Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Places to go in Switzerland


Switzerland is a traveler's paradise with several sights you should not miss. You will experience a mixed and varied culture as you travel from German influence, to French influence, to Italian influence and so on. In addition to the spectacular mountains and valleys, you will see the majestic Rhine River and several amazing lakes. Some of the most famous places in Switzerland are given below.


Bern

Bern is the ancient capital city of the country. It is spelled, "Berne" by most of the French speaking citizens. The city was reconstructed and renovated after it was destroyed by fire in 1405. The 11th century shopping plaza offers ample opportunity for you for shopping, eat, relax and photograph the amazing sights.


Chur

Chur is one of the oldest cities in Switzerland, less well known; but a must see. Chur or Coire is the capital of the Swiss canton of Graub√ľnden and lies in the northern part of the canton. The main tourist attraction is the Rhine River and various valleys and mountains in the area. The world famous ski resorts of Davos, St. Mortiz and Arosa are situated here.

Chur is a very small city; much of it is easily walkable. There are taxis and buses, which operate on five different routes.
Driving in Chur is possible. However, the old town of Chur is car-free. Bicycles are a great choice.


Zurich

Zurich is economic center and is one of the popular places in Switzerland. As a major metropolitan area, it has a wealth of places to visit. From Zoos, to Cog Railways, to swinging nightclubs, Zurick has something for kids of all ages. In addition to the city, you can visit the Swiss Alps and the largest waterfall in Europe. In Zurich you can indulge yourself in skiing, hiking and photography.



Geneva


Geneva is a city of festivals. These people like to party. From January to December you will find festivals of all types - international film in spring, sailing in summer, and wine in the fall are just a few of the good times to be shared in Geneva.

By visiting the old town of Geneva you can easily go back to the bygone era. The presence of various museums hints about the rich culture of the place. Lake Geneva, situated in the middle of the city,  gives it added beauty and dimension.

My favorite time was during an International Festival in August. It was a great time to meet the young people of Switzerland.


Basel

Basel is the largest industrial city of Switzerland and is often bypassed by tourist. But, it is one of Switzerland's underrated tourist destinations, Basel has a beautiful medieval old town center; a Carnival that ranks with those of Venice, New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro; and several world class art museums built by architects like Renzo Piano, Mario Botta and Herzog & De Meuron.




Museums and Historic Monuments

Of course, we all need a little history lesson on our trip and Switzerland offers some of the best museums from around the world. They have exhibits from the finest paintings of Paul Klee and some of the best artifacts from the heart of Egypt, on display regularly. You can visit one of the historically protected old towns of the Swiss country side to see history in motion. Here are wonderful old castles to explore along with the abbey library of St. Gallen. No matter what you decide to do make sure you have a little time to explore these little places along the way they will help make your trip that much more enjoyable.

The Swiss Alps


This is a beautiful, majestic country created by the shifting plates of two continents and the determined colonization of peoples from Europe and the Middle East. The rugged terrain than Hannibal had to cross prior to defeating the Romans in the early centuries can still be as daunting today. However, there are many things to do in the Alps - hiking, fishing, skiing, nature trails, and much more. You can also ride horseback or relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air.

The Alps are spectacular no matter what time of year you choose to visit whether it is during the summer or during the winter. Some of the world’s best ski resorts are located in its majestic peaks. They are a haven for skiers and snowboarders alike. A must one stop shop for your Swiss vacation needs.



Best Time to visit Switzerland


Switzerland has a temperate climate but generally the climate varies from one area to another. Summers are generally warm with usually chilly winters, accompanied by snow and sun.

The temperature range is about the same as in the northern United States, but without the extremes of hot and cold. Summer temperatures seldom rise above 80°F (26°C) in the cities, and humidity is low. Because of clear air and lack of wind in the high alpine regions, sunbathing is sometimes possible even in winter. In southern Switzerland the temperature remains mild year-round, allowing subtropical vegetation to grow.

Low-season airfares are usually offered from November 1 to December 14 and from December 25 to March 31. Fares are slightly higher during the skiing shoulder season (during Apr and May, and from Sept 16 to the end of Oct). High-season fares apply the rest of the year (June-Sept 15), presumably when Switzerland and its landscapes are at their most hospitable and most beautiful.

Keep in mind that it's most expensive to visit Swiss ski resorts in winter, and slightly less so during the rest of the year. Conversely, it's cheaper to visit lakeside towns in winter. Cities such as Geneva, Zurich, and Bern don't depend on tourism as a major source of capital, so prices in these cities tend to remain the same all year.




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving


A beautiful Day to say "Thanks" for all we have.
Getting together with family and friends, loving, laughing, sharing moments...
Wish you all a very happy day.
Marcia

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A thought for today

Whether you know it or not, today you are placing an order for your tomorrows from the catalogue of the Universe. Your predominant thoughts and feelings today are creating a frequency that is automatically determining your life tomorrow.
Feel good now and for the rest of the day, and make your tomorrows magnificent.
 
