Sunday, 30 August 2015

Switzerland travel diary: Geneva

Our final stop in Switzerland was Geneva. From Lucerne, we took a 3 hour train ride (the one with the prettiest of views). Seriously though, it's got mountains, it's got lakes instead and sights that gives you shivers down the back. 

In Geneva, French is spoken instead of Swiss German because it is situated close to the border of France and Switzerland.

Here is a picture of the view that I was talking about. This photo was taken on the train as we were nearing Lausanne area. That is part of Lake Geneva.

Lake Geneva, also known as Lac Léman in French, is the largest lake in Switzerland and one of the largest lakes in Western Europe.

I personally wished we were going to Lausanne/Montreux instead of Geneva because look at that! What a view.

The famous Jet d'Eau fountain, one of the city's most famous landmark. 500 litres of water per second are pumped up to a total height of 140m, which means that in any given moment there is 7000 litres of water in the air. 

Another shot of the fountain. 

The lighthouse.
On the day we arrived, the weather was extremely hot so there were a lot of people swimming or boating in the lake.

We took a cruise around the lake but not to the extent of the whole lake.

Instead of walking across the lake through the bridge, people could take the yellow taxi boat called Mouettes. We managed to take it for free because we had a transport card given by our hotel.

The view from the cruise as we went along.


There were so many yachts and luxury boats parked by the lake.

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Stay tuned next Sunday for a new blog post on Paris.

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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Switzerland travel diary: Mount Pilatus

"The mountains are calling and I must go."
– John Muir

What would a visit to the land of the mountains be without visiting a mountain? I think of all the places I visited in Switzerland, Mount Pilatus was my favourite. 

To get there, we first took a train from Lucerne's train station to Alpnachstad. The train ride took about 20 minutes. From Alpnachstad, we then took the world's steepest cogwheel up. 

There was also an option to hike up. Hiking up would most probably take 4 hours and another 3 hours downhill. On the way up, we saw quite a number of people hiking. One even brought his 2 dogs on the hike!

Mount Pilatus is known as a dragon's lair because in the medieval times, it was said that a dragon lived on this mountain. The legend was that people have tried to kill this dragon but no one has ever succeeded.

Going up the mountain.

One of my favourites.

What a breathtaking view, isn't it?

Snow-capped mountains.

Another one of my favourites; of miles and miles away.

That was the view of Lucerne from the top of Mount Pilatus.

The world's steepest cogwheel with the maximum gradient of 48%.

My trusty pair of Vans.

Right on the edge of the mountain. 
I actually have a fear of heights but it took me a while to get used to the altitude.

This was the way to one of the peaks where later the steps became really crumbled so we had to be careful on where we stepped.

The zigzag lines were the hiker's trails up. 

Tiny people in big places.

We then took a gondola (which was something like a cable car, not the one like in Venice) and a cable car down from the peak to a village called Kriens where we took a bus back to Lucerne.

Would love to explore other mountains when I visit Switzerland again! I'd definitely make a trip back here. Switzerland is absolutely too beautiful.

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Stay tuned every Sunday for a new blog post.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Switzerland travel diary: Lucerne

Our next stop in Switzerland was Lucerne. From Zurich, we took a train which took about nearly an hour. 

Swiss German is also spoken in Lucerne.

This is the Lion Monument or Löwendenkmal in German. It commemorates the Swiss soldiers who were killed during the French Revolution.

We then visited the Church of St Leodegar which is the most important church in Lucerne.

Lake Lucerne

The view of Lake Lucerne from the other side.

This is the famous Chapel Bridge, also known as Kapellbrücke in German. It is Europe's oldest wooden covered bridge. 
As you walk on it, each structure of the bridge above is filled with paintings dating back to 17th century. The whole bridge is lined with flowers on both sides. 

This bridge comes out to the Old Town of Lucerne. It is somewhat similar to the one in Zurich where colourful buildings have paintings that show who lived there during the early days. Compared to Zurich, the paintings in Lucerne cover nearly the whole part of the building and are more outstanding.

