Brianna Barnes travels to Switzerland to uncover some of its more unexpected sights. Her journey starts in French-speaking Geneva, home to international organisations such as the United Nations HQ and CERN. Here she finds out just how cutting edge science at CERN is. Travelling by train to the lakeside town of Vevey, Brianna visits Charlie Chaplin’s house and enjoys a drop or two of locally made Swiss wine.
Heading to the alpine village of Riederalp, Brianna finds herself immersed in a dung-pulverising game of golf before hiking the gruelling Gemmi Pass to cross the Alps and their linguistic divide from Leukerbad to Kandersteg.
She then heads to Interlaken where, instead of doing a spot of paragliding, she enrols in the local performance of William Tell. It’s an incredible feat of drama – an open-air theatre complete with 100+ local actors, horses, cows and even a few goats.
From the lakes of Interlaken, Brianna travels to the medieval capital of Bern where she finds herself face-to-face with a child eater (ok, so it’s just a fountain) and confused by equations at the Einstein Museum.
Switzerland is famous for being neutral, but they do have an army and enough bomb shelters for 114% of the population. Brianna meets ex-military who used to be in the bicycle regiment and she finds out that the country was aggressively defensive in WW2. She gets shown around one of their top secret military fortresses on Lake Lucerne.
Heading back to the Alps, Brianna delves into the superstitious nature of mountain people. She discovers that the Devil’s Bridge was the major obstacle to crossing the Alps at the Gotthard Pass and it was only after the devil himself apparently built a stone bridge that transport between north and south Europe was revolutionised.
Brianna takes the Glacier Express from the nearby city of Andermatt to Chur, capital of the Romansch speaking part of Switzerland. Here she encounters a beauty contest for old men – an alpine beard competition.
From Chur she travels to Zurich and finds out exactly why Switzerland is so famous for its banking. She ends her journey in the traditional region of Appenzell, where yodelling farmers bringing their cattle down from alpine pastures signifies the end of summer.
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