WILDTHG TRAVEL

Day Trip to Mount Rigi from Zürich – The Perfect Natural Escape

by , on
Oct 17, 2018

Feeling cooped up with city life, or simply craving some crisp mountain air? Mount Rigi is the perfect getaway that you can do in one day (or even just a morning/afternoon), and without any special planning or gear. Trains from Zürich HB leave every hour straight to Arth Goldau station, from where the Rigi train departs. Ride the tiny blue train for about 40 minutes uphill at a snail pace, taking in some truly gorgeous views on the way up.

IMG_2918

Idyllic houses overlooking picturesque valleys

IMG_2928

Swiss life is the good life

I decided on a whim to visit Mount Rigi one afternoon and took the 2:09PM train from Züruch HB, so I arrived at the end station (Rigi Kulm) just before 4PM. This gave me a few hours to walk around the small peak grassy area and take in the stunning panoramic views of the hills and lakes below, and alpine peaks in the background, before sunset around 6:30PM (in October).

IMG_2997IMG_2979IMG_3022IMG_2985

IMG_2951

note that Swiss sheep also wear bells – definitely adds to the ambiance up here

IMG_2939

At the top of Rigi Kulm there is a full restaurant that is part of a hotel and it seems to serve proper hot meals all day (it was closed by the time we went but again, it was close to 6PM) – but you can still buy sandwiches, chips, drinks and snacks. We sat on the outdoor patio built like a jetty to jut out over the hill with a beautiful view of the mountains and facing the setting sun.

IMG_3026.jpg

After having a snack, we made our way down past the wooden lounge chairs to the edge of the fence to witness the stunning golden glow of a magical sunset. I took this opportunity to test out a few different DSLR settings, but because I struggle with technology, I think some of my iPhone pics might have turned out better – I’ll let you be the judge of that.

 

IMG_3054.jpg

Talk about location goals

IMG_3057.jpg

No photo could ever possibly capture the beauty of these colors

IMG_3060

The last rays of the setting sun were hot magenta pink – and magical clouds formed to the right and were illuminated bright pink then deep purple after the sun went down

 

The views from up here – and the sunset – are things I could never ever get sick of and it makes me think twice about city life. This is a perfect place to getaway from the hustle and bustle for a bit, even just for a few hours. Take your mind off things, breathe some fresh mountain air and let your soul drink in the beauty of this amazing planet. If you want to make it a longer trip, even for several days, there are several hotels in the area and plenty of daytime activities to keep you and your family busy!

IMG_3050IMG_3053

There are several trains down for those of you that wish to catch the sunset (highly recommended if you’re already there during the afternoon!!!) I took the 7:00PM train, which sadly no longer connects directly to Arth Goldau, so the way back to Zürich HB involves two middle of nowhere bus connections and then a train, but as with all trips in Switzerland – my recommendation is to simply trust the SBB app to plan your trip, and make sure you have decent phone battery on the way down!

IMG_3073

Gelmersee: the Lake Louise of Switzerland

by , on
Oct 9, 2018

Any chance you’ve recently drooled over pictures of Canada’s Banff National Park? For very good reason; the stunning turquoise of the glacial lakes, like Lake Louise, is enough to make me want to go right now. Well, I can interestingly say that I’ve found the lake’s European TWIN, in Switzerland! Let me convince you of the likeness with a couple (ok, a TON) of photos.

IMG_1503.JPG

Mid-morning at Gelmersee in October 

IMG_1303.JPG

IMG_1147.JPG

IMG_1531.JPGGelmersee is a hydroelectric reservoir held by a dam that was constructed in 1932. The “lake” can be reached by taking the Gelmerbahn, a ride of duration 8-10 minutes with a maximum inclination of 106%! According to a map posted at the lake’s entrance, it can also be reached by foot via a hiking trail (in red, below). One can also continue hiking further upwards to reach the Gelmerhütte, a lookout point above the lake.

IMG_1487.jpg

IMG_1142.JPG

Crisp autumn morning with touches of early snow

IMG_1293.JPG

The lake radiates a vibrant turquoise when the sunlight hits the water

Gelmersee is an excellent place for a quiet hike and to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the glacial water. There is a hiking trail around the entire lake, which takes about two full hours to complete with some stops. If you plan to take 3489283 photos like I did or want extra time to sit and enjoy the views every once and a while, maybe have a picnic halfway on one of the large flat rocks that are perfect for sitting and relaxing, it would be best to allow several hours up at the lake. It is important to plan your visit ahead because there is limited space on the Gelmerbahn and tickets sell out, especially in summer and during nice weather. Read more here about how to plan your trip and riding the Gelmerbahn. 

