By Clare Urquhart

Switzerland is beyond anything I could have imagined.  When I first landed in Geneva, I was overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle around the UN properties and city centre. However, as you venture outside of Geneva, the craziness parallels the quiet German towns within the Swiss, Bernina, and Italian Alps. My first weekend trip was to Interlaken in the Jungfrau region, which literally means ‘between two lakes’. I ventured with friends to the top of Harder Kulm, a pre-alp mountain with a panoramic view of the town of Interlaken below. As you can see in the picture, the view is absolutely breathtaking. This is the exact moment when I became obsessed with trying to see as many parts of the Alps as I could over the course of my internship.

From Interlaken, I continued my adventures to Grindelwald, a small town about a half hour away via train from Interlaken. Again, it felt as though I was in front of a green screen. It didn’t seem real that we were in front of these amazing mountains. Since my trip in May, I have found myself travelling to all the different wonders of Switzerland, including Zermatt to view the infamous Matterhorn (it’s the mountain on the Toblerone packaging), the Pizol region Alps east of Zurich to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as other areas in the Jungfrau region including Lauterbrunnen and Muren. I have yet to visit St. Mortiz and Lugano, but they are definitely on my list!

The cities and towns outside of Geneva are also beautiful. The town of Gruyeres is in short distance to Geneva and holds two factories that are inherently infamous amongst the Swiss: the Gruyeres Cheese Factory (the most popular Swiss cheese brand), and the Cailler Factory where some of the best Swiss chocolate is made (there are lots of free samples if you take the tour!).  Zurich is the tech and business hub of the country with lots of modern buildings and architecture. In the winter, there is an unlimited number of places to ski and snowboard. Unfortunately, the Alps seem a little too advanced for my current skill level.

Now, some clichés about Swiss culture that I can contest to or debunk: 1) Yes, there are cows everywhere, even in Geneva. Goats? Not as many unless you go to a particular area. I now understand why Swiss beef is so expensive since you have to fetch your cattle 2500 ft above sea level. 2) Not everyone knows how to yodel, but the Alpenhorns are the traditional instrument of the area, and you can often find people playing them in smaller German based towns. 3) Cheese is a staple, and cheese Fondue is an absolute must when visiting! 4) No, not everyone owns a Swiss army knife, although you can choose from over 30 models created by the original Victorianox company.

That’s all for now: can’t wait for the next adventures!