They say Australian’s love the sun, hard to refute when we consistently rank in the top three highest rates of skin-cancer in the world. Any wonder Switzerland don’t rank higher than they do (#14). Give a Swiss person five-minutes break in the sun and their high-tailing it for the nearest lake, river or fish-pond. On a weeknight in Summer you would be forgiven for thinking it was a public holiday by the number of Swiss who strip off to whittle away the long evening twilight. Volleyball, football, BBQs, busking and various kinds of smoking, are all done in abundance by their streams, rivers and lakes which owe their existence to the nearby Alps. During one Summer night’s run around the shore of Lake Zurich I had myself convinced celebrations for their national holiday were well underway. Nope, just a healthy obsession with extracting every ounce of Vitamin-D before the icy Winter bites back in.
I’ve deliberately neglected giving a running commentary on the days of our lives in Switzerland, any Lonely Planet guide can fill that job. But one day in particular deserves signalling out as it encapsulates all that is symbolic of the Swiss summer.
There are many gondola’s that will take you to various mountain peaks and while we experienced a few of these, one that stood out above all else was a trip to Mt Pilatus. Like Jack and the Beanstalk the gondola cable extends to unfathomable heights (and distance) across the top of jagged escarpments that give you a distinct sense of height and vertigo. Once docked inside the 007-style, mountain top station you step out to a 360º panorama that is a pure, visual assault. Such is the intensity of the view there was a sick-bay for Chinese tourists that were suffering from CFT (catatonic finger twitch). No I made that last part up, but I imagine there were for the long-suffering relatives at home who would endure the step-by-step, photo slideshow of the visit. If you’re a hiker this place is paradise and if you’re not, there’s still plenty of flat-track, speccy views from the deck.
Allow enough time to stop off at the next station down (Fräkmüntegg) from the summit where a tree-top rope park and a 1.35km long toboggan ride – Switzerland’s longest – set amongst alpine flowers and the sound of cluttering cow bells top off a truly memorable Swiss, summer experience. And if you get out of Switzerland without being tempted into a purchase from one of the many beautifully designed, display cabinets for Swiss Army Knives you’re a much stronger man than I.