I am a bit fascinated with WWII, perhaps because of the stories my father told me as a child; he lived through it. Hiking in Switzerland, one often comes across memorials, anti-tank walls, and bunkers, often sometimes hidden away, only revealing themselves when they are right in front of you, like our hike to Lämmerensee. Recently, on a blitz photo tour of Switzerland, my sister and I visited the bunker of Sasso San Gottardo, one of the Swiss’ best kept secret since 1941. An impressive 2.5km tunnel network, strategically positioned above the St. Gotthard Pass, with 150mm cannons (27km range!), was declassified in 2001 and remains as a museum.
The bunker is a great visit when traveling over the pass, particularly if you are interested in historic sites, or off the beaten path tours. Additionally, if you are planning a tour of Switzerland (by car), consider staying on the St. Gotthard pass, high up, with expansive views of the Alps. If you do, a drive down the cobblestone Tremola Road (the old St. Gotthard pass) into Airolo in the morning is just as impressive.
While in the bunker, there are many artifacts from the years the bunker remained in service, many of which are in great condition. Lastly, before you leave, be sure to check out the crystal room… on display are the largest crystals (up to 1m, all weighing 1.5 tons!) ever found in the Alps.
Each year, we look at our trusty map of Europe dreaming of all the places we would like to visit, the cultures we would love to explore and the food we long to sample. We typically try to limit the amount of flights we take for a slew of reasons, but something we always try to be mindful of is not to overlook our current position in the world.
Despite Switzerland being a small country, it is diverse and offers residents and visitors an array of cultures, experiences and please do not forget the incredible hiking opportunities. Though we have resided in this tiny, landlocked country for ten years, we still have not seen the majority of this petite spot in the world and thus, each year we make the commitment to see a minimum of one new place.
So, here’s our recommendation. Wherever you may live in the world, don’t forget to be a tourist in your home country once in awhile. Go somewhere new in your city, visit the local mountain, take a city tour, dine at a new restaurant and witness your city, town or country with fresh eyes. Book a hotel, walk the streets, the hills or the mountains and absorb the beauty of your location because sometimes we need a reminder to stay put and a nudge to fall in love with our home all over again.
Need some inspiration in Switzerland…we’ve got plenty for you:
“So this is love. As demanding and nourishing and difficult as it can be, and as strong and wise as it make you become. There is something to be gained from commitment. There are rewards for staying when you would rather leave. And there is something to be said for running up that hill when you would rather slide down it. And so you let love come perch upon your shoulder. You do not turn it away. You do the tango.”
– Nike – Falling in Love in Six Acts: A Passion Play ( one of the most brilliant ad campaigns there ever was. I cherish all six acts.) Need some inspiration, read all six, now, don’t wait!
P.S. Thanks for allowing your love to perch upon my shoulder Robert.
When I taught a college course on nutrition and wellness, I often referred to Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly” video, which examines, providing often disturbing images of how the media alters, manipulates and portrays the human body (mostly women’s bodies), which in turn, places unrealistic expectations on girls and women globally. This video is worth a watch to continue the education and the dialogue of unobtainable beauty and how damaging such ads, videos, and images are for the general population.
Ending on a happy and inspirational note, with this video that I adore. Oh, how it makes me smile each and every time I see it and because I never tire of the simple, yet killer messages embedded in story. Enjoy.