Geneva

The symbol of the world’s smallest metropolis is the “Jet d’eau” – a fountain with a 140-metre-high water jet at the periphery of Lake Geneva. Most of the large hotels and many restaurants are situated on the right-hand shore of the lake. The old town, the heart of Geneva with the shopping and business quarter, holds sway over the left-hand shore. It is dominated by St. Peter’s Cathedral, however the actual centre of the old town is the Place du Bourg-de-Four, which is the oldest square in the city. Quays, lakeside promenades, countless parks, lively side streets in the old town and elegant shops invite guests to stroll. One of the best-maintained streets is the Grand-Rue, where Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born. The mouettes, a type of water taxi, enable crossings to be made from one lakeshore to the other, while larger vessels invite visitors to enjoy cruises on Lake Geneva.

Geneva is Switzerland’s most international city, as it is where the European seat of the UNO is based. Even the International Red Cross directs its humanitarian campaigns from here. Geneva is also a centre for culture and history for trade fairs and exhibitions. The HorlogeFleuri, the large flower clock in the “JardinAnglais” (English Garden), is a world-renowned symbol of the Geneva watch industry.

Culturally, this city on the westernmost fringe of Switzerland has much to offer. International artists perform in the Grand Théâtre and Geneva Opera House, and an extremely diverse range of museums such as the “Musée international de l’horlogerie”, a watch museum with a collection of jewellery watches and musical clocks, and the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which provides an insight into the work of these humanitarian organisations, invite city guests to visit them.

A rewarding excursion destination is Mont Salève, which is situated in neighbouring France. The cableway lifts visitors to an altitude of 1100 metres in less than five minutes, giving rise to outstanding vistas across the city of Geneva, Lake Geneva, the chain of Alps, the Jura and Montblanc.

Tourist Attractions

  • Jet d’eauVisible from afar, the 140-metre-high water jet is the ‘landmark’ of Geneva.
  • St. Pierre Cathedral The north tower of the three-naved basilica in the old town of Geneva offers up a unique vista over the city and lake.
  • Palace of the United NationsOn passing through the paled gate of the Palace of the UNO, visitors enter international territory.
  • International Museum of the Red Crossthe birthplace of the International Red Cross houses the only museum dedicated to the history and work of this organisation.
  • Cruises on Lake Geneva from the cruise boats, visitors can marvel at the unique scenery of castles and magnificent residences set against wonderful landscape and mountain panoramas.

Customs and Traditions

Musical, Sporting, Pastoral, Cultural & Culinary Interests

The Swiss have always maintained and nurtured their own local customs, and because of this, Switzerland is a country with an enormous wealth of cultural activity and living tradition.

Music

The most commonly heard musical instruments include the “Schwyzerörgeli” (accordion), the violin, bass violin, clarinet and, in certain regions, the dulcimer or Trümpi (Jew’s harp). Alpine folk music developed with the unwritten transfer of skills and compositions over generations, decades and even centuries. The oldest known Kuhreihen (rounds) are from Appenzell and were recorded in 1545. The Alphorn, so typically Swiss was originally a musical and signalling instrument used by the herdsmen and the many yodeling choirs that have been formed since the 19th century. In general, Switzerland has an extensive amateur music scene, and in virtually every village there is at least a choir or a brass band.

Alpine Farming & Cheese

Alpine farming has a long history. It is believed that the pastures above the tree line were being farmed as far back as 4,000 BC.

The production of cheese in the summer enabled people to preserve milk and stockpile it for the long winter months. The practice of Alpine farming gave birth to various customs such as the festive processions up into the Alps and down from the mountains, the call to prayer, the Älplerchilbi carnival and the Chästteilet cheese sharing - traditions that have been carefully maintained to this day. From a distance, Alpine life looks romantic: cow bells, a blade of grass in the mouth, unlimited nature, sunsets over the mountain tops and candles on a wooden table. But on a closer scrutiny, the labour behind this production of love and behind this lifestyle becomes evident. From a culinary point of view, Alpine farming produces a variety of the finest Alp cheeses - a protected and cherished rarity. It is still produced in smoky mountain huts and made by hand from fresh milk.

Sporting Customs

For a long time, Swiss sports customs were eclipsed by international types of sport - but recently, they have come back into their own.

While regional and local sporting traditions have often been neglected, there are some sports that have enjoyed increasing popularity. Major events such as the Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival ESAF are increasing in popularity; in 2010, the festival reached a new record with 250,000 visitors and became the largest Schwingen festival ever held. It is worth noting that no additional police were needed for the maintenance of order, and the authority of the public address announcer was sufficient. At these multi-day festive occasions, athletic wrestlers, sturdy boulder throwers and strong Hornussen players gave of their best - all to the accompaniment of yodel choirs and accordion orchestras.

Festivals and Folklore

The festivals celebrated in Switzerland differ considerably depending on the season and the region. Some are based on ancient traditions while others have emerged only recently. Many of them reflect the course of the agricultural year, such as the ringing in of the vineyard workers in spring, the Alpine ascent and descent during the summer months, and the wine festivals, the Chästeilet cheese sharing and the Älplerchilbi carnivals in autumn. Because there was less for farmers to do in winter than in other seasons, there were more celebrations and customs during this time. Even today, the expulsion of winter and of evil spirits and demons forms part of the tradition - a tradition that is linked to the numerous carnival and year-end ceremonies. Other celebrations recall historical events such as important victories in historical battles.

