This year I haven’t managed to follow my new tradition of spending New Year’s Eve abroad, but last year definitely compensates it. I spent it in Switzerland, in the cities: Zurich, Chur and Bonaduz. It was, indeed, an absolutely positive experience!
My friend Karolina who lives in Vienna came up with this idea. We gathered five people in total, mine and her friends, and decided to go to Switzerland. Karolina got in contact with a couchsurfer who agreed to host all of us in his house during this special time of the year, when a year ends and the new one begins. We took this as a lucky start of our trip and were absolutely right!
When I think of Switzerland the first thing that comes to my mind are the people , who are always very nice and welcoming. Our host Luca was an extremely open-minded and interesting person. It turned out he hosts travelers every weekend. We shared his place with his flatmates who were like him fans of meeting new people by hosting them. This created a great atmosphere at their place. This was my first couch surfing experience, as you can imagine it was excellent and I definitely recommend this type of accommodation, although, personally, I prefer to have some company while staying at a place of a person I don’t know yet. Usually, when I visit a place I choose to stay at a hostel or at my friends’ place.
We were staying in the suburbs of Zurich, but the public transportation was so efficient that it allowed us to be in the centre of the city in 20 minutes. The capital city of Switzerland isn’t a big city, only populated by 400 thousand citizens. We used the train system to commute, which is well developed outside the city. While being in Zurich we travelled by trams. There are a lot of lines and you can get to many paces, although the trams themselves aren’t too modern, I would even say the opposite. Most of the time it was easier to walk to the next sightseeing point. I highly recommend a walk along the Limmat river – a stroll along the banks gives you the chance to watch houseboats, small ships as well as seagulls in the sky, besides you can be lucky to run into the Chinese garden. Since we were there in the post Christmas period the whole city was beautifully decorated with lights, which created the amazing cozy atmosphere especially in the small and narrow streets.
While being in Zurich I had a chance to see the Kunsthaus museum , luckily it was a free entrance day. I was very pleased with this visit. The next day I spent at the famous Zurich’s Zoo which is known for its special hall, called Masoala Regenwald which means “The rainforest of Masoala”, where they recreated the climate of Madagascar .The building is indeed huge and inside of it there is a very high temperature with high humidity and it is extremely muggy. You can see the authentic plants as well as real(maybe recreated?) tiny waterfalls. All animals live there freely, so if you are lucky enough you can meet a monkey or small exotic birds. You can easily watch ants, parrots and huge bats hanging with their heads down from the cages full of food (mostly fruits) over the huge palm trees. One can really feel like being in a tropical rainforest there. This place made a huge impression on me. In general the visit to the Zoo was impressive even though it was a gloomy day in December. Another place at the zoo worth mentioning was the elephants building – a vast space for these massive animals, which totally deserve it, as well as the enclosure for penguins, which in their unique and funny nonchalant way kept on walking lazily in a line one after another.
After the zoo at the last moment I had to run together with one of the Luca’s flatmates to catch a train to a town called Chur situated 100 km from Zurich. It was a totally spontaneous trip, we got to know that our host and his flatmates were planning to spend the New Years Eve there with their friends. We didn’t know it before we came plus we had known these guys for two days only not mentioning the fact we haven’t met their friends before and had no clue about the country itself! But we came to the conclusion that it would be the best and most interesting way to spend the New Years Eve so we joined them. I didn’t have a chance to see Chur because the party was organized in a small charming village outside Chur, at Luca’s friend’s house. The house was brand new and modern. We reached the place late around 8 p.m. so all guests were there. Around 40 people I would say. Friends of Luca are mostly young people born in Switzerland, so since I didn’t know any Swiss-born that night I had the opportunity to get to know a lot of them. It was an exquisite company. We were talking (I can speak German)and dancing… The evening started with a special dinner prepared by the siblings of the host. I tasted traditional meals – capuns – similar to polish gołąbki (traditional Polish dish with meat and rice stuffing in a leaf of cabbage). The stuffing was different from the Polish one, more dense and chunky, but delicious! At midnight we went outside with champagne. We were on a kind of a meadow or a field which overviewed the mountains where we could also see the lights of the houses. At midnight we watched the fireworks in the mountains while sipping champagne and wishing each other Happy New Year! It was absolutely amazing! Later we returned home and danced till the dawn…
We thought the night was amazing, but the best was yet to come as a surprise. On the 1st of January 2016 Luca or to be more specific his parents took us to their house in the village called Bonaduz located near Chur. I had no clue where we were, but I knew I had the best company ever plus the day before I spent the best New Years Eve of my life. When we woke up in the morning and went to say hello to Luca’s parents I realized where we were, cause we saw this:
a beautiful panorama of the mountains, which we could admire from their living room but it seemed to be in the distance to reach with our hands! It was obliviously the Alps! A Jaw dropping view! After this, Luca took us to the view point to admire the mountains from a different perspective and for a stroll in his town (Bonaduz). It is a charming, peaceful place with clean modern housing estates without fences. The houses I saw there looked like the ones from the catalogues of eco-living lifestyle. To make the day more memorable and complete we were invited to a family dinner, during which I had a chance to try typical Swiss cheese and a drink called Rivella prepared on the basis of buttermilk.
I guess I am a lucky person to meet these people and our host Luca. I can say I’ve truly experienced authentic Switzerland. I saw the capital city as well as small towns and villages. I met a Swiss family and a lot of Swiss people while attending the New Years Eve party in the Alps! The most surprising is that it all came as an unexpected surprise to me since I had no idea I will be in Chur or Bonaduz on 30th of December. This was my 2015 New Years Eve. I wish you all this kind of successful and spontaneous New Year Eve trips!