I had just returned to Malaysia after spending a week in Lucerne, Switzerland, together with a group of our Diploma in Culinary Arts students, two chef lecturer colleagues, an assistant editor from The Star, a secondary school counsellor and two secondary school students, who were champions of our 2011 Power Chef competition. Our university partner, IMI University Centre, had graciously hosted our stay and made us feel welcome.
To be honest, I was a little bit sad having to leave the country renowned for their hospitality, chocolates, cheese and watches. Switzerland, to me, was more than that. It promised me lakes and mountains, but I got more than I bargained for. The views and sceneries that greeted me day and night, everywhere I went, were absolutely breathtaking. Mountains loomed everywhere, the lake was tranquil and the greenery lush. But more so, the country itself is an amazing place to live in. Self-sufficient (some would say self-contained) in terms of economy, neutral in its views and standing, and they found a way to merge the modernity of the city with its old heritage and charm, making tourists throng the country in increasing numbers year by year.
Switzerland, oh Switzerland, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1. Ain't no mountain high enough
Words may never be enough and the pictures might not do it justice, but there it was and it took my breathe away. The mountains made me want to run around with my arms open wide, belting out 'The hillsssss are aliveeeeeeeeeeeee......'. Or start yodeling. Or both.
|The view greeting me each morning from my room at IMI's on-campus accomodation|
|Countryside homes by the mountain reminiscent of miniature sets|
2. The tranquility of the lake
There's something to be said about the way the lake makes me feel. At the risk of sounding oh-so very cliched, I felt very zen. At peace with mind, body and soul. It's so calming, so tranquil, that I can imagine days spent sailing on the lake and never feeling bored. Of course, that's all currently a figment of my imagination, but still.....
|The enchanting view from my cruise around Lake Lucerne|
3. The old town charm
Now, I have a penchant for old buildings and cobbled-stone pavements. I could walk for hours soaking in sights of these old beauty and just marveling at the architecture.
|The Chapel Bridge, constructed in the 14th century|
|Cafes and restaurants lined up by the lake|
|Charming buildings everywhere I turn|
4. All that chocolate-y goodness!
See, I've never been a big fan of chocolates. I won't say that this one trip has convinced me and turned me into one, but it has compelled me enough to buy 'em and keep some for myself! At the excursion to the chocolate factory, our lovely guide said one of the reasons why Swiss chocolates are so yummy is because of the milk used. I've got to agree with her.
|Sehrish, one of our students, holding up the cocoa beans|
5. Cheese-y is as cheesy does
My kind of heaven. I love my cheeses, the smellier the better. So you can see how I almost could not contain my excitement about visiting a cheese factory and trying out the local cheese as well as fondue while I was at it. It was explained to us that each cantons in Switzerland produces its own cheese that is uniquely theirs.
|The Appenzeller Cheese Factory|
|Blocks of Appenzeller Cheese|
|Fondue - mmMmMmMmmMmmmm|
6. The ever efficient public transportation
Well, me being Malaysian, will never stop being amazed at the convenience, efficiency and punctuality at the public transportation in countries that have an amazing system put in place. The buses are so punctual that, if they are early, they will stop by the road en-route until it's time for them to reach their next destination. On the dot.
7. Not having to fear for my life when I cross the road...
This is a big plus for me as I'm not, errr....that good when it comes to crossing roads. Cars stop for us whenever we need to cross. Yes yes, I know, this happens in many other countries too, but NEVER in Malaysia and hence why it never fails to amaze me. Simple things like these got me hooked. :D
8. The cold Swiss air
Granted, it was summer when we visited. It still is, but summer lasted all of three days when we were there. The next few days after, the cool breeze greeted us, lapping gently in the wind and I found myself closing my eyes just for a few short seconds, from time to time, taking it all in.
9. The quirky houses
Need I say more?
10. Clean water EVERYWHERE
Love the fact that I could just refill my water bottle just about anywhere, be it from the tap at my bathroom sink or that little fountain smack right in the old town.
These are of course in no order and are not the only things I love about Switzerland. The list is long, I'd have to admit. But most of all, the travelling was made fun by the group I was with - it was an educational learning trip for the students, but at the end of the day, we all had something to learn from one another.