Currently Browsing: Travel
19 Jul 2013
It’s now been over a year since Geoff and I were married back in Melbourne, Australia – what better a time than to finally go on our belated honeymoon?! We spent almost three weeks in Switzerland visiting 26 towns, cities and tiny little villages, eating ALL the chocolate and taking a ridiculous number of trains. We also took a drive down the most hair-raising cliff skirting mountain pass (track?) which put to shame the previous winner of that title – that time we decided to take the scenic route rather than the highway between Munich and Innsbruck and ended up along a cliff on a very rainy wintery night, with trucks hurdling towards us and very little evidence of barriers between us and certain death off the side of the cliff.
When we told our friends in Europe that we were going to Switzerland for our honeymoon a look of horror crossed most of their faces. Why aren’t you going to Thailand???!!! My reply usually consisted of pointing out that as a red haired person, I’m not actually supposed to be in the sun for more than 5 minutes, that a beach holiday is actually my worst nightmare, and the fact that Switzerland always seemed like this beautiful wonderland containing two of my favourite things: mountainous landscapes and chocolate! Actually scratch that – three of my favourite things because I soon discovered Switzerland is home to the greatest mayonnaise in the history of humanity – Thomy (try it – you won’t regret it) – something Geoff and I had been desperately missing in Sweden. We are now down to only 2 tubes left, so rationing is in place.
Luckily Geoff also wanted to see Switzerland, so off we went!
We started and ended our trip in Zurich, staying in Luzern, Wilderswil (a little village near Interlaken), Zermatt, Lausanne and Bern in between. The proper photos are Geoff’s, the instagram ones are mine:
Firstly, Lake Zurich. We were in Zurich for about 4 very rainy days, but at last the clouds lifted and we decided to take a boat trip along the lake from Zurich to Rapperswil.
Here is Rapperswil – I felt like we had arrived at a little Italian village along the Mediterranean. Everyone was sitting outside eating pizza and speaking Italian (despite the fact that we were still firmly in German speaking territory). It was love at first sight! Turquoise water!
Onto Luzern! Of all the cities we visited this was my top contender for Swiss Cities I would Like to Live In. I really have to wonder how the Swiss enjoy traveling to other countries when everything is so beautiful there.
Summertime in Zermatt – the city was a ghost town which was very cosy (yes American spell check – this is a word). We decided to try fondu again but came to the realisation that neither of us likes it. Blasphemy! The waitress looked a little heartbroken as she took away our two half eaten pots of fondu.
On the other hand we fell even more deeply in love with the true culinary delight that is rösti. Sadly, despite the fact that it is made from vegetables, we had to conclude that it is not in any way healthy and we can’t eat it every night of the week.
See the tiny little green valley in the distance? That is where Zermatt is. This is the view after a 30 minute climb with 3 gondolas up to almost 4000 meters above sea level. The view was amazing and we could see Italy from the top. I conquered my firm dislike of heights and made my way slowly up to the viewing platform to surprise a shocked looking Geoff who wasn’t sure I would emerge from the safety of indoors.
Down to lake Geneva and the beautiful Chateau de Chillon – also hello France on the other side of the lake!
Yes it’s time for a token hipster food photo – but this really was one of the loveliest desserts I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary at the La Table d’Edgard in Lausanne. The view over lake Geneva was spectacular, but the food was even better.
Fields of wildflowers in the Swiss countryside – this is how I imagined summer in Switzerland to be.
Last but not least: A double selfie – we really were there!
1 Jul 2013
I have always wanted to visit the fjords in Norway, and in May some friends and I decided to fly over from Sweden to experience them.
We took an self guided tour by Norway in a Nutshell starting in Bergen:
The tour took us by two trains, including the stunning Flåm railway, by boat, and finally a hair raising bus ride down the scariest cliff skirting road I have ever experienced in my life, I think it may have been easier to just lower the bus down the side of the mountain by crane…. that bus driver was amazing. All in all the tour took around 9 hours from start to finish, and was the perfect way to experience a small slice of the fjords.
Can you imagine living in one of these tiny little towns in the middle of the fjords? It would be amazing to wake up each morning to such a view … well at least in the summer time anyway!
There were spectacular waterfalls:
And beautiful views in all directions:
The trip was just as amazing as I imagined it would be, and all I hope for now is the chance to return again, and explore more fjords in Norway.
25 Jan 2012
Nuremberg sounds like a fairly odd place to go on holidays. It brings to mind WWII, the Nuremberg trials, the Nazi rally grounds. But come Christmas time and Nuremberg is one of the best places on earth to be. It is alive with people in a festive mood, coming from all over to visit their legendary Christmas markets and to soak up the atmosphere.
By day, the old town was stunning in its traditional architecture.
By night, it was on to the Christmas markets for some delicious Nürnberger bratwurst, gingerbread, and of course glühwein, and to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Unlike the Swedish Christmas markets, the Nuremberg markets were open nice and late, meaning you can meet friends there and enjoy a few drinks in the evening. Try coming on a week night if you want to avoid the crowds, as Saturday night was crazy, although with over a million visitors to the markets each year, they are normally pretty busy at the best of times (but that’s all part of the fun!).
