Monthly Archives: August 2016

Zermatt

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Maybe crazy, maybe just overly motivated, but we decided to tackle a hike in Zermatt from Basel! For those familiar with the Toblerone chocolate, you’ll quickly recognize that the Matterhorn in the picture above is also illustrated on the packaging 🙂

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Chocolate with the Matterhorn (the bear is a plus :P)

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Day ticket from Coop! It’s a super deal for traveling in Switzerland.

We had seen on Facebook that Coop (Swiss supermarket) was selling day tickets for 49 Swiss francs! Now if you’ve been or if you live in or close to Switzerland, you know how great of a deal this is. Even better if you do not have a Halb-tax card (a cards that gives you great discounts)! With this card you can go pretty much anywhere with the SBB train, but the card is only valid for one day.

So we decided to go to Zermatt, this beautiful city where you have the Matterhorn! In 2013, I was there for a few days and it made such an impression on me that made me think I’d be back someday. Well, three years later I did!

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The little red train we took in Visp to go to Zermatt

We woke up at 5:00 am to take the train at 6:30 am direction Zermatt with a change of trains in Visp. We got to our destination at around 9:30 and directly bought some food for the hike. So for the hike we had, coffee, a 1,5 liter water bottle, two apples, two bananas, carrot sticks and two salami sandwiches (the last we bought at the Bretzel König at the train station).

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The train station in Zermatt

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blauherd

This is where you buy the tickets to go up to Blauherd

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Inside the station waiting for the funicular to Blauherd

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Then we quickly walked to the station to go to Blauherd, where we were able to get discounted tickets (thanks to the day pass tickets from Coop, but you can check the prices here). Now, we did that because we chose to do the 5-Lake hike, which starts in Blauherd and makes you hike through 5 beautiful lakes before arriving at the Sunnega station where you take a small funicular style train back to Zermatt.

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Cable car view of the Matterhorn

So from Zermatt you take the funicular to Sunnega (which is where you’ll come back to at the end of your hike), after this you take the cable car to Blauherd where you’ll find yellow panels showing all the possible hikes you can do. As mentioned we chose the 5-lake one in the following order:

Blauherd – Stellisee – Grindjisee – Grünsee – Moosjiesee – Leisee – Sunnegga

They say on the website, that it takes around 2:50 minutes. But I guess they do not take in account stopping for photos, to eat or take a few breaths from certain hike passages that are a bit harder.

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Yellow panels showing all the different paths you can take from Blauherd

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First lake, Stellisee

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Break for a quick lunch at Stellisee

In total it took us 3 hours and a half, and this was taking time to eat our Sandwiches while admiring the Matterhorn from the bench in front of the Stellisee. We also took breaks to rest and we lost some time because we got a bit confused with all the paths.

At Stellisee, if the water is calm you can see the reflection of the Matterhorn. Unfortunately, when we were there it there was some wind 😦 still beautiful though!

Grindjisee, is a very small lake that you see after to descend from the first lake.

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On the way to the second lake, Grindjisee

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Grindjisee

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On the way to Grünsee

On the path to Grünsee there’s a little river with whitish water. Now it looks small and calm, do not go down to take photos by it! Because the water can mount super quickly and take you away! In fact they have panels saying this as well as people walking around and warning tourists about it.

Now on Grünsee, you are also supposed to see the reflection of the mountains! In 2013, when I was able to see it and it was breathtaking. This year, however, we didn’t get to see it. This lake is also one of the two (the other one being Leisee) where you can swim.

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Grünsee in 2013 🙂

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Grünsee, 2016. This time no reflection on the water

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The fourth lake is called Moosjiesee. By the time we reached this lake we were already getting tired. We got even more tired when we saw the climb we had to do to get to the fifth and last lake 😛 But we made it, with lots of pauses of course 😛

Moosjiesee

Moosjiesee

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On our way to the fifth lake!

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Leisee

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People swimming at the Leisee

Getting to the fifth lake was more demanding that the others because we had to go up hill. When we got there we took a nice break to rest our tired feet and admire the view as well as try out the little wooden floater to cross the river (note to yourself, this floater does not fit three adults! we almost fell into the water as we were crossing).

