Taking Time Out for Culture (& Chocolate) in Switzerland
While planning your next wellness trip – especially in a foreign country, I strongly encourage you to carve out a couple of extra days to enjoy the culture and local community there. Although I love everything that I experience at a resort and spa, if possible, spending time to explore and support the local towns is not only so much fun, but it allows you to enjoy enriching experiences that will connect you to those areas of the world (whether abroad or in the USA) in a more meaningful way. This is not only gratifying, but it is fun, too! On many occasions, I end up having meaningful exchanges with the locals and gain a deeper understanding of life there – and even back home.
There is a documentary movie I saw called The Last Tourist which showed the underbelly and hazards of travel, and how destructive it can be on a local community if not supporting the locals themselves. It followed how tourists were consuming so much of the area that they actually were doing damage if not respecting the destination, interacting with the people there, purchasing and supporting the local shops’ merchandise, cuisine, etc., and I think it opened my eyes in such a way that I really recommend seeing it. I saw travel in such a new light, and also made me become even a more conscious traveler. Spending a bit of time and energy in the destination's culture and local community is so critical.
I did this recently when traveling to Switzerland, where I'd never visited, so I decided to simply walk around for a couple of days to immerse myself into the sights and culture. Truth be told, I am a chocolate fanatic, so this was not a push to do so by any means! But by walking on foot and partaking in the chocolate, the shoppes, the cuisine at both restaurants and cafes, I gained an appreciation of the city and people that I’ve taken to heart and am the better for it.
Things I enjoyed ....
I loved having a chocolate croissant at a ‘famous’ patisserie shop, enjoying a sensational latte in a small courtyard cafe that my hotel concierge said was extraordinary (and it was), and stumbling into a wellness shop and finding some natural, organic products from brands that I’d never heard of before. One must-buy was a delicious jasmine-smelling hydrating face mist and I also sampled the memorable body oil made from flowers outside of the city that smelled like honeysuckle and geraniums but with a touch of depth.
I also met a USA expat who’d moved there to follow her dreams of opening a shop offering one-of-a-kind costume jewelry, and she told me all about the city and what I needed to do should I have more time. Even gave me a book of the city! I met and visited with a chef from a local restaurant who serves fresh food from the farms around the area, and I love and appreciate fashion so I had to pop into the boutiques to try and sport the different styles that were really unique and different. Including a pair of sunglasses that were just cool – as well as a chain so that I don't lose them!
Window shopping is free, so there's plenty of art and galleries to visit, and the chocolate shoppes really are unique and decadent. I found a few and sampled chocolate from each. I also loved running into their food trucks, seeing the locals lining up for the mouth-watering hot paninis or sandwiches. Not that different than here, and the food really was delicious.
This was truly a fantastic couple of days and I was so glad that I spent the time (and yes, some extra money) to help the community and also provide experiences that I can't have anywhere else.
After the culture immersion, it's time to get to the spa! So, once you've taken the time to explore and appreciate the region, any of these spas in Switzerland will be ready to welcome you. And, don't forget the streets of the beautiful local cities and towns – including Geneva – will be, too. Au revoir!
xo Mary Blackmon