I’ve been fascinated with Switzerland, right from my childhood, thanks to all the Bollywood movies I grew up on. To the uninitiated, Switzerland was a favourite destination for one of the key filmmaker in India, who changed the face of Indian and Bollywood cinema with his stylish direction and magical story-telling.

I am talking about the late Yash Chopra, who put Switzerland in the Bollywood map and who even got honorary Swiss citizenship for his contribution. My friends and family who have visited the place have always raved about it, some calling it heaven on earth.

A lot of times, when I go somewhere with such great expectations, it tends to not live up to it. However, Switzerland did not just exceed my expectations, it was beyond magical. So, without further ado, here are my top breathtaking Swiss experiences.

  1. Jungfraujoch Cogwheel train ride:
Jungfrau cogwheel experience
Jungfrau Cogwheel experience

The Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe station is at 3,454 m. This makes it the highest mountain railway station in Europe. Hopping on a cogwheel train to reach here was not in our plan but after exploring Wengen we were in a train to Grindelwald and a fellow traveller who worked in Wengen told us to take the cogwheel train from Klaine Scheidegg station. We are glad we got lost and took this stranger’s advice. The cogwheel train experience became one of the best train experiences I have ever had. 

Jungfrau Cogwheel experience

The Cogwheel train lets you enjoy the majestic Alpine panorama without you having to break a sweat. Throughout our journey, we had our jaws and eyes wide open, taking in the sheer natural beauty. Green vistas dotted with beautiful cottages, and the snow-capped Junfrau standing there, tall and proud.

2. Mount Titlis:

  • Mt Titlis cable car experience

When you are in Switzerland, exploring at least one mountain is a must. We decided to explore Mt Titlis, located between the cantons of Obwalden and Bern. The best way to reach Mount Titlis is via a cable car. From Lucerne, the Lucerne-Engelberg Express takes you to Engelberg. From there, you take a bus to the 8-seater Titlis Xpress gondola cable car, and then you ascend to the midway station at Stand. The Titlis revolving cable car takes you up to the mountain station at 3020 meters.

The journey on the Mt Titlis cable car to the summit station is about 10 minutes long. En route, you are greeted with views of sheer cliff faces, deep crevasses and snow-covered mountain peaks all around Mount Titlis. A word of warning: Be sure to reach Engelberg early. Mt. Titlis is a tourist hot spot and even in summer, you can experience a good bit of snow. If you want to avoid long queues at the summit station it is advisable to reach early.

  • Mt Titlis experience

Titlis is a truly spectacular experience. Right from the beginning when you hop on the cable car and meet cows lazily grazing grass to slow nearing the mountain and able to touch and play with snow even in summer! We had a fabulous time playing with the snowmobile, exploring the rather chilly glacier cave, walking precariously on the Titlis rope bridge.

The icing on the cake was definitely the Ice Flyer. Costing about 12 CHF, this flyer is a chairlift that takes you from Mount Titlis’ mountain station to its glacier park. It reminded us of a snow-filled theme park ride.

3. Walking and exploring Wengen village and nearby areas

Switzerland has many beautiful little villages, perfect for walking or hiking. We were originally planning to go to Grindelwald but ended up in Wengen– a decision we did not regret. Wengen is a picturesque Alpine village located in the Bernese Oberland region. Known for its timber chalets and belle époque hotels, Wengen also offers great cycling roads.

Wengen village, Switzerland

Wengen has a somewhat hippie vibe with several quirky cafes and sustainable coffee houses. On South of Wengen are the Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls, accessed via underground paths.

Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls
View from the waterfalls

From Wengen, you can easily take the cogwheel to top of Jungfrau or a train to Interlaken. After finishing Jungfrau, we made our way to Interlaken. Now, I wish we had stayed in Interlaken for a day or two. It is a haven for hikers, walkers and thrill-seekers.

Lake Thun

Unfortunately, we had just a few hours left before going back to our hotel in Zurich hence we decided to just walk near Lake Thun. With crystal clear waters and a relaxing vibe, Lake Thun is a place where you can just sit, relax and get lost in nature. Something you need after a day of walking and hiking.