After to had energy back we took the small lift to the Sunnega station and from there we took the funicular back to Zermatt. On your back back do not forget to stamp your passport  as a memory keepsake.

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Overall, we had great weather+ Especially because many people who go to Zermatt do not get to see the Matterhorn, which you may say „What? how can you not see this huge mountain in front of you“ and to that I answer „weather“. Sometimes the Matterhorn gets covered by clouds which would be totally disappointing but it might happen! The two times I was there, I was very lucky and got to see its full beauty!

After the hike we checked out the city, bought some food for the way back in the train and chilled with some beers at a restaurant until it was time to take the train back. We were back in Basel a 21:30 pretty much exhausted and in need for a good shower and a good night sleep.

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Basel

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View over the river

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The temperature of water is shown in these blue little panels along the river

This is more of a off to swim post 😛

One of the top summer activities in Basel, in my opinion, is to swim in the river. If you are visiting Basel during the summer make sure you try it!

Throughout the city you’ll find these weird fish-looking bags displayed on outdoors, they are called wickelfisch. They are great because you can put your clothes, cellphones, keys, anything you have on you in it and all you need to do is to fold the opening closed (around 7 times) and the bag will inflate with the air trapped inside. In the end you’ll have a great bag to put your stuff in and at the same time a buoy to float down the river.

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The magical wickelfisch bag

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A lot of people bike until the river entrance by the Tinguely museum

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Biel / Bienne, Switzerland

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Last sunday, we decided to hike in Biel / Bienne. This hike is called “Chemin des Vignes” (in english, “Vineyard Lane”) which you can find here. They say the hike is quite simple and accessible with a wheel chair. However, if you took the same directions we did, you’ll notice that before getting to this specific hiking trails, you’ll need to hike a bit.

The directions we took from SuisseMobile, told us to walk towards the funicular and climb the stairs on the left which was easy but took out breath away. At the end of the climb you’ll find the  “Pavillion” and you can see a panoramic view of the city.

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Panoramic view

After about 30 minutes we got to the “Chemins des Vignes”. So what I recommend doing is, to skip this small trail and instead take the bus 11 that will take you to Rebenweg (Chemin des Vignes), which drops you just in front of the path!

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Bus 11 takes you directly to the hiking trail from the train station

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Start of the Chemin des Vignes

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Because it was really hot and we were tired only did half way (the total is 15 km, which after you can take a train or boat to come back) and went down to the lake to refresh a bit.

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We wished we had brought our swimming suits because the water was so nice! Also along the lake there are many green areas with picnic tables, toilets and easy access to the lake. We definitely have some of those spots in mind for the next time we go there!

 

Île de Ré, France

Île de Ré is a small island situated near La Rochelle in France. We booked this trip a few months ago and luckily we had gotten the last wood cabin available. The cabin is made out of wood and above ground. Everything is pretty compact, but we had everything we needed! The only downside the walls are thin so we can hear everything going on and when there’s wind you can hear the wood-noise.

Wood cabin at the Flower camping (Île de Ré)

Wood cabin at the Flower camping (Île de Ré)

Inside the wood cabin

Inside the wood cabin

We actually drove there from Saint Louis which is in the opposite side of France (where Switzerland, France and Germany meet) and it took us almost 13 hours with the last 2 being stuck just before entering the island. Needless to say we were all tired, so we registered at the camping and did a quick walk around the small village, called La Flotte, before dinner and rest.

The port at La Flotte

The port at La Flotte

La Flotte

La Flotte

La Flotte village center

La Flotte village center

Plage de l'Arnerault, this was the closest beach to us but the san area is super small.

Plage de l’Arnerault, this was the closest beach to us but the san area is super small.

On the second day we decided to go to the beach and we chose the La Couarde sur Mer, which we were told was one of the most beautiful beach in the island. I think this was the hottest day we had, but the water was still super cold. The beach is super long but there is little commerce, it was mostly clean and we had low tide. The water was super clear with the low tide and we could see a lot of hermit crabs!

 La Couarde sur Mer

La Couarde sur Mer

 La Couarde sur Mer

La Couarde sur Mer

At night we went to the village center and had dinner at a place called La Fiancée du Pirate which I really recommend they have super tasty Moules Frites and Pizza!

