This family vacation to Europe has been in the pipeline since the last 3 years. June 2017, things finally fell in place and I decided not to let work play a spoilsport. So I took a break from work, just to make this holiday happen.
When it came to selecting what places to go to, me and Abhishek had a long wish list (ofcourse!) including Barcelona, Amsterdam and most of Italy. Switzerland never made it to our list though. (Cause nah! Too honeymooney!) It was mom who was all gung ho about going to Switzerland! Thanks to the Yash Chopra films we’ve grown up on, that have made Switzerland every middle class Indian’s dream destination. So some permutation and combination later, we included Zurich, Lucerne and Engelberg to our plan. For Mom. Not us. (Abhishek was still cribbing about dropping Amsterdam) We were going to thank her later for this.
While planning this vacation, I wanted to make sure we do everything right. So post a lot of Google searches, blog reads and phone calls with friends who had travelled to these cities, I decided June would be the best time to hit Europe! Because that’s what most people & even GOOGLE said. The weather forecast for our travel period looked good too. Average temperature 25 degrees! Not bad at all!
Day 1. Paris – At 37 degrees, it was the hottest day in Paris & even made it to the news for being that hot. Not like we aren’t used to these temperatures but it wasn’t the most ideal holiday weather either.
After getting roasted in Paris, we left for Zurich by road. That drive onwards, I started falling in love with Europe. The lush green drive with visuals you don’t want to take your eyes off even for a minute, was pure mesmerizing.
I could get lost in the scenery I witnessed from my window seat. Green pastures as far as the eyes could see, little Swiss chalets scattered across the space, grass sheets rolled into cylinders around the yard, cows strolling around the hills or lazying on the grass & the horizon filled with dense pine trees. It’s a land straight out of fairy tales. I would look and wonder what life here would be like. Living in the chalet, secluded from the world. Rising up to the sounds of the cow bells and birds chirping. Breathing the fresh mountain air with the first rays of sunlight. What dreams are made of!
And this was just the beginning of what was going to blow our minds further. The next morning we drove to Engelberg, to board a cable car that would get us to the peak of Mount Titlis, a part of the Swiss Alps. As we got on the cable car & set off on a ride that was to take us 10000 ft above sea level, we saw what nature in its full glory is capable of.
The Majestic Swiss Alps standing tall and an underlying bed of lush green forest on all sides. White snow capped peaks, against a sky so clear & blue – it felt like a dream, but was as real as it could be.
As we got off the cable car, the temperature had taken quite a dip and the jackets and woolen caps were out. The chill in the wind was just the perfect kind! A flight of stairs got us to the snow covered mountain!
Did I tell you, this was our first ever snow sighting! Of course there was childlike excitement in the air. Even my mother who is generally very self aware, went a little berserk seeing the snow. We had our share of minor slips while trying to walk on it and of course the snow ball making and throwing ritual! Mom making the snow balls like a little kid and me documenting it.
By the time I was done with my documentation and ready to climb the peak, my brother went MIA. I knew he would be at the top with the rest of the gang. It was a short climb. I wanted to get there too but was too wary about doing it all by myself. But if i didn’t, I would miss out the sliding from the peak which was on my to do list for the day.
By this time the temperature had taken a further dip. Being asthmatic, I could actually feel the difficulty in breathing in. But it was a now or never situation. So I told myself, WTH! Let me just do this! Will have 2 pegs of scotch later and even out the body temperature! I mean, who knows when would I be back here with fam again. So, a few pit stops and lots of deep breathing later, I somehow made it to the peak of Mount Titlis and boy, was it worth it!!!
Amidst the faint cheers & giggles of people playing with the snow in the background, the only thing I could hear clearly at the peak was the sound of the wind. It took me a few minutes to just sit there, regain my breath and soak all the beauty that surrounded me. Never in my life have I ever felt so much at peace, as I felt at the peak of Titlis. The experience was nothing but surreal.
Then of course after a few minutes of alone time, the snow man making, jumping, dancing, picture clicking and the much awaited sliding from the top happened. Yay me!
Thank you Mom (and Mr Yash Chopra, in a way) for ensuring we saw this beauty. I finally get what all the hype about Switzerland is. It’s an absolutely jaw dropping-ly beautiful landscape. Such a soul nourishing experience.
PS: Ofcourse there is a life size DDLJ poster at the top of Titlis. How could I not pose with the cutout of my most favorite Bollywood movie ever, in this land of romance!
After regaining my breath post the climb. At the peak of Mt. Titlis.