Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mt Titlis & Lucerne, Switzerland

Wake up, wake up! I know it's been boring recently. I fell asleep writing the last few posts. I told you, the pretty northern cities of Europe are proper and perfect and clean and efficient and livable but boring. Guided organized tours make them even more so because they whisk you here and there just to take photos, never giving you time to explore and enjoy the places. Guided tours also take you to the same old places, such as Mt Titlis.

 Snow mountains, green rolling hills, no poverty and political neutrality made Switzerland the dream country, especially in the 70s when I was growing up. Switzerland still is the dream country for the people of India and Indians choose Switzerland over any other country as a tourist destination. That's what Rick Steves said in his book, Rick Steves' Europe. Rick was right because when we got to Mt Titlis, the bus coaches, the ski lifts and the restaurants were filled with Indians, the ladies still in their saris. You see how seriously the Swiss take the Indians when you go to the crappy restaurant of the ski resort and the food's all Indian.

Mt Titlis ranks as the biggest tourist trap on my trip. For 55 euros, you take a ski lift ride up to the ski resort where you step out onto dirty old snow.  The resort was probably in its heydays in the 60s and the restaurant, the shops, the silly ice cave that plays the national anthem of Malaysia, Switzerland, India and China (so you know who goes to Mt Titlis) are all  dilapidated and dated. Mt Titlis, the ski resort, is like an ex-beauty queen, a has-been. The mountains are beautiful, no doubt, but the resort is clearly abandoned by serious skiers and only silly tourists bother to visit and take photos to show the folks back home that they've been on a snow mountain.

Switzerland and Austria had the most beautiful scenery of all the places I'd been to thus far. I've never seen grass as green as those on the hills of Austria and Switzerland. Northern Italy shares some border with Switzerland and when the houses on the hills suddenly turn from being orderly and picture-perfect to bricky, rustic, old and densely spaced, you know you've crossed into Italian territory. Oh, btw, on the way to Switzerland, we passed through Liechtenstein, one of the 7 smallest countries in Europe. Nothing there.

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I told you. Even the cut-out figures were of Indian actors and actresses.

From there, we were taken to Swarovski's headquarters where we shopped for the latest glass figurines at prices lower than anywhere else.

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Our next stop was Lucerne, another place where we stayed a couple of hours only.

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Our tour group consisted of mainly Chinese from China, a couple of Americans, Canadians (hi Ann & Harvey!Miss you guys!) and Hong Kongers. What was I wearing? I ran out of clean clothes.

It seems like the only place of interest in Lucerne is The Lion Of Lucerne, a carving of a wounded lion on a stone cliff. The carving of the lion is there to commemorate the massacre of about 800 Swiss Guards during the French revolution in 1792.

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I found Switzerland the most expensive place of all. We wanted to try cheese fondue but couldn't find any restaurant that served that, except for one which was very expensive and totally empty. In the end, we settled for a giant burger in one of the pubs by the river. The meal above, including one beer, cost 25 euros/RM100/US$32. We beat the high price by sharing the meal. Another tip for surviving Europe.

9 comments:

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

During my trip to Mt Titlis, I can't get the nice photos like your first 4 photos since I was there during winter, only white and grey..Feel like want to visit Mt Titlis again..Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose the large number of Indian tourists is due to the increasing popularity of Switzerland as a Bollywood filming location?

I visited Mt Titlis in the early 1990s. I agree with you that it's a tourist trap but at that time the tourists were mostly Japanese, many of them dressed in neat suits with high-heeled shoes. On top of a mountain!!

I don't know how has been responsible for such successful marketing but somehow, a very large number of Asians have pigeonholed Switzerland as the epitome of all that is 'nice' (ie looks good in photos) about Europe. Personally, the only thing I find irresistible about Switzerland is Roger Federer...

zurin said...

I love Switzerland...its clean, its clean..its clean...and beautiful. I was there donkeys years ago and I would love to visit again ..its just simply beautiful. if I had a death wish and I wasnt dead enough to travel I would go to switzerland and die there...heheh

Anonymous said...

Hey,

I'm just wondering, where exactly is the Swarovski's headquarters located at?
How far from Mt. Titlis?
I'll be touring Swiss later this year and mt.Titlis is on the itinerary so I am curious if it is possible to add in Swarovski's headquaters as part of the tour.

btw, great blog ;)

Anonymous said...

I had the worst experience with the Hans Meier Tours – Gray Line Zurich Switzerland, i took a tour for 3 people with this tour company and they were the worst of all. i wasted my 447CHF with taking their tour. plz i will say to all the tourists, just go on your own and never take a tour with this shit tour company.

Anonymous said...

so whats wrong with the indian obsession of switzerland?
Every set of people have choices and some have varied, most have similar. And whats wrong with Mt titlis being touristy...arents touristy places supposed to be that...maybe you should have done right research...and gone to load of places in switzerland which are still NOT touristy!

Anonymous said...

Hey Silly sick stupid guy,
Is your country sponsoring the tourism in Switzerland or giving out any charity. Businesses do what makes business sense for them and not what you think is good or bad. If Indians are going there in large numbers and follow their ethnic style then what's your problem. Seems you were focussing more on India in Switzerland than your own pleasure. Also what tight do you have to post somebody's picture on your blog and make fun, have you taken her permission. In future mind your own business and leave the Indians alone and also please tell your countrymen that they should not visit Switzerland as it's too indianized.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the previous comment. If you feel the place is too touristy kindly figure out some non touristy places for yourself.
Also, you have no right to make fun of anyone.

Anonymous said...

Titlis sucks ... i could slap all the desis up the mountain, especially the Marathis getting cold indian food from the restaurant and behaving like hungry animals.
Switzerland in general has become a mini-India and these fcuking desis know how to keep it clean. If only they could keep their house clean we would have more tourists coming to India. Fcuktards!!!

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