VACATIONS Newsletter – June 2022
Thank God for our beautiful planet
5th June is World Environment Day. What has that got to do with travel, you might ask. A lot, really. The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. (source: epa.gov)
After being in a global lockdown for almost two years, we all want to head out to our dream destinations. See the sights we have missed, eat the food we have longed for, catch up on all the shopping, meet people we haven’t seen IRL for so long, attend family functions, take the kids on trips, undertake the treks we have been planning for and so many other things which have been on pause for two years. Some have termed it ‘Revenge Travel’. But travel is too beautiful an experience to be coupled with anything negative such as revenge. Let’s call it Reset Travel. Just like how we reset factory settings on our devices to get rid of all the clutter accumulated over the years. Let’s think of travel like that. Reset. For our mind, body and soul. And also, for our planet. This time when we rush to see the pristine glaciers, verdant forests, lush valleys, balmy beaches, monuments rich with heritage, opulent malls and whatever else there is in our travel list, let’s do it with a sense of responsibility and gratitude.
Switzerland – one of the most beautiful locations on our planet Earth is the focus of this month’s newsletter. Extending across the north and south side of the Alps in west-central Europe, Switzerland encompasses a great diversity of landscapes, climates, languages and lifestyles. Not only does its green rolling hills or white snow covered ski slopes but even its cheese and chocolate fondue will transport you to heaven on Earth. It’s a heaven where everything is perfect and pretty. Let’s be responsible travellers and keep it like that.
Soul Trip: In pursuit of Heaven on Earth
What do you imagine, when you imagine Heaven.
Let’s take a guess: A beautiful place, with great food, people’s laughter and general camaraderie in the air, everything available on time, at the right place, where you can be free of your stress and worries, wherever your eyes look, the beautiful vistas feed your soul to its greatest depth.
Now think of your most favourite place on Earth. In all probability, these two images are the same.
When we travel, we want to travel to places which can lift us up from our daily humdrum. It is not just a physical movement from place A to place B but it is actually an internal journey from mental state A to mental state B. At least the best of our travels are. You might travel solo or with your partner or with your family and kids, a travel fraught with too much planning, unexpected delays and changes can interfere with your escape to your dreamland. But in the present times, we have to learn to take it in our stride.
While the worst of pandemic might be over and the world has opened up, the aftermath of the chaos remains, especially with rules changing on short notice, airlines running on thin staff, the danger of a new variant still lurking in the air. How will it be possible to have a peaceful, tranquil holiday amidst so much disarray and uncertainty? This is where our mental preparedness comes in. Travel with a sense of equanimity, calmness and gratitude. Travel with a sense of oneness with the world and responsibility. And you will see that every trip you take will become a trip with positive, pretty memories.
And with this equanimity, calmness and gratitude, if the destination is some place like Switzerland, you can be sure that there is no other place more heavenly.
Discover Your World
To get a sample itinerary for Switzerland, click here
Switzerland – the name that evokes the perfectly manicured gardens shown in Hindi movies, pristine white ski slopes where you might just stumble into James Bond or the rolling green hills dotted with Swiss cows. Do you know that due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names: Schweiz (German),Suisse (French); Svizzera (Italian); and Svizra (Romansh). On coins and stamps, the Latin name, Confoederatio Helvetica – frequently shortened to "Helvetia" – is used instead of the four national languages. In fact, at a lot of stations and road signs, the same town might be spelled differently. Don’t let this confuse you.
Not only does this signify the diversity of the country but also their tolerant attitude towards one and all. That is why for years and years, Switzerland is known as one of the most neutral countries in the world.
Switzerland is well known as a tourist destination and has been number one preferred destination for Indians for years. Almost all cities (Bern, Zurich, Lucerne, Basel, Geneva) are all well known. All mountain tops (Matterhorn in Zermatt, Eiger, Pilatus, Rigi, Titlis, Jungfrau, Schilthorn) are familiar to most tourists. You can drive up, hike up, take a bus, cable car, cog railway or any of the combinations. The tourist circuit in Switzerland is well-laid out and even if you are travelling to Europe for the first time, you will find it easy to plan your travel.
However, the real gem of Switzerland is its rail network. A developed country, Switzerland has the highest nominal wealth per adult. The public transport system is very developed and one of the most enjoyable journeys you can do in Switzerland is on one of its many spick and span trains.
Here is short list of the most remarkable railway lines in Switzerland:
1. The Glacier Express from Davos or St. Moritz in the Grisons to Zermatt in canton of Valais, an 8 hours journey in the Swiss Alps.
2. The Bernina Express from Chur to St. Moritz to the Italian Tirano, the highest train transversal in the Alps over the Bernina pass for spectacular mountain scenery.
3. The Jungfrau railway, from Interlaken to the Jungfrau station lying on a saddle between the peaks of Jungfrau and Mönch in two hours. Definitely one of the most impressive journeys in the Alps. It is something else to sit inside with wide windows and see the famous mountain peaks go by.
