Welcome to my travel blog!

Hello! Hola! Hallo! Bonjour!  On this site, I hope you’ll find travel inspirations and ideas to turn each of your journey into a once in a lifetime experience. Below are pieces of heaven on earth that I’ve been to.

Pick any that interests you and click on the link to read  posts and watch clips of our trip:

NOT A FAN OF READING?

Feel free to browse through the pictures and travel videos (click link).

FORMAT

For each destination, I will be posting

  • REASONS WHY you should visit the place
  • my ITINERARIES,
  • directions (GETTING THERE)
  • some economical tips  (budget-saving tips) practical tips  (how to facilitate ease of travel) and traveler’s notes  (1st hand experience of where to eat, activities to try etc)
  • VERDICT (ratings and recommendations)
  • photos, and links to videos.

VIDEOS

I do try to capture and encapsulate our trip in roughly 5 minutes of video.

Check out my travel vids (St Ives, Iceland, Roman Holiday: Rome, Florence, Vatican, Switzerland: Lauterbrunnen and Murren, Schilthorn, Titlis and Lucerne) at:  PilgrimsParadiseOnYouTube

NOTE

***For more options : Click on the sidebar menu (3horizontal lines) on your upper left hand corner (or top of mobile screen)  and scroll using the scrollbar at the right 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’m a travel enthusiast. Like a pilgrim, I do find travelling as a spiritual experience. Amazing how every destination offers a slice of heaven– may it be from its natural beauty that’s a feast for the eyes, food that’s a gastronomic delight, culture that takes you back to history, or its character and atmosphere that brings you an inner peace and soulful satisfaction.

Start out by picking  the destination. Meticulously plan the itinerary. Faithfully execute. Troubleshoot. Savor each moment. Capture it on photos. Go back to reality.  Relive the memories. Repeat.

WHY “PILGRIM’S PARADISE”

Pilgrim— defined as a traveler on a journey to a holy place, typically on foot to a place of special significance to religious belief system. Alternatively (and more befitting to my page), “in the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to the experience of life in the world or the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude.” (Wikipedia)

Although my travels are not limited to sacred destinations, every journey is a spiritual experience in pursuit of a glimpse of  heaven on earth. Every destination brings me a deeper sense of gratitude. On this site, you will find such heavenly destinations.

Welcome to my page! 🙂

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Venice: The City of Love

Beautiful Backdrop

Gondola ride in Grand Canal with Doge’s Palace and San Marco Bell Tower as backdrop

NO TIME TO READ?

📽 Watch our travel vid here

USEFUL INFO:

  • Venice can be reached by train from Milano Centrale to Venezia Sta Lucia (approx 2.5 hours)
  • Train tickets can be bought online at Trenitalia website
  • Across Venezia Sta Lucia, you’ll find the Ferrovia waterbus (vaporetto) stop which is cheaper than water taxi. You can find more info here
  • From Ferrovia (the stop across the train station), take Vaporetto Line 1 or 2 to go St Mark’s Square
  • From San Zaccaria (the stop near St Mark’s Square), take Vaporetto Line 12 to Murano- Burano
  • Cost: Unlimited 24-hour vaporetto and bus pass for 20 euros, 48-hour pass for 30 euros, one-way 7.50. More info at Venezia Unica
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Venezia Sta Lucia Train Station

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Water bus stop just across the train station

 

WHY CHOOSE VENICE?

I have always thought Venice was overrated so it was never at the top of my bucket list. I just thought of maybe seeing it once it my lifetime before it sinks. It was not part of the itinerary for our June trip, but I added it at the last minute just for the sake of adding one more destination and Venice is the closest tourist spot to Milan.

Surprisingly, it became the highlight and most enjoyable part of my husband’s and my birthday trip which would have otherwise been dull. Two nights in Venice and it has convinced me that it is indeed the City of Love. The water and the gondolas, the old palaces and bridges, the people and their way of life all got me  mesmerized by its charm and now I keep dreaming of coming back!

