Travel With Ysabel: Geneva & Zermatt, Switzerland

What I look forward to travelling internationally is how I get to experience new things that aren’t really found in my home country, or the things I do more often that not. Having to live in a tropical country means one thing – to experience four seasons, particularly winter! It may be spring in Geneva but up in the Alps, it’s always winter. Switzerland was the second country I travelled to by myself right after Austria (see here and here).  What made this experience meaningful is that I hopped on the wrong train TWICE, making my travel from 12 hours to 14, and I got ill needless to say, this trip had YOLO all over it.

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I met up with my fellow exchange students from ADMU, Reine and Gel in Switzerland who arrived a day earlier than I did. Boy, did I enjoy the Swiss sunshine! Four languages (excluding English) are spoken there – French, Italian, German and Romansh. Everything there is more expensive than the usual things you purchase in Europe, so I had to be extra frugal with my spendings. Pictured here is the Jet D’eau or the Water Jet in English. It is one of the largest fountains in the world, and it was used as a safety valve for a hydraulic power network. Its maximum height is 295 feet or 90 meters.

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I never thought I had the chance to tour United Nations Headquarters (UN dreams !!!) and see a little behind the scenes of what goes around the center that focuses on humanitarianism issues, trade and development, science and development, peace and desire and of course human rights. There was a designated tour guide that explained the whatabout’s inside. Geneva was chosen to build a UN headquarters because it is considered a capital city of diplomacy. 7 languages are officiated or spoken in the UN conferences: English, French, Arabic, Mandarin [Chinese], Spanish and Russian with over 25,000 delegates today from around the world. We were able to enter conference rooms too! Since its establishment in  October 1945, the UN charters 51 countries.

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I also got to see some famous Geneva landmarks – the Broken Chair, by Swiss artist Daniel Berset, which symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva. The other is the L’horloge Fleurie (The Flower Clock), as it symbolises as a dedication to nature and a city watchmaker. The flower decorations change every season. That night, I was also able to meet up with a friend of mine from ice skating that I haven’t seen in a long time, Giselle! She’s now based in Geneva with her beautiful family.

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I was a tad bit hesistant to go up to Zermatt since I was feeling under the weather and afraid it might worsen since the weather forecast said it was stormy. I decided to push through and wing the trip, bringing medicine and bundled well from head to toe! It was a 4 hour trip up. It was unfortunate that I was unable to see the Toblerone mountain (aka the Matterhorn) since the weather was uncooperative but I did have fun playing in the snow storm! Queen Elsa mode activated.

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The sight of wooden and stoned cottages on the plateaus is how I exactly pictured Switzerland prior to the trip. I think I’ve mentioned several times how I battle my fear of heights every time I travel and I’m glad something beautiful like the scenery of Zermatt is what makes it worth facing. It was rainy and snowy yet, it was still wonderful. I had no one to share my joy with but the experience of travelling up to the Swiss Alps alone, over 10,00 feet above, sick on a day of bad weather is an accomplishment for me! 🙂