One of my best friends from school was leaving. Her parents decided to go back to Switzerland, looking out for a better life.
At the time (before big Internet and big Social Media), we exchanged a few letters at the beginning. She hated Switzerland. How cold it was. How inhospitable. She used to call it the refrigerator. She always said she would be back in Portugal when older and independent… but, she’s still there. And, thanks to that, I have visited the country twice now. Once in 2013, in June, the flights were a birthday present from my parents. I was so young then! And again I visited her in 2017. I was already living in London and she in her own home. That was in November – a completely different time of the year. I was in desperate need of a break from work, from London. I didn’t even take my camera with me. Only my phone at the time, an iPhone 6s and my Fujifilm – so the quality of the photos weren’t great.
When I landed in Geneva I felt immediately out of place. For that first day, we explored the city. Everything was so clean…and weirdly silent. It seemed so (and was/is) expensive. I don’t know anything about cars, but the ones I was seeing parked on the streets seemed luxurious. A world I did not belong in for sure. It all stank of new and old money. Of hedge funds, tax evasion. Of oil traders. The city didn’t seem to have any personality. The lake of Geneva felt like a mirror for the wealthy to stare at.
I had taken a very early flight and had barely slept. After the visit to Geneva, my friend drove us back to Sion, where she lives. I felt so tired, sure I was going to fall asleep. What I had visited had been a disappointment, but I glad I had a reason to visit that was beyond pure touristic interest. My friend.
It was then that I saw, really SAW, Switzerland. Those majestic mountains tops still covered in snow. Probably with snow all year round. It was so beautiful. And having seen little of the world at that time, I was a lot more impressionable than I am now. I looked at my friend. Somehow I had been judging Switzerland from her perspective. From the perspective of a daughter of immigrants, who was forced to leave warm Portugal. I completely understood her point. I missed her as well. And still, in the face of that landscape, I felt my whole belief system in Switzerland shaking tremendously. It was stunning, humbling even. And, while everything seemed to be for the wealthy, I realised that Switzerland offers what it has best for free.
That last time I visited, it was mid-November and, unexpectedly, it started to snow. Heavy snow. I had never seen snow like that. I was enchanted. Christmas bells started ringing in my ears even though we had more of a month to it. I never drank so much hot chocolate in my life, like I did those days. I’m so grateful to my friend to have driven me to the mountain tops so I could see what for her was a reason to dislike Switzerland – the magnificent sights of whiteness, covering nature, once green, once golden, but now simply white.
It was hard to select which photos to show you – I really have a lot of them, especially from my first trip, when I was so impressionable and new to travelling. So I did my best to select the ones I like the most.
This is it folks 🙂 You can also checkout my posts below about Switzerland:
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