Snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills are what usually come to mind when it comes to Switzerland, so a spy action film complete with super villains and Bond girls aren’t what one expects to be a popular tourist attraction. In the movie, “On her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Bond goes to a clinic at the top of a mountain (Piz Gloria) to thwart an evil plot to spread biohazard warfare agents throughout the world. A thrilling ski chase has immortalized the area as not only a popular ski resort, but also a place steeped with details on the history of James Bond. While there weren’t any exploding pens for sale in the building’s gift shop, there were plenty of opportunities to get the Bond experience, including posing with cardboard cutouts, strolling through their museum, and flying the helicopter simulator.
If the escapades of 007 aren’t as much of an interest to you, you can still enjoy the stunning view. A patio and an observation deck offer panoramic views of Schilthorn, a 2,970 meter high summit of the Bernese Alps. You can even see skiers brave some of the same routes Bond did in the movie. Even lower down are a couple of quaint villages we managed to stop by in for some quick pictures. But it’s the revolving restaurant, the Piz Gloria, that is the claim to fame from the movie. The name comes from the Bond movie, where the building was actually said to be located near St. Moritz where the Romansh dialect would still be spoken. In Romansh “Piz” means “peak.“ After a couple of rounds of photos and walking around it was time for the ride back down from 2,970 meters and to make our way to Lugano.
Lugano is a bit unlike other stops we would make on our tour. Since certain parts of Switzerland are near France or Italy, some towns are drastically different from what one would normally consider being a Swiss town. Lugano looks and feels Italian. The buildings are noticeably different from the very minimalist style we saw in Zurich. In Lugano, the cobbled roads remind me of Italy. Even the people here speak Italian, and some people say that the area is the, “Monte Carlo of Switzerland.” My memories of Monte Carlo are filled with large yachts and luxury cars basking in the Italian sun, so when people say Lugano is kind of like Monte Carlo, well I think they’re talking about the summer season. The slight rain definitely gave the area a gray shadow, but it was still a wonderful city to walk around in. When I had woken up from my nap and peered out the window to a depressing-looking waterfront in Lugano I was a bit disappointed, but it turned out being a wonderful surprise to see such a different side of Switzerland.
From a quiet ski resort turned Bond film to a rainy day turned perfect strolling weather, that day was a just a bunch of surprises. It’s odd but sometimes even the most lack luster destinations seem ever more brighter traveling with wonderful people. Until then, this has been Irawan, Stacey Irawan.