#WomenOfTnl: Ritu Sharma, Deputy Director and Marketing Head – India, Switzerland Tourism, recalls her most memorable trip to Switzerland with her two best friends. Here’s a short anecdote of how this all-girls trip panned out. By Ritu Sharma
Two of my friends and I have been regularly going on girls-only weekends for the last 10 years, but we hadn’t had the chance to plan a longer holiday yet as it required a lot more planning. Luckily, in summer of 2019, we had the perfect opportunity.
I had a work trip to Switzerland, and one of my friends was visiting Milan to drop off her son to university. The period, coincidently, matched with our third friend’s planned holiday that had run into troubled waters. So, there we were in Switzerland: three friends with a Schengen visa and a few days to spare for a girl’s trip. Since none of us had enough time to plan our impromptu holiday, we settled for Switzerland because I was already familiar with the destination. Plus, the weather in June was perfect, and none of us had explored the country together.
We decided to rent an SUV upon landing at Zurich airport. Indian driving licenses are accepted in the country, as long as it is printed in English. Preparing for the journey was fun: picking the car, getting refreshments for the route, and altering the in-car navigation as per our liking. My friend, Kash—who drives regularly in Mumbai—volunteered to be the first driver, with me as the designated navigator. We had it all planned. While we started slow and it took us some time to get used to driving on the right side of the road, it seemed like we were doing okay. Twenty minutes later, we realised we’re going around in circles at the airport’s parking lot! We, then, decided to follow the signs rather than relying solely on the navigation. All was smooth after that, barring the minor panic attacks on the ramps and expressway. We stuck to the slow lane, diligently followed the rules, and relied on our brain and the navigation to reach our apartment safely.
We had booked an apartment at Lake Brienz, which is about two hours away from the airport. It was situated on the right side of the lake—minutes away from the village and shops—with a small garden to accompany. It was perfect for the three of us. Brienz houses less than 5,000 inhabitants and is less than an hour away from Lucerne and Interlaken. We decided to base ourselves in the centre of the country for five days and explore the region via day trips. So, we logged onto the Grand Tour of Switzerland, looked for driving tours in the country, and hit the highway from Zürich to Lucerne, exploring smaller routes throughout the remaining days of the trip.
We did a lot during the five days in Brienz, like visiting the famous mountain Titlis; exploring cities like Lucerne, and Interlaken; and even smaller villages like Meiringen, which is famous for its meringues and the Sherlock Holmes museum (the Giessbach falls, where Holmes had staged his death, is near Meiringen). We drove around small roads, had lunches at quaint local restaurants, walked along lakes, laid in the grass, and had picnic brunches comprising of food picked up from local bakeries and wine shops. The best moments were after dinner when we sat on the terrace overlooking the lake with a bottle of wine and talked for hours into the night. The beautiful countryside and the peaceful surroundings were just the right tonics we needed to reinvigorate.
In the last two days of our holiday, we took a super-fast train from Lucerne to Lugano, the Italian side of Switzerland, to shop and experience the country’s city-life. While we missed our trustworthy car, it was fun sitting around and not worrying about the roads or rules.
Lugano was all things amazing: delectable pizzas and pasta, sinful desserts, stylish people, boat trips to the island of Brissago, and a trip to a vineyard. We even spent a day at the FoxTown Outlet, one of the best luxury outlet malls in Europe. We shopped till we were ready to drop! Believe me, getting on an early morning return flight was very difficult.
This trip brought us closer; be it the times we spent waiting for the single bathroom in the apartment, exchanging driving techniques, cooking a Swiss-style risotto off a recipe written in German, having late-night revelations, or even powering through little disagreements. It was one of the most chilled-out holidays! We would simply wake up in the morning and see where our hearts took us. While we had plans for 2020 (Israel or Japan), nothing materialised. Now, we’re waiting for some respite from the pandemic so we can take off for another girl’s trip soon!
Note: Ritu Sharma is Switzerland Tourism’s Deputy Director and Marketing Head—India
Related: #MyThrowbackTrip: T+L India’s Senior Features Writer Rashima Nagpal Revisits Switzerland