4. Lake Lucern boat trip

Lake Lucern
Lake Lucern

If you are short on time, like us (5 days in Switzerland) and want to pack many different things then doing a boat trip is highly recommended. With a Swiss travel pass, you can get some discounts on most boat routes. From the open deck of the boat, you see the beautiful sights of Lucerne.

The boat meanders on a calm lake and passes through steep fjords all along giving you a glimpse of daily life, the pretty cottage houses, old Town and waterfront buildings.

5. Lake Zurich and Zurich old town:

When talking about Switzerland, how can we ignore one of its biggest cities–Zurich–the global centre for banking and finance. A very cool and sophisticated city.

At the heart of Zurich lies the old town. And the beauty of it is that it spans the stunningly blue Limmat river that runs right through the heart of Zurich. You can lose yourself for hours in the winding streets of this historic centre, finding quirky shops and cafes and soaking in the eclectic vibe of the city. 

No trip to Zurich is complete without spending some time on the shores of the iconic Zurich lake. Apparently, a few of James Bond movies have been shot here. But more than that, Lake Zurich belongs very much to the people of Zurich, so there are parks and places to just sit back and enjoy the view or go for a view-ridden walk. 
If you want to take in the crowds and often some local music, head towards the left-hand promenade. But for a more peaceful and green-filled walk along the lake. Either way, if you want to experience true Zurich and indulge in some people-watching this is the place to go.

As you can see, Switzerland packs a punch with something for each kind of traveller. I am definitely glad that I was able to experience this truly spectacular and beautiful place and I can only hope to go back to experience the things I missed.

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Don’t Listen To What They Say. Go See.

Anonymous

I admit Palma was not high up on my list but sometimes you just have to take the plunge especially when it is February and you need a nice budget friendly place for the school holidays. Hence, I chose to go to Palma a few months ago. And boy, was I surprised? The promise of eternal sunshine aside, I met some of the friendliest people in Palma. Mix that with the sights, the tapas and the Sangria (aaah, Sangria!) you have a winner.

  1. Royal Palace of La Almudaina

My first pick is the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. Originally an Arabian Fort, this grand palace today hosts key events. Located right in the centre of the city, this imposing Alcazar was built in 1309. The insides are built in the medieval style and you will see decor from 15th to 20th centuries adorning its various nook and cranny. The outside is a vast expanse with an open theatre and an adjoining lake meandering by–a perfect spot to just sit, relax and do nothing.

2. Banos Arabes

This is a quirky little garden surrounding the remains of Arab baths from the time of Moorish rule. It is a nice spot to get in some tranquillity away from the hustle-bustle of the city. The bath or the hammam dates back to 10th century and what remains today is just the remains of it but the garden itself is so peaceful, and green that you would forget everything and just want to sit and soak in the sights.

3. Castell de Bellver

Castell de Bellver is a Gothic-style castle on a hill. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. The best part? To reach this place, you have to go through a mini-forest full of pine trees and interesting flora. That trek itself is a fun experience to have before reaching the Castle and seeing the whole city from the top.

4. Old City

Palma’s old city deserves a mention here. It is an eclectic mix of shopping, history, gastronomy and life. Gothic Churches juxtaposes with scenic squares and century-old patios. Meandering through these streets is a must if you want a true sense of Palma and an explosion of daily-life and culture.

Palma's old city
Palma's Old City

5. Cuevas Del Drach and Torre Del Serral

If you want to explore something outside of the city then head towards Cuevas Del Drach, in the town of Porto Cristo. These ancient caves are about 1,200 metres long with a maximum depth of 25 m. below ground level, The caves contain a large underground lake, Lake Martel. The calcareous formations were formed between 11 and 5.3 million years ago, during the Miocene era. The colours and formations within the cave are truly astonishing and you can see formations resembling a cactus, a flag and even a snowcapped mountain. The tour lasts a little longer than an hour with a floodlit, floating violin concert on the lake—known to be Europe’s largest underground lake, about 170 metres long and between 4 and 12 metres deep.

If you want a bit more of nature then head towards Torre del Serral dels Falcons, a nice walking and picnic spot with beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

As you can see Palma has things for all kinds of travelers–young, old, family, couple, solo, adventurous or laid back. I am definitely glad that I was fortunate enough to experience this place.

