Grindelwald

The heaven where green hills, rolling meadows, snow clad alps and busy streets turn the unromantic into a poet and a poet into a sufi saint.

We stayed at the Chalet Alpstein – all 19 of us, ranging from 2 years to 65 years of age. (+41 33 853 0844). The view from our chalet was something out of picture postcard. Gorgeous old fashioned homes set on lush green hills, by even greener carpet – like meadows and mountains covered in the last legs of snow.

The view from our chalet
The view from our chalet

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One of the finest supermarkets I have been to – Co op. (pronounced as COOP), was just behind our chalet. Many a times, we took the shopping cart itself to our apartment and returned it after we stored our stuff in the kitchen.

If you are staying for a good number of days do get  hold of the Swiss Pass. This gives you instant access to trains, bus, cable cars (barring a few) and is extremely convenient. Keep it with you AT ALL TIMES.

Buses transverse up and down Grindelwald.

The train station is the main hub, where you might find taxi cabs too.

There is this lady, who does taxi service all over Grindelwald. Call her and she will pick you up. She also has a huge van for larger groups.

Taxi Service
Taxi Service

Please note, there is only one clinic with an xray machine. It shuts once a week. Be careful with all the activities.

If you are living in a chalet or self catered apartment, and need a cleaner this lady comes in highly recommended. But please inform your land lord or ask her  / him for their daily cleaner.

home cleaner
home cleaner

Activities 

There is sooooo much to do in Grindelwald, that it can exhaust you to sleep early in the evening.

Tobogganing This is dry tobogganing, on a steel tray set on an incline, and not the snow one. You have to take a bus up to Pfingstegg, and then a cable car up. Please note that not only kids ,but even adults will want to do it at least twice.

The speed is under your control.

Tobogannig
Tobogannig

I highly recommend a walk down, back to the town. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The beauty and the greenery just stops your heart. Lots of places to sit on the way.

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The sights you see while walking down
The sights you see while walking down
Rest a while, under huge green trees.
Rest a while, under huge green trees.

Jungfrau. Take a train from the main station, and go to Jungrau. (J is pronounced as Y).

Please Note: Look for a warm sunny day. Even then you need to dress warmly. You must step out into the lookout and do some snow activities. For that the ears need to be covered, the body needs a full jacket and dark glasses ARE A MUST!. The snow is so blinding, that you wont be able to see without it.

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Jungfrau!
Jungfrau!

Be Warned — the altitude gets really high. Though the train takes you up really slowly and you keep getting used to the height, some people might feel a bit breathless. The heart rate increases slightly. But mostly all manage.

DO NOT go in peak season. The crowds are horrendous and takes close to 1 hour or more to catch the train back.

Food in Jungfrau.

I have a walking talking encyclopaedia of a sweet brother in law. He suggested something awesome.

There are three restaurants in Jungfrau. One is a self service. One is — are you ready for this?– Bollywood Cafe. And it served Bollywood food!! Thanks to Yash Raj and his films, Switzerland is a popular Indian attraction. (All Indians throng there, so space constraint). Cristal, is a seated restaurant. You can make a booking too. Slightly expensive, so you will always get a booking there. Excellent food. Another options is to pack some sandwiches etc and eat it there.

They have a huge Lindt shop up there!

Do some snow activities, while you are there. Unless the weather is really rotten, they have Zip lining, tobogganing etc organised.

Zip Lining
Zip Lining

The Eiger Trail. Those fond of walking, walk along the hills of Eiger. Do go to the local tourist centre for details.

The Grindelwald sports centre. If it’s raining and you are stuck, go to the sports centre. Indoor pool, rock climbing, rope room etc. Grindelwald also has an outdoor pool. Please ask your concierge. I have lost the address – (Swiss names!!)

Zip lining Take the cable car to the last station, and do Zip Lining.

Trotti Bike DO NOT DO IT. It looks awesome. But its a 4.5 km ride, on a very very steep decline. 6 of us were doing it, and two fell. One was hurt so badly that we had to rush him to hospital. Luckily it was on the very first decline. Once a little way down, there is no way up. They have no emergency evacuation. No way to contact base that someone has fallen. And no SOS medical treatment!! And to top it all – private cars ply on the same road. Imagine loosing control and banging head long into a car??

If you do end up doing it, please keep your brakes applied at all times. Heavy people, refrain. People with bad balance refrain. People with neck and back problems refrain!

