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Post from 25/05/2012

The Mountain Calls

Many associate the famous Matterhorn with the travel destination Switzerland or just a vacation in the mountains. Be it in the summer hiking up the mountain pastures lined with gentian or skiing down the snow covered pistes in the winter. Not everybody knows that this high situated Alpine idyll is made up of four different ethnic groups that harmoniously live together. In our blog we would like you to introduce the particular holiday charms of the various language regions.

German-speaking Switzerland

The Schwyzerdütsch (German) speaking majority lives particularly in the northern, eastern and central part of Switzerland. Schwyzerdütsch is a collection of Alemannic dialects which are related with those from the southern German region.

Guests who are interested in a varied cultural program will find the wide range offered by Zurich that includes many shows, musicals and theatre performances to their liking. After an exuberant performance there are number of bars or restaurants where you can reflect on the impressions taken from the evening. An impressive natural spectacle is provided by the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen that is the largest waterfall in Europe. The water supposedly has a pleasant effect which already Goethe knew of and he enjoyed the warm thermal baths of the town Baden.

Similarly the surrounding area of the Sankt Gotthard known for its tunnel is also associated with water. The sources of the large rivers Rhine, Rhone and Reuss come from here. Furthermore the Urserental is lined with more than 40 crystal clear mountain lakes. The adventure trail in Göscheneralptal invites hikers to explore the topic “water worlds”. Those who prefer to hit balls are recommended to pay a visit to the Alpine golf course Gotthard Realp.

For those who think back fondly to Heidi, Peter and Alpöhi – Heidi‘s granddad – are recommended to visit Maienfeld. In the Heidi Museum you will find out a lot about the character or trace her steps on the Heidi Adventure Path. It takes you to Heidi’s house past the hut of Peter and all the way up the “Ochsenberg” where Alpöhi awaits the studious hikers.

French-speaking Switzerland
The second largest population group in Switzerland is from a language point of view orientated towards the western neighbour France. It is therefore no surprise that the French language prevails in the western cantons Geneva, Vaud and Valais. This region has a lot to offer including the sports region Portes du Soleil, the highest mountains in Switzerland located in the Saas Valley as well as Val de Travers that is characterised by handicraft.

From Lake Geneva some mountaineering areas have merged together to the region Portes du Soleil. Sports enthusiasts are able to choose from a range of activities like mountain biking, hiking and riding. With a single mountain transport pass 380 kilometres of mountain bike routes as well as 800 kilometres of hiking trails are connected with each other by 24 mountain rails. When finally reaching the top you are treated to a delight of mountains, valleys and cosy alpine huts.

For mountaineers Saas Valley is a must as with 18 four thousand peaks it has a lot to offer. With the Metro Alpin you are able to reach the highest located train station in Europe at an altitude of 3,500 metres on the Jungfraujoch. Next to the high summits the adventure forest, petting zoo, toboggan run and canyon crossings are especially suitable for the smaller guests.

The famous Swiss watches can be found for example close to Sainte-Croix in Val de Travers. Apart from the watchmaking industry the production of absinth schnapps which was forbidden for a long time plays a significant role in this valley. Less controversial drinks are made by the Benedictine monastery St. Pierre in Môtiers that produce sparkling wine. Furthermore asphalt mining has created a unique labyrinth of tunnels and ways. After a guided tour through the artificial cave world the ham of the region that is cooked in asphalt tastes especially nice.

Italian-speaking Switzerland
Palm trees in the Alps? This is possible in Italian-speaking Ticino in the south of the country. Especially the mild climate at Lago Maggiore harmoniously brings together Italian zest for life and snow covered summits. A number of authors such as Hermann Hesse or Max Frisch were enchanted by the sea views which resemble the Côte d'Azur and the scent of jasmine turns this place into a paradise on earth. Rhythmic magic is provided by JazzAscona the largest annual Hot Jazz-Festival in Europe that takes place at the lakeside of the town Ascona. Here the unique atmosphere of New Orleans is brought to life by world famous performers.

Not far away from the neighbouring town of Ascona in Locarno you are able to find Valli di Locarno in close proximity which are pristine valleys with lots of wild nature. In Centovalli which translates to “100 Valleys” you are able to travel with the Centovalli Railway across dizzy viaducts, deep canyons and thunderous waterfalls. In Maggia Valley nearly 40 mountain lakes await hikers at the ascent offering welcoming refreshment. Valle Verzasca however is known to be a wellness oasis with its natural “Whirlpools”. The green river Verzasca that spouts from nearly white stone is collected along the river in tubs ideal for bathing.

And finally Romansh Switzerland

The smallest and probably most unknown language group are the Romansh in Switzerland. You will find them in parts of Graubünden though Italian or German are also spoken here. In this rustic part of Switzerland you can enjoy an excellent active vacation. Rafting, cycling, hiking – this is what this region is perfect for. From the village Zernez which is known as the “Gate of the National Park” is the ideal starting point for eventful discovery tours of the wild nature. The Inntal offers rafting enthusiast with its white water canyons unrivalled water pleasures and the Inn cycling network takes ambitious cyclists all the way to Budapest. One should not forget the Engadiner Höhenweg “Via Engiadina” that with a 60 kilometre route leaves no hiking desires unanswered.

Have you become interested in this country? Then please also read our blogs for the neighbouring countries Italy, France, Germany and Austria. You can find all blogs here.