4. The Gornergrat railway, departure from Zermatt to Gornergrat.
5. The Mount Rigi cogwheel railways either from Vitznau, or from >Arth-Goldau, the oldest mountain train in Europe, started running on 21st May 1871.
6. The Mount Pilatus cogwheel railway, from Lucerne to the Pilatus summit, the steepest (max. 48% gradient) cogwheel railway in the world, opened in 1889.
7. The Brienz Rothorn steam cogwheel railway above lake Brienz to the Rothorn summit and almost exclusively run by steam locomotives evoking a nostalgic past in a modern nation.
8. The Lötschberg is a line connecting Bern and Brig, not considered as a mountain train but with still impressive scenery, especially if you take the route by a regional train ('RE') through the old 14.6km long Lötschberg vertex tunnel (between Kandersteg and Goppenstein, 500m above the 34.6km long Lötschberg Base Tunnel, a high-speed train tunnel newly opened in 2007).
9. The St. Gotthard line with its many spiral train tunnels and the 15km long St. Gotthard train tunnel (built between 1872 and 1882, 199 workers spent their lifes for its construction) connecting the German spoken nothern Switzerland Zurich/Luzern and the Italian spoken southern Switzerland Ticino (Bellinzona, Lugano, Locarno). Also advertised as the William Tell (Willhelm Tell) Express between Luzern and Flüelen by boat, and further then by train to either Lugano, or Locarno.
It is so easy to spend a week in Switzerland just crisscrossing its beautiful landscape on train. You can even reserve sleeping berths in a train and cut out hotels altogether or you can take a halt at any city / town for the night and after a nice Swiss breakfast, head to the next idyllic spot anywhere in Switzerland.
And guess what, trains are one of the least polluting transports so your memorable train trip will also be kinder to the environment too! What more do we want from a place that’s like heaven – that it has something for everybody and that it is available for all of us to enjoy, revere and protect.
COVID UPDATE: At the time of writing, Switzerland was fully open to double-vaccinated adults and unvaccinated kids below 16. There is no mandatory quarantine or RTPCR testing needed. Anybody with valid Schengen visa can enter Switzerland for tourism purposes. For any latest update, please check schengenvisainfo.com or Swiss government’s website.
In dynamic times like these, when the travel situation in the world seems to be changing on a daily basis, how does one prepare for the daunting travel. The best way is to be prepared in your mind that things can change and not everything will go to plan. Expect disruption and prepare your mind for chaotic conditions. This is the most important preparation. Once you have prepared your mind for this, the rest will follow.
1) Be prepared for delays: Immigration delays, flight delays, baggage delays, coronavirus screening delays – it’s all possible. Let’s accept it – too many of us are out travelling this summer. And the authorities are trying to do their best they can. Sometimes situation is beyond their control. Learn to keep patience, keep your phone battery charged and carry a book to read. Maintaining calm will benefit you and everybody stuck in the same situation.
2) Be prepared for change in plans: At this point nobody really knows what the next day will bring. Which airline will decide to ground its plan or which flight will turned back mid-way. It has happened in the past during the pandemic and might happen again. Carry your cool with you. It is frustrating but our new reality.
3) Try alternative ways of reaching your service provider: In chaos, when every one is trying to reroute, rebook, your service providers’ phone lines may get busy (they might be running on thin staff too). At times like this, try different mechanisms of reaching them such as email to customercare or chatbots on their website or through Twitter. You might find a resolution faster.
4) Book your travel direct as much as possible: While a lot of good deals might be available with the OTAs, their hands are tied in times of emergencies, changes, cancellations or rescheduling. If you are booking through an OTA, be careful about their conditions. Otherwise, it is better to book the hotel / flights / taxis etc directly with the service provider themselves.
5) Take proper travel insurance: This is perhaps one of the most important elements of your travel planning nowadays. Not only medical cover but also cover for delays, cancellations etc can be included in your travel insurance. Find the best insurance that covers all possible eventualities and let your mind be free of any worries.
News You can Use
Events, Festivals in Switzerland in June 2022
24 Jun, 2022: Truckers and Country Festival, Interlaken Airport
5 Jun 2022: Zucchero, Hallenstadion, Zurich
13 Jun, 2022: Lorde, Halle 622, Zuricj
22 Jun, 2022: Beck, Volkshaus, Zurich
23 Jun, 2022: Pearl Jam, Hallenstadion, Zurich
30 Jun 2022: Iron Maiden, Hallenstadion, Zurich
9 Jun – 11 Jun 2022: Greenfield Festival, Interlaken (Switzerland’s biggest rock festival)
Please check all events for any cancellations or changes.
‘Vacations’ is powered by OneShoe Trust for Responsible & Mindful Travels – a social enterprise that promotes travelling as a means to raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Incubated at IIM Bangalore, OneShoe is the source of most authentic travel experiences around the world.
Link to: oneshoetravels.com
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