SWITZERLAND – Four languages in One!

Switzerland - Zurich
Switzerland – Zurich

Fancy being cool?  Well, why not head for the mountains and lakes of Switzerland?  And maybe throw in a bit of culture since several great musical events will be ongoing too in June, July and August.   Did you know that Switzerland has four languages – Swiss – German, French, Italian and Romansch, But, ‘no problem’ English is widely spoken too.

How to get there from Oman?  First of all the main international airport is Zurich.   Oman Air began its latest international service there in December 2011 and currently has four flights a week between Muscat and Zurich, so it’s easy to arrange a visit.

We expect that Zurich springs to your mind as being one of the world’s financial centres.    Well it does have the fourth largest stock exchange in the world.   Anyway, as well as being money-savvy, nowadays Zurich has a trendy nightlife and vibrant ‘clubland’ too.  And guess what?  Zurich now hosts the world’s largest annual street party – knocking the Notting Hill Carnival in England off its No.1 perch.  This parade, began in 1992, intended as ‘a demonstration in support of love, peace, freedom, generosity and tolerance’ with just 2,000 dancing at a few sound systems, but now it attracts half a million revellers.   It’s great fun so make a note that in 2012 the event starts on Saturday llth August.

Geneva – we all know it as being famous for its luxury watches!     But nearby, located on Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps is Montreux, which among other things, is famous for the annual Jazz Festival. Since it began in 1967 when it was a 3-day event, the Montreux Jazz Festival has become a stupendous 16-day affair, headlined by jazz, blues, rock, world-music, rap, electro, pop and soul.  Every year, up to 220,000 visitors come to Montreux in order to attend the concerts, inclusive of some free performances.

So what are the dates and who is appearing – the Festival kicks off on 29th June and continues until 14th July 2012.  The line-up schedules Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Erykah Badu and Chris Cornell to name but a few of the acts who will take to the stage at this 46 edition this summer.

Want to see other sites too? Why not use Switzerland’s  excellent railway system and head for the following:

French-speaking Lausanne – the 5th largest town in Switzerland. It too lies on Lake Geneva. This town is characterized by its steep medieval streets. A gorge runs through the centre, so there are lots of covered bridges! A cogwheel railway (originally a funicular) links the lakeside with Europe’s highest railway station. A great ride and wow, it’s a cool view.

Lucerne – a lakeside town popular with the tourist.  Here one can a leisurely stroll through the old town, see iconic timber bridges, or take a relaxing cruise along the mountain-fringed lake. Incidentally, Lucerne is an important staging post on the route between Italy and northern Europe.

The old town of Neuchatel is attractive, with about 140 street fountains – yes, that’s right 140 – some of which date from the 16th century.  The centre of the old town is located at the top of the hill, accessed by the steeply winding Rue du Chateau. Near the chateau is the turreted Prison Tower, which is actually the remains of a medieval bastion. It has panoramic views over the town, along with interesting models of Neuchatel in different eras.

And last but not least – Switzerland offers plenty of cycling, walking and climbing opportunities too.

Visa information can be obtained by checking website www.bfm.admin.ch  and why not check out Oman Air’s holiday website: www.holidays.omanair.com for some good deals.