Venice definitely added (1) colour through our wonderful trip to Burano and Murano, (2) flavour from all the sumptuous seafood, pasta, risotto and even steak that we had, and (3) a romantic touch from our 30-minute gondola ride which is not to be missed!

TOP 8 THINGS TO DO and SEE:

1. Gondola ride

A 30 minute ride typically costs 80 euros for the entire gondola for up to 6 people. Different gondola stations have different routes, and in some station, can be negotiated. The Gondola Danieli near San Marco-Zaccaria station covers the grand canal where you’ll have the beautiful backdrop of Doge’s Palace and St Marks Bell Tower,  pass under the iconic Bridge of sighs, and then glide through the charming smaller canals. The more romantic ride at sunset costs more, and you’ll be lucky if your gondolier would sing.

Beautiful Backdrop

Gondola ride in Grand Canal with Doge’s Palace and San Marco Bell Tower as backdrop

 

 

 

Bridge of Sighs

No gondola ride is complete without this iconic Bridge of Sighs shot!

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Best when shared with your loved one for the ultimate experience

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Amazing gondolier. One of the best parts of the ride is passing under these bridges.

2. St. Mark’s Square

No Venice trip is complete without going to the main square where you’ll find St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile of St Mark’s, Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) and Doge’s Palace.

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St Mark’s Basilica

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Torre dell’Orologio

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Doge’s Palace

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Gondola port by the square

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The charming square which is even more beautiful at night when lights are lit up and music from the live band plays in competing restaurants

3. Rialto Bridge

Way exceeded my expectations! I wasn’t impressed with Ponte Vecchio which is its counterpart in Florence so I was surprised to see how gorgeous this bridge is! I loved watching gondolas make their way through the grand canal amidst the bigger vaporettos. It is even more beautiful at sunset and at night when it becomes golden with the setting sun and the lights lit up.

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Rialto Bridge. Just Beautiful.

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Rialto at night

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View from Rialto Bridge at night: No filter. Simply magical.

4. Bridge of Sighs

Interesting Fact: It is an enclosed bridge  with windows and stone bars and connects the New Prison to the Interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace and is said to be the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment hence the name “Bridge of Sighs” (Wikipedia)

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Best viewed at Ponte della Paglia but you have to be creative to make it look like you’re the only person at the bridge! Own it 🙂

5. Burano

A photo enthusiasts’ playground! Whether you’re an amateur or a professional photographer, these colourful houses beautifully adorned with flowers, no matter how humble, will not disappoint! The scorching heat of the sun did not stop me from striking a pose at every beautiful doorstep! How can I resist such beauty?

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Boats, canals, and colourful houses all add up to make a nostalgic picture

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No need for maps in this tiny town! I just kept crossing the bridges!

The small canal feeding into the big lagoon. Beautiful.

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Stumbled upon this lane of charming houses beyond the canal. Indeed, seek and you shall find!

6. Murano

known for its glass making hence the popular Murano glass. After seeing, Burano, I wasn’t quite impressed with Murano as it was similar but only comes second in terms of colourful houses along small canals. I was almost disappointed until I chanced upon a store that sells cheap Murano charms that fit Pandora! Now my poor husband had to be dragged as I was then on a hunt for the perfect charms!

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Murano is similar to Burano except that the colours of the houses are not as striking. It is particularly known for its Murano glass, and lucky me, I found these gems for my Pandora bracelet for only 6 euros a piece (normally sold at £25-40!

7. Get lost knowing you won’t be lost!

You’re in an island. Explore. If you go beyond the square, it becomes less touristy and Venice becomes even more charming. You’ll find little restaurants with good food and you’ll see authentic Venetians and their lifestyle.

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Less touristic little maze but still very interesting.

 

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Libraria Aqua Alta

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Venetians love adorning their windows with flowers

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Little Venetians in their little playground. The people and their way of life just add charm to Venice

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When budget is tight, there’s always the reliable McDo! Notice how it is housed in a typical Venetian building. Interesting.

Couldn’t resist taking pictures with these beautiful flowers!

8. Eat! 

I am a picky eater but I loved all the food that I have tried in Venice!

