So Swiss: Avenches, Thun & Spiez

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 amphitheatre 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 amphitheatre 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 with 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

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 winter time at Bains de la Motta, hence its green color). Read more

So Swiss: Tick-Tock, it’s Neuchatel !

It was a beautifully 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 at 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 hall, we reached the Collegiate Church of Neuchatel. This cathedral has a noticeable mix Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles, mainly because it was built for over a century when 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

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

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

So Swiss: A Day at the Streets of Zurich

At around 6 in the morning at Nyon train station, we took the inter-regional train that headed to the direction of Brig. After 15 minutes, we got off at Lausanne and took another that would send us to Zurich. Two hours more, we finally arrived.

There we stood at one of the busiest railway stations in Switzerland. Zurich Hauptbahnhof is a major railway hub not only for Switzerland but also for neighboring European countries like Germany, Italy, Austria and France. The train station is already located at the Alstadt or central Zurich’s old town. A few more steps from there we found ourselves in Zurich’s main downtown street, Bahnhofstrasse. Known as one of the most expensive avenues for shopping in the world, Bahnhofstrasse is also where we started exploring this fancy Swiss city. Read more