During an unusually hot week, Meredith raced across Switzerland from Zurich to Bern in a competition reminiscent of The Amazing Race. This was no television show however. Organized by the Swiss Tourism Board, this five-day event sent Meredith and other explorers on a mission to understand both the unique culture and fantastical history of the serene European country.
Ripped from the pages of a fantasy novel, the Swiss countryside treated Meredith to crisp air, green hills, and occasional century old castle. The Alps seem painted against the blue sky in a land seemingly far away from civilization. For tourists, the sights are mystical but for the Swiss, it’s the work commute. The distances between the major Swiss cities are rarely more than an hour. They are isolated, appearing without warning but never distracting from the beautiful setting they sit in. The architecture invokes an older era lost to time much like the castles that surround them. Both city and scenery blend to make Switzerland truly unique.
The major cities of Zurich, Interlaken, and Bern maintain an old European charm rooted in their unique culture and heritage. Activities highlighted the life and history of the people. A scavenger hunt sent Meredith through the city, speaking to the locals about their traditions while a cheese-rolling event showcased a Swiss specialty: cheese. The fondue in particular, made from a blend of many regional cheeses, was delicious.
The well-educated people speak a variety of languages fluently including English making Switzerland surprisingly accessible and very welcoming. Perhaps there is no better place to describe the laid-back friendliness of the Swiss than the capital of Bern. Parasailing on a weekday afternoon? Sure! How about a dip in the Aare River during a work break? Don’t see why not.
The relaxed tranquility rivals Caribbean beach resorts. Trading the ocean for mountains, people come from all over to ski the Alps or unwind in one of the many mountain resorts to absorb the breathtaking views. Normally proper preparation includes warm weather packing, however, Meredith arrived midway through a heat wave, a climate that the Swiss are understandably unprepared for. Don’t expect to find an air-conditioner anywhere.
Meredith never mentioned if she won the race but in the end, it really does not matter. Switzerland was amazing enough.
Written by Nate Smith from an interview given on 8/28/2015.