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Lucky to find this highly rated gelateria!

Seafood, Pasta, Risotto and even their beef steak did not disappoint!

 

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Hubby enjoying his steak at Antica Osteria ai Tre Leoni

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Good food at F30 restaurant near Venezia Sta Lucia station as recommended by our AirBnB host

VERDICT:

I am in love with Venice.

Interesting how people have adapted and developed a way of life within the bounds of the lagoon and how they have connected the islands with charming little bridges. Venetians have a unique way of life and I am glad I have lived it for a couple of days– relying on boats, crossing the bridges, enjoying simple pleasures of life such as gondola watching.

I truly enjoyed everything from sightseeing to indulging with food, to boat rides and night walks. I loved the gondola ride and I loved watching the gondolas and crossing the little bridges. I loved watching the sunset and I loved watching Venice at night. I enjoyed roaming the streets of Venice without the fear of getting lost or being hit by a car as it is vehicle free.

Venice is a unique experience. It is like watching a feel good movie, you feel great watching it and you know you’ll watch it again. All travels are stressful, but this was almost stress-free and therapeutic.

Arrividerci, Venezia. Till we meet again.

 

Magical Iceland Escapade

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After a 5-hour hunt, heavens opened up and Aurora revealed herself to dance for us!

My pictures do not give justice to Iceland. Perhaps this clip will somehow do.

WHY ICELAND

  • This is the Land of Ice and Fire! It is the ultimate experience.
  • Blue Lagoon is a must try!  Brave the cold weather and enjoy the warm water!
  • Seeing the Aurora borealis is just overwhelming. You’d want to see it at least once in your lifetime
  • Geysers are just one of the beautiful wonders of Iceland
  • There’s a lot more activities to try (that we haven’t) such as the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon and snowmobile tour

GETTING THERE

Take the EasyJet flight from London to Reykjavik (Keflavik)

Book airport transfer to and from downtown Reykjavik via Flybus 

Book the Golden Circle Tour, Northern Lights Tour via Grayline

Pre-book Blue Lagoon and choose your timeslot (including transfers)  directly via their website

USEFUL NOTES

Bus station is at downtown Reykjavik but we booked all tours and just roamed around downtown by foot so we didn’t need it

Accomodation: Downtown Reykjavik Apartment (self catering apartment, near Bonus supermarket so you can save by cooking your meals; easy access to the shops)

Currency: Icelandic Krona

THINGS TO DO

  • Many tourists come here to catch the elusive Aurora Borealis. We traveled between October 30 to November 3, and it took us 5 hours to have a glimpse of it. They say not to come solely for the Northern Lights so you won’t get disappointed if you do not see it. But towards the fifth hour of chasing it to no avail, I was losing all hope and really feeling I’m missing out on an extraordinary phenomenon if I do not see it. To increase your chances:
    • Come during the cold winter months
    • Stay in Iceland for at least 5-7 days
    • Book this tour on your first day. Operators refund  fees if the trip fails or you can keep hunting until you see it with your original booking. So book on the first day so you still have the rest of your holidays to hunt for it until you succeed (CHECK with your operator to be sure)

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      The elusive Aurora Borealis showed up after our 5-hr hunt!

  • The Golden Circle Tour:  This is Iceland’s most popular day tour. Visit Pingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area with an active geyser, and Gulfoss which is an impressive waterfalls. Try their popular lamb stew when you stop by one of the restos in the area during the tour (hubby liked it, I didn’t)
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    The famous Gullfoss waterfall as featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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    Strokkur erupts up to 20 meters every 6-10 minutes!

  • Brave the cold weather and take a dip at the warm water of Blue Lagoon! Don’t forget to apply their free silica mud mask!
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    Don’t forget to grab some refreshments at the bar!

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    Apply a handful of free silica mud mask to complete your experience!

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    39C water in a 6C weather! Amazing!

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    The beautiful Blue lagoon. My pictures don’t give justice to Iceland at all.

  • Visit Reykjavik’s most famous church Hallgrimskirkja.

