Hello everyone and welcome to the Meet the Locals series on Lost in Switzerland. In this episode, I’m talking to another friend from university.
I met Andrea when us urban planners had to team up with the landscape architects for a project. For some reason, our project was a complete disaster. We did pass but it was a very close call. However, the whole odyssey resulted in a good friendship with Andrea. So I guess it was worth the struggle. 🙂
Thanks for taking part in this interview, Andrea. Before we dive in, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do and what have you been up to lately?
Hey Seraina, thanks for having me on your blog. I work as a landscape architect and currently live in the city of Zug. I say currently because I’ve had quite a few different places to call home in the past.
During the last three years, I’ve mainly lived in Zurich and Zug. However, I’m originally from a small village close to Rapperswil in eastern Switzerland. By the way, Rapperswil is a pretty little town by Lake Zurich and well worth a visit.
(Note Seraina: I can definitely double that. Rapperswil is where Andera, Tobias, Gabriela, Yannic and I studied for three years. I still miss this cute little town with its lake and the mountain views.)
Just over a year ago, I quit my job and travelled to Ecuador and Colombia. During that time, I realised how much I loved being on the road. So when I returned home, I worked for a couple of months and set out to travel again. The second time round, I went to the Netherlands, back to Colombia and to Portugal.
Now I’m back in Zug, working and saving up for my next trip which will hopefully happen in March.
Nice, sounds like you’re living the nomadic dream. Now, when you’re in Switzerland for a change, what are your three favourite places? Do you have any insider tips for us?
Oh wow, it’s hard to pick only three. I have so many. But I really love the following:
1. Lindenhof, Zurich
Whenever I stroll around Zurich, I usually visit the Lindenhof. I just can’t get enough of it. This park sits at the top of a hill in the middle of the old town. From up there, you get a spectacular view over the city and the River Limmat. The overall atmosphere is very calming and chilled out.
It’s the perfect place to take a break from the busy Bahnhofstrasse or the madness at the train station.
2. Rosengarten, Bern
Another beautiful place is the Rosengarten in Bern. This park is only a 10-minute walk uphill from the old town. The view from up there is amazing. I love overlooking the old town and the River Aare, which flows around the historic part of our capital city.
Facing the other way, you can see the stunning Bernese Alps with its snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Beside the views, the park is also a great spot to take a break. Sit down on a bench, take a nap in the grass or enjoy your picnic after your free walking tour.
And if you’re there during summer, don’t forget your swimsuit. It’ll be one of your highlights to hop in the cold river and float downstream. Bring a plastic bag so you can carry your clothes along on this floating adventure. Once you get out the chilly Aare, you’ll be happy to be able to put on dry clothes.
3. Atzmännig, Canton of St. Gallen
This one is probably my favourite spot because it’s where I grew up. Atzmännig offers a wide range of attractions. During summer, you can go hiking or luging, live out your inner monkey at the tree-top climbing park or just relax in the sun.
In winter, Atzmännig is great for skiing, sledging, snowshoe walking and throwing snowballs at other people.
What I’m especially fond of is the view over Lake Zurich, the Churfirsten mountain range, the mountains of the Glarnerland and the Linthebene, a plain that was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. On a good day, you can even see as far as the Bernese Alps.
The convenient thing about Atzmännig is that it’s only about an hour away from Zurich. There’s an old yet charming chairlift to take you up if you’re not in for the climb. For more information, visit this website.
What’s your favourite season in Switzerland and where do you like to go during that time of the year?
It’s hard to pick a favourite. I love all four. But if I had to choose one, it would be autumn.
This is my season for hiking. I love escaping the fog when it starts crawling across the lower parts of Switzerland. The temperature is generally pleasant and overlooking the sea of fog always brightens up my mood.
I also love when the leaves begin to change and the forests turn golden. Talk about jealousy-inducing Instagram pictures… My favourite place to enjoy the foliage season is the Engadin in the Canton of Grisons.
If someone told you they were coming to Switzerland for a couple of days, what places would you tell them to go see?
First up, I’d tell them that „a couple of days“ definitely aren’t going to cut it. Even four weeks won’t be enough. But I know that most people neither have the time nor the money to spend a whole month in our little country.
So to answer your question: Zurich and Bern are definitely worth a visit. And don’t leave Switzerland without having spent some time in the mountains.
If you’re in Bern, the Bernese Alps are very close. Interlaken and Grindelwald are crazy touristy but convenient places to start your mountain adventure.
The Canton of Grisons, which is easily accessible from Zurich, also has a lot to offer in terms of mountains. I recommend Davos, Lenzerheide, Arosa or Flims to start your trip.
Another mountainous region very close to Zurich is the Glarnerland in the Canton of Glarus. It’s way less touristy than the Bernese Alps and also famous for its beautiful mountains. Glarus, Elm and Braunwald are good places to include in your itinerary.
As a person who loves to travel, is there anything you miss when you’re away? What do you look forward to the most when you come back to Switzerland after a trip?
Water! That’s the one thing I miss the most. In Switzerland, you can drink from every tap or fountain you come across. Unless there’s a sign telling you otherwise.
I also miss our delicious bread when I’m away. There’s nothing like buying fresh bread from the bakery. And every now and then, I treat myself to a Nussgipfel. (#9 in this post)
The last thing I love coming home to is our public transport. It’s so incredibly convenient and usually on time. You can reach almost every corner of the country which is really convenient if you don’t have a car.
You currently live in Zug. Since this city isn’t super famous among tourists, can you give us a couple of spots people might enjoy in your current hometown?
Zug has a lovely little historic centre with beautiful buildings. The lakefront is a great place to go for a stroll and the Guggishügel is a lovely viewpoint with a great mountain panorama.
You can also catch the train up Zugerberg, another hill with spectacular mountain views.
If you’re over all the photo opportunities by now, treat yourself to a slice of Zugerkirschtorte. Just head to the nearest bakery and enjoy this typical, local pastry. But be warned, it contains a serious amount of alcohol because it’s pretty much drenched in Kirsch.
Mountain views and booze-pastry. Doesn’t sound too bad 🙂 Now, since this blog is about visiting Switzerland on a budget, I have to ask this standard question. What’s your number one money-saving tip for someone who’s travelling through Switzerland?
- Drink water from the tap. It‘s drinkable all across the country and spending money on bottled water just doesn’t make sense around here.
- Go hiking. It’s a free activity. Buy your lunch at the supermarket or from local producers along the way and enjoy a budget-friendly day.
Thank you so much, Andrea. I think we’ve covered a fair share of photo opportunities and some great local advice here. I guess I’ll have to come visit you in Zug as soon as you’re back from your next trip in March.