Spotlight on Switzerland
Switzerland's fusion of German, French and Italian ingredients has formed a robust national culture, and the country's alpine landscapes have enough zing to reinvigorate the most jaded traveler. Goethe summed up Switzerland succinctly as a combination of 'the colossal and the well-ordered'. The tidy precision of Swiss towns is tempered by the lofty splendor of the landscapes that surround them. Switzerland conjures up a fair swag of clichés: irresistible chocolates, yodeling Heidis, humorless bankers, international bureaucracies and an orderly, anally-retentive and rather bland national persona.
Geneva is located between the Alps and the Jura mountains, at the extreme southwest of Switzerland and Lake Geneva. The Rhône and the Arve are the main rivers crossing Geneva. It is the central crossroads of Western Europe. Geneva holds a privileged geographical position and it is only one hour far from Paris or Milan by plane and less than two hours from London, Rome or Madrid. Geneva is a town of Arts and Culture. Its numerous museums and libraries, the Opera, the Orchestra of the Suisse romande have largely contributed, among others, to its development. For nearly twenty years they have been new cultural centers which have been created from old uninhabited buildings, some of which are now preserved as monuments, like the Halles de l’Ile, l’Usine, la Maison des Arts du Grütli.
Basel - The third-largest city in Switzerland, Basel stands on the Rhine at the point where the French, German, and Swiss borders meet. At the entrance to the Swiss Rhineland, Basel is the capital of the half-canton of Basel-Stadt. On its borders are the French Vosges, the German Black Forest, and the Swiss Jura Mountains. Grossbasel, or Greater Basel, lies on the steep left bank, and Kleinbasel, or Lesser Basel, is on the right bank.
Lucerne - Without a doubt one of the prettiest towns in Switzerland, Lucerne lies in the heart of the country on famous lake of Lucerne. Dotted with Renaissance and Baroque fountains, colorful paintings on the gables and commanded by the exquisite wooden bridge, the Kapellbrücke and Wasserturm, the 13th century octagonal water tower, Lucerne's character is pure charm. Spectacular views and sights abound from almost every vantage point in and around Lucerne. The Old Town Hall is a fine example of a Renaissance building while the City Wall, built between 1350 and 1405 stands proud above the city. A stroll along the quay leads past the modern health resort and onto the largest, most important Transport Museum in Europe and the only Planetarium in Switzerland. The famous Lion Monument and Glacier Garden make for remarkable viewing as do the mountain peaks surrounding the city. A short drive from town takes visitors to some of the most breathtaking landscapes on earth, and a short drive from Viewaldstätter Lake leads to nearby winter resorts and many more lakes.
St. Moritz - The snow-clad mountains of St. Moritz are loved by ski enthusiasts from all over the world. Outstanding accommodations and nightlife are just the trimmings for a winter playground of superlative quality. Oberengadin's mineral springs are also a major draw card. St. Moritz is the most famous ski resort in the world: chic, elegant and grand with a very cosmopolitan ambience. It lies in a beautiful setting around the lake in the Engadin valley. The 'sparkling dry champagne climate of St. Moritz' is legendary: its famous sun shines 322 days of the year. The famous health springs have been in use since the Bronze Age and a modern spa complex complements their soothing properties. St. Moritz is the birthplace of winter tourism and modern winter sports in the Alps and is Switzerland's only Olympic host resort. It literally offers 'snow how' at its best: skiing - downhill and cross-country - the Cresta and Bob runs; horse races, polo and golf on the frozen lake, plus a consummate nightlife, gala events, shopping fashion shows and much more.
Zurich is often referred to as the "garden city on the lake". A stroll through the fascinating city will soon explain the reason for this. Zurich is one of the richest cantons in the country and home to the famous and very beautiful shopping street, Bahnhofstrasse. It is a bustling metropolis with many new buildings and modern architecture. Age-old landmarks and examples of unique design and artistic styles proliferate the city; the oldest and best preserved are most densely distributed in Neumarkt. The famous Grossmunster with its two tall towers is most dominant. Visit the late 15th century Wasserkiche and the Rathaus, a graceful town hall built in renaissance style. Famous for its traditional festivals and holiday celebrations, Downtown Niederdorf is the center of activities. From jazz clubs to restaurants & bars to cultural pursuits including galleries, museums and exhibitions, there is something interesting all year. To really get familiar with Zurich, experience it from the Lake of Zurich. The perspective of the city and its romantic surrounds from this vantage point is unique and not to be missed.