    Would have wanted to climb up the Hallgrimskirkja to get a beautiful shot of the city but didn’t have the chance

  • Stroll around downtown, imbibe Iceland’s laidback vibe, and grab Reykjavik’s most famous hotdog at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur!
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    Managed to find this hidden gem! Happy tummy!

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    Downtown Reykjavik can be explored in an hour or so. Should have booked another day trip as we still had one full day!

Switzerland Series Part 4 of 4: Lucerne, Pilatus and Titlis

Cliff Walk

Check out our Lucerne vid and Pilatus vid by clicking!

ITINERARY:

Day 3

0900 Train to Engelberg then cable car to Titlis

1330 Cable car to Trubsee (Glacier Park for Tubing, Sledding etc)

1530 back to Lucerne: Chapel Bridge (planned on exploring the city at night, but again, I was exhausted so ended up just checking out the chapel bridge, souvenir shops, and the lake)

Day 4

1000 Check out; left luggage at Lucerne luggage storage for CHF7

10-12 Lion Museum (planned on just exploring the city as our flight is still at 2200, but got bored as there wasn’t much to see so decided late to go to Pilatus)

12- 1400 Pilatus

1400 to 1600 Chapel Bridge, Spreur Bridge, Needle Dam, Old Town, souvenir shops

1620 to 1640 20 minute boat ride (return) from Lucerne to Verkershaus-Lido (just for the sake of experience)

1710 Lucerne to Zurich airport

2200 Zurich airport to London Gatwick

GETTING THERE:

  • From Lauterbrunnen, take the train to Interlaken and change for Lucerne
  • To get to Titlis, from Lucerne Train Station, take the Express train to Engelberg, then a bus (just in front of Engelberg train station) to Engelberg talstation for the gondola to Trubsee then another one to Stand. From Stand, take the  Rotair rotating cable car to Titlis (called Kleintitlis). If you have Swiss Travel Pass, you’ll need to pay around CHF 40
  • To get to Trubsee, alight at the trubsee station instead of going all the way to Engelberg.
  • To get to Pilatus, Take the number 1 bus to Krienz Centrum Pilatus at Bus Stop A and walk to the cable car station. Tickets are free with Swiss Pass, but you still have to get you tickets at the ticket counter to be able to get thru the gates. Take the Krienz- Frakmuntegg cable car then Frank Muntegg to Pilatus.
  • For the boat ride, the harbors are just across the Lucerne Train station. Some boat rides are free if you have Swiss Travel pass. Ask at the ticket office which boat rides  you can take. Verkershaus-Lido boat was small as it was only a short trip, but we got a bigger and better ship on the way back. We simply waited at the harbor of Verkerhaus and the next boat came in less than 10 minutes. For boat timetable, click here.
  • To get around old town and Chapel Bridge, simply explore the area around the train station and you will definitely see the lake and the iconic Chapel bridge. From there you can explore the area around the lake and find all the landmarks. Hotels have free booklets on places to see at Lucerne and directions are searchable via Google Maps. Bus station is just outside the train station to get to Lion Monument. The rest can be explored on foot.

WHY LUCERNE:

  • Zurich airport is just one hour away by train
  • It is the best starting point for Mount Titlis which is the highlight of our trip, and Mount Pilatus and/or Mount Rigi  (last two attractions are covered entirely by the Swiss Travel Pass)
  • Old Town, Chapel Bridge and Needle Dam showcase the centuries-old Swiss ingenuity
  • It’s like stepping into a fairy tale with all the castle-like structures at the old town
  • From the sleepy valley of Lauterbrunnen, Lucerne, in contrast, offers a city vibe, lively with the busy streets and establishments. Get the best of both worlds in one trip!
  • As for Mount Titlis, it is known for its eternal snow. We visited first week of April and it was still snowing and everything was pristine. If you only have one winter wonderland to visit in Switzerland, come to Titlis. Enjoy the added attractions of Cliff Walk, the highest bridge suspension at 10000 feet (it was windy and wobbly, thus exciting), ride the Ice Flyer, explore the 150-m long glacier cave, and to end your Swiss adventure, have your photo taken professionally in a traditional Swiss costume! Don’t forget to stop at Trubsee on your way back and enjoy tubing and sledding!

