When the Swiss Invite You to a “Panorama”

Having grown up on the flat Canadian prairies, not a clear and sunny day goes by that I don’t step out onto my balcony here in Switzerland, look over the bright blue Zurich Sea, toward the glowing green foothills of the Alps, and say out loud, “Wow!” Brandon, my fiance, often asks, “Will it ever get old?” My answer is always the same: “Not even close”. So when some new Swiss friends asked if they could take us up those hills for lunch at a traditional Swiss panorama restaurant, of course I was very excited.

It was an unseasonably hot Sunday in March. It was so warm I decided to wear my new sleeveless dress and some sparkly ballet flats. Brandon put on his Sunday best, a short sleeve collared shirt and dress shoes. We were picked up at 12:30 and as we departed, one friend, Sara, pointed to a lone tree atop a huge foothill and in her best English effort said, “You see this tree? This is where we are going.” I was bursting! After spending so much time staring up at those hills in awe, wondering what the world would look like from up there, I was finally going to find out. Her boyfriend Patrick, in a less successful attempt at English, mentioned that he had made the reservation for 2 pm. Hmmm, that’s strange, I thought, the drive couldn’t possibly take an hour and a half. Perhaps he just has the English numbers mixed up. We drove for a half hour, up through the forested winding roads, getting higher and higher. We stopped and parked at a restaurant. It was 1 pm, and I didn’t see the tree. We were told we would have to walk a little to get there.

We started walking uphill. The hot spring sun was shining, the

Our hiking clothes

beautiful neon green hills and valleys surrounded us, it was a lovely day for a stroll. After a half hour however, there was no restaurant or lone tree in sight. By this time, we had passed numerous hiking-boot clad Swiss folks, all of whom smiled at us in our fancy outfits, making obvious they knew for certain that we were foreigners. My sparkly shoes were digging into the backs of my heels, and poor Brandon needed a new shirt. We were dripping sweat, starving, and feeling a bit duped by our new friends who had not informed us of the hour-long hike necessary to reach our destination.  Being the friendly Canadians we are though, Brandon and I exchanged dirty looks respectfully behind their backs, and continued trekking. Eventually Patrick pointed further uphill toward a tree and a building with a big Swiss flag. We were almost there.

Once we reached the restaurant I was amazed at the amount of people sitting, eating, enjoying. All of them walked an hour uphill to get here? Brandon and I joked that such a place would never survive in Canada.

“No roads, no parking lot, an hour-long walk? Ha, forget it!”

Our friends didn’t really get the humor.

At this point all we cared about was getting some water and finding out what this “mountain food” was. The waitress walked us to the other side of the sunny deck, apparently leading us to the “best seat in the house”.  As I turned the corner and lifted my tired head, I was suddenly overwhelmed and immediately realized what all the fuss was about. These people hadn’t hiked all the way up here just to look down on the word from atop a hill. We were all there to look beyond our little hill, over the other side, toward the most amazing view of the snow-topped Alps I had ever seen! I was instantly rejuvenated and so glad I had made such an effort to deserve such a sight. This was a real Swiss experience. As we enjoyed our Swiss white wine and fragrant cheeses and meats, I finally asked Patrick, “Why didn’t you tell us about the hike, or about this incredible view?”

“I did” he said. “That’s a Swiss panorama.”