If you, or someone in your family, has an inner science nerd, Switzerland is where you can feed your appetite for exploring the mysteries of the universe (as well as your appetite for chocolate and cheese - but you already knew that!)
Did the song 'Rocket Man' immediately jump into your head? There may be no better sound track to a story about science destinations, so here's a link to Elton John's classic so you can play it while you read on about the best ways to tap into your own inner geek in Switzerland.
Professional scientists, enthusiasts, and even your favorite TV comedy physicists all have Switzerland's CERN (pronounced 'Surn') on their travel bucket lists. CERN is the world's largest physics laboratory. The site straddles Switzerland and France outside of Geneva. Thousands of scientists from member European countries work together at CERN on questions of matter, anti-matter, the particles that make up all things in the universe, and the forces that link them.
It's best known for the Large Hadron Collider, a ring 27 kilometres around and 100 metres under the earth's surface. The LHC accelerates particles into extremely high energies, making them smash into each other. Scientists use very precise instruments to collect information about what happens during those collisions.
Visitors can discover the mysteries of the Universe and the work of the world's biggest physics laboratory as a group, with friends, individually, on foot, on your bike, or virtually. CERN's 2 permanent exhibitions are free to visit.
(Above photos courtesy CERN)
CERN's gigantic Globe of Science and Innovation is a symbol of the Earth, and, at 27 metres high and 40 metres in diameter, bigger than the dome of St. Peter's in Rome! Inside, the 'Universe of Particles' exhibit takes you on a journey of the building blocks of the entire Universe, where those particles come from, how they behave, and the questions of modern physics that scientists are exploring at CERN. The 'Microcosm' exhibit allows you to discover the wonders of CERN's monumental experiments using the Large Hadron Collider, and meet the people who built and operate it.
The Sphinx Observatory
From underground to 'The Top of Europe'. Jungfraujoch is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: a glacier 'saddle' at the top of Europe's largest glacier, connecting two four-thousand meter peaks.
Take the historic Jungfrau railway from Interlaken to Grindelwald, a scenic glacier village that is one of Switzerland's oldest and most popular resort areas at the base of snow-capped mountains. The view gets even more breathtaking from there to Europe's highest train station at Jungfraujoch.
Don't settle for the spectacular views here. Do what scientists do and aim higher. The Sphinx Observatory dates from the early 1900's and is named after the 'Sphinx' peak of a breathtakingly steep ridge where it's perched at a height of 3572 metres (11, 719 feet). The Sphinx Observatory is the highest construction on the continent. Amazingly, there's an elevator tunneled into that rocky mountain peak connecting the Jungfraujoch railway station to the observatory. The observatory serves researchers in fields as diverse as glaciology, medicine, cosmic physics and astronomy, with multiple laboratories, weather observation station, a enormous telescope and even electricity, water, phone and internet!
Check your vertigo at the door and inhale pure mountain air, as well as unmatched views of the Alps, the glacier, the scenery over 11,000 feet below, and sometimes, all the way to Italy and Germany.
Stay in a 'Space Suite' in Zurich
Zurich's Kameha Grand Zurich boutique hotel is in up and coming Glattpark. The growing neighborhood is a new business center in Switzerland's global city of banking and finance, so business travelers who value lifestyle have a place near their meetings with solid design credentials. And its proximity to the Zurich airport makes it perfect for a stay on leisure travelers' way into or out of a wider tour of the country.
The hotel's design creativity extends to themed suites. If you were the little kid who wanted to grow up to be an astronaut, or you're traveling with that little kid, the Kameha Grand Zurich's space suite is the hotel equivalent of sleeping in your favorite space hero pajamas. The little kid will love the treat. The little kid inside you will grin at the tongue in cheek design. It leans on 'space age' without being kitsch.
Designed by artist Michael Najjar, the Space Suite transports you to the stars with silver, black and moonscape textures, a gravity-defying, sleek. floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets, together with curated selections of literature, music and films about space travel, as well as original works by the artist. The perfect place for your inner 'Rocket Man' to recharge.