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Switzerland may be neutral but it is certainly not flavorless. The fusion of German, French and Italian ingredients has formed a robust national culture, and the country's alpine landscapes have enough zing to reinvigorate the most jaded traveller.
Goethe summed up Switzerland succinctly as a combination of the colossal and the well-ordered. You can be sure that your trains and letters will be on time. The tidy, just-so precision of Swiss towns is tempered by the lofty splendor of the landscapes that surround them.
SWITERLAND TOURS & TRAVEL:
GENEVA Tours, Travel and Activities
Geneva is Switzerland's second-largest city, but surely the most international: a third of the population is from elsewhere. The city is crowded with museums, has excellent cultural events, even more good restaurants, and is ideally placed for quick hops to the Swiss and French Alps.
Basking in the sunshine of its peaceful setting on Lake Geneva's banks, it displays an obvious self-confidence. It is in pristine condition, clean, efficient and safe.
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LUCERNE Tours, Travel and Activities
Legend has it that an angel with a light showed Lucerne's first settlers where to build a chapel, and in good weather even an atheist might describe the city's location as heaven-sent.
Lapped by a scenic lake, surrounded by mountains of myth - a picture of this once small fishing village and its wooden Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge) is enough to connote the very essence of Switzerland.
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ZURICH Tours, Travel and Activities
Zurich is the new Berlin. No hesitation, no competition. This formerly staid banking capital has experienced such a creative explosion in recent years, and such a mushrooming of innovative bars, restaurants and shops that it resembles Berlin's salad days of the mid-eighties and early nineties.
Zurich remains Switzerland's commercial and financial hub, and the canton is the country's most affluent.
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SUGGESTED ITINERARIES: SWITZERLAND
February is carnival time, or Fasnacht, in many towns, but Basel really funks it up with elaborate parades beginning at a bleary 4am. In the lower Valais, from March to October, cows battle it out in the Combat de Reines (cow fighting) to see which beast is most suited to lead the herd up to the summer pastures.
The world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival takes place in July. On the fourth Monday in November, Bern hosts its famous Onion Market (Zibelmarit), where traders take over the whole town centre and many a tear is shed.
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