Getting to Switzerland took a LOT of work. I first dreamed of the idea several years ago, then we made the commitment to make it happen about a year before we went (deciding on the date, etc). But the real work was in the reading and planning and reading some more during the 6 months prior to our departure. I spent hours upon hours researching various activities and options, learning the lay of the land and the customs. The single smartest thing I did was purchase Rick Steves' book on Switzerland. It gave me a starting point. I made lists of possible cities to visit and then more lists of things to do and see in those cities, places to sleep, restaurants to try. In the end, we visited the following cities in this order:
We took TONS of pictures. I took over 2000 myself; my husband took nearly 1000. It was fun to see our different perspectives. (On our trip to Ireland in 2010, he took a picture of every restroom he visited, but THAT'S a different story.) We put together a slide show for the family and had them over so they could experience Switzerland through our eyes. Here are some of my favorites:
Murren was, by far, where we enjoyed ourselves the most. The views are indescribable. Nature's beauty is everywhere and beckons in subtle and grand ways. Being out in it was invigorating and awe-inspiring.
What a difference the sun makes! The Sonnenberg Valley just after sunrise. We got up early and hiked uphill for an hour... the valley was still in shadow when we arrived. But as soon as the sun cleared the Black Monk, light flooded the valley.
This was a trip of a lifetime, magical and enchanting in so many ways. Switzerland is divided into four regions with four official languages (German, Italian, French, and Romansh - an obscure Latin dialect), and each region is distinct from the others. My least favorite was the French, though, to be fair, it was the area where we spent the least amount of time. Maybe another trip to more fully round out my exposure is in order? The folks in the German-speaking regions were very warm and friendly and were, in our experience, the most accommodating to conversing with us in English.
For a girl who absolutely and unequivocally loves and is IN love with mountains, there is no greater place on earth in which to experience their unadulterated grandeur and majesty than Switzerland. It was pure magic, and I feel blessed.