Switzerland 2024

Wintering between the Alps

The following is a gallery of photographs from my visit to The Swiss Confederation 12—20 February 2024.

I mainly travelled to escape the tropical Sydney summer, plus experience the snow & ice for which The Confederation is so famous…

(When citing this article, please use swiss.4020.net)

Quick Links
Location Description February
Schilthorn Swiss Alps, Piz Gloria, Mürren & packed cablecars Fri 16th
Zermatt Gornegrat & Matterhorn ski resorts Sun 18th
Bern Swiss capital overrun by trams Thu 15th – Sat 17th
Lucerne Small resort city with a beautiful “Old Town” Wed 14th
Montreux & Vevey The Swiss Riviera & Lake Geneva Mon 19th
Zürich Financial capital and home to zealous SBB ticket inspectors Mon 12th – Thu 15th
Geneva Seat of the U.N., Lake and Water Jet Sat 17th – Tue 20th

Image Gallery









Travel Notes

Welcome to The Swiss Confederation

Arrived at Zürich airport at 19:30PM on a Monday night, 12 Feb 2024. Immediately got stuck in a bottleneck of hundreds of passengers while only three Swiss immigration officials processed each arrival with punctilious care. Families with children whose passport photos didn't exactly match their offspring attracted special attention, while parents desperately tried to convince the high officials that each child was indeed who they claimed to be.

Then the life-lesson of travelling on an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass — for which I had paid CHF 419 — during the 15 minute trip to the city. It was 21PM, but apparently the pass only became valid at midnight. A technicality, but an important one as a pair of roving SBB ticket inspectors seized upon it to issue a 100 CHF fine for travelling without a valid ticket. I had all my luggage with me and had just flown 16 567 km from Sydney, but the-rules-is-the-rules.

A few minutes later I arrived at what I thought was Zürich station, but was amazed at how small and deserted it was. Graffiti, torn posters, a desultory hoodie trying to flip a skateboard. Only realised later that I had accidentally got off one stop too early at Zürich Hardbrüke instead of the (vast) main station at Zürich HB.

Okay, launch the phone-map to find my hotel. Good news in that it wasn't too far, about a kilometre. So venture into the night with my luggage through dimly-lit streets. I was in the Gewerbeschule district, lined with four-storey apartment blocks with most of their lights off. All the shops, cafés and restaurants were shuttered. A few cars, a couple of pedestrians and no taxis, just my echoing footsteps off grimy beige walls. After a few detours around construction roadblocks, I finally arrived at the hotel entrance at 21:30PM, and now the intrigue could really start.

All the lights were off and the front door was locked. A paper note stuck to the wall said you needed a pass-code to retrieve your room-key from a locked-box beside the front door (!?) A few minutes later a guest arrived and let me in. At least I was off the street, but remained stuck because the ground-floor office was locked. While knocking loudly (to wake them up), I discovered their office hours were only 10—18PM — had they gone home for the day? Discovered an after-hours phone number pinned to a noticeboard, which I called, but got a recorded message in German and English informing me that the number had not yet been activated…

I had noticed an alternative small hotel earlier on, so left the building and backtracked, wheeling my luggage through empty streets again. The alternative hotel was only a few blocks away and called the “easyHotel”. Alas, it wasn't. It did have lights, but once again the office was locked and you needed a pass-code to access the rooms… So, did a search on my phone and noticed there was a Marriott hotel a few hundred metres away on the other side of the Limmat River. I would swim across if I had to. I'm out the door and heading east, wheeling my luggage through dark deserted streets, again.

Somewhere on Limmtstrasse I noticed a young man sitting in the shadows on a stoop, smoking a cigarette. Luckily he could speak English, so I gave him an overview of my evening and he offered to help. He rang the original “hotel” and rapidly got into an argument in German. After a few minutes I asked for the phone and luckily the other person could also argue in English. Can I access my paid-for hotel room, please? Apparently not. She had emailed me a pass-code a few weeks earlier and I should use it instead. It took a while to convince her, using an increasingly belligerent voice, that I never received any code from anyone. She then insisted on seeing a copy of my passport before she would tell me what the code was. And how could I do this on a phone at 22PM while locked out of a building on a footpath? Easy, I should email it to her.

This went on for ages. The young man took back the phone and the arguing resumed in German. He hung up. We walked back to the “hotel” to see if there was an alternative way in. There wasn't. Another phone call, but this time without any attempt at pleasantries. Grudgingly, she sent someone over who had the pass code to open the lock-box and let me in. He arrived a couple of minutes later, punched in the top-secret numbers and the keys were finally retrieved. I thanked the stoop-guy — Tim — for his resilience and made my way upstairs.

It was 22:30PM, three hours after landing and 100 CHF lighter, and I had finally arrived. And there was me thinking Bucharest '91 was tough.

Canine Nation

Something that struck me about The Swiss Confederation was that there were dogs everywhere. No really, everywhere… Buses, trams, trains, cars, cablecars and even gyrocopters. Boardrooms, bathyscaphes, boiler-rooms, server-farms, service-stations, substations, supermarkets, crawl-spaces, carillons, turbine halls and walk-in wardrobes. From the summits of mountains to the shores of isolated lakes. In forests hauling cheese-carts. On black-rated ski slopes, effortlessly gliding downhill. On roof-tops, down tunnels and evenly distributed across every field and plain. They're blowing alphorns, standing for parliament and solving intricate sets of differential equations. Toward the end my visit they even started infiltrating my dreams.

On the second-last day I went for a morning walk with a woman who showed me around the Swiss Rivera. Of course she also brought her dog. Its name was “Chewy”, not merely because it resembled a certain LucasFilm™ character, but also to acknowledge what it spent 98.5% of its time doing. We went to Starbucks™, rode on a bus, chased some squawking swans and even visited the Montreux Casino and Queen Museum … the dog always within shouting range. I told her: You know, I can think of one place you cannot bring your dog. Where? she asked. An operating theatre. She pondered that for a moment and replied: I guess it depends on the surgeon.


Tech Stuff

Cameras, lenses etc.

All the photos were taken during February 2024, using a either a Sony α7RIV or iPhone 13 Pro. Only two lenses were used on the Sony: 2470GM2 or 24F14GM.

I shot RAW for all images: 60MP uncompressed on the Sony and iPhone 12MP ProRAW via the ProCamera app. The images were then processed using Capture One Pro. Final processing into 16-bit TIFFs was done using Affinity Photo 2.

The Zermatt panorama was taken hand-held using 11× portrait-format shots with the 2470GM2 zoomed to 35mm. The images were then stitched using PTGui to produce a 170MP image master.

Only 90-something images?

Indeed. I took more than 1300 photos during the trip (!), which was edited down to a more reasonable 600 when back home. IMO the current selection adequately tells the “story” of the experience, so it is unlikely I will add more. Over time however, I do intend to add a few more travel notes.


AZN, Apr 2024