IMG_1066.JPG

 

Starting the hike around Gelmersee – The trail is quite rocky in places and narrow in others (at one point, there is a rope to hang on to for extra balance and security), so it is recommended to bring sturdy walking/hiking shoes with good soles and be relatively sure-footed if you plan to do the whole hike. It is relatively flat, so not very strenuous.

For me, this little piece of the world is a slice of heaven on earth, and I could honestly happily stay here for hours and hours and hours, hiking around the lake again and again, staring into the turquoise water and pondering my existence… alas, I had only booked 2.5 hours at the top before our return trip on the Gelmerbahn, so we had to really make every minute count – which we did!!

IMG_1375.JPG

Is this place even real?! 

IMG_1435.JPG

Attempting – and failing – to do a nice little yoga pose (it seemed fitting)

Needless to say, Gelmersee has earned a permanent spot on my life’s repeat bucket list, if that’s even a thing (you know, those absolute favorite places you simply must visit, perhaps at least once a year or every few months even?!) The dream is to visit this place in summer – even though I doubt anyone dares to swim in the ice cold glacial waters, I could totally get involved with sunbathing and reading on a rock all day, minus a few layers.

IMG_1020.JPG

Tips for visiting Gelmersee: 

  • Plan your visit ahead, book tickets on the Gelmerbahn
  • Allow as much time as you need, depending on how much hiking, photos and picnicking you want to do
  • Bring camera, sturdy walking/hiking shoes, layers/rain gear just in case

Why Zürich is totally underrated

by , on
Oct 8, 2018

When I visited Zürich two years ago from my base in Germany, I can’t say I was all that impressed with the city. Perhaps it was the rainy, cold gloom that had descended across all of Europe at that time, or the fact that when we went bar and restaurant hunting in the rather quiet and old neighborhood we were staying in, we were greeted with a lot of “closed” signs.

Fast forward two years, when I am calling Zürich home for a few months… and I really only have good things to say about this city! I have been here for a few weeks now and this place is nothing short of lovely. Here are are few things that I have enjoyed most about Zürich, and reasons it should have a spot on your Eurotrip list.

082F89E9-B0A1-4F32-BE24-B919C3912C1D.JPG

Swiss people are friendly. 

Whether you are stopping to ask directions or purchase a Laugenbrötchen from a local bakery, you will find that in general, Swiss people are cute, friendly and overall cuddly – interacting with them is pleasant and you may just want to adopt some of them as your temporary grandparents. As with many European cities, I would say the English level is generally strong, but if you know a few words of German (Hochdeutsch is fine!), they will love you for trying.

It is very Instagrammable.

AKA, the modern way of saying it is simply a gorgeous city with lots of very aesthetically pleasing spots. Photographers love it, but even if you aren’t part of the Instagram game and don’t care to be, there are numerous spots around the city to enjoy a cup of coffee, glass of wine or good book with an absolutely stunning view.

A2313FFB-E9E3-4821-8B10-DF8DEABC2ADC.JPG

Altstadt walking into downtown, Zürich

IMG_0301.JPG

3F381C30-25BF-4C0A-A230-8403B0707431.JPG

Amazing view of Zürich from Grossmünster Church tower 

IMG_0320.jpg

Sunrise on Bahnhofstrasse, downtown

IMG_0307.jpg

Early morning architecture strolls

There is a lot of nature.

The fact that downtown Zürich wraps around Lake Zürich automatically gives this city a very unique outdoorsy and water-based vibe. I love being around water and for those of you that miss beaches, oceans, rivers and lakes terribly when living in/visiting cities, Lake Zürich provides the perfect remedy. Swiss people have a strong reputation for loving the outdoors, which is evident by just how packed the waterfront is every evening, really rain or shine – but especially during the long sunny summer days and golden autumn evenings. Nature in Zürich isn’t only limited to the lakeside – there are many green parks throughout the city where you can go for a jog, do some yoga, or again park yourself on a bench with your journal or a good book.

