Archives for July, 2012

Switzerland is good for the soul, of this I am certain. I left Switzerland feeling happily exhausted, my limbs sore from climbing, my tummy content and full, my face deeply tanned and my soul elevated. Something about all that clean air and clean water and rippled mountain landscapes. (Also, have I mentioned the food?) I’ve…

You will never catch me bungy jumping (or BASE jumping). Indeed, the only kind of jumping I ever do is on and off of trains, buses or parked airplanes . . . however, IF I was ever going to bungy jump, I’d do it in Ticino. The Verzasca Dam is a staggering piece of engineering…

I traveled on Swiss public transportation for one full month and the only time I was late was when we dipped into Italy. Yes, I’m blaming Italy for making the Swiss late. My Swiss post bus from Tirano to Lugano left right on time and the driver timed each of our pit stops with a…

Confession: I traveled the entire past month on a single ticket. That’s the huge secret behind my grand journey around Switzerland. I traveled here, there and everywhere — I crossed whole lakes and rode cable cars to the uttermost peaks in the Bernese Alps, hopped trains to the remotest Swiss villages and rode trams and…

No, it’s not edelweiss. I mean, edelweiss is pretty and all, and it’s about as Swiss as you can get—it’s the penultimate alpine flower: “small and white, clean and bright” dah-dee-dah, dah-dee, dah-dah. Yeah. While the Sound of Music anthem has forced us to praise a flower that most of us have never seen, I…

My love for Engadin is no secret. It’s a pretty special place all around and traveling through the region I found the food, people, nature, tradition and architecture all so wonderfully different and particular. Most of all, I loved the very unique villages, some of them less than a mile apart but each so individual.…

I live out of a bag the size of a microwave. Every night I unpack my life and every morning, I shove it all back in, half-hoping that I’m not forgetting something important—which I always do. I check my pocket for my passport and then forget the rest: the adapter in the wall socket, the…

Pastry is my favorite word in Europe — — so, leave it to me to discover the one sugary baked thing that “defines” the region I am visiting. National flags, anthems, costumes, and coats of arms are all very nice, but if you can symbolize your regional pride in an edible manner, you have my…

In 7th grade I almost failed Latin. It was the declensions that got me—also, as a 12-year old, learning a dead language was as abstract as the idea of traveling the world. That all changed the first time I came to Europe, visited a Roman ruin, and discovered that I could read the weathered inscriptions…

Your kind face makes me stop, Your eyelashes so arresting That from my bike, I hop. Rip clumps of grass in offering.   You inquire with a wiggly nose With careful lips you chomp On lavender and wild rose Then take a perfumed dump.   The slanted fields of Switzerland Demand a steady foot. How…

The problem with traveling far across the globe to witness some famous destination icon is that it will never (ever) be just like the pictures you’ve seen. “It’s different than I thought.” Man, if I had a Swiss franc for every time I’ve heard that line—in front of the Taj Mahal, up on Table Mountain,…

Julie Andrews had it all wrong. In the 1965 film musical The Sound of Music, her character Maria sings how The Lonely Goatherd yodeled and how it sounded “lusty and clear from the goatherd’s throat.” Clearly neither she nor Oscar Hammerstein II knew anything about actual yodeling. “With yodeling your voice jumps from deep in…

“There were three skulls and their teeth were so white!” That’s how my mountain guide began our hike onto Aletsch glacier—by recounting with excitement and detail the condition of three dead bodies he had seen laying on the ice the day before. A British couple had happened upon them while exploring the glacier and my…

Like a Hindu god with many arms, the couple dances on the bridge. They are in love—the hero with rock star sunglasses and a black mustache like a brush, the princess with her bare midriff and a long rope of black hair down her back. In my dream, they dance with great energy, their hands…

I never want to witness a suicide, but I think I just did. My hands are shaking, my knees wobbly. I am too scared to look over the edge—not only because of what I might see but because the edge of the cliff is nearly 2,000 feet high. One minute there were five of us…

I want one Bernese Mountain Dog to go, please. Those of you who follow on Twitter know that I make no secret of my acute dog obsession, seeking them out wherever I travel, an posting all “my” dogs. One of the gifts of travel is learning what is truly universal on earth. After years of…

Does basketball bore you? Do you seek dangerous situations that make your heart thud uncontrollably? Do you only feel sporty when strapped into a harness and/or helmet? If so, then come to Interlaken and pick your personal poison! I arrived in this unassuming Swiss town one week ago and ever since, I’ve been offered every…

I was traveling backward, the rain falling away from the final window on the train. I was sitting in the last seat on the last car of the GoldenPass, facing backward at a panoramic window that showed me all the wet green landscape I was leaving behind, the whole of it measured out in miles…

Ignore the beautiful roses—they are merely silent supporting actors in this lush scene on the turquoise shores of Lac Léman. Peach and yellow, red, orange, white and blushing, every rosebush explodes with colors and perfume, but here, all that matters is green. The chlorophyll-green grapevines, alive from ancient times, grow in long curving rows with…