The mountains in Switzerland make the mountains in Austria look like infants. Visiting the Alps was a snowy whirlwind experience from start to finish.
This post is going to be more about advice than about my trip. This trip taught me a lot of things in a lot of ways, and I would like to share some tips to anyone who would like to hear them.
- Tour Company Loophole
- We booked our transportation with a tour company, but not our entire trip so that we still had some freedom in the choices we made. This ended up being both a positive and a negative. The main negative was that we had to listen to the tour guide talk on and off throughout the journey on an overnight bus ride, causing us to quite literally lose sleep. The positives greatly outweighed this, as we received breakfast with the group, travel advice, free bus passes, and discounted ski rentals. So, if there’s a company that offers ‘transport only’, I would recommend taking advantage of it.
- Staying in an apartment with Airbnb was the smartest choice of the whole trip. We had much more space at only a fraction of the cost of a hotel or hostel. The biggest perk of all was the kitchen. We all packed food from home and cooked almost every meal. Prices are quite high in Switzerland, and this allowed us to stay on budget.
- Right after arrival, our little trio decided to explore our surroundings. This was the first trip to Switzerland for us all, and we wanted to see the sights. So, if you’re looking to do this best, just wander. We rode the bus into the mountains, and stopped on a whim. We hiked for hours until we reached snow (and I slipped and fell because of it). This was the best way I think to see the true core of the land, to stroll around in it.
- Get it RIGHT
- This tip is more of a pleading warning; DO NOT DO WHAT I DID. Plan ahead for the adventures you hope to have. Like I said earlier, I fell on our hike. The fall happened because I hadn’t packed adequate hiking shoes. But, this isn’t the biggest mistake I made, unfortunately. When renting my ski boots, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was at the time. The excitement of my first chance to ski happening in the Swiss Alps distracted me from the uneasy feeling happening at my ankles. “Oh it’s fine, they’re supposed to be tight!” Folks, they are supposed to be tight, they are not supposed to cause pain. By the time we were at the top of the mountain it was too late to change them, and the loss of feeling had started. After about twenty minutes or so, I had pins and needles in my feet, and eventually lost feeling all together. So, heed my warning and do not repeat my mistake. Make sure your equipment is correct before ascending to the slopes.
- Talk local
- Swiss people are as sweet as their chocolate. I cannot think of a more kindhearted country than what I experienced in Switzerland. From the bus driver who gave us detailed directions, to the lady at the bakery who laughed with us at closing time. Take the time to talk to the man mixing your fresh hot chocolate or the lady selling you a bumper sticker, because odds are they will offer an excellent conversation.
- Eat local
- You’re in Switzerland, so eat what the Swiss eat! To get a chance to kick off my (painful) boots, I shared a tomato and cheese fondue with a friend at a ski chalet on the top of a mountain. I also snacked on some Swiss chocolate during the travel times. The one purchase we made to go with our home cooked foods was a block of true Swiss cheese, and a loaf of fresh baked bread. These little things are the cherry on top of any cultural experience. (P.s. if you visit in winter, enjoy a true Swiss hot chocolate by the ice rink in the city center and watch the families laugh, trust me it’s wonderful).
Even with my unfortunate lows of this trip, I regret absolutely none of it. If there’s a place to simply sit and enjoy the fresh air, it’s on a ice covered mountain with your boots off while wearing some thick socks that your Nanna knit for you.