If you’re reading this, you also have to listen to this simultaneously. Now you may continue.
This semester I’ve stood in the center of some of Europe’s most incredible cities.
But nothing man-made ever does it for me quite like nature. Standing at the edge of the ocean or at the foot of a mountain, it’s those moments that knock the wind right out of me and make me feel so small in a necessary, humbling way.
I don’t know when my infatuation with Switzerland started, but after spending the weekend there, I can tell you it’s not fading anytime soon. I have been dreaming about (and shamelessly googling) those mountains, lakes and hillsides for years. I knew this semester was my chance to make it happen.
So, this past weekend I journeyed to the central lakeside village of Lucerne. A couple of my roommates and I flew into Basel, where we spent the night in a hilariously hipster hostel right next to a lovely local brewery. We got up early and hopped on a train toward the mountains in plenty of time to see the sun warm green hillsides and red and orange forests.
(Autumn is absolutely the time to visit Switzerland, as well as every other season, I’ve decided.)
As we left the rolling hills behind and the mountain peaks began to materialize in the distance, I had to actively tell my heart to calm down for fear it would burst. The guy sitting across from me got a kick out of me smashing my face against the window for a better view, at least.
We rolled into Lucerne just as a drizzly morning faded away and blue skies began to peak out from the clouds. I causally walked (a.k.a. sprinted) to the lake, which was maybe 10 feet from the train station.
White sailboats wound through the deep, still blue waters. Belfries and steeples rose above the colorful buildings. I was so taken that I almost missed the snow capped mountains looming across the lake, surrounded by lush countryside. And I was left breathless at everything I could never dream of making.
I left Switzerland with an empty wallet but a full heart, a trade off I’m always more than okay with. I’ve found this semester that there’s this thing happening when I travel — this creeping feeling that grows the further I go — that though I’ve seen some incredible sights there are more cities to get lost in, more mountains to climb, more food to try, more air to breathe. It’s overwhelming and crushing how far I want my boots and backpack to take me, especially under the knowledge my time here is fading.
As I walked around the lake early today, looking at the mountains break from the morning mist with church bells ringing from old town, I knew that moment was irreplaceable, and what I saw this weekend was unforgettable.
I may not be able to see all of Switzerland like I’d like to – I may not even ever make it back – but I will always have the memory of those moments where the troubles of the world, the fears of my world, are stilled at the sight of such majesty, reminding me of the great works my hands aren’t capable of creating.