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Published on : Saturday, November 30, 2013
Zurich airport is not just an airport. It is also a shopping mall, a bus and tram terminal and a railway station, where I’m heading to. With all the modern facilities, it is the kind of airport you don’t mind getting lost in. There are plenty of things to do.
Soon I’m joined by Sandy Guy, an Australian freelance journalist who has just landed.
Our conversation turns serious when we both learn that we are in Switzerland for the same event. Organising a trip for 140 media folks from 33 countries is by no means a simple feat. For one, how do you ensure these journalists arrive at about the same time?
But that is exactly what happens. The journalists invited for this trip descended at Zurich airport at about the same time although we departed from different parts of the world — Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, USA, Singapore, Spain, Austria, Russia, France, China, Czech Republic, etc.
But somehow, organisers Swiss Tourism and Appenzell Tourism have worked our travel
schedule in such a way that we all arrive on time … like a typical Swiss watch.
What is it that makes Switzerland and its people tick? Indeed, the mere mention of Switzerland can conjure a host of things and people. There is Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese, Swiss Alps, Swiss army knife and Swiss watches. And oh, it would be a sin if we were to leave out one of the most popular Swiss brand, Roger Federer.
In a country where the Red Cross was born, Switzerland has more to her as we are about to discover as we board the train from Zurich airport to Appenzell, a quaint town in north-eastern Switzerland.
Our 75-minute train ride to Appenzell is marked by the sight of glittering, mirror-like lakes and crystal clear springs.
Speechless at times, we can’t help feeling excited to see little cottages on vast rolling greens and gorgeous valleys which seem to go on forever. These serene, picturesque villagesmake us forget our jet-lag. As we alight from the train, the air wakes us. It is not too cold, just ideal.
Appenzell is known as the most typical of all Swiss cantons and waiting to welcome us at the train station is a young woman clad in traditional attire. Since most parts of the town is car-restricted, we follow her on foot from the train station, cutting through its picturesque main street.
It is just the start of our trip and we are already impressed by the sheer beauty of farmhouses lining its streets. With a population of about 15,000 people, mostly retirees, the pace in the town is slow. Since it is a small town, we are to be housed in different hotels. As I wait for my shuttle to take me to Hotel Hof Weissbad, I watch a man cycling past and parking by the roadside, leaving his two-wheeler unlocked. I guess it’s safe to do so in Appenzell.