My favourite part of the trip? My best friend Marlene from Vienna and her lovely boyfriend Andy turning up in Nuremberg to surprise me! There I was at the Christmas markets one night, enjoying some delicious Nuremberg sausages, with a suspiciously excited Geoff, when he points over in the distance ‘Oh, isn’t that Marlene? What on earth is she doing here?’ he exclaimed mischievously. I was speechless. It was so wonderful to see her and Andy again after almost a year. It turned out she and Geoff had been organising this for a few months. I need to get some spy skills!
Yes, we took a ride, and it was great! Being a tourist is lovely.
The imperial castle was beautiful,and worth the hike up the hill to enjoy the views over Nuremberg.
One of the prettiest streets I have seen. I’d love to sit out there in the summer with a glass of wine.
Our trip to Nuremberg was wonderful, and I can’t wait to go back another (this?) year, to visit the Christmas markets again… and in summer… and maybe autumn…
10 Dec 2011
Here is a really interesting map of Stockholm comparing where locals (blue), versus tourists (red) take photos throughout the city. Yellow could be either tourist or local.
The results are pretty much what you would expect: high tourist concentration of photos around the main sightseeing locations in Stockholm, and locals in both the city centre, probably at bars and so on, and out in the suburbs.
I also liked Vienna:
You can see Schönbrunn out on the lower left hand side, with a huge concentration of photographic activity.
There are plenty more cities to check out – such as London, Moscow, LA and so on.
4 Dec 2011
Winter is here, and it is the perfect time to go on an adventure to Lapland in Sweden. The land on reindeers, of snow and beautiful, pristine wilderness, the ice hotel and an ideal place to see the northern lights. In fact Nasa has predicted that 2012 will have the brightest northern lights in the past 50 years, so now is the time to go if you want to see something spectacular. Lapland is also the region in which the native Sami people have lived for over 7,000 years, spanning across Finland, Sweden, Norway and a small part of Russia. Today some still retain a nomadic lifestyle, herding reindeers in districts which range between 1000 and 5000 km2.
Welcome to Lapland: From the moment you step off the plane, the icy wilderness awaits you. The easiest way to get to Lapland is to fly from Stockholm to Kiruna, which takes around 2 hours. You can also take the more scenic route on the Lapplandståget (the Lapland Train), in around 20 hours.
We hired a car at the airport, and first drove to the industrial town of Kiruna.
After Kiruna, we drove to our accommodation at Abisko Tourist Station. As it was quite remote from any large towns, and located in a national park, we thought our chances of seeing the northern lights without light interference would be higher. On our second night, the clouds cleared and the northern lights came out to play. The view was spectacular and over an hour or so, light in green and purple danced throughout the sky.
We didn’t bring a tripod with us, so this is the best northern lights picture we managed to take.
The next day we decided to go on a snow-shoeing tour organising by the station. You could just sign up the evening before to any of the 7 or so various activities for the next day.
Beautiful views near Abisko in Lappland as we were snowshoeing through the wilderness.
We saw some wild elks, and I fell down the bank of a frozen river and became stuck in a tree.
Next stop was the remote Låktatjåkko Fjällstation, Sweden’s highest mountain station at 1228 meters high, perched in a pass between two mountain peaks and located at Björkliden Fjällby ski resort in Lapland.
When we arrived at the ski resort itself I found a sign up stating that Låktatjåkko Mountain Station had been closed over the last 3 or 4 days due to a huge snow storm. I asked at reception if we were going to be able to stay there after all, and as luck would have it, they said that a snow cat was leaving in 5 minutes to see if the road was passable, to take up supplies and also to bring up the lovely couple who worked there, as they had to return back to the main ski resort due to the severity of the storm. They asked if we wanted to hop in, but we were warned that there was still a large chance the storm had made the road impassable and that we wouldn’t be able to stay at the station.
On the way up
It took us about an hour to make it to Låktatjåkko Mountain Station, in almost complete whiteout, with only the tops of little red poles poking out of the snow to lead the way.
But luckily we made it! Then the door had to be dug out of the few meters of snow covering it, as you can see here (the station is a couple of stories high):
The mountain station was a wonderful place to stay in the winter, with a delicious dinner in the evening of reindeer meat (the most beautifully cooked I have had so far), and other traditional Swedish dishes, the highest bar in Sweden, a cosy fireplace and of course, a sauna. If you don’t want to take the snow cat up (which only runs once a day), you can ski there, or drive a snow-mobile.
Not to mention the famous Låktatjåkko Mountain Station waffles:
The sun came out on our way back down
The next day it was off to explore the Icehotel.
Beautiful icy details:
Yes, this is very pleasant and warm!
While I definitely appreciate the beauty of and work that went into creating the Icehotel, I really can’t imagine anything worse than sleeping in an icy room. One of the ladies who worked there said that people often have to change to a normal, warm room in the middle of the night.
We managed to fit quite a lot into a short time in Lapland, but i’d love to return, to visit a Sami village, and to see the northern lights again.