Rhonda Byrne

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wonderful Food in Switzerland

I love the food in Switzerland, I could live there easily if it was not so cold in the Winter. Switzerland is so extremely beautiful that its food often gets overlooked. But pay attention, you can eat very well there. If you visit Switzerland you should have a taste of Switzerland food. In fact one of the best ways to enjoy a tour to Switzerland is to know about its food and enjoy it.


Finding a great meal

Tea Rooms serve hot drinks, alcohol and pastries, and are found in most towns. Go to these places for breakfast or mid-morning or afternoon snack. They are also a nice place for a late afternoon coffee or drink. Some Tea Rooms have separate pastry counters. Go in and pick your pastry. The person behind the counter hands it to you on a plate. In some places you must pay for the pastry then, other places it is added to your bill.

In the large towns, you will find traditional Swiss restaurants along with - Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, etc. However, In small mountain towns, you may find an Italian restaurant in the south, or a
German one in the north, but most restaurants will serve traditional Swiss food. Menus are much like what we are used to in the US. Starters (appetizers and soups) followed by main courses and then coffee and dessert. Bread is usually served with the meal.

Great Swiss Foods

Like me, the Swiss love cheese and some that I tried I have never had before. Switzerland is home to about 450 varieties of cheese Cows milk is used in about 99 percent of the cheeses produced. The remaining share is made up of sheep's milk and goat's milk. There's much more to Swiss cheese than making holes!
  • Hard cheese, 
  • Soft cheese, 
  • Local cheese made in mountain chalets, 
  • Regional cheese made in valley factories, 
  • Cheese shaved into rosettes, 
  • Cheese boxed in red pine, 
  • Cheese dusted with flour and melted in wine, 
  • Hot cheese dribbled over potatoes to make raclette 
Every chance you get, try  the local cheese favorites.

Raclette

Traditional preparation requires the Raclette cheese round to be heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners' plates.  Traditionally, it is accompanied by small firm  potatoes, gherkins, and dried meat such as ham. “Raclette” comes from the French "racler," “to scrape.”

Fondue



Fondue is Gruyeres cheese, Swiss cheese, white wine, garlic, and kirsch melted in a pot. The pot is brought to the table and put on a flame. You use a long fork to dip pieces of bread into the cheese mixture. You can ask for potatoes as well as the bread for dipping. In the Valais, tomatoes’ are added to the traditional cheese fondue. Frequently restaurant menus offer Fondue only for two people, but we found one place where you could pay a small supplement to have it for just one person - so I would ask if you want it for one only.

You are to place the bread on your fork, dip it into the kirsch, and then dip it into the cheese ... be careful, the alcohol adds up much faster than you might imagine. 



Rosti


Rosti, fried potatoes, is a very popular dish at the mountain restaurants. You can get them plain, with cheese or with one or two fried eggs.

Kaseschnitte



This is a open faced melted cheese sandwich. This dish is also served at most mountain restaurants.






Swiss Chocolate

Do you love chocolate? I love it!

I consider Swiss chocolate to be the BEST in the world. But it wasn't. Here is a little secret about Swiss Chocolate because I always thought that chocolate was first made in Switzerland.
In 1502, chocolate was first introduced to Spain from Christopher Columbus who returned from his forth voyage to the New World. The Spaniards learned about cocoa from the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish invasion in 1519.

Spanish explorers learned to convert the bitter cocoa into a beverage and its origin and preparation method was a secret for 100 years. The ancient Aztecs and Mayan cultures discovered the value of the cocoa plant. They believed that power and wisdom came from eating the fruit of the cacao tree.
Introduced to Europe in the 16th and 17th century, chocolate was a great success and production spread to Switzerland. However, cocoa and sugar were in short supply in the 1800's; so, an enterprising Swiss business man, M. Daniel Peter added milk to chocolate to extend the cocoa and it ended up producing a smoother chocolate.

The experimentation took 8 years to perfect before he took his product to Henry Nestle the maker of evaporated milk. Nestle had perfected the manufacture of condensed milk, he and Peter hit upon the idea of mixing sweetened condensed milk with chocolate and viola, Swiss Chocolate was born! Just a few decades later the Swiss made a successful reputation and foreign manufactures spread throughout the world using their technical genius to manufacture  sweet, smooth Swiss chocolate.


The Pig had little to do with the process, but I just had to show you this cute picture of a cow kissing a little pig!

Resources

If you are a food lover and want to learn more about Chocolate, I highly recommend this book. It will be a great conversation starter as well.  Also, while Fondue was popular in the US back in the 70's you might be hard pressed to find a good recipe for Fondue and a very authentic Fondue set. Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brief History of Switzerland


Switzerland is a lovely country which is only understood if you have a perspective on its history. And it history has been significantly impacted by its geography, of a plains located between two mountain ranges, one to the north and one to the south. I address the geography in more detail in my earlier blog, so I won’t do so here.
   

