The second part of my trip to Switzerland was a month after my first layover in Zurich. This time, my stopover there required a night stay. So, I could enjoy and go explore the Rhine Falls and a bit of the Swiss Countryside.
First, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought to go to Lucerne, as it’s not that far from Zurich. And, maybe, try do to Couchsurfing. However, my aunt has a really good friend who lives in Switzerland; a fellow Brazilian who lives there with her Swiss husband. She kindly invited me to go to her house, and I didn’t think twice. Explore a little bit more of the country with locals? Sure, I was in!
From the Zurich Airport I took the train to Winterhur, where my aunt’s friend was going to pick me up. The journey was short and something unexpected happened on the way. Two elderly ladies, one Spanish and one Swiss, engaged in a conversation with me – in Portuguese!
The Spanish lady was the first to talk to me, in German. I replied back saying I didn’t understand her, and she asked me which languages I was able to speak. She was very happy to know I spoke Portuguese. She lived in Switzerland for so many years but she also learned Portuguese. And the Swiss lady, beside us, was paying attention to our conversation, when she finally said ‘I also speak Portuguese’. I mean, seriously? Where on earth could that have happened?
Her ex-husband was from Portugal; she lived there before and learned the language. She said she always tries to make friends with Brazilians and Portuguese to keep practicing the language. How cool is that? I was literally speechless!
Portuguese is a very hard language to learn and it is not common to meet non-native speakers who are fluent, never mind two in the same place!
Now, back to the trip!
From Winterthur we headed to Schaffhausen (what a beautiful name, right?) to see the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall, in German).
The Rhine Falls are located between the cantons (regions) of Zurich and Schaffhausen, and it is the biggest plain waterfall in Europe. That surprised me a lot, as I didn’t quite understand its definition. But, it makes sense. The flow of the waterfall is not vertical, it is plain!
It is a popular attraction and lots of tourists were there. You have to be patient to walk around, but it’s worth it!
The flow of Rhine Falls is incredibly powerful. You can get very close to it and see the crazy amount of water rapidly and thunderously passing by. It gives you butterflies in the stomach. Well, at least I felt that way! The awesome power of nature is something that always gives me goosebumps, in a good way.
Some quick facts about Rhine Falls and the area:
– A volume of 221’870 litres of water per second pass through it!
– The waterfall is aprox. 23 metres.
– The Rhine Falls were formed in the last glacial period.
– Every 31st of July they have a large fireworks display and the waterfalls are illuminated by them.
– There is a castle beside the waterfalls called Schloss Laufen (which I didn’t get to visit).
– You can also takes cruises around the area, including food and a privileged view of Rhine Falls.
I didn’t take any cruise there, but we took a boat to cross to the other side of the river. This is paid separately and is not included in the waterfall ticket. It is a quick trip to the other side, but it was really nice and I could see the waterfalls from another viewpoint.
While there, we had lunch. The restaurant had a vegetarian option for me, which was great. The place is very touristy and it’s a bit pricey. However, I think it was worth it. After all, it’s not every day you can have lunch admiring the biggest waterfall in Europe. Right?
The weather was cloudy and after lunch the rain decided to say hello. We had to walk fast, so we couldn’t enjoy the other side of the river as much as I would have liked. We bought a small umbrella, which helped me and I was able to take a few more pictures.
After seeing all that beauty, we headed home to rest. I didn’t really sleep on my way from Brazil, and I was wrecked!
My aunt’s friend lives in a small village called Elgg, which is located in the canton of Zurich. Needless to say, every place in Switzerland is just ridiculously gorgeous, and Elgg was lovely!
My hosts wanted to bring me to a nice place for dinner, so we went to a small local restaurant. Each village we passed by, I had that feeling that I was in a toy city; the houses looked like doll houses. Swiss architecture, sigh!
Sadly my phone died recently, and I could’t get the pictures I took from these villages. There is only one survivor.
The restaurant was super cozy, and for a few seconds I thought we were inside someone’s house – so intimate! Apparently, every place in Switzerland is like that, mainly in these small villages. The atmosphere was so homely and heart warming, and it got me thinking how nice it would be to spend Winter there.
To spend time with locals in a such gracious place, where I could only hear the native language, was an experience of a lifetime.
The next day, the Swiss husband offered to bring me to the airport. Unfortunately, he couldn’t speak English and only knew a few words in Portuguese. It was funny; we really wanted to chat, although it was an impossible mission. We tried, but only the words ”Rio” and ”Olympics” came up – haha
That was a really nice morning, a bit foggy, but the Swiss landscape took my breath away. Cliche, I know, but the truth. I was so spellbound by the beauty around me that I could’t even reach for my camera to take a few shots.
I left a little piece of me behind, as always. Oh, Switzerland, what I have to say? I just want to go back as soon as possible.