Moules Frittes

On the third day we decided to visit the Phare des Baleines to explore the island and also because it was quite chilly to go to the beach. We went up the lighthouse and also visited the small museum they have and the Tour de Baleines just by it.

 

Phare des Baleines

Phare des Baleines

Going up the lighthouse

Going up the lighthouse

The view from the lighthouse

The view from the lighthouse

Museum about the old school for the lighthouse guardians

Museum about the old school for the lighthouse guardians

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In the afternoon, we visited the Ecomusée du Marais Salant where they showed us how the make salt and the different types of salt they make.DSC08952

Basically they have this small compartments of sea water that are separated by clay. The ones at the beginning carry a lot of water and this diminishes the further in the water goes, so at the end you have a huge concentration of salt per liter of water. And because of this high concentration the salt crystals start to gather which is then picked up by the workers. The regular salt is collected at the bottom while the famous Fleur de sel gathers as a thin layer a the top.

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The mountain of salt that is left outside for drying!

The mountain of salt that is left outside for drying!

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On our fourth day we rented bikes and explored the island at our own pace. The island has an enormous amount of bike paths and it is quite bike friendly. If we were there without the kids, we’d probably leave the car parked and would have just biked everywhere. We biked to Saint-Martin-de-Ré which has a fort built Vauban style. This village was also declared a World heritage site.

In the park by the lighthouse you can do donkey rides for 3 euros which is fun for kids. You just have to take the leash and guide the donkey through the path in the park.

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Paroisse

Paroisse

 Saint-Martin-de-Ré

Saint-Martin-de-Ré

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On our fifth day we went to Abbaye Notre-Dame-de-Ré, which are ruins that used to be occupied by monks. Just near by you have the Fort La Prée which we wanted to visit but because we were not carrying cash on us we could not. So note to yourself, always carry cash to these places because sometimes you find yourself in remote areas with no electricity!

L'abbaye Notre-Dame-de-Ré

L’abbaye Notre-Dame-de-Ré

La Prée

La Prée

On our last day, we visited this beautiful church in Ars en Ré, which also served as a point of reference to the boats out there.

Saint-Etienne church

Saint-Etienne church

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For our last day, we enjoyed the beach again but came home at the end of the afternoon to clean out our cabin which was inspected Saturday morning just before we left! And there we went, 10 hours of driving back home!

Bridge leaving Île de Ré

Bridge leaving Île de Ré

Road trip to Île de Ré count down

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As we are approaching our one week beach / island vacation in Île de Ré (France) a lot of preparation will take place. We decided to go by car as changing trains in Paris with two 6 year-old girls might be challenging. We’ll have a good 8 hour trip—more likely 10 hours counting pee breaks and eating, so too avoid listening to two little girls asking us „Are we there yet?“, „I am bored“ every 30 seconds we prepared a car-kit for them that will hopefully keep them busy and entertained, they include:

—portable DVD with a few movies + headphones
—digital games
—drawing-coloring
—small snacks (petit-prince cookies, small bottle of water, carrot sticks, chips, grapes, cherry tomatoes, muffins, lollipops and cheese sticks)

For the adults we’ll have:
—coffee / tea thermo
—fruits, chips
—books

In case they get bored of watching the DVD or coloring or eating, which I am sure they will, we have a couple of games on our mind which we could all play:
—ni oui, ni non (French game where you cannot answer questions by saying „yes“ or „no“
—I spy with my little eye (one of the players see something out the window and the other have to guess what, for example: I spy with my little eye something red!“ then anything red the others can see out the window becomes a potential answer)
—Inventing songs (the kids played this before and you can see how creative they get, my husband will give them a subject or a word and they have to create a song with it, rhythm and all)
—Learning a new word in another language (My husband is French and I am Brazilian, we communicate used to communicate in english but after I started learning French we switched, but every now and then we speak in English which gets the kids puzzled. So sometimes we ask them which words they’d like to know and in which language, those being Portuguese or English. This can go on how a good 30 minutes!

These are just some, but there are some many tips out there that we’ll probably try and see how long it will last 😛