Dear Rotaractors and friends

In less than 3 months we will finally welcome our roundtrippers to Switzerland! The 6 following Rotaractors were chosen to be a part of this adventure through our beautiful country:

We are very excited to seeing you all soon! 🙂

Dear Rotaractors

We received over 40 applications for the Swiss Roundtrip 2017 – thank you very much! We enjoyed reading your messages and you all made it very hard for us to reach a decision.
The 6 lucky Rotaractors who were chosen to participate will receive an e-mail from us. More information regarding the trip will follow!
To those who didn’t make it this time: We wish you good luck on your future applications on Rotaract roundtrips! 🙂

Your HOC Team

Dear Rotaractors

The application process is now open!
You’ll have time to send in your application until Tuesday, February 21st.
Remember, only 6 Rotaractors will be chosen to be part of the Swiss Roundtrip 2017.
We’re looking forward to reading your messages!

Your HOC Team

Dear Rotaractors

We are excited to announce that we are currently planning the Swiss Roundtrip 2017!
So save the date: This year from Saturday July 8th to Sunday July 16th we will welcome 6 Rotaractors to join us on a wonderful trip through Switzerland. More information concerning the application process and the route will follow here and on our facebook page. Stay tuned!

Your HOC Team

Last but absolutely not least, here the trip’s sum-up from Australian Mel:

There are many ways to see a country but Rotaract Round Trips are second to none. Travelling on a Rotaract Round Trip means being shown around by the locals and sharing experiences with people with whom you already have a common bond through membership of Rotaract.  Therefore, I was very grateful and excited to be chosen to participate in the 2015 Swiss Rotaract Round Trip along with Muge from Turkey, Trim from Kosovo, Thomas from Canada and Antonis from Cyprus.  Vivianne of the Limattel club, Johannes of the Zurich club and the entire committee did a wonderful job of organising a week jam-packed with unique Swiss experiences and sightseeing opportunities.

The week began in Switzerland’s most populated city,  Zurich.  After travelling from Melbourne, Australia, for more than 24 hours, I was welcomed to Switzerland by Louise, who gave me coffee and a croissant to help me out of my zombie state.  That night we met the rest of the group and Daniela welcomed us into her home for dinner.  We ate alpen macaroni, which is pasta with cheese, potato and apple sauce.  Afterwards, we went to the Männerbad on the the Sihl River; by day it is a men’s only public bath but by night it is a popular open-air bar for young people, with fairy lights, Moroccan-style cushion seating and a great atmosphere.

The next morning at brekky I learned that bircher muesli is a Swiss invention.  Uncle Toby’s long lost brother Maximilian Bircher-Benner invented muesli in the late 19th century.  He encouraged people to eat fruit, vegetables and nuts and exercise more, so I think Max would have been very impressed that that same day we climbed the tower at Uetliberg, went on a bushwalk and swam in the Limattel.  For dinner we trained to Louise and Mattius’ house in Uster and indulged in the modern version of raclette, which uses a grill.  The melted cheese was served with potato, gherkins and baby corn and some interesting sauces including one made of banana, sour cream and curry powder.

On Monday we caught the train to Lucerne and were taken on a city tour by Phillipe and the local Rotaracters.  Lucerne has a rich history and is home to the Kapellbrücke, which caught fire in 1993 from a tourist’s discarded cigarette butt and had to be rebuilt.  Fortunately for us, Lucerne still lets tourists into the city and has not reinstated the use of its city walls and fortifications since the incident. After our city tour we took a paddlesteamer across Lake Lucerne and then a furnicular to the summit of Rigi to enjoy the view. In the evening we swam at the Seebad and enjoyed multicultural food and music at the Blue Balls festival. There was literally no room at the inn, so we slept in a barn at Mierscappel.  While we were taken aback at first, Vivianne assured us it was a Swiss tradition and it ended up being one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had.

The next day we journeyed by train to Zermatt. After fuelling up on Italian food, we hiked through the forest, across meadows, over rivers, through Helm’s Deep and past glaciers to flualp. The spectacular Matterhorn (aka Toblerone Mountain) served as not only a beautiful backdrop but also a powerful reminder that there are much more difficult hikes we could have been doing!20150722_062622

On Wednesday we were up at sunrise to walk down to the lake and see the Matterhorn glowing pink in the morning light. Vivianne and Thomas braved the cold water and had an early morning dip.  A gondola, furnicular and a couple of trains later and we were in Lausanne in a French-speaking area of Switzerland. M’faddel and Rick were our warm and friendly hosts. For me a highlight of the trip was Chateaux Chillon as it is like nothing I have seen before. I felt like I had either stepped back in time or into a Disney movie. In the evening we met more Rotaracters and enjoyed dinner at Cafe Bellini followed by salsa dancing. Valerie was kind enough to host me that evening, which was very generous as we arrived home quite late.20150722_084737

On Thursday we took a train to Neuchâtel and enjoyed a kaffee from the restaurant carriage. The local Rotaracters gave us questions to answer as we toured the city, which brought out our competitive spirit. I met probably the only other person in Switzerland to know where Coonabarabran is, Celine, who had done an exchange to Australia.  After lunch from the kiosk we cruised around the lake and watched kids cheat death as they jumped off jetties and into the wake of the boat as we passed by.  To escape the heat we took pedalos (pedalboats) out onto the lake.  There is now dead kangaroo at the bottom of Lac du Neuchâtel as I shared around some kangaroo jerky and it did not taste nice at all, so someone from Cyprus spat it out. I guess I should have tried kangaroo jerky before I gave it to people, but I like kangaroo and I like jerky so I figured it would be ok. Sorry!  That night we stayed at Auberg’inn, which is not a play on the word “aubergine”.  Many years ago David de Pury also happened to stay there and drink beer and prosecco before he went out and danced to a Gotye remix.

