It’s only been 1 day since I returned from New Zealand, and I had to head off to Switzerland already!
Vevey is a small town located approximately 2 hours away from Zurich. To give you an idea visually, you can see where it is exactly on Google Maps with this link here. It’s right on the famous Lake Geneva. Opposite, it’s actually France! The feel of the town is that of a oldish, lots of character building like castles. Yet, it has modern infrastructures. Very ‘pretty’, I called it. I was here for 15 days, so just over 2 weeks! I’ve never been to this side of the world, but somehow I didn’t even feel that excited about it either. It was definitely a VERY long flight over. It’s also my first time flying in Business class so that was pretty cool. I even got to sit next to worldwide HR manager of Credit Suisse (Swiss Bank), who shared some interesting insight about the world famous Swiss bank accounts. The food? Just TOO MUCH! Being an ametuer business class flyer, I tried every kind of food offered, and I can tell ya, I was blotted and felt sick after the flight. Can you blame me? It is a $10,000 return ticket. Gotta make full use of it!!
While I am mainly here for a workshop, the weekends were the most interesting. For the 1st weekend, I paid a visit to the high mountain areas near Vevey called “Rochers de Naye”, apparently famous for rodents. I had to catch this steep mountain climbing train for about 30 minutes to get up there. Of course, once I got up there, I soon realise the scale of the famous ‘Swiss Alps’. The views were definitely fantastic. In the distant, apparently I was looking at the famous Mont Blanc in France as well, and some high mountains like Jungfrau where people have died hiking there. I can see why people like hiking and skiing here. That’s about all you can do here!
Then there was “ChÃ¢teau de Chillon” in Montreux. That is the first castle I’ve seen and go, “Wow!!” It’s not terribly big, but it definitely worth the 15 Swiss Franc I paid for!
The next day, I was in Lausanne where the International Olympic Committee is located. It’s a bigger and busier place than Vevey, but there isn’t as much ‘character’. Nevertheless, I spent a good few hours at the Olympic Museum. Admitedly there is a LOT of museums in Switzerland, but this one is definitely worth going to. Apparently Lausanne is also the rollerblade capital of the world!
France is just to the left of Switzerland, and was just a boat ride across from Lake Geneva. Just to say that I’ve been to France, I took a boat ride across for fun. I paid a visit to a little town called “Evian”. I soon realised “Evian” is the name of the famous spring water that can be found anywhere in the world! So, this is where the water came from! Story has it that the water here saved a man’s life from some sickness. And ever since, it has become a commercial success selling it all over the world. I did drop by the fountain where the water came from, just to say I’ve drank the ‘orginal’ water from THE SOURCE! That’s about as interesting as this town gets.
The following weekend.. I decided to get more adventurous, and took a train to Italy. Milan was the closest nearby city I can find outside of Switzerland. It was only a 3 hours train ride, but I must say it’s definitely worth it! Milan, famous for being the fashion capital of the world, I was expecting to see some really hot chics and some extremely expensive fashion! But when the train arrived, I noticed the train station was very very old. When I walked out, most of the streetscape were full of graffiti on it! That’s not what I expected! But as I walked towards the centre of Milan, things changed. The buildings were still old, but much cleaner. The streets were busy with people & traffic, and chaotic, as you expect from a big city. It’s definitely a lot busier than Vevey. I managed to walk past a building dedicated entirely to Emporio Armani’s collection. Of course, once I walked inside, I realised I couldn’t afford a single item!
Then I soon found out Milan is also home of Leornado da Vinci and the famous Duomo cathedral, which he helped designed. The first time I saw it, my jaw dropped. That has got to be THE MOST impressive cathedral I’ve seen in my life! The entire building is filled with statues and artistic carvings! Talk about fancy facade! Definitely looked a whole lot more ‘holly’ than any other churches and cathedral I’ve seen in Australia. It’s funny where these cathedral is located. It’s located right next to the typical italian fashion outlets like LV, Gucci, Prada etc etc (every brand imaginable). I was just thinking to myself, this has got to be every lady’s dream place to be. I certainly didn’t spend too much time shopping in these places. It was tempting, but they were simply far beyond what I could afford or want to spend on. Those churches and castles just became more interesting to me after going to these shops! And off I went to Castello Sforzesco or Sforzesco’s Castle. It’s a much much bigger castle than the one I visited in Montreux, but I don’t find it as interesting. Nevertheless, it was a good walk. I also soon found out, Milan is also home to Monza F1 Grand Prix! Michael Shumacher would have been seen here racing on the Monza track just a week ago! I missed out!!
On the last day, I was back in Switzerland and stayed in Zurich. Compared to other cities, this really looked quite plain and stock ‘standard’ to me. I took a walk at Bahnhofstrasse, apparently one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping avenue. It was raining that day, and I did notice all the big names like Tiffany, LV, Cartier etc etc. Again, shopping wasn’t my thing, and the rain didn’t help. It was still an interesting place to visit, although I should have visited Zurich first (as it was the least interesting).
As much as Europe is just another country to me, it really feels quite ‘foreign’ compared to Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. No one really speaks English here given that they all have ‘white’ skin. I’m so not used to that. In Switzerland, it’s even weirder. If you live towards the north, you speak German (in fact Swiss German, which normal Germans don’t understand, apparently). Towards the south (where Vevey is), the majority speaks French. And if you live towards to border to Italy near the east, most will speak Italian. What an interesting mix! Of course I can’t understand any of those languages! What’s even more weird is that most Chinese here (yes there are some Chinese lingering here and there), don’t speak English, but French instead. Hmm.. makes sense, but I’m just not used to it.
Of course, there is a lot lot more to Europe. I really hope I have another chance to visit this place again in the near future. Back to work…