Switzerland is famous for chocolate, watches, cheese, neutrality, the Alps, and being the most expensive country in Europe. To be honest, a weekend in Switzerland was never at the top of my list. We really only went because all of our other plans fell through. We originally planned to head to Paris, but the strikes put that on hold. Our backup plan was to head to the Czech Republic, but hotels in Prague for that specific weekend were over $300 per night, which is more than we are paying per night to stay in London. That’s a pretty insane amount of money for a country in Eastern Europe. Stefan suggested we just stay home and travel within Germany, but I refused. Since he was gone for work for over a month, we didn’t travel anywhere for nearly 6 weeks. I was ready to go and get out of Germany. Switzerland was really the only option we had since we wanted to drive.
The Rhine Falls
Our first stop during our weekend in Switzerland was at Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe. To be completely honest, we were expecting something much more impressive from Europe’s biggest waterfall. The online pictures made Rhine Falls look as big as Niagara. So imagine our surprise when we showed up and saw what it actually was.
The most exciting thing at Rhine Falls is riding a boat out to the big rock and climbing the top stairs. It’s a good tourist trap, I suppose. We planned to do it, but we passed once we saw the price they wanted for a 15-minute boat ride. That’s not to say that Rhine Falls isn’t beautiful because it was. It’s just when you spend 4 hours driving to something, you become bitter when it doesn’t live up to your expectations. To get to Rhine Falls, we had a bit of a walk, so after we looked at the falls for about 10 minutes, we decided to get a drink.
Enter the most expensive bottle of water I have ever purchased in my entire life! A small bottle with a price tag of something like 10 USD. Do you know how many margaritas we drank in Honduras for $10? FIVE! Somehow the thought of spending the weekend in Switzerland and paying $10 for water while reviving memories of the margaritas in Honduras didn’t sit right with me.
Stefan did get this Swiss beer which was delicious. In true European fashion, the beer was much cheaper than the water. He let me drink some, though; it’s probably the best beer I’ve ever had. If you ever go to Rhine Falls, skip the water and drink 2 beers instead!
We also bought a bunch of Swiss chocolate. It was fantastic! I honestly wish we would have purchased more because the four bars we bought didn’t last long around our house!
After leaving Rhine Falls, we looked for a place to eat in Schaffhausen. Switzerland’s cuisine is pretty much borrowed from neighbouring Germany, France, and Italy. We found a schnitzel restaurant that charged $30 a plate. We got good schnitzel in Germany for $10, so we passed. Want a plate of lasagna in Schaffhausen? Better fork up $40. Want a döner? $20. Everything was 2-3 times as expensive as in Germany. I knew this was going in, but I still had sticker shock. I might pay $40 for lasagna in Italy, but definitely not in Switzerland.
By this time, Stefan had a pretty good idea. Let’s eat at the one place we know is cheap, and maybe we can find some unique Swiss snacks at our next destination. I agreed, so off we went to…
McDonald’s! We promptly paid $35 for two cheeseburgers, two medium fries and two medium drinks. It was the cleanest, most efficient and delicious McDonald’s I’ve ever eaten, though, so I guess that says something.
Didn’t really enjoy this weekend in Switzerland
We originally had plans to head to St. Gallen (and maybe more). Still, we decided to head on to Liechtenstein. To be completely honest, we were ready to leave Switzerland at this point. We ran into some real grouches working at places in Switzerland and were overwhelmed. We didn’t even see any unique buildings. Everything was very modern and boxy. Many people love Switzerland, so I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting. It just wasn’t our cup of tea.
No more spontaneous trips for us!
If you know me, you understand that I obsessively plan out all of our trips. I generally know where we are going, where the best places to eat, etc. Since I didn’t get to plan this trip out, we were winging it. We didn’t really have a plan, which set the tone for this trip. I wouldn’t say the weekend in Switzerland was an entire wash. Although the Rhine Falls didn’t meet our expectations, I admit it was an excellent place to relax. We also learned something: we do much better (and have more fun) with my detailed itineraries!
I think we might give Switzerland a second chance eventually. Maybe we will head to see the Matterhorn one day. We’ve heard that’s the best area to visit. I think we will give it a little time, though!