My Top 5… Rural Idylls

Spending time in the countryside can be rejuvenating and an escape from the rat race. Here are my top 5 rural places to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty….

Number 1: Switzerland

Switzerland has rolling valleys of the greenest of grass, grazed by doe-eyed cows with bells round their necks, in front of snow-capped mountains. Continue reading

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“How much?!” : Reflections on Switzerland

To state the obvious, Switzerland is beautiful. Everything is chocolate box cute. The grass is so green; the mountains stunning and scenic. The cities are in equal part architecturally beautiful, and achingly hip (in Zurich’s case – who knew?!).View from train 2

But it comes at a price. Switzerland is Freakin Expensive!!! A meal for two in a middle of the road Mexican restaurant (I mean it was nice but not posh, not that it was in a central reservation 😉 ) in Zurich was 77 CHF (around £50). Continue reading

Hip Hop Happening Zurich

Zurich is in equal part classic architecture and trendy hip new Zurich. I bet that’s the only time a sentence has started and finished with “Zurich” 🙂 We spent a day exploring “Old Zurich” which has wide tree-lined boulevards and small cobbled alleyways crammed with restaurants.

Zurich 4

We overlooked the fact that Zurich is an international centre for banking, but this was not difficult to do. Far from the glassy business-centred place we expected, Zurich was warm and interesting. Continue reading

One Sunny Saturday in Bern

Our visit to Bern, Switzerland was a flying one. We were going on the train from Zermatt to Zurich, so we decided to stop in Bern for about 4 hours, with assurances from friends that we would be able to cover most of the centre in that time.

Bern 4

Bern is actually the capital of Switzerland (although it feels smaller than both Geneva and Zurich) so we were fascinated to get a small taste of this town. As we were stopping off on our train journey, we had our luggage with us and it was a hot day… but we have fabulous backpacks which are quite comfortable so it wasn’t too bad. We made our way down the main street from the train station to the river. Continue reading

Train to Glacier Heaven

For my birthday we decided to go on the hunt for Glaciers. After recently failing to see the Aletsch Glacier, we were disappointed to find that the train we had wanted to take (the so called “Matterhorn Glacier paradise”) was also closed! No paradise for us!

Glacier

Luckily the Gornergrat Railway came to our rescue!  For the small fee of 86 CHF each (around £56) they will take you on a short train ride to the top of Gornergrat.  (And yes I am being sarcastic, this is clearly unacceptably expensive). Continue reading

Steep Slopes and Steep Prices in Zermatt

Zermatt is very plush. It feels like the Ritz of the Alps. There are some really posh hotels, horse-drawn carriages and very expensive restaurants! There are also some really quaint parts of the town, with cobbled streets and old wooden chalets and huts. The imposing Matterhorn watches over Zermatt and can be seen from most places in the town.

Matterhorn

Zermatt is car free, and picture postcard perfect. Unsurprisingly then, there are lots of coachloads arriving every day. Continue reading

Brig it On! Switzerland

We weren’t planning to go to Brig, but to be truthful, there wasn’t much to do in Fiesch and we had obviously failed to see the glacier 🙂 so we decided to go to Brig for a little day-trip and have a look round.

Brig 4

The guidebook said Brig was a pleasant place worth spending a little time in, and I would agree! We enjoyed strolling round the cobbled streets, admiring the brightly painted buildings. Continue reading

Climbing over Bettmersee to See Better

After getting to Fiesch and realising the cable car was shut, we hastily took a train and cable car to a nearby village, and found a gem of a village and absolute beauty to follow.

Bettmersee 1

Our hike started in the cute village of Bettmeralp which boasts a car-free environment and stunning views over snowcapped mountains. Continue reading

Getting away from it all in Fiesch, Switzerland

I love geography. Or rather, extreme geological features. So when possible I like to weave these into our travels. We have visited a volcano in Japan, and a Glacier in New Zealand.  So for this holiday I was perusing for my next glacier. I looked at the likes of Chile and Canada, but why go so far when we have beautiful glaciers on our doorstep in Europe? So this is why we ended up in Fiesch, Switzerland.

Fiesch 2

Fiesch is a small quaint village in South Switzerland, near the Italian border. It is picture perfect, set in the greenest meadows being grazed by bell-clad cows. Continue reading

Geneva : make sure you get your freebies!

The centre of Geneva is fairly small compared to other European cities, with lots of well-heeled people in very nice coats and expensive shoes. We felt under-dressed! This was emphasised by our trip to McDonalds – there was some litter left by our table.. any guesses as to what it was? You might guess a chocolate wrapper, drinks can, cigarette packet… all normal types of rubbish you might find discarded in a McDonalds. No, in the Geneva McDonalds, there was a Versace shoe box. That says it all really! 😉

Geneva centreWe wandered around the shopping street, which was nice, with tall grand buildings and the standard array of shops – H&M, C&A, Claire’s Accessories etc. But there were also finer shops – for example a shop selling the most beautiful flowers which I’d need to take a mortgage out to afford, a caviar and vodka shop, and boutique cafes. We then climbed the hill to the castle and old town. This was my favourite part of the city centre, Continue reading