On the way to Switzerland we had a couple of stops. The first was in the tiny country of Lichtenstein. There's not much to say about Lichtenstein except that they manufacture the skins for sausages, and if you want to hide your money from other governments and authorities just put it in a bank there. The scenery wasn't very noteworthy, I didn't even bother taking a photo. We did have lunch near the royal family's 12th century castle though.
We carried on into Switzerland and the first thing that was noteworthy is the scenery :)
We arrived in an alpine town called Lucerne. Here there is a famous bridge crossing the river.
There is this cool sculpture called the Lion Monument. It was sculpted by a Frenchman who was hired to show something about how the Swiss Guards were massacred during the French Revolution. It's very cool! The Frenchman was never paid for his work so he then carved a pig around the sculpture to show that the Swiss are pigs.
Now a few facts about Switzerland. What are they famous for? Well, Swiss watches of course. Also there are the Swiss army knives. So we were taken to a shop that sells these, and I happened to be in the market for a decent watch so I got myself a Swatch. It's great, I wear it all the time.
Want some more facts? Well, some may know this but Switzerland has and always will be a neutral country – it won't side with anyone. Well that's not entirely correct, they side with who they think is right. So that's why the Swiss guard places like the Vatican. Switzerland actually has the second largest airforce in the world, next to America. Also, it has a large army reserve since all men have to do 2 years of compulsory training in the army when they turn 18. What's more is that there is a well maintained set of tunnels in the Swiss alps. Actually, they are capable of holding 1.5 times the population of Switzerland. Never know when all your cities are going to be bombed I guess? Another crazy thing is that all roads and bridges into Switzerland have been rigged to blow if the Swiss government want to do so.
Anyway, we carried on to our destination – a place called Lauterbrunnen in the Swiss alps. Lauterbrunnen has a mountain range all around it called Jungfrau, we stayed at the bottom of the mountain at a big campsite that also has cabins. It was a pretty cool place, just outside of town and there were rivers and a waterfall nearby.
We didn't get up to much that night, the next day we were up pretty early to go up the mountain. To get up, it's a 2 hour train ride at like 30 – 45 degree angle all the way up. It's also the most expensive train trip I've ever been on – about $200. Speaking of expensive, Switzerland is the most expensive place I've been to. Let's see, a coke is about $5, a burger is about $17, a beer about $10, and that was in town. When we got up the mountain of course prices were even worse but that's to be expected.
On the way up the mountain we saw things like this:
Yes it was a little cold, not too bad though, probably about 4 degrees so only a jumper was necessary. Don't forget this is the middle of European summer!
At the summit you can look down and see the activity area which is just gentle slopes where you can ski, board, tube, or sled down.
The snow was cool (haha), it was icy like as if someone had got a whole lot of ice cubes and put them through a blender for a little while. There were plenty of snowball fights!
And a snowman I helped make.
I decided I needed a beer to cool down, and it was a good beer indeed because I could keep it cold quite easily.
There was a lot of stuff inside the mountain – a restaurant, souvenir shops, and an ice palace. Like there was a big maze made of ice, with cool sculptures like this. It was really cold in there and super slippery.
So that was most of the day spent up the mountain. Good fun! I didn't bother skiing or boarding since the slopes were so gentle. I'll save that for when I go to Austria in winter (wink wink).
We went back down the mountain and that night we had a bit of a party – Swissco Disco where you were supposed to dress up in Swiss colours.
That was our time in Switzerland, pretty cool and I'm glad to have seen it, but I don't really have a desire to go back seeing as most things there you can get in Austria, and Austria is way cheaper ;)