Paragliding is super super fun. And the organisation is very sturdy and well managed. Call before hand and book in advance. Sometimes it could be a little away, and you might need to take a train.. (see why I suggest the Swiss Pass?)

Paragliding -- they take you really close to the mountains.
Paragliding — they take you really close to the mountains.

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Go to Small Towns  Just hop on to the train, and make your way into small quaint towns. Spend the day, discovering neighbouring places. The trains are really convenient. Like a hop on – hop off bus. Contact the local tourist office for details. I reccommend, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken amongst the many others.

Lake Bachalpsee. I have’nt been, but I believe its a top rated thing to do. Its quite a walk, but the view is worth it.

Picnic by a Stream. We walked and walked and found a walking trail by a stream. At some point, we found a rocky opening leading to the stream, and claimed it for our picnic spot. The water is white, mixed with clay. The steam rushes and gushes and we were warned not to go in, at the risk of being swept away. I have never found a better way to unwind! We all pulled out our shoes, and dipped our legs in the chilled chilled water. Just sit and hear the sound of the stream and feel all the negative stuff wash away with it.

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Drink from a stream. As you keep walking around the area, stop and drink from the spring. Not the white water I mentioned above, but look for clear spring, linking itself into the river. The water is crystal clear and medicinal!

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Roll Down Hill. Find a huge hill. Walk up and then roll down!!Its super super amazing. Be careful not to trespass.

Giddy headed rolling
Giddy headed rolling

Every Wednesday, during summer Grindelwald roads shut down for a party. The entire road is blocked for stalls, rock shows etc. You can eat your dinner there on that day. Sangria, Beer, wines all sold in the stalls.

Restaurants.

Do have the local cuisine. Fondue, Raclette and Roesti. PLEASE!!

Mercato at Hotel Spinne.  Excellent Pizza. Asked to be seated outdoor on a nice day.

Hotel Eiger. Their Eiger fries are yum! Try their Roesti too! Fondue and Raclette also amazing. Sit outside!

Kirschbuhl. Way up on the hill! Book in advance. Fantastic Roesti. Ask for their special fondue!

Golden India One of the best Indian food I have had. Their roti’s, even cold was wonderful!

Fondue in Lauterbrunnen If you end up going to Lauterbrunnen, Please – I urge you to have the fondue here! (click on the link!)

Coop– I love this super market. Bang in the middle of the city, near the bus station! You get EVERYTHING there!

Shopping 

Walk around, and see what you like.

Great Sports shoes and super winter wear.

Chocolate Shop Click on the link and find the place (not difficult) and go buy some chocolates!! Fresh and amazing!

Bars

Hotel Eiger has a super bar

The Bar at Eiger
The Bar at Eiger

As does Spinne

Avacado Bar, on the main street looks very happening.

 

Hope you like Grindelwald as much as we all did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zurich

Many years ago I worked in a Zurich Bakery for a few days. This time over, I found the city, buzzing with people of all sorts. Shops were open longer, more restaurants had mushroomed, and tourists from all over thronged this small but extremely cute city.

Zurich does not have the buzz of London, but it definitely has something which draws me back to it.

Since we spent not more than a few days, we did not look around for any activities. Each of us had a bit of shopping to do and loads of restaurants to explore.

Activities 

Lake picnic. We met a couple friend in Fishers Fritz. Its a camping ground and an open air bar. We got rain for the first hour, so we could only order drinks. Once the tables opened up, we could order some food. (the swiss are sticklers for rules). The french fries with truffles was absolutely awesome.

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The Zurich lake front, all over the city is varied and beautiful.
The Zurich lake front, all over the city is varied and beautiful.

Sit by the lake. Zurich has a massive lake. The lake I have mentioned above is the same lake I mention here. This end  is by the main city, where as the lake front I mentioned above, needs a 20 minute taxi drive, it extends sooo far. Take a few sandwiches, pick up your poison, sit by the lake and watch the world go by. I believe, ferry rides, and summer lake water activities are a big draw in Zurich.

Look up and see the Alps.

Walk and cycle. You are more liable to bang into a cyclist than a car. Though post office hours the car traffic jams are gigantic. Walk around, all over, take trams, hire a cycle and explore this city.

Trams – are very easy to access and go just about every where. Take a day pass, for a pass for the entire duration you are in Zurich.