Lucerne Highlights:

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Lion Monument can be reached a few minutes bus ride from the bus stand across the train station

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The iconic Chapel Bridge and Water Tower

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Don’t forget to cross the Chapel bridge and checkout the souvenir shop inside

A beautiful bridge with a good view of the Chapel Bridge and the fairy tale like structures around the lake! Wish I had the time (and energy) to explore this at night!)

Fairy tale

Did I wake up in a fairy tale or am I dreaming?

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10-minute boat ride from Lucerne to Verkershaus-Lido, the closest port

Free spot

Find a free spot with a view and enjoy a cup of ice cream!

TITLIS HIGHLIGHTS:

Glacier Cave

Explore the 150-metre Glacier Cave

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Low visibility and snow fall! Perfect for those who seek a winter wonderland experience.

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Beaching in a sea of snow at Titlis!

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Snow Angel!

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Windy and wobbly cliff walk at 10000 feet

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Tubing at Trubsee! Don’t miss the glacier park and try out their free winter activities depending on your courage!

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Photo op at one of the shops in Titlis! I’ve always wanted to try this traditional costume so I grabbed the chance while hubby is still amenable to the idea!

PILATUS HIGHLIGHTS:

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Pilatus at 7000 feet!

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Climbed oxygen-depleting steps to reach the top!

VERDICT:

  • Switzerland is the MOST EXPENSIVE country I’ve been to so far. A decent meal at Burger King costs CHF 15, and Indian food costs about the same. A pot of cheese fondue and stale bread cost around CHF30 as well.The best meal I had was steak at Birg and Titlis each costing around CHF30.  I also enjoyed the Bachmann pastries at the train station (around CHF 5) and ice cream (CHF 3.50) but too light to get me through the day.
  • I was advised by my batchmate who now resides in Switzerland to buy sandwiches at Migros (with branches at Lucerne station) in order to save up. I packed my own cans of spam ham and a loaf of bread (but after having it as dinner for a night, opted for Burger King on succeeding days).
  • Therefore, Foodwise and Budget-wise 2/5.
  • If you have limited budget but would really like to see Switzerland and experience winter wonderland, then Mount Titlis is a must with its eternal snow and free winter activities down at Trubsee.
  • Lucerne which can be explored in half a day would be a good central location for Zurich airport and Titlis trip, and offers the best of both world with its city vibe and old town, fairy tale feel.  Plus with Swiss Travel pass, you can take a boat ride, and climb up to Pilatus and Rigi at no additional cost.
  • I’m thinking if I could have squeezed everything in 3 days rather than 4? For 3 days I would have prioritized Lauterbrunen and Murren over Lucerne to experience these beautiful little villages; If I only have option for one winter wonderland, I’d drop Schilthorn for Titlis; Then I’d would explore Lucerne old town and wooden bridges in one hour ONLY if I’d leave for Zurich airport from Lucerne. I could drop Pilatus and boat ride if time is limited. However, in four days, I feel like I have enjoyed the BEST OF SWITZERLAND to last a lifetime rather than going back for the things I think I missed out from the trip!
  • Budget wise: Swiss Pass covers most of the train transfers and boat rides and even going up to Pilatus and Rigi. With an additional CHF 40, I would really think hard whether to drop Schilthorn which has better views of the Swiss Skyline against Titlis which has more snow and offers more activities. Swiss Pass comes in 3, 4, 8 and 15 days with a difference of around GBP40 between 3 and 4 days click here  to check prices. You can also compare how much it would cost to buy individual tickets here rather than a Swiss travel pass, or a guided trip if you only intend to go to Titlis. Considering the expensive hotel rate (compare hotel prices here) and food expenses, 1 day could have made a huge difference on your budget.
  • Winter wonderland experience 5/5. (Could have rated Schiltorn 4/5)

Would I recommend this trip? 

Most definitely, even just once in your lifetime 🙂 Absolutely a piece of heaven on earth! 

