SWITZERLAND Rishad Saam Mehta takes you to Reichenbach Falls, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's hero met his end
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's eccentric hero Sherlock Holmes has been shining bright recently thanks to Guy Ritchie's new rendition of the 19th century detective. He's been portrayed as a sort of Victorian James bond, which he really was. He could fight, he and Dr Watson were always packing, and they had no inhibitions about shooting to kill.
But in Switzerland there is a little town where Sherlock Holmes is revered as a local hero. In fact his statue sits deep in thought in a park in the centre of the town and there is a museum to his name. This town is called Meiringen; it is at the base of Reichenbach Falls that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used as the dramatic setting where his hero Sherlock Holmes falls to his death locked in a deadly struggle with his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty, in ‘The Final Problem'.
Meiringen is a lovely 30km drive from Interlaken where I'd arrived after driving my hired Porsche Cayenne across the spine of the Swiss Alps, across many famous mountain passes and through numerous tunnels.
I had stopped along the way at St. Moritz famous for its spa built around a spring that has been bubbling with naturally gassed waters for over 3,000 years. Even if you aren't into spas, St. Moritz is a lovely summer and winter destination – with hikes and cycling trails and canoeing and kayaking on the lake for summer and lovely ski slopes during winter. After that I'd driven across some delicious roads whose highlight was the Furka Pass. This pass featured in one of the most celebrated car chases of all the Bond movies – the one in ‘Goldfinger' – and lovely cars like a 1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III, an Aston Martin DB5 and a Ford Mustang.
My next stop had been Montreux, the charming city by Lake Geneva which has music in its soul. Igor Stravinsky composed his most famous work – The Rites of Spring – here and even British rock band Deep Purple's ‘Smoke on the water' was composed here.
Montreux's long and lively lakefront arguably has more buskers sending out merry notes of melody than all the other lakefronts in Switzerland put together. From a solitary teenager whistling out a riveting rendition of the love theme from ‘The Godfather' on his shiny clarinet to a string and brass sextet belting out crisp jazz, chances are music will put a spring in your step as you walk the lakefront market in Montreux.
And, frozen forever in bronze, in his characteristic pose, legs apart, one fist in the air and the other curled around a microphone as if he was born holding it, is a statue of Freddie Mercury looking out at Lake Geneva. He and Queen loved Montreux and their last album together ‘Made in Heaven' was recorded here.
At Interlaken where I drove to next, Indians like me will feel right at home since there are so many fellow tourists from our country. A great deal of the credit for this steady stream of visitors to Interlaken goes to Mr Yash Chopra who has splashed Interlaken and the surrounding Bernese Oberland across many of his movies.
Chances are you will definitely visit the Jungfrau that towers over Interlaken, but do drive out to Meiringen too. From here there is a funicular railway going up to the Richenbach Falls.
From the funicular station on top it is an invigorating walk to top of the falls. Take your time and do it at a comfortable pace since parts of the path are quite slippery.
Looking out at the left of the falls you will spot a little white star. It was placed by the Sherlock Holmes Society – to mark the spot where the fight between Holmes and Moriarty was supposed to have happened.
On the way back to Interlaken take the smaller Road no. 6 along the north shore of the lake. And do stop at the very pretty village of Brienze for a cup of coffee and breathtaking views over the Brienzersee or Lake Brienz. It is the Switzerland that you see in postcards and in the movies.
To plan a trip go to www.myswitzerland.com. Europcar has the Porsche Cayenne, Audi A8 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class for hire. But remember you need two credit cards to hire these high-end cars.