Café de Grancy (Avenue du Rond-Point 1, Lausanne) – this restaurant has an “at home feel to it”, complete with its wooden tables and chairs, chalkboard menu, board games and antique furniture sitting area. In addition, promotions like “Wednesday night fondue” take something as commonplace as Switzerland’s national dish and turn it into an extravaganza allowing you to choose from an array of cheese fondues as well as a beef and even fish fondue option. This restaurant serves various dishes with French influences, as well as weekend brunch that satisfies both American and European tastes.
Einkaufszentrum Glatt (Neue Winterthurerstrasse 99, Glattzentrum/Wallisellen) – this is one of the most popular shopping centers in the Zurich area. Over 100 retailers are found here, covering a range of goods from fashion to jewelry, watches, toys, electronic goods and more. Various eateries are located here as well – from tapas bars, to Starbucks, and Mc Donald’s.
Bern (city) – located 90 minutes southwest of Zürich, Bern is the capital Switzerland, making it the seat of the country’s government. The Houses of Parliament (Bundeshaus) rise above the city just a stone’s throw away from the railway station. The doors to the Houses of Parliament are open to visitors most of the time, and if you’re lucky you might even bump into a member of parliament in the streets of the city.
Despite its status as the country’s capital, much of the city retains its medieval identity and charm. The elevated Rose Garden above the Bear Park and the platform of the 101-metre-high cathedral tower offer the best views of the old town round which the River Aare flows. The former entrenchments and bastions drop down steeply to the river. The boutiques, bars and cabaret stages of the old town, some of which are located in vaulted cellars, and the small street cafes attract locals as well as a lot of tourists. Although Bern has a very good public transport network it is best to explore the city center on foot. Bern is also known as being the gateway to the Alps.
Baroque Club (Place de la Fusterie 12, Geneva) – the posh interiors of the venue makes this one of Geneva’s top nightspots. There’s no entrance fee, but drinks are rather pricey. Despite that, this club is regularly packed with mostly 20-something revelers dancing to electronic dance music.
Aathal Dinosaur Museum (Zürichstrasse 69, 8607 Aathal) — has been around for more than 20 years: be surprised by the extensive exhibits and the countless activities on offer. Visitors can immerse themselves in a bygone world and experience how the bizarre dinosaurs, the rulers of land of yesteryear, could have lived. Much about their lives remains hidden from us, but with each new fossil discovery and joint research effort, a bit more light is shone on this dark past. In this day there is a wide realm of knowledge, attractively staged in the Aathal Dinosaur Museum and waiting to be experienced.
Admission: CHF 21 (adult), CHF 11 (children ages 5-16). Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Tuesday – Saturday), 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Sunday).
This mountainous nation (where much of the Alps are located) has a history that goes as far back as the Romans, when they occupied the country from 200 BC to 400 AD. The original name of the country (Helvetia) got its original name from the Celtic tribe that lived in the country, and were defeated by Julius Caesar in 58 BC. Present-day Swiss cities such as Zürich, Basel, Geneva and Lausanne were founded during the Roman era.
After 400 AD, Germanic tribes took over Switzerland, with Frankish rule established there from the 6th through the 8th centuries. The country gained its distinct political and social identity from the establishment of the Old Swiss Confederacy (consisting of an alliance among the valley communities in the central Alps – confirmed by the Federal Charter of 1291 AD). By the middle of the 15th century, this confederacy expanded to outer lying areas of what’s now present-day Switzerland (particularly areas south and west of the Rhine, and the Jura mountains). The country’s military victory against the (Germanic) Swabian League in 1499 won it de facto independence within the pre-existing Holy Roman Empire.
Switzerland’s reputation of being difficult to conquer by outsiders (due in part to its rugged mountainous terrain) suffered a setback in 1798 when the revolutionary French government conquered it. However, under Napoleon, the country managed to gain its autonomy under the Act of Mediation in 1803. Napoleon granted such autonomy to the Swiss, so that the country itself could act as a pro-French buffer state with Austria and the German states. In 1815, just after the demise of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna fully re-established the country’s independence, with Swiss neutrality in European political affairs permanently recognized. That gave the Swiss the opportunity to set up an American-inspired Federal political system (with central authority, along with room for self-government on local issues).
Interestingly, Switzerland was never invaded during World Wars I and II. It enforced a policy of neutrality during World War II by shooting down both Nazi Germany and Allied war planes that flew over its territory. The Swiss cities of Basel, Zürich and Schaffhausen suffered some Allied bombings during that conflict.
Nowadays, in keeping with its long tradition of sovereignty and neutrality, Switzerland is one of only a handful of western European nations that have not joined the European Union (EU). Bordered on all sides by member states, the Swiss maintain a bilateral relationship with the EU. In 2001, Swiss citizens voted on a popular initiative to open membership negotiations, but nearly 77 percent of voters decided that Switzerland should remain separate from the EU. Many view this political stance as a form of protecting the country’s major industries (such as banking and finance).
Over the years, Switzerland has become a popular tourist destination, especially for those who enjoy the country’s winter weather and accompanying mountain ski resorts. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism consisted of 7.4% of the country’s GDP. Switzerland is also unique in that it is divided into linguistic German, French and Italian-speaking regions (that are geographically proximate to France, Germany and Italy). Zürich, the country’s largest city, is one of Switzerland’s major destinations (noted for its art and shopping).