Scintillating Switzerland, Beyond Alpine Charm

Alpine charm, lovely lakes, Swiss Army knives, rich chocolates, Roger Federer and even chess, football and the Olympics spring to mind at the thought of Switzerland. And freezing weather!

If you are wondering why chess is in the list, it is because the Swiss system (whereby everyone plays all rounds without elimination and the winner is the one with the highest points) is the most common tournament format followed globally. Also, the world chess federation (FIDE) has an office in the country.

Even the International Olympic Committee has its base in Lausanne. How can I miss FIFA, functioning from Zurich? The rich sporting tradition of Switzerland is evident with this deep focus.

My recent visit Switzerland has been a lot of fun – with freezing temperatures hardly coming in the way. The train ride from Zurich to Lucerne, Mount Titlis, Mount Pilatus with the cogwheel journey (said to be the world’s steepest train travel at 48% to the peak), Lucerne Lake, Chapel Bridge, the Musegg Wall and more — not one any less exhilarating!

Switzerland and Singapore have a lot in common with both being huge economic successes despite limited resources. Only in terms of weather, the two are in opposite sides of the spectrum.

Lucerne was lovely. It was nice to see Indian flag fluttering in Lucerne outside an Indian restaurant that I visited for lunch one day after I ran tired of the food I generally stay away from.

Yet, Kanchi Restaurant was a huge bummer – totally forgettable food. And the price -5.60 francs just for a small bottle of water (500ml).

Weigh this against 1 Franc I paid for a 1.5-litre bottle of Evian water!

Trivial stuff though, considering the sights I have been relishing in beautiful Switzerland. That’s priceless!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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