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“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher”.  William Wordsworth

The trickling sound of waterfalls welcomes you as soon as you enter this woodland. I am engulfed by nature sounds all around me and I keep walking to spot the source of waterfall sound. Cut from the cacophony of city life and the constant buzz of phone calls, email notifications and whatnots, I feel strangely at peace. I am lost in my own bubble and I feel at home. Nature truly is therapeutic because it makes you forget your own problems.

Lake District Attractions

Welcome to Lake District, a place of outstanding beauty. I have heard so much about this place that I feared that the reality would be an anti-climax. But thank God, I was wrong. Lake District lives up to the hype and the picturesque scenery will impress even the fussiest traveller.

Lake District attractions

As the name suggests, Lake District is full of tranquil lakes flowing between the mighty hills. Between the lakes, you will see lush greenery teasing your senses while sheep graze lazily on the greens. If the land is not enticing enough then up in the sky you will see sun and mist playing hide and seek with the hills.

Aira Force Lake District

The Lake District has a romantic past. William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets drew attention to this special area in the northwest corner of England during the 19th century. It has since become a destination for nature lovers and hikers everywhere.

We stayed at Ullswater, situated in the Northern area of the English Lake District. Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District at a length of 8 miles. The lake is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the area and is a very popular place for hiking, chugging on a steamboat or simply be.

 

Ullswater has many attractions but as our main aim was to connect with nature. We stuck to hiking. Our first hike/walk was at Aira Force, stunning waterfalls amidst nature trails. Our second hike was at Hallin Fell, Grassy Lakeland fell reaching 1,273 feet edged by Lake Ullswater & topped by a column of rocks.

 

 

Lake District attractions

Each day, we would set off in the morning, without any agenda—except to explore, wander and get awed by nature. And did we succeed? Somewhere on top of Arthur’s Pike, with light drizzle trickling down, literally lost in the middle of nowhere, I felt I found myself again.

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Northern Ireland is different. To be honest, I had not expected much from this place and dare I say I did not plan this trip so meticulously perhaps this is why I was beyond surprised with what Belfast and surrounding areas had to offer. Here, I take you through some of my favourite points from our last holiday.

Belfast:

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

City Hall, Belfast

Many are quick to dismiss Belfast as a place with a wounded past nothing much to offer beyond its conflicted history. But hold those thoughts as Belfast would pleasantly surprise you. I had imagined Belfast to be grey and gloomy but only one trip to the city centre is enough to convince you of its grandeur, rich architecture and quirkiness.

The City Hall screams of underrated sophistication where as Cathedral Quarter located a few blocks away is filled with places where you can eat, drink and make merry. There is something decidedly edgy and trendy about this walk which overwhelms you pleasantly. Time really slows down when you are exploring the various interesting nooks and corners of this city and you would want more and more of it.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

Beacon of Hope, Belfast

My favourite spot, however, was the brilliant water front. There is something calming about that spot where you can forget the hustle-bustle of the city, your own restless mind and see the river meandering through. Two sculptures which stood out for me here were the Beacon of Hope and the Big (Blue) Fish each reminding me of never letting go of hope and always remembering the bigger things in life. Other must-see places of Belfast are the Titanic Quarter, Peace Wall and St. George Market.

Game of Thrones:

I will be honest, I initially started thinking of Northern Ireland only for Game of Thrones. The rugged castles, gnarled woods and its raw beauty makes this place perfect for many Westerns locations. There are several tour guides operating here and based on your requirements and budget you can tailor make a trip for you.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

The Arya Stark Bridge

If you are a fan then this tour is unmissable (can be done independently too). You can check out Stark’s home of Winterfell, the bridge where Arya runs to save herself from Waif, the ghoulish White Walkers and the caves of Cushenden, where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places Game of Thrones

Dark Hedges, on the route Arya Stark, masquerading as a boy, took when when escaping King’s Landing.

Game of Thrones is almost like a mini-industry in and around Northern Ireland. Don’t be surprised if you run into extras or members of crew from this hit show. Both our GoT tour guide and Air BnB host were part of GoT cast and crew and needless to say gave us some interesting stories about the show and its main characters.

