A Day in Jungfrau

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JUNGFRAU, the top of Europe.

If you’re geeking out over geography stuff, this marketing catchphrase would make you think twice—on whether Jungfraujoch is indeed the highest point in Europe.

Considering the Caucasus Mountains shared between the European and Asian borders, it makes Mount Elbrus the highest mountain in Europe. If the Caucasus is out of the picture and considering only the European mainland, the highest point must be the Mont Blanc, on the border between France and Italy.

Nonetheless, after our visit, I think Jungfrau deserves to take the credit after all. Besides the Klein Matterhorn that you can easily access by cable car and lift and the Mittelallalin accessible by funicular, the Jungfrau gives the most convenient and pleasant experience of reaching icy peaks and wintry summits of the Alps, which make Switzerland famous for. Read more

So Swiss: Avenches, Thun & Spiez

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I was excited enough when we finally decided to visit the historical tourist destination in Switzerland – the Interlaken. Yet the more it got interesting when we stopped by these quaint yet equally eye-pleasing Swiss towns as well.

Morning stroll at Avenches

Before we officially left Vaud, we took our morning walk in a dainty, quiet town called Avenches. Formerly called Aventicum, it was the capital of Roman Helvetia founded by Emperor Augustus 2,000 years ago. A significantly-sized Roman amphitheater in Avenche beams proudly as soon as you get into the town’s proper, thus speaking about the town’s unique heritage from the Roman era.

Nowadays, this Roman amphitheater holds several festivals and cultural events in Avenches. Among its famous festivals are the Rock Oz’Arenes, an annual open-air rock festival, which has been around for almost 25 years; and the Avenches Opera Festival, which I think closely resembles the opera festival in Verona. Oh, how disappointing it was when we missed the opera season when we were in Verona, now that it reminds me! Perhaps, Avenches opera is a good alternative then. Read more

So Swiss: Fribourg – A Swiss Medieval Charm

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Seemingly we couldn’t get enough of our quick tour around Neuchatel that a few days after, we decided to visit another Swiss town. Its canton is known as the pre-Alpine region of Switzerland where the best chocolates and cheeses come from. Yet most of all, Fribourg is a small town of incomparable charm – thanks to its well-preserved medieval architectures, its meandering Saane/Sarine river, and its bilingualism where you can find French and German language coexist.

Luckily we found ourselves walking towards the town proper with a vast view of the medieval town.  From afar we could already see the bell tower of Fribourg Cathedral standing dominantly atop of the hill. At our side, we could get a glimpse of the medieval town, as well as a few old monasteries and its open-air, public swimming pool (it’s wintertime at Bains de la Motta, hence its green color). Read more

So Swiss: Tick-Tock, it’s Neuchatel !

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It was a beautiful sunny winter day when we decided to visit another Swiss town we had not gone around yet. It’s Neuchatel this time.

Neuchatel is one of the cantons in the French side of Switzerland. Its city is located in the northwestern shore of Lake of Neuchatel and near the foot of Jura valley. Neuchatel is also renowned for its Swiss watchmaking industry, centered on Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds situated in the Jura mountains, which have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Our stroll at Neuchatel started on an uphill walk at the side of the old town’s fortification. Crossing the footbridge from a small hill, we reached the Collegiate Church of Neuchatel. This cathedral has a noticeable mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles, mainly because it was built for over a century when the transition of style from Romanesque to Gothic occurred. The church is also the home to the Monument of the Counts where 15 life-sized statues of known Neuchatel counts can be found. Read more

Traditional European Christmas Market Scenes

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Visiting traditional Christmas markets is one of the fascinating things to do in Europe during the Christmas holidays. Compared to the holiday shopping experience back home in the Philippines, here it can be less busy and crazy. Actually expect a bit more of rustic feel, as wooden houses line up beautifully along the streets that are selling unique goodies, which are quite ideal as Christmas gifts. Some even offer fresh and warm, traditional winter delicacies that entice visitors to stay despite the almost freezing temperature outside the streets.

All throughout December last year, my husband and I went out for a few road trips, passing by Christmas street markets on every town in every country we visit, hoping I can discover how unique one Christmas market is over the other. We visited the Christmas markets in Luzerne and Montreux in Switzerland, Bregenz in Austria, Vaduz in Liechtenstein and Brussels in Belgium. Read more

So Swiss: Up High in Pilatus

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Happy to report: Up High in Pilatus is first published at the thefilipinoexpat.com. Click here.

It is hard to deny that the Swiss are proud of their mountains. Why wouldn’t they? More than half of the country is occupied greatly by the Alps, with about a hundred of its mountain peaks reaching to 4,000 meters and higher. Leading the way to such prominence are the likes of Matterhorn and Jungfrau that have never failed to amaze hikers, mountaineers and tourists alike; thus leaving a good impression on how the Swiss treat their mountains, and nature in general. I can assure you, very well indeed.

Mount Pilatus is definitely amongst the lucky ones. At 2,132 meters high, it is considerably just amongst below-average mountains in Switzerland in terms of height. The median height of Swiss mountains is at around 2,900 meters. Nonetheless, going atop of Mount Pilatus will still give you a stunning view, particularly of Lucerne and its lake and a panorama of 73 Alpine peaks. Read more