If you intend to go to Switzerland, plan very well because every minute counts in this expensive city! 

Switzerland Series Part 3 of 4: Schilthorn

IMG_0632Schilthorn, with an altitude of 2970m above sea level, boasts of its spectacular Skyline View of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Other attractions include: (as per Source: Schilthorn Sommerguide 2016)

  • Bond World 007 which is an interactive exhibition transporting you to the world of James Bond
  • 007 Walk of Fame where cast and crew leave their traces at the legendary movie location
  • 360 Restaurant at Piz Gloria with table service that rotates around its own axis in 45 minutes, gliding past more than 200 mountain peaks

Birg, which is one stop before Schilthorn features Thrill Walk which is a cliff Path from the Birg terrace to the vertical drops of the awe-inspiring rock massif.

To check out our Schilthorn Video,  click here

DAY 2 ITINERARY:

0900 – 12NN Schilthorn (including transit); left luggage at hotel’s luggage storage

12NN – 1530 Birg

1700 – Check Out; Depart for Lucerne via Lauterbrunnen-Interlaken and Interlaken-Lucerne Train

2000- Lucerne; Check In (planned on exploring the area, but left it for the hubby as I was exhausted!)

WHY SCHILTHORN:

  • With Swiss Travel, I only needed to add around CHF 40 to go up Schilthorn from Murren
  • Cheaper than Jungfraujoch, with an added bonus of Birg, Murren, Lauterbrunnen and beautiful hiking trails along the way
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    Crossed the Thrill Walk at Birg while it was snowing! (Partly closed due to heavy snow)

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    Murren, you make my heart sing like Beauty: “Little town, it’s a quiet village, everyday, like the one before… BONJOUR!

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    Lauterbrunnen Valley. A saying goes, “If heaven isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, send me back to Lauterbrunnen!”

  • Murren which is higher than Lauterbrunnen may offer a scenic view of the alps, but the breath taking view of the snowcapped peaks of the Swiss skyline may be a once in a lifetime experience

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    Swiss Skyline at Schilthorn Piz Gloria

  • Attractions mentioned above are added bonus

GETTING THERE:

  • From Interlaken, take the train to Lauterbrunnen to the Lauterbrunen-Gutschalp Cableway then board the connecting train to Murren;
  • From Murren, take another cable car from Murren to Birg and then to Schilthorn.
  • On your way back, take the Murren-Gimmelwald-Stechelberg route, then take the bus to Lauterbrunnen station and enjoy the view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
  • Trummelbach falls (which we did not have the chance to see) is just the next stop after Stechelberg station if you have time to spare to climb up inside the falls.

SOME TIPS: 

  1. If you are due to leave for another city this day, leave your luggage at left luggage area at the hotel or train station.
  2. Make sure to stop by Birg on your way back to Murren. Steak at Birg costs around CHF 30 but that was the best meal I had in Switzerland.
  3. If you haven’t explored Murren on your way back, you can stroll around this little village of beautiful cottages and view of the alps for less than an hour. I have discussed Murren in Part 2 of this Switzerland Series.
  4. Start early so you have better chances of weather clearing (if it ever will) although it’s best to check the live video at the station to see if it’s worth going up. Plus, the last cable car leaves from Schilthorn at around 5PM so it’s better to come early and get your money’s worth! When you’re happy with what you’ve seen you can then head down to Birg, Murren ad Lauterbrunnen!
  5. There is no view of the alps when it’s foggy. You will see in our video that the day started out really foggy but fortunately somehow cleared towards noon. Anyway, because we only have two days in the area, we took our chances by going up around 9am, had the Skyline view all for ourselves before the pack of tourists came around midday, and the weather became more favourable exposing the magnificent alpine peaks before we headed to Birg!
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    On a cloudy day, this is what you’ll see at Schilthorn–NOTHING! Cable car station and hotels have live view of Schilthorn Piz Gloria so you can have informed decision whether to spend some bucks going up or risking and hoping the skies become clearer

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    Thank God, the skies cleared a bit!

