Switzerland and Beyond: Swiss Travel Pass
Thanks to Zurich’s location and transport network, the city makes an excellent base for daytrips to other parts of Switzerland, or even to places outside Switzerland altogether. A nice excursion from Zurich is Konstanz, the German city just across the border from the Swiss city of Kreuzlingen. The Old Town of Konstanz is an interesting agglomeration of historic buildings enjoying a superb setting on the shore of Bodensee, the German name for Lake Constance. Very close to the train station (Swiss Railway trains go all the way to Konstanz) is Kreuzlingerstrasse, which, as its name implies, extended into Kreuzlinger on the Swiss side of the border. This narrow street looks deceptively simple, but behind its façades are creative people doing creative things. The Czerner Dance Academy sees young women in full ballerina costume walking (or dancing) along the street; the avant-garde jewellery designer Annick is located at number 50. At number 56, across the street from the tattoo parlour, is Galerie KunstGrenze, the Art Border Gallery curated by Johannes Dörflinger, the visionary artist who created the art border for which the gallery is named. Those large metal sculptures in unusual geometric shapes seen when the train arrives in Konstanz? These sculptures delineate the border between Germany and Switzerland; this is the only national frontier in the world marked by art. No fences or concrete barriers, no barbed wire. Just art.
As always, the best ideas are the simplest. Mr Dörflinger’s interpretations of the Major Arcana, the Great Trumps of the Tarot, serve as an inspiring reminder that art and design are integral to every aspect of daily life. The city of Konstanz website has a comprehensive webpage explaining the history and construction of Art Border. The Galerie KunstGrenze website (in German only) also offers insight into the man and his work. With the city of Konstanz in the midst of a five-year celebration of the 600th anniversary of the Council of Constance, there is a lively atmosphere in town in the warmer months and a busy cultural calendar during the winter months.
In addition to visits north to Konstanz in Germany, the Swiss Travel System’s Swiss Travel Pass allows for several other special experiences outside Switzerland’s borders in every direction. In the south, the Palm Express bus service takes passengers from St Moritz in the beautiful Graubünden region to Lugano in the equally scenic Ticino region via the shores of Italy’s Lake Como. The famous Bernina Express train and Stelvio bus line extend from Switzerland into Tirano, where the remarkable Palazzo Salis and numerous excellent restaurants await in this undiscovered corner of northern Italy. In Switzerland’s French-speaking western region, the Swiss Travel System includes boat excursions across Lake Geneva to the French resort town of Evian-les-Bains, where the tap water is the mineral water sold all over the world. To the east of Switzerland, the fairytale Alpine setting of Liechtenstein and its impressive castle and museums make an excellent destination for a day or a weekend. A ride right to the centre of Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s tiny capital, is just a flash of the pass away; the train from Zurich to Sargans and bus from Sargans to Vaduz together take less than 90 minutes.
Switzerland itself takes a little longer to reach from the Asia-Pacific region, but flying SWISS from Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, or Tokyo will give travellers a chance to appreciate Swiss culture before arrival, especially in the Business Class cabin where Swiss design has created comfortable and stylish flat-bed seats and culinary experiences such as the Taste Of Switzerland bring the excellence of Swiss quality to the air across the world. An interesting and very informative website, The World Of Swiss, gives an insightful look behind the scenes of the airline’s operations.