Swiss Splendour: Schloss Laufen am Rheinefall

“On my behalf I want you to devour all the chocolate you see!”, suggestively quoted one of my close buddies upon news of my Shengen Visa approval and confirmed tickets to what’s singlehandedly one of the most aesthetically spectacular locations on the planet. CX383, a fully-loaded Boeing 777-300ER on premium economy, with a side of some sisterly love and fries, was transport for the 12 hour flight to Zurich. Good stuff.

*Before proceeding any further, I believe some gratitude and appreciation for Mum, for persevering the pestering of your two children throughout the journey, and Cathay Pacific for the safe flight and accomodations*

15 minutes early on arrival, 15 degrees Celsius, and my nearly 15 year-old sister as well as I hear the oddly satisfying crunch of an immigration stamp upon a passport. Bags prepped, Mum met,  and the crew bus was in sight to take us three to Swissotel Zurich, equipped with a humongous signature slice of cheese, devastatingly striking sunset view, and essentially home for the next two nights.

On the day arrival, we had every intention to visit what statistics (they don’t lie) claim to be the largest plain waterfalls in Europe: Rhine Falls. a 45 minute train ride from Zurich Oerlikon next door with a 20 franc day pass each. As attractive day-pass discounts vary, the Zurich SBB app is recommended for reference or purchase. Now, to get to Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall station at the time, a train to Winterthur, interchanging to the train heading for Schaffhausen was the way to go. Oh and yes, there’s Free WiFi at the stations in the city.

*The train passes indicate the precise train number, time, and platform at which the interchanges were to be made, as so getting lost is more of a result of reckless abandon. The customer service in every station were incredibly kind and honest in directing us, as well as refunding our initially bought tickets for more decently priced ones. Consult them  if needed.

Cumulonimbus thunderclouds enveloped the european sky of the first day, but certainly showed no hindrance in the beauty that is Switzerland. The two train rides presented us with a myriad of sights, putting a photographer such as myself on a constant state of panic as to which side of the train to settle on. Mum and Zo, sympathises, and communicates in a barrage of “CHECK OUT THE LEFT” or “BEAUTY ON THE RIGHT” assortment of yells.

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Arrival at Schloss Laufen station was abrupt, and it is important to know that the train doors do not automatically open, and required the pressing of a button to disembark at the station, that or the train inevitably leaves and carries you on the next stop. Alight at the small platform and you’re greeted with greenery and a Fort-like structure that barriered the beauty that is the Rhine.

Following the unmistakeable signs at the station to the trail, tickets through the viewpoint can be bought by taking the panoramic glass lift heading up the fort-like infrastructure above to the Schloss Laufen courtyard. The overlooking sight to Rhine Falls from here alone is enough to stop you in your tracks.

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A swiss heritage site of national significance, it was first documented as far as year 858 (yes, a three digit year). Proceed through and mull over the baroque travel in time a millenium, way before the Helvetic Republic. Past the cow statues, swiss souvenir shops, adjacent to the car park, are 5 CHF tickets for adults, and 3.5 CHF for 6-16 year old children.

*Much to my surprise kids as young as 6 and as old as 16 are still considered children, on any admittance such as a train or a tourist attaction, hence ALWAYS inquire for beyond decent prices.

Once tickets have been purchased, the street-stand nutella crepes devoured, we made our way back down the panoramic glass lift and sought the entrance to the falls’ viewdeck. The scene was simply a breath of fresh air, a good five steps down the entrance.

Width? 150 metres. Height? 23. This 15,000 year old spectacular sight for sore eyes flows an average of 250,000 liters per second in the winter, and a whopping 600,000 in the summer. Ladies and gents, Europe’s biggest waterfall.

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Otterbox is your best friend at this point, as the amount of spray adjacent to the falls is enough to hydrate a small child for a year and a half. A number of tourists tend to overencumber this iconic spot in the falls for understandable reasons. One’s bitte und danke goes a long way here.

From this edge, one can take a route heading lower down  for the more authentic close encounter with the falls, or the paid ferry to the opposite side at Schlössli Wörth.

Making your way up, through the lift and past the courtyard near the playground area shown before, is another path leading to top-side of the falls. An equally beautiful sight, as you witness the fairly calm current turn monstrous at the drop-off.

At that point in time the prediction of the inconveniently incoming typhoon had come to fruition, and hangin’ about the Rhine was no longer ideal. We hop on the 4:30 PM train back to Winterthur with the same day pass, and watched as mother nature wreak havok, but in vain, Switzerland looking as gorgeous as ever.

The day wasn’t over though, after switching over from the train from Winterthur back to Oerlikon, a stop by Zurich HB felt necessary as to catch a glimpse of the sunset at Old Town. Mother Nature paying no heed to my desires, decides to keep pouring, so the GoPro was my best friend. My friends, Muhlesteg Bridge, designated LoveLock location overlooking Old Town.

And such was Day 1 in the breathtaking European wonder that is Switzerland! The sights and sounds on the journey to the Rhine was no less than spectacular, and ten out of ten, I would recommend a visit to anyone down for a swiss escapade.

Wait what’s that?

How’s it like in the Alps?

Sounds like you’ve gotta stay tuned for the next entry, where you walk my footsteps and catch a glimpse of what’s up at altitude 11,000 feet. Here’s a rather generous sneak peak 😉

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references:

  • the Big Man upstairs for such a breathtaking place!
  • Mum, Dad, and the rest of the clan
  • Cathay Pacific, for the flights and accomodations
  • Cristine Pau, a family friend, for referring us to the Rhine
  • Zoie, my sister, for being a blast of an adventure buddy
  • ISM Ching Gabriel, and Captain Rohan Waite, for lending a massive hand in the flight back
  • All shots were taken by a Canon EOS 750D, and a GoPro Hero 4, and are property of VoyagerZulu.com

 

 

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