Railways of Roger - Part 1: Zurich
Swiss welcome the end of Winter with an exploding snowman!

On the way to the Monte-Carlo tournament in 2018, I purposefully took a long layover in Switzerland.

After the Road to Rafa series, I created this article to start the "Railways to Roger" series. It seemed an appropriate introduction to those new to Federer country. A new book just released: Footsteps of Federer (March 2021) takes you through Switzerland.

Rafa was pretty happy with seeing Zurich when Roger played tour guide for the "Match for Africa".

For tennis fans, it's the perfect opportunity to take a short hop on the train transfer from the airport to the city center. You can be in the city within 15 minutes!

I can highly recommend this layover for anyone flying through Europe on Luftansa or Swiss Air (great lounge!). Aim to take an extended layover (at least 4 hours) if you want to check out Zurich. Even if you just are at the airport, I always find great souvenirs and authentic chocolates to share back home with my students and friends.


A stroll near Lake Zurich will allow travelers to cross several of the bridges displaying the beautiful architecture and history of this city. The swans like to come out to join the humans around lunchtime.

The tourism center is right inside at the corner of the train station. It can provide you many other ideas and sights to see on the map. The city center is very walkable with many shopping choices. One can even charter a boat tour down the river.

Spring Festival Holiday

As fortune would have it, I arrived during a National Holiday known as Sechseläuten or in German: Sächsilüüte. Usually on the 3rd Monday in April, it consists of a parade of horses and flower floats to welcome the arrival of Spring after a cold winter.

Böögg the Snowman

The climax of the parade is a giant bonfire built under a mega-sized snowman filled with explosives! The snowman is affectionately named Böögg. The horses ride in giant circles around it until it becomes engulfed into a huge pyro display. Plenty of fire safety precautions are taken to keep the flames from getting past the inner ring

As tradition has it, the quicker and bigger the explosion of Böögg, the sooner the Zurich citizens should expect a warm arrival of summer. It is the equivalent of our Groundhog's Day in the USA.

This is a celebration of the end of Winter and the start of Spring in Switzerland.

Sechseläuten_2010_-_Böögg (Explosion)
By Roland zh

Children's Parade Day - Kinderumzug

The Sunday before the holiday is when the Children's parade (Kinderumzug) takes place with the kids and horses all dressed up. Flowers are given away to the men of the parade as part of the tradition.

Documentary: Battle of the Alphorn or Alpine Horns

With more time I would take a day trip to Interlaken and another to Lucerne.

Mount Titlis is a great glimpse of the Swiss Alps if you cannot take a helicopter ride around the Matterhorn. The layover should give tennis fans an opportunity to explore ideas on future returns.

Basel, Switzerland - Part 2...

Coming next in Part 2: the very next Spring in 2019.

I came back to Switzerland.

This time to see a new city - Basel, Roger's hometown!

Mid-Transit from Europe to North America:
I was on my way back to America after visiting the Rafa Academy.

It was an opportunity to do some training in Mallorca, Spain with Rafael Nadal, Uncle Toni, and special WTA guest Naomi Osaka all preparing for the French Open after Barcelona...

To make any Euro tennis trip complete, I decided I need to be fair and also a tennis pitstop as a loyal fan of Mr. Roger Federer.

He is also a global ambassador for Uniqlo and overall just a great guy.

The actual day trip from Zurich to Basel was quite a whirlwind journey.

Hear how I nearly missed my 2nd intercontinental flight back to America in 2019.

Travel side note - how to miss a flight properly:
While returning from the Aussie Open in January, I ended up having to buy two tickets to come back from Melbourne via Honolulu!

I actually had to watch my Virgin Australia plane back up and take off from the gate without me (even after they cleared me for an upgrade!)

More details and exciting tennis travel stories to follow in the next chapter.

Stay tuned!