  6. If you love (or are interested in hiking), you can take the Murren-Gimmelwald hiking trail— an easy, downhill path that you can finish in 40 minutes. You will reach the Gimmelwald-Stechelberg station at the end of the trail, from which you can take the cable car and bus to Lauterbrunnen. I have never hiked in my entire life, but the downhill slope helped, although my thighs and calves ached for two days. The experience and the view are definitely worth the pain. However, owing to the smell of cow poop, I would have researched the Flower Trail (probably best during Spring and Summer when flowers are in bloom) or any hiking trails for beginners.

VERDICT:

  • 5/5 for sightseeing (on a clear day) and activities
  • Had it been foggy, the Thrill Walk and my fresh and juicy steak at Birg would have been worth my CHF 40. Had the clouds not cleared, I would have been a bit disappointed, but the light snow would have made up for the disappointment. But God is good, the sun shone and the majestic Swiss Skyline revealed its spectacular view!
  • Some attractions are closed due to heavy snow so while it’s beautiful in winter, Walk of Fame and Skyline Thrill may not be accessible as in our trip.

Switzerland Series Part 2 of 4: Murren

Murren town

Murren, you make my heart sing like Beauty: “Little town, it’s a quiet village, everyday, like the one before… BONJOUR!

GETTING THERE:

From London, UK, Murren, Switzerland can be reached via plane to Zurich airport. From Zurich airport, take the train to Interlaken (train station is just across the arrivals terminal) and change to another train leading to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen train station, take the cable car to Grutschalp then train to Murren.

For our Lauterbrunnen-Murren video, click here

WHY MURREN:

  1. Hiking! Are you a fan of the Sound of Music? That film was shot in Austria, but this trip to Murren made me sing the Sound of Music several times because of the vibe of the alps and the meadows! It is a lovely little village that you can explore by foot as it is without vehicular access, except for the cable car. While you hike (we took the 40-minute hike down to Gimmelwald, then took the cable car to Stechelberg then bus back to our homebase in Lauterbrunnen), you can enjoy the snow capped view of the alps, refreshing streams, and the beautiful cottages along the way PROS: The hike down to Gimmelwald is an easy one because the natural force of gravity works in your favor. CONS: the smell of cow poop (cows are hidden in the barn during this winter season mind you, I can’t imagine what it’s like once they’re out in the open!)… If it disgusts you and are more fit to do the hike, then take Allmendhubel trail to Murren instead. Street signs will point you to the right direction (although at some point, I thought we were lost as the houses became fewer). Not fond of hiking? Murren is very tiny you can probably explore it in one hour or less.
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    Street signs to point you in the right direction!

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    Won’t this view make you sing ” The hills are alive with the sound of music…”

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    View as we hiked to Gimmelwald!

  2. Cable to Schilthorn is located in Murren, and since, most definitely you’d be travelling to the Jugfrau region for  Schilthorn (plus CHF 40 with Swiss Travel Pass to go up), exploring this little village is an added bonus!

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    Murren to Schilthorn cableway

  3. If you have the Swiss Travel Pass, a trip to Murren (cable car and train) doesn’t cost additional fare. On a clear day,  you’ll get good views of the alps because of its higher location. You don’t have to dine in expensive outdoor restos to get a proper pic (although we were wrong to do so, and realised later that there’s a photo opportunity everywhere!) See the pics below taken on a very sunny afternoon on the first week of April.
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    Lunch at hotel Alpenruh

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    Beautiful cottages in Murren

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    Photo op everywhere in this lovely town!