 

Ice Age – Iron Age

The history of the region began after the Ice Age. After all, the plateau where Lucerne now sits was under approximately 3000 feet of ice. Following the Ice Age some traces of human development have been found in several natural caves in Switzerland and ice melts in the mountain passes. Finally, around 3000 B.C., a few people began building houses made of wood and clay on posts on the shores of Switzerland's lakes. However, one can see from the National Geographic Geno graphic Project how migrations from the Middle East to the north bypassed Switzerland, no doubt due to the formidable Alps. This geographic isolation led to the first colonization from the East by the Helvetian’s a Celtic tribe who was colonizing Europe.





Roman influence

When the Helvetians attempted to move south to Southern France they were stopped by the Roman commander, Julius Cesar in 58 B.C. and forced to return to Switzerland. The Romans then controlled Switzerland's territory until about 400 A.D. Roman military camps and forts were erected at the northern Rhine frontier towards Germany. Several major Swiss cities and towns were founded by the Romans, among others Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne and Chur.

At the time, the total population of Switzerland was only 100,000 to 200,000 people. They settled where the soil was easy to cultivate and the climate not too cold (especially in winter). The central plains and a few major alpine valleys. Vast tracts of forest remained a wilderness.


Languages of Switzerland

Building the core culture of Switzerland


Attacked by Germanic tribes from the north, The Roman’s withdrew to areas south of the Alps. This opened Switzerland up to the southern Germanic tribe called Alamannen who settled in southern Germany and northern Switzerland and tribes of Franks coming in from the East. The Alamannen’s stuck to their German and the Franks to their French. Today's border between German and French languages in Switzerland is more or less the border between the Franks and Germanic tribes that infiltrated Switzerland in the vacuum left by the Roman’s. In the illustration to the left, you see French language in area 1 and German in area 2. Italian in area 3 and Romansh in area 4. The original Celtic population in Switzerland completely melded with the newcomers leaving little evidence of their culture.

You will find a French, German, Italian translator indispensable in your trips around Switzerland. I use my  Android phone but you can also get an app for the I phone.
  

 

The Road to Democracy

In the Middle Ages the Feudal System was developed in Europe but, Swiss political history never consolidated into a single monarchy like that found throughout Europe. In 1291, as a defensive alliance, three Feudal areas, now called Cantons, developed a loose confederation. In succeeding years, other Cantons joined the original three. Finally the Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. Switzerland's present boundaries were fixed in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna. Then in 1848 a constitution replaced the confederation with a federal government.

Switzerland was neutral in World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945). Its neutral stance has also kept it from joining the United Nations until 2002.

Today, the Swiss live in a democracy where the average citizen often has greater influence than in other countries. A unique example of direct democracy found in parts of Switzerland is the Landsgemeinde (People's Assembly). Citizens gather under the open sky on a Sunday in spring to pass laws and elect officials by a show of hands.

















Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Something to think about it

Any words you speak have a frequency, and the moment you speak them they are released into the Universe. The law of attraction responds to all frequencies, and so it is also responding to the words that you speak. When you use very strong words, such as "terrible", "shocking" and "horrible" to describe any situation in your life, you are sending out an equally strong frequency, and the law of attraction must respond by bringing that frequency back to you.
The law is impersonal, and simply matches your frequency. Do you see how important it is for you to speak strongly about what you want, and not to use strong words about what you don't want?
 
Rhonda Byrne
The Secret...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How careful should you be going to Switzerland

Crime in Switzerland

Unlike many other European countries, Switzerland is a very safe country to live in or visit.  Violent crime including assault and robbery is virtually unheard of in Switzerland. The infrequent violent crime that does occur, is usually directed at expatriates who are living in Switzerland.

However, petty crime such as pick pocketing is known to occur and is usually directed at foreign tourists. Prime pick pocketing areas include busy tourist attractions in all of the major towns of Switzerland including Zurich, Geneva and Basel as well as train and bus stations. Be especially careful during the tourist season and in high traffic areas such as the International Festival in Geneva and other places that attract large crowds. Late night trains where tired passengers often fall asleep are a favorite of pick pockets.The rules are the same in Switzerland as elsewhere.
  • Don't become alone at night in dark places, 
  • Don't carry your wallet in the open
  • Don't carry more cash that you need that day
Be a smart traveler.


Drugs in Switzerland

Hard drugs including heroin and cocaine are completely illegal in Switzerland and being caught either in possession of these drugs or selling them, holds stiff penalties almost certainly including prison time. The police attitude towards softer drugs such as hashish and cannabis is more ambiguous. While possessing or selling these drugs is technically a crime, police often turn a blind eye to discreet use of such drugs and prosecution for being in possession of small quantities of these drugs is not likely.

Police in Switzerland

The emergency telephone number in Switzerland is 117. Call it to report a crime. Police in Switzerland are either federal or local. Your first response will be local police reporting to the Canton you are in. Swiss federal police are plain clothed officers and only become involved in serious crimes that go beyond Canton level.