Switzerland is a country with which I am having a really strange relationship. In my life I was there twice, but never managed to stay for longer than six hours. And the reason was my continuous wish to visit another country, despite the fact that I do not have a sufficient time for bigger discoveries. But better something than nothing at all.
First time I crossed an Italian – Switzerland border three years ago in March. At that time I was living in Milan, what is relatively close, so we packed from there to Rabadan carnival, which is being held annually in Swiss town of Bellinzona for more than 150 years. This celebration is extremely colourful when streets of the town are being filled up by crowds of partying people, both Swiss and Italians, who nearly all wear various costumes. Bellinzona is famous for its three castles, but during my staying there all I could see was only the huge masquerade. If I remember well, we finally reached this Swiss town already after the midnight. Interesting fact is that trains from town at Italian – Switzerland border to Bellinzona and back were carrying passengers for free.
So, my first time in Switzerland was looking exactly like that: huge party at night. Second time I crossed the border of this country on the last day of 2013. We were staying in lovely Italian town Verbania and very spontaneously decided to make a quick runaway to Locarno in Switzerland, which was only 30 km away. If one day you will be making the same route – don’t expect to reach your destination quickly: it really takes time as the road is winding.
Funny, because when we finally got into Locarno, nearly all the time we spent searching for a place to park the car. Some fives of circles around the town, which, by the way, is absolutely lovely and alive, with number of shops and eating places, were done when we finally put our feet on the Swiss land. Despite seeing Locarno, from one side elegantly saved by mountains with snowy caps, probably the most memorable moment was when we hit one bar. After opening the door of it we saw tens of elderly men, mainly all dressed in black, sitting at the tables and playing various games, in the corner with fireplace – few women were taking care about the baby, maybe even breastfeeding. Interior of the place as well as the outfit of the elder waitress could be dated some decades back. And, of course, let’s not forget a huge open aquarium with turtles in another room. The atmosphere of this bar is hard to describe in words, but was very effective to feel and see with the own eyes. From Switzerland I would expect more of modernity, but the first and only one place, which we saw brought us straight to the early 90s. Credit cards were not accepted there and no Swiss francs could be found in our wallets so unfortunately we could not observe the life of locals in this strange bar better. However, sometimes to stay with the first impression is even more memorable.
And here was my second trip to Switzerland, which lasted not more than two hours: afterwards we needed to come back to Italy, because 2014 should knock to our lives soon and many preparations before were still waiting.
I want to repeat that my favourite phrase is “better something than nothing at all”, which perfectly fits to my Swiss trips. But this year I promised myself not to leave it like that and finally get to know this country better because I really like it. Nothing’s organized yet, but till the end of spring I will definitely come back there for longer. And the main aim – Montreux, where I will try to follow the footsteps of Freddie Mercury, who loved this Switzerland town a lot and made his last album exactly there.