The next day we travelled to Bern by train and discovered that boiled eggs can be bought off the shelf.  In Bern we caught a bus to the Rosengarten then walked down past the bear pits for which Bern is famous, across the Nydeggbrücke to the old part of Bern, past Einstein’s flat, past the Parliament and down to the Aare River, which is not full of jellyfish despite the signs dotted across the city.  We walked about a kilometre up the river then jumped into the fast-flowing water off a four-metre high bridge. I got a blood nose from the shock of the cold water but I was glad to face my fears and live to tell the tale.

In the afternoon we arrived at Grenchen airport and met Rotaracters from Solothurn.  To our great surprise a generous Rotarian and pilot, Rolph, took us for joy flights over Solothurn, Biel/Bienne and Grenchen. We flew 500 feet above the mountain ridge and could see where people do traditional Swiss wrestling, the factory where BMC bikes are made for Cadell Evans and the Swatch factory whose workers are always on time. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience. Afterwards we said our goodbyes to Johannes as he left for France. That night we had fondue for dinner at Eveline and Tom’s house. No amount of kirsch could have helped the cheese ball in my tummy but it was a lovely dinner all the same.

After Solothurn we headed to Basel for the last day of our journey through Switzerland. Lu was a wonderful host in Basel and very kind and understanding. Adrian and the Basel Rotaracters took us on a city tour and we crossed the river on the leu fähre, which is completely unmotorised and pulled along by a rope across the river.  We then had a relaxing afternoon traipsing around the zolli and seeing animals from around the world.  The leu cubs were the highlight for me even though we only caught a glimpse.  For dinner we had a barbecue by the river in an absolutely magical setting, interrupted only by the people who happened to want to use the path we were sitting on. The Rotaract club was kind enough to organise a Patrouille Suisse fly-by as a finale to our picnic.  The evening concluded with drinks and more socialising at Paddy Reilly’s. We farewelled Trim as he was to go to Geneva the next day.

On Sunday the rest of us returned to Zurich to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. The end of a round trip is bitter-sweet as you have made new friends but you don’t know when/whether you’ll see them again. To everyone whom I met on the 2015 Swiss Rotaract Round Trip, my door in Australia is always open and I sincerely hope you visit one day so I can show you around my corner of the world. Thanks to all the participants and organisers for a special once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tschüss!

Kosovan Leutrim reports:

DSC03964“All the time we asked what we have on the schedule for the day but only on Solothurn we didn’t and Solothurn was a big surprise. We were at the Airport of Grenchen and we did not have any idea what we were gonna do. Big surprise was that we would do a flight with a private small plane and you should have seen our faces .The flight was awesome we saw the Solothurn and Biel. All of us were smiling after the flight and telling our experience and how unexpected it was. The day wasn’t over because we visited the city and dinner was waiting for us not at the park because it starting raining but at the home of a host.”DSC03912

 

Two pieces by Leutrim from Kosovo:

NEUCHÂTEL “After a wonderful day in Lausanne it was time to go the next city and it was to be the beautiful city of Neuchatel. We were tired from the salsa dance last night and the traveling with train was our sleeping time and time to rest for the next step. The Rotaract of Neuchatel was waiting for us at the train station to be our guides. They had prepared a quiz for us to get to know the city better and for each question, there was a place to visit. The first place was the Statue of David De Pury, the benefactor of the city who gave his wealth for the city of Neuchatel and the city put his statue in the center of the city to respect him. The questions were very interesting and they were not formal so for us it was really fun. I will mention only some of them, we had to count terraces at the ´Place des halles´, then to count the stair-steps between the ´Jehanne de Hochberg` street and the `Collegiale` there were 69 steps so we gave the street the name  ´Street 69 `. The place I will always remember was the Theater Du Pommier where the name of the theater comes from the Pummier ( Apple ) tree that is in front of the theater. After the delicious lunch we went on the boat to see the Lake of Neuchatel and we enjoyed the trip so much. We visited the Swiss brand shop ´Heidi.com` and one of the founders told us about the shop and what make them different from others and actually we loved the shop and their products and all us bought at least one item. The Dinner at Neuchatel was the best that I ate here because we were at the harbor and there was live music so it was a perfect combination of the food and the music. We enjoyed so much the music and we continued to have fun at our place where we held a ´little` party. The drinks were so good because we had a special bartender and he was our wonderful host Johannes, but the night wasn´t over we went to the club. It was a Thursday night and in the club there wasn’t nobody, only us, we didn’t care we continue to have fun and the best thing was the after ten minutes in the club were lot of people just because of us.