Spring Customs

In Zurich, the winter officially ends with the traditional “Sechseläuten” holiday which literally means the ringing of the six o’clock bells and is usually on the third Sunday/Monday in April (one week later if it happens to coincide with Easter). The famous Sechseläuten dates back to 1818, when a guild (trade association) was first formed and held night-time processions - on horseback and with a musical accompaniment. By the following year, there were already several guilds parading through the town to music and carrying flares, and by 1820 there were initial signs of a coordinated procession. The first Sechseläuten procession took place in 1839, with all the guilds taking part. Since 1862, the Sechseläuten has culminated in the burning of the giant ‘Böögg’, an-80-kg ‘snowman’ over three metres tall which is filled with fireworks and set alight at 18:00 hours sharp. When the head of the Böögg explodes, it signals the official end of winter. Tradition has it that the quicker it explodes, the hotter and longer the summer will be. Other spring customs that create a regional spectacle every year include the rousing Chalandamarz bell procession in the Engadin valley, the Vignolage ceremony in Sierre accompanied by pipes and drums, the singing children at the Feuillu parade in Cartigny, and the Auffahrts-Umrittprocession in Beromünster. The Eierläset egg race festival is an ancient spring tradition and fertility ritual to banish the winter practised by local gymnastics clubs in many villages in the cantons of Aargau, Solothurn and Basel-Land.

Watch Making Industry

For half a millennium the Swiss watch industry has enjoyed a good reputation. Today, 95% of Swiss watches are destined for export and the watch industry is a key export industry. The textile crafts industry also has an eventful past. A few areas, thanks to advanced technology have enjoyed worldwide attention in haute couture, and the once popular textile handicrafts have found a niche for themselves.

Many sectors of the crafts industry, such as wood sculpture, furniture painting and farmers’ ceramics are closely connected with the history of Swiss Tourism. As ambassadors, they influenced the image that countless tourists to the Alps had of Switzerland in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Culinary Heritage

Food in Switzerland is a potpourri of influences from various countries. It combines the cuisines of its neighbours and creates from them a local cuisine with local ingredients.

There are a few dishes and specialities, such as fondue, Älplermagronen and chocolate, that are typical of Switzerland, but there is no real Swiss cuisine to speak of. There is a cuisine with Bernese Platter and Bernese Rösti. A cuisine with Vaud sausage and leeks.A cuisine with St GallenRibelmais and whitefish from Lake Constance. The Valais is famous for its raclette, Graubünden for its capuns, Zurich for its Geschnetzeltes, Lucerne for its Chügelipastete and Ticino for its Mortadella und Luganighe. You will find sausage everywhere – Switzerland is home to almost 350 different varieties. And that is - in terms of land area - clearly a world record. And incidentally, while not quite the world leader, the Swiss wines are well on the way there. Besides the well-known classics, Switzerland provides for unique tasting pleasure with its new types of wine and development of indigenous varieties.

Summer Customs

There are many different local festivals in summer as well. Some of them are linked to the Leben auf der Alp celebration of Alpine life, which is heralded in many places at the beginning of summer with a jubilant ascent of the Alps and ends with a festive Alpine descent and other events at the end of the summer. On 1st August, the people of Switzerland celebrate Swiss National Day, which is a real rarity in that it is one of the few holidays which is exceptional because it is not just regional. Up and down the country there are speeches; firework displays and parties, all accompanied by the waving of flags and the lighting of lanterns in the mountains.

The regional highlights in the summer months also include festivals featuring animal entertainment, with the WalliserKuhkämpfe cow fighting festivals in Valais, the traditional shepherds’ festival on the Gemmi mountain pass with dancing, yodelling and flocks of sheep hungry for salt, and the Marché-Concours in Saignelégier, a show-jumping tournament with Freiberg horses and a spectacular procession.

The increasingly popular midsummer festivals in the Lake Geneva area start from the middle of August onwards – in Taveyanne (Gryon), at Lake Lioson (Les Mosses), in St-Cergue and Isenau (Les Diablerets). There are church services, concerts, folk dances, beauty pageants for cows and torchlit processions.

These events are a must for lovers of the mountain culture and folklore of the herdsmen and dairy farmers where they can soak in the cordial atmosphere, enjoy the unhurried pace, and sample a wide range of tasty regional products. The summer is also high season for wrestling tournaments, mountain wrestling festivals and traditional costume and yodelling festivals which echo to the sound of alphorns and Swiss folk music accompanied by the waving of flags – much to the delight of the folklore fans, tourists and the walkers who just happen to be passing through.

Trips to the museums, shopping sprees, camping, nature gazing, mountain hopping, village touring, day excursions, romantic cheese and wine soirees, cycling and hiking or visiting the Swiss parks or being part of the famous festivals; there are as many ways as you can figure to enjoy your Swiss vacation. And for sure, this will make for picture perfect memories in the times to come by. 

 

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