Switzerland Series Part 1 of 4: “If heaven isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, send me back to Lauterbrunnen…”

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For a full video of our Lauterbrunnen experience,  click here

ITINERARY:

DAY 1 

  • Took the 5am Gatwick Express from London Victoria to the airport (costs GBP 63 return for 2 adults and one child –cheaper compared to taking cabs ). Tickets can be bought online at this link
  • Boarded the 7:05 flight from Gatwick airport to Zurich and arrived at 9:50 am. (I always book early flights outbound so I can maximise our first day, and take late flights home-bound to maximise the last day)
  • Took the train from Zurich to Bern to Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen (just across the arrivals terminal) using the Swiss Travel Pass: (costs around GBP 210 for each adult, valid for 4 days in all regional trains, to add around CHF 45 when going up to Schilthorn and Titlis; child below 16 goes free when travelling with parents) bought the ticket at STC office in London; alternatively, you can buy online at this link
  • From Interlaken, changed train to Lauterbrunnen (Download the SBB mobile to check the train schedule and fares) You can also download a personalised timetable from this link
  • For Schilthorn schedule, checkout this link
  • Arrived at around 1PM (bought some bottled water at the Coop store along the way) Buses going to and from the station run every  hour; because we needed some groceries, we had to stop at the shop so had to walk to the hotel as the bus already left
  • As Check in is at 3PM, left our luggage at the hotel, and left for Murren via cable car to Grutschalp; Last cable car leaves Schilthorn at 5pm so decided to do it the next day to maximise our time (and fare )

WHY LAUTERBRUNNEN:

  1. Lauterbrunnen is an ideal place to stay when planning to travel around the Jungfrau Region including Schilthorn and Murren. There are two ways to reach Schilthorn: (1) via cable car across the train station– take the cable car to Grutschalp and train to Murren then a few minutes walk will take you to the cable car to Schilthorn (2) take the bus across the station to Stechelberg and take the cable car to Gimmelwald; transfer to the cable car to Murren and take another cable car to Schilthorn. *** When going up to Murren, take the Lauterbrunnen-Grutschalp-Murren Route and then Murren-Gimmelwald-Stechelberg on the way down to enjoy both views:) Alternatively, you can take the 40 minute hike down from Murren to Gimmelwald station and from there take the cable down to Stechelberg and enjoy the scenic view in an easy downward hike
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    cable car station to Grutschalp by the Lauterbrunnen train station

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    Murren to Schilthorn cableway

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    Waterfalls by the Stechelberg cable station to Gimmelwald

  2. As an added bonus, the trains from Lauterbrunnen station leave for Interlaken to  Lucerne. From Zurich airport, we had 2 train changes at Bern and Interlaken, at around 3 hours travel time to Lauterbrunnen where we stayed for one night. On the evening of the next day, we left for Lucerne arriving in 2.5 hours time with one train change at Interlaken.
  3. Lauterbrunnen is beautiful in itself. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe and it boasts of 70+ waterfalls. We stayed at Staubbach Hotel just overlooking the Staubbach falls and it is definitely the view to wake up to. See the pictures below and fall in love with this heavenly place.
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Iconic spire

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Breakfast with the best view!

VERDICT:

If you’re looking for a beautiful, quiet place where you can be one with nature, this is the best place for you. Conversely, this is not for those who are seeking night life, fine dining, bars and the like. It is a very simple, quiet town. Our hotel, which did not come cheap, did not even have a telly nor a bathtub (which didn’t really bother me as the view was perhaps more fanstastic than what I could have watched on TV). It served breakfast, but the rest was supposedly served by two restos within the vicinity which we did not even try. There’s nothing much to do here but to relax, explore, or just serve as a good starting point for exploring the rest of the Jungfrau region such as Interlaken (which may be more lively than Lauterbrunnen) or Schilthorn and Murren. Hotels do not come cheap but I’ve seen two hostels which are half the price (The catch is, one of the hostels only had shared bathroom, while the other required 3 nights minimum).

5/5 for Lauterbrunnen’s beauty and ease of transport

3/5 for activities  (which is technically, mainly watching the waterfalls and the mountains, or strolling this little village) *5/5 if you include exploring Murren and Schilthorn

Overall, I’d say we enjoyed the ambiance, admired the magnificent view, had a hearty breakfast with a window view of Staubbach falls, had a fairly decent sleep (owing to the weird bean bag-like pillow) and took great advantage of its great transport links!

I’d highly recommend this as a base for people who’d like to explore Murren, Schilthorn, Interlaken and Jungfraujoch and who’d like to enjoy tranquil nights and breakfast with the best view.