Coastal Drive to Giant Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge:

National Geographic mentions this coastal drive as one of the most scenic drives in the world and one has to take this trip to believe that it is in fact true. The hundred mile stretch boasts of some jaw-droopingly spectacular scenery. It is centred around the nine glens (valleys) of Antrim and you turn any which way you will see magnificent valleys, sprinkling water bodies, lush greenery everywhere.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

Giants Causeway

Giant Causeway, itself is so amazing, that no superlatives can do justice to its beauty. Apparently a result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago; the rock formations are surreal. They are near perfect hexagon shaped tubes stacked neatly resembling a giant puzzle. The Giant’s Causeway is also steeped in myth and legend. Some say it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool, who left behind an ancient home full of folklore.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

On the opposite side of Giants Causeway, is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge an ancient rope bridge. This is another stunning experience that Northern Ireland has to offer. Walk along an exhilarating coastal path awash with grassy slopes and rocky outcrops. You will see flower-rich meadows, the occasional grazing cattle, the magnificent views of Ratlin Island and Scottish Isles amidst the vast azure blue waters before actually arriving the entry of the rope bridge.

The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and it spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below hill Mountains. If you are brave enough to see you will notice the sea below you dancing, thriving and teasing you whilst the swaying bridge would almost give you a feeling that you can descend down anytime.

Cave hill Mountains:

If you have been following my blog, you would know that I never ever miss a chance to go for a hike. Fortunately, my hubby shares my passion and despite our toddler we go for hikes whenever possible. There is something really therapeutic to be amidst wild, unpredictable and unassuming nature that inspires you infinitely.

Cave Hill overlooks Belfast and is nearby Belfast Zoo. Characterised by its famous Napoleon’s Nose; as the profile resembles the famous emperor; Cave Hill rises to almost 370 metres (1200 ft) above sea level. Most of its lower east side lies on the Belfast Castle estate, which has as its focal point the imposing 19th-century Scottish baronial castle.

Belfast and Northern Ireland Must See Places

The Caves which inspired Chronicles of Narnia

As you probably are aware, Northern Ireland has a rich literary history. Many authors like CS Lewis and Samuel Beckett came from this small country. Cave Hill has been an inspiration for several legendary literary work.  Cave Hill is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Swift imagined that the Cave Hill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. The Caves inside the mountains (which we climbed with some difficulty) are said to be the inspiration behind Chronicles of Narnia.

Belfast and Northern Ireland Must See Places

On Top and that’s the whole city behind me

We navigated through some tricky slopes and encountered so many drops and caves to reach on top and once you are on top; the entire city comes so tantalisingly alive. Locals say on a clear day, you can see Scotland and Isle of Man from the peak.

Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs.

The Silent Valley Reservoir located in the Mourne Mountains near Kilkeel, County Down in Northern Ireland can easily be the best-kept secret of Northern Ireland and had I not bothered reading posters in the city airport, we would have easily missed this gem of a place.

Belfast and Northern Ireland Must See Places

Silent Valley

Easily about two hours away from Belfast (after the Bronte sister homeland), you know you are entering the reservoirs when you see majestic mountains cleverly sneaking from mist laden clouds. This place really feels like you are walking right inside a magnificent painting.

Secluded, peaceful and truly an oasis of calm, the reservoirs offer plenty of scenic trail walking routes and whichever route you choose you will see the incredible Mourne mountains dotted with beautiful towns and villas everywhere. 

If you are in Northern Ireland and want a place where you genuinely can clear your head and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit then this is the place. The beauty of this place will make any challenge you are facing inconsequential and small.

Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed this travel post. Have a great weekend and do not forget to follow me. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Tenerife is a striking and saucy archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa (Canary Islands) offering beautiful beaches, jaw-dropping mountains (including Spain’s highest) and perennial warmth. Hence, it is no wonder that the island attracts more than 1.6 million tourists each year and is known to have 365 days of tourism.

The story goes that Christopher Columbus, famously stopped over Canary Islands, en route to sailing off the known world in search of the New one. Tenerife offers a heady and varied mix of both white and black (volcanic sand) beaches, a promising night life, designer and street shopping, scrumpitous food, water theme parks and everything in between. Suffice to say, in Tenerife, you will be spoilt for choices.

Here are my top favourite experiences that I could manage during my birthday vacation.

  1. Costa Adeje: 

One of the newest resort area in Tenerife, Costa Adeje is a coastline full of plush hotels, modern attractions, interesting beaches and chic restaurants. Costa Adeje also boasts of some of the most expensive and classy all-inclusive resorts from Bahia Del Dudque, Melia Jardaines del Teide (where we stayed and highly recommand) to Sheraton.