I absolutely cannot get enough of this view! We sat by the lake after dinner watching the sun go down while eating ice-cream.
There were lots of people be it tourists or locals either enjoying their evening sitting on benches, taking a stroll or jogging by the lake.

Of flowers and snow-capped mountains.

This is Mount Pilatus, the building in front of it is the train station where we arrived.

Believe it or not, I stood at the highest peak of this very mountain the next day.

This was the view when atop the Mount Pilatus.
I have dedicated Mount Pilatus its own post because it was truly such a breathtaking place to be.

The train on the way to Mount Pilatus.

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More photos of Lucerne here
Stay tuned for the next post on Mount Pilatus.

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Photo journal: Lucerne

Here are some more photos I took while in Lucerne. Enjoy!

Alleyway in the Old Town.

One of my favourite shots.

Mount Pilatus

Taken on the train on the way to Mount Pilatus.

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Original blog post here

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Monday, 10 August 2015

Switzerland travel diary: Zurich

On the 9th of June 2015, I embarked on a family vacation to the land of the mountains, Switzerland. We flew to Zurich from London Gatwick and the flight took approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. 

Fun fact: German is spoken by 69% of the Swiss population, 20% speak French, 10% Italian and 1% Rhaeto-Romanic. 

Swiss German is spoken in Zurich.

Mandatory plane shot: flying above the English Channel

Upon arrival at Zurich airport (known as Zurich Flughafen in German), we took a train down to Zurich HB which is the main train station in the city. The train ride took about 10 to 15 minutes with a few stops in between.

Railway tracks in Zurich HB

The train station was really busy and filled with both tourists and local people. 

This was taken outside Zurich HB where people would park their bicycles here and probably take a train to work.

Took this shot one street before Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's main downtown street. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the world's most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues.

A bicycle parked in a narrow sloping alleyway in the Old Town (Altstadt) of Zurich.

We followed a free walking tour of Zurich and the tour guide explained that this clocktower can be seen from anywhere within the city which meant that being late due to not knowing the time was not a legitimate excuse!

The view from one of the bridges overlooking Limmat River. The two towers make up the Grossmünster church. It was a monastery church and originally, the towers were made of wood which were then destroyed in a fire. It was then replaced with a neo-Gothic influenced design (present one). The locals didn't like the design at first and according to the tour guide, they nicknamed the towers as 'salt and pepper dispensers'. 

The clocktower with the pointed roof is no other than the Fraumünster church. It is situated directly opposite the Grossmünster church. This church was a gift from Louis II to his daughter and at that time, this church was only open to women.

Inside the church, there are 5 stained glass designed by Marc Chagall. Each piece has a different dominant colour and depicts a Christian story. According to the tour guide, instead of signing his name on the stained glass to mark his work, Marc painted his face onto it.
Sadly, photo taking is not allowed inside.

The view from the Lindenhof hill. 

On the Lindenhof hill itself. 
It was a rather steep climb and I have to admit, by the time I got to the top I was out of breath.
Note to self: it's time to exercise more.

After the tour ended, we walked back to the Grossmünster church to explore the crypt and also, the tour guide mentioned that it was well worth to go up the tower of the church to get the whole view of Zurich. It was CHF 4 per entry but I had a student discount so it was CHF 2! 

The climb up was of 187 steps and were really steep, narrow, winding and dark. 

On the last few flights of stairs to the viewing area of the tower, I chanced upon this shot of a woman looking out the tower window.

The tower had 4 viewing 'stations' overlooking the city.

Ah Zurich, you make my heart sing.

I noticed that buildings in Switzerland in general had paintings on them. The tour guide pointed out that the paintings could show who lived in that building during the early years. 

Take this picture above as an example: the painting is of a shoemaker which meant that a shoemaker lived in this building before.

All fountains around the city had drinkable water!

Boat rides on Lake Zurich.

Zurich's public transportation system used trams instead of buses. We didn't have a chance to use them because everything was of walking distance.

Ending this post with a photo of my reflection on the hotel room's window.

Thanks for reading!
More photos of Zurich here
Stay tuned for the next post on Lucerne.

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