Some people travel to escape life, and some to experience them. I am the latter kind of traveller. However, it wasn’t always the case. At first, I would check everything in the top ten to-do list, so the trips were hectic but satisfying. And at that time, it was all new to me, both the ability to travel and traveling itself. I did not know then that travelling was in my blood and that I would never stop. As I travelled more frequently, I began to relax and enjoy it.
Adam and I would be living like the locals by the end of the vacation. Given the choice between mingling with the locals in a cafe vs going for a church tour – we stick with hobnobbing with locals. One of the things I love doing is going into grocery stores – we usually stay in an Airbnb, so visiting grocery stores is a regular task. And it is fascinating to see how people shop in other countries.
Swiss chocolates, Swiss watches, Swiss banking and Swiss army knives – I was recounting all famous Swiss items when we landed in Zurich—our first proper new country visit since COVID. Zurich is surprisingly a tiny airport despite its international nature. And you are greeted by the beautiful swiss alps the minute you land. Even as you land, you can see that Switzerland is nestled between mountains, and there is so much greenery all around.
Zurich and other cities are so easy to get around in – they were built keeping trams and cyclists in mind. Cars usually have just one lane in the cities. Given it’s such a hilly area, there are stairs – and all stairs have a railing that you can get your bikes up on. Very thoughtful.
People are tall and down to earth. Swiss is more about utility than show. There are not very gender-specific rules – most men have long hair, and women have short hair. They are very responsive to society. I saw many folks come out and sweep the front of their houses, including cigarette butts. It is one of the safest places to live, as evident when we encountered many five-year-olds walking home alone with no parental supervision.
Zurich or other cities like Lucerne and Basel have a fairytale-like charm. There are parts of the towns where I wouldn’t have been surprised if I saw a witch chasing Hansel and Grete – the houses retain that kind of feel. And in some parts of the town, I could see executives in suits getting lunches from a cafe or taking calls in co-working spaces.
Our friend in Basel took us to see houses as old as 1204, when Switzerland was born as a country. Before that, they were part of the roman empire. Given its proximity to France, Germany and Italy, there have been multiple owners of this little country – and the acceptance and surrender are vital vibes here. And also, if you wake up every day to the majestic Alps towering over you – it is hard not to be aware of your tiny presence in this cosmos.
The feeling that I took away from Zurich was very calming, clean and logical amidst natural beauty. Being surrounded by different countries and nature definitely affects you.
How does the place you live in define you?