 

 

Adeje is a food-lovers paradise. From Sushi to Sphagetti, from Curry to Canarian Cuisine, from yummylicious fish to fajitas; there are over 100 nations and there cuisines featured here. The beaches, too are much better, here whether you prefer sun-bathing to surfing, whether you water-skiing or windsurfing. Adeje’s coastline will not disappoint you.

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

 

Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Melia jardaines del Teide

Melia jardaines del Teide, Costa Adeje, Tenerife 

For families, too there are several water theme parks from Siam Park to Aqualand. The Mountain range on the other side of the coastline gives this an added edge.

2. Coastal Walk:

A City walk that will leave you wanting more. The Geranium Walk in South Tenerife is a great experience if you want to see all the beaches offered here, experience the local culture and eat some yummy grub all in one go. A stroll, along the promenade linking the main southern resorts might sound like an easy walk, but don’t be fooled. The route which runs from the once tiny village of La Caleta through Costa Adeje and Playa de las Américas to the very end of Los Cristianos runs for nearly 10 kilometres and covers about 12 beaches.

Playa del Duque beach, Tenerife

Playa del Duque beach, Tenerife

 

This walk will help you see all the distinct beaches and a marina. Plus you can enjoy umpteen number of street performances and if you are hungry or thirsty, just hop onto any of the amazing restaurants and have a pint or two. As it is recommanded, we started walking from our resort to La Caleta and went all the way to Los Cristianos, taking regualar breaks because we had a baby to carry as well! It took us over 2 hours to reach Los Cristianos and around one and half hours to reach our resort from Los Cristianos (because you guessed it we walked!) But this is an experience, I highy recommand especially if you are short on time. Just remember one thing: good footwear.

3. Hiking

Tenerife is a hikers and mountain climbers’ paradise. Whilst hiking up the highest mountain-Pico del Teide or Mount Teide–in North Tenerife is an unmissable experience, we could not make it due to extreme weather conditions (Tenerife is known for its micro climates as well). But we decided to hike up Barranco del Rey–although not the highest the volcanic terrain–makes this a tricky hike (not that we needed it as we had a toddler with us and that’s tricky enough!).

Barranco del infierno, Tenerife

En route to Barranco del infierno

The area is very important archaeologically, since there are hundreds of caves that were home to  aboriginal Guanches, as well as caves with engravings. The largest collection of Guanche mummies and utensils were found here and placed in the Museum of Nature and Man of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Barranco del infierno, Tenerife

Barranco del infierno, Tenerife

We chose one of the easiest paths, which to begin with starts with paved pathway, but as you brave up you see path becoming treachous, narrow sometimes and full of lava stones. The beauty of this hike is that you can see the whole of Tenerife in its lucious beauty as you go up. The azure blue waters the ocean too comes to life from top.

It took us arounf six hours to reach on top (with few breaks and three hours to come down) and the tricky part was as went up we realised the peak is somewhere else. Hiking in these mountains hence can leave the most discerning explorer wanting for more. And there is no denial in saying that when you reach up you feel invincible.

After the hike, thanks to our bone tired body and grumbling tummy, we headed towards Otello –a hidden gem which served amazing Canarian cuisine with a jaw dropping view of the mountain.

4. All inclusive resorts

As bizzare as it sounds but my last (not the least) favourite bit of Tenerife was the all-inclusive resorts. Exhausted parents that we are, we were definitely looking for staying options where we did not have to worry about anything. And Costa Adeje’s resorts do not disappoint.

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

View from the resort

As stated above, we stayed at Melia Jardaines del Teide, with it’s amazing pools, great food (the whole wheat croissant was my favourite!), pleathora of activities, night time entertainment and beach bus services, this resort is definitely value for money. The swaying palm trees, beautiful view of the ocean and little cosy corners in every nook and cranny of the resort the place is brilliant.

dress2 - 1

It is also worth remembering that Costa Adeje has some of the plushest, lavish and chic resorts as compared to other parts of Tenerife.

All in all Tenerife was more than my expectations. With equal dose of sun, warmth and revelry this is definitely a holiday destination I recommand. 🙂

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