The landlocked country of Switzerland boasts a variety of terrain -- a naturalist's paradise as the country is rich with mountain ranges, clear lakes, grassy meadows, majestic valleys, and clean plains. As it sits between Germanic and Romance Europe, the cultural diversity is pretty evident -- German, French, Italian and Romansh. That said, Switzerland also is hailed as many of 'the world's bests', and is overall the second-best country in the world consistently. What's it like to explore this beautiful country? Join Lomographer Denis Mamontov, a.k.a. mmxi as he recalls his adventures in the Swiss Confederation.
I found out about an incredible opportunity to visit the Kandersteg International Scout Center (KISC) from my friends at the National Organization of Scouts of Ukraine (NOSU). KISC was organizing a Work Party program for the Eurasian Scout region. I was in a group with Ukrainian and Belarusian scouts. We helped with various work tasks for three and a half days and then we had three and a half days off to spend however we liked.
The first thing I did in Zurich was renting a PubliBike E-Bike and taking it to the highest point in the city - an Uetliberg mountain. I was really excited to see pure streams and drinking water fountains in the center of a big city. Forest paths are so well maintained. I saw some really beautiful views of the city and nature. The battery in the bike died after a few stiff climbs, so I had to walk up some hills with an extra heavy bike. This allowed some time to take the photos and experience how calm it is to be in Switzerland.
I love running. I ran two times. The first time was the next morning I arrived at Kandersteg. It is harder to run on heights that are higher above sea level. I could only run half of what I planned. Next time we ran with our buddy from the Czech Republic. We saw a waterfall and then a beautiful view of Kandersteg at night. We got very lucky with the weather - there was almost no rain for the entire week, so we could take hiking paths and see the dreams! The first day we went to Oeschinen Lake. It’s one of the lakes that I used to see on the postcards and I always had a dream to swim in one. So I did! The water was so cold that my knees started to hurt, but it was still worth it and I would definitely do it again.
The day where we had half-day free I went on an Undere Allme hike alone. I was lucky to travel back down in a cable car. I found out from the man that it was the last run this year! The next day we went to see the pure Blausee Lake. It's so clean! Trout fish is swimming and it seems that you can reach it with your hands. The last hike that we took was via the Gemmi pass path. It started with Sunnbüel cable car and went via a beautiful valley with small crystal clear lakes past the big Dauben lake and ended with an ultimate view of the Alps.
I hung out with Pinkies. There were scouts from different countries i.e. US, UK, Australia, Lebanon, Uganda, Czech Republic, Sweden, Israel, Iceland, Colombia. Everyone is friendly and ready to help. It was so nice to work, play games, party and spend time with them. We spent most of our time at KISC. The place is so full of history and scouting spirit. The ground floor is decorated with scout neckerchiefs from across the globe. Each room is built with a reference to the scouting organization of a certain country. Australian scouts room would have kangaroos, badges, boomerangs. The beds also stand as they would stand in Australian scouting camps.
We had an international dinner evening at KISC where we got to share Swiss fondue with scouts from around the world. I was surprised to find out about the rules that turn the dinner into a fun game. Here are the rules:
1. Use your hands to fill your plate with cubes of bread
2. You can no longer use your hands to hold the bread. From here - only use a tiny fork
3. Put the bread on a fork and into the pot with melting cheese mixed with white wine
4. Make shape 8 in the bowl to get enough cheese on the bread
5. What if a piece of bread drops?
6. The first time you pick someone to kiss in the room
7. The second time a person on your left gets to choose who you should kiss
8. Third time a person on your right gets to choose who you should kiss
9. The fourth time it’s the person across the table
10. The fifth time it all starts over
The tastiest part is on the bottom of the pot. It’s the patch of cheese that is formed because of the heat. I got to try and it really blew my taste buds away :)
There was a farewell party for the KISC director Felipe. A party like that happens once in five years, then a new director takes place. Felipe gave a speech that set such a family mood for the rest of the evening. I got to talk to everyone I worked and hiked with for the past week, which seemed like an eternity.
It is great for everyone who appreciates a quiet life in the city, but also passionate about adventures and activities in the open air. I felt like I could point a camera in any direction and the photo would be poster-worthy. The best places would be in nature, or in small villages.
Thank you, Denis for sharing your Swiss adventure with us!
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