Hikes  Zurich citizens are known to take off for hikes in and around their city. They have some wonderful trails and some fascinating views. No wonder I did not see even one over weight Swiss. You can find some trails here

Zoo  The siblings took their tinies to the zoo. They told me that they could have spent one entire day there. The zoo was wonderful for adults as well as kids. Other than animals it also had a lot of rides and small play area for kids. The brother said that the Restaurant – Pantanal was very very good.

Sprungli You have to and must visit the main Sprungli shop. Ofcourse you will eat there, (as I will soon mention) and shop there too. But the first time, just go and see the spectacular display of chocolates, chocolate related products and the various different ice creams and drinks available in the main shop. Its an unforgettable, mouth opening, jaw hanging experience. And its always crowded!!

Old Town  Its walking distance from main Bahnofstrasse ( the main street). The roads are clean (are you surprised?) and its a pleasure to walk around. Neiderdof has quaint shops, great restaurants and ice cream parlours.

Neiderdof Old Town
Neiderdof Old Town

Train Station. No. I am not a train spotting junkie- This station, rather whats underneath the station is a marvel. They have built an entire city under the tracks. You can shop, eat, window shop. And nope – its not claustrophobic.

Restaurants 

For the best Raclette and Fondue – go to the old town. Swiss Chuchi – Adler Hotel. Outstanding experience. Please book in high season. Sit outdoors if the weather is good. And please have white wine with it. And a Kirsch after that to wash it down.

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Yummy Swiss Food
Yummy Swiss Food

Belvoirpark This is actually a culinary school. The students cook and serve. Sometimes the service can get a bit clumsy, but do over look that. Because the food is terrific. http://www.belvoirpark.ch/ Book in advance.

The Staff and student of Belvoirpark
The Staff and student of Belvoirpark

Sprungli    http://www.spruengli.ch/service/restaurant-en.php There are many small shops all over Zurich. Please go to the biggest one in Paradeplatz. Sit outdoors. No booking is taken so, please dont go in peak lunch hour.

Hiltl  Not my favourite place, but if you would like a pure veg meal, the variety can boggle your mind. Get your samosa fix!

Santa Lucia. Its a pizza chain all over Zurich. Excellent hot, wood fired oven Pizzas here. Get a swiss wine to go with it.

White Elephant http://www.coolinary.ch/de/page/thai-restaurant-white-elephant/. Excellent Thai cuisine. Please book in advance.

Some other restaurants, and some of them Michelin Star are –

Parkhaus

Doldergrand

Kronehalle

Alpen Rose

Shopping 

The entire Bahnoffstrasse (the main street) is a shopping Mecca.

Jelmoli (J is pronounced as Y) has all the upmarket brands.

Annahof  I love this shop. It has many medium level brands. So you can go here for lingerie as well as a wedding gown. Shoes, Bags, Make up, everything.

Co op  There are many all over Zurich. For all ye foodies – go pick up everything gourmet from here. Has normal food stuff by the horde too.

Pharmacy. There are many all over Zurich. There is something about the stuff available here. I always make it a point to pick up Traumalix Dolo 5% gel. This is a fabulous non smelling, no burning gel for bruises, sprains and strains. Pick  up your basic vitamins. All pharmacies will have someone to help you.

Sprungli you must shop here for the luxemburglies, the truffles, the cheese sticks and the tiny tiny icecream scoop in a tiny tiny waffle cone. Try their hot chocolate and cold chocolate milk. Buy your dark chocolate here. Basically, be warned to drop a lot of hard earned money here.

The best place for lunch
The best place for lunch

Hotel If you get a good rate, stay in Glockenhof. Its bang in the centre of the street, yet just off centre to not have you feeling like you are in the middle of rush hour traffic. Great rooms. Super breakfast.

Some notes about Zurich. 

Travel by tram. Its cheap and fun.

Eat lots of Swiss food. Trust me there is nothing like the original.

Take home some cheese.

Take home a fondue set.

Go for the Raclette set too!

Be polite and the swiss will be polite in return. They love their rules.

If you need a watch, buy one here. Interlaken  (2 hours by train) is very cheap for it

Travel around by train. You can take many one day journeys and visit small villages and mountain peaks.

Walk, walk, walk.

Drink some local wines and beers. They are really good.

If you dong mind a little expensive variety of undergarment  – go to Calida. only available in Switzerland, it costs a bit, but lasts for ever and is amazingly comfortable. Look for sales. Their nightwear is hMMmmm!

Have loads of fun!

Ciao.