BERN: Waking up in the morning was so hard after the party, all of us needed a coffee to wake up and be ready to come to capital city of Switzerland – Bern. It is really interesting how the city with around 150’000 people to be the capital of Switzerland when there are even bigger cities. I did not understand it until they explained that Bern is on the middle of Switzerland. We went to see the places of Bears but there wasn’t any bear they were on holiday, because even bear need holiday. We continue our journey on the center of the city visiting the the Parliament, the National Bank and the Albert Einstein house. The weather was so hot so we needed to freshen up and we went to Arre river. The most interesting moment on the river was when we went to jump from the bridge and I was afraid first, but I persuade myself to jump. I had the camera to record the jumping and it was very beautiful moment that I never forget.”

“It was a great day for me. I liked the welcoming part they were very friendly. They tried to tell lots of things about the place. The boat tour was cool. I liked the view. When we went to the Chillion Castle, I was surprised. It was very big and I learned lots of details about that castle and its history. After we came back to Lausanne, I couldn`t look around too much because of the rain but I saw that it is a lovely place because I knew it before I came. I searched the place and also we learned its history in our history lessons in Turkey. DSC03846The restaurant and the meals were nice too. The people who I met were friendly. We talked about the things that I was curious about. They answered patiently. J The dance club was amazing. I had fun too much. The place, where I stayed, was perfect. Rick is a great guy, he is a very good and thoughtful host. Thanks for everything.

Lovely hugs from Muge from TURKEY”

Here the second blog post by our poet Antonis from Cyprus:

“I am writing these lines while siting in the train to Lausanne, having as a view the astonishing nature of Zermatt region, as the sun and the breeze reaches my face from the big window of the train.   It was always in my bucket list to visit the Swiss Alps, and visiting Zermatt as part of the Swiss Rotaract Roundtrip was absolutely an amazing experience! We reached Zermatt by train early in the morning and we took a look at the picturesque city full of wooden small houses. We enjoyed our lunch at the central square and we got ready for the great hike of Zermatt Mountain. The path to the peak was extremely difficult especially with not too much hours of sleep! As I am not an experience hiker, I did a great mistake and carried many stuff in my backpack, something that made my task even more difficult. The hike took almost 4 hours with many stops for taking a breath, filling our bottles with water from the springs, and eating a snack in order to regain powers. There were times that I felt like superman challenging my physical limits, there were others that I felt exhausted and wanted this to end. But most of the time I had in my mind the poem Ithaca DSC03740of the great Greek Poet Kavafis which says that it is not the destination that matters but the journey itself. Nevertheless my physical exhaustion, I was trying to enjoy every second of the hike and capture in my mind every detail of the view from the trees to the rivers and from the enormous mountains with the snow on their peak to the blue sky with the white clouds, which I felt that I could touch with my hands.

At last after 4 hours we finally reached the peak and I felt very accomplished like I was on the top of the world! When I turned my head back to see the view, I realized that it was not only the journey that matters, but also the destination did not disappoint me. The view of Matterhorn Mountain and the surrounding area left me speechless for a couple of minutes. At that point we took some group pictures to celebrate our achievement and then we walked to our shelter for the night. We entered the warm shelter and went straight to the wooden dinning room where we enjoyed a delicious dinner. We were very tired from the hike so we had a shower and went early to sleep because the next day wereDSC03820 planning to wake up early and walk to the lake in order to enjoy and capture the sun birth arising behind Matterhorn Mountain. So it was 5:20when the first alarm rang and we all woke up full of excitement to hit the lake. The whether outside was freezing but it wasn’t enough to stop us from enjoying the beautiful colors of the nature during the sunrise. Watching the sun going up and behind the Toblerone Mountain, as I like to call it, was a unique experience that I will remember forever. Thank you Swiss Rotaract Roundtrip 2015 and especially thank you Vivianne and Johannes for your hospitality and great Rotaract spirit.”

Again courtesy of Thomas, here some updates on what went on in Luzern:

DSC03671

“Because I grew up in a small town in Canada, Luzern felt much more familiar to me than Zurich. We were treated to the history of the town as we walked the wooden bridge ‘Kapellbrücke’, and walked the walls and towers that once protected the city from banditos (you can change that word… haha). We then jumped on a steamboat and steamed away on the lake so that we could take the train up the Mount Rigi. That was quite the train ride to say the least, given how steep it was! Once we arrived at the top, I was wowed by the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, and managed to fight off some wasps too. After enjoying a coffee, we made our way back down the mountain, DSC03686and took the boat back to the city, where we then enjoyed a couple of hours swimming in the lake, which was again just a treat! We finished off the night taking in some of the music festival. Because of the festival, we were unable to find accommodations in the city, so we found ourselves sleeping in a barn outside of the city. It was a bit of a shock when we first arrived, but it was actually a very nice sleep, and we were awoken this morning by the sweet sound of cows mooing. As I type this, we’re on the train to Zermatt, and will visit the Matterhorn later today.”