77AC3E1D-F7FB-4A7A-98FC-3287E3FBF3F0.JPG

There are tons of swans in Lake Zürich at all times – if you want to see them up close, it is easy to get a big gathering if you throw them bits of bread from the shore! 

534679D7-C4A7-4EBC-A62C-6DDCA5344D66.JPG

Boats docked at golden hour

E655A74E-9EEC-4137-83A1-604E6B5AAA90.JPG

Evening walks along the waterfront are one of my favorite parts about living in Zürich

It is an easy walking city.

 

Even though the city is relatively well-connected by public transport including trams and buses, walking throughout the city and from place to place (even if you have somewhere to be) is both convenient and pleasant. I have simply walked from my home to the Central Station several times, even though it takes 30-45 minutes, simply because it is such a nice walk! Pedestrians always have the right away on crosswalks and drivers are cognizant and courteous to let you cross. When the weather is nice, tons of people have the same idea, and you see more people walking or on bikes than on public transport.

D8F904FF-A73C-4A35-8518-EAECAC5C8C20.JPG

The food is delicious. 

While Swiss food is excellent (hello?!, land of CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE!!!), there are so many options if you’re not into more traditional German-esque fare (think sausage, spätzle, bread, cheese, etc.). Zürich offers quite a range of international cuisines and there are many hip restaurants downtown and slightly on the outskirts that seem to be open on weekends (even Sundays) and late into the evening. Even casual restaurants serve mouth-watering food; aka, you don’t have to worry about going hungry in this city, and you will likely love what you eat – it comes at a price though, so be prepared to spend a little more than you likely would at home. Plus, there are COOP, Migros and Denner stores all over the place that sell lovely fresh fruits, veggies, fresh bread and healthy pre-made meals (salads, etc.), fresh bakeries everywhere, and most importantly, LINDT is the mainstream chocolate option… it only gets BETTER from there *drool*. Don’t plan to go on a diet when you visit Zürich.

29C5E14F-3061-41B6-B8CE-83D8F5EEDAA3.JPG

Fresh salad, Mamarita pizza & wine at STRIPPED PIZZA

D2F07A7E-EE1B-43EB-A7F0-1080C7147CE9.JPG

If you are a Joe & The Juice lover (like me), you’ll be happy to find several locations downtown Zürich! 

IMG_0845.jpg

IMG_0841.jpg

Gruyere is life, but there are so many more options… a beautiful breakfast assortment of cheeses from the Alps

IMG_0783.jpg

There is a lot to do.

If you get tired of long walks by the lakeside (or if the weather prevents these), there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained during your time in Zürich. In my case, such activities revolve heavily around EATING, but there are many cultural and social things to keep you busy as well! Here are some favorite must-do’s:

  • Opera House/Theater – There are usually several shows going on throughout the season and if you are a culture-buff, you may enjoy catching one during your time in Zürich! See showtimes and book tickets here.
  • Take a boat ride on the Limmat – this website explains dates and times when you can take a cruise along the river and admire the buildings of the Altstadt, then continue onto the lake.
  • Relax your tired muscles in a thermal spa – Thermalbad & Spa Zürich (which was converted to a spa from an old brewery!) offers lovely hot baths and terrific views of the city; what else could we want?!
  • Go upwards for a bird’s eye view of Zürich – The most famous lookout spot for the best view of Zürich is the Felsenegg Peak, which can be reached by an equally aesthetic cable car ride. For great views of this beautiful city that don’t require as much of a trip or time commitment, you can simply climb to the top of Grossmünster Church (Karlsturm) (for 5 CHF per adult, 2 CHF for youth/children). The windows inside are also incredible (they are designed by German artist Sigmar Polke, who sliced semi-precious stones and put them together to form stunning stained glass-looking patterns) – unfortunately, photos are NOT allowed (and there is usually someone standing by to sternly remind unaware tourists of this rule), but the church sells postcards with beautiful professional photos of the windows for those interested. 
    04685A26-604F-44C9-9B04-5C741E82024E.JPG

    Views of Zürich from balconies atop Grossmünster Church

    24B326D7-40B4-4D69-B392-588634506E01 2.JPG

    A fine sunny day in Zürich from Grossmünster tower

Have you been to Zürich? Let me know some of the reasons you enjoyed this city in the comments below!