It’s that time of year when the weather starts getting warmer here in New Zealand, so it’s hard to imagine that over in Europe ‘winter is coming’ as they would say on Game of Thrones. And yet winter really is coming, and with winter comes ice hotels! Staying in an ice hotel is high on my wish list, and I’ve decided to apply for simple cash fast so I can get over to Europe by March to stay in one. The NZ dollar is pretty strong right now so I thought, why not?
Ice hotels are temporary structures that are built completely from ice. They are dependent on sub-zero temperatures so they are usually only open during winter and have to be rebuilt every year. The hotels consist of beds, chairs and other furniture which is made of ice or compacted snow and they are usually decorated with ice sculptures. Some of them have unique touches like bars (with ice glasses!), snow tunnels or churches attached to the main buildings. The original ice hotel was built in Jukkasjarvi village in Sweden, and has continued in popularity with artists contributing to it’s design each year. There are loads of other ice hotels to choose from, and they all look so cool – pun intended!
Bridges are surely one of the best inventions in the world, they are time-saving and practical alternatives to travelling by boat. Some of our most iconic images are of bridges: the Golden Gate shrouded in fog, Sydney Harbour with it’s sturdy arch, Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland made famous by the Harry Potter films, Charles Bridge with it’s fairytale appeal and Tower Bridge, an instantly recognizable emblem of London. It’s hard to imagine a world without bridges.
Bridges are more than just a way to connect two points, they are also a way of connecting people and cultures, and as in the case of Istanbul, they can even connect two continents. They are an opportunity for architects and engineers to collaborate on a beautiful structure that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. In some cases like that of the rebuilding of Mostar’s famous old stone bridge they can bring people together and help heal old hurts. The famous Bosnian bridge (designed by renowned Turkish architect Mimar Sinan) had stood for 427 years until it was destroyed in the 1990s Bosnian conflict, after which the international community came together to rebuild this famous landmark using local materials and Ottoman construction techniques. The reconstructed Old Bridge is a symbol of reconciliation, international co-operation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural and ethnic communities.
So…after having been part of a quick beer tour to Belgium and been surrounded by many Swiss people, I could not resist the idea of visiting the land of chocolate and cheese.
That was when I decided to book a four day trip to Switzerland, and made two hotel reservations, I would stay two nights in Zürich and two in Lucerne. Oh oh, Lucerne, you need to visit this city, I now do understand why they call it a fairy city and one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Let me tell you, the least thing I ended up doing was eating chocolate and grabbing some different types of cheese. I was so delighted and impressed by all the beauties Switzerland has to offer that I did not want to lose a millisecond.
It is impressive how you can be exploring a new city and be surrounded by The Alps, amazing lakes, fairy tale constructions and people from all over the world. Yes, believe it or not, no matter how expensive the country is said to be, it is what they call “multi-culti”, full of people from all over the world.
And a very important detail, it is so easy to get to the different cantons while you travel in first class trains. Definitely: Swiss made!