The perfect 7-day Itinerary for a week in Central Switzerland.

Last fall (I keep telling you it’s the best time to visit) my Sister-in-law and nieces came for a visit and had the best time- here is what we did!

Except for arrival day these are in no particular order because each one can be done in one day traveling to-and from Ennetbuergen. Obviously the days you visit Lauterbrunen and Hike would be enjoyed more in Sunshine weather, so try to plan accordingly.  Also a list of alternative ideas are at the bottom.

Arrival Day (Thursday):

When arriving from a long flight most people have the inclination to sleep -(I always need a nap) be careful  no to nap to long and stay up till evening if possible – this will help you re-set your clocks. If you can just walk around the village-


 ennetburgen church

  • Check out the church – yes its okay to go inside, and even take photos, just be reverent and respectful.
  • The graveyard behind the church is lovely
  • The seeplatzli park on the lake front is a must do even if you don’t have small children its lovely to sit at the benches overlooking the lake and watch the swans.
  • Stop at the only place in town to find Gelato.
  • Take a boat trip (check for schedules) from the “ship stop” in Ennetburgen just past the Gelato place and make sure to sit on the outside balconies for fresh air.
  • Take a walk up on the top of the Burgenstock (click here for suggestions).

top of burgentock viewsmap

Day 2 (Friday):

colmar

Spend a day (or a day and a night and another day) in Alsacs- Colmar and  Riquewihr, France Click here to see 40 of the last storybook towns.

Day 3 (Saturday):

engleburg

If you don’t stay in France try checking out Engelberg…… Lots to do!

Day 4 (Sunday):

touring lucerne tour in lucerne
Tour Lucerne-

  • Visit the local LDS church for services in German and with English translation. Service begin at 9:00am.
  • Although Sunday isn’t a market day and the shops are closed- it can be a perfect day to walk around the city for a tour. I give a really good tour that takes about 2 hours. For walking tours in English or German meet at the train station but book in advance and check the schedule for seasonal availability. For market days you’ll have to visit before noon  on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shops stay open a little later on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Day 5 (Monday):

meggan

Interlaken area is a must do, and the most popular tourist area in Switzerland. Lucky for us it’s only about an hour by car or 1 and a half by train. I always recommend the train because the ride takes you through beautiful mountanin scenery, that is best enjoyed on a train where you are free to walk around an take photos from the windows.

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  • My favorite place in the Bernard Oberland has to be Lauterbrunen. This picturesque valley was the inspiration for Rivendale -Tolkins magical land of the elves in the Lord of the Rings Trillogy. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and take a walk to – Trümmelbach Falls.
  • From Lauterbrunen catch a mountain train to Murren or Wengen.

swiss flag murren

Day 6 (Tuesday):

trotti bikes

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Day 7 (Wednesday):

Head to the french region- its a lot to pack into one day so get an early start!

Chateau-de-Chillon-Castle-Montreux- copy

  • Visit the chocolate factory in Broc . We like to visit the Chocolate factory first then head to Montreux to tour the castle.
  • The Castle Chillion in Montreux-  it is beautifully situated directly on the lake. My favorite part was the dungeon! There are lots of lake front restaurants in Montreux but you’ll be on a bit of a tight schedule to fit all three of these attractions into one day so I recommend bringing a picnic an enjoying it by the castle.
  • Then head to Gruyere (one of the 40 storybook towns left in Europe). Click here to see what there is to do . I have been to the cheese factory- home to a little museum exhibit,  but the real pleasure is just to walking around this walled village soaking up the beautiful views. My children played on the ramparts of the city walls for over an hour, using their imaginations to travel back in time. Watch the sunset and have dinner under the stars.

gruyeres

Some alternative ideas:

  1. Alpamare– This is a really fun waterside park- go in any weather. Buy tickets online so you don’t have to wait in lines- plus it’s a little cheaper!
  2. Stein am Rhein– I haven’t been yet, but I want to go and it has come recommended often.
  3. Basel Zoo- Basel market is great too- make a day of it and hit both places, they aren’t far from each other and the trams in Basel are fun and easy to use.
  4. A day in the Italian Canton  of Ticino:
  • We love the beach in Ascona (its free).
  • Locarno is fun to walk the promenade.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Traditions Everyday in Switzerland~ Friday Roundup

 

photo by Lovonne Burrow

photo by Lovonne Burrow

Some weeks life seems impossibly busy and exhausting with very little to show for it, how does that happen? There is definitely no shortage of Christmas Activity here in Switzerland. The snow is covering everything and we have even seen patches of blue sky this week! Samichlaus comes to our house tonight, and I don’t mean while everyone is sleeping, I mean to actually interview the children and access how they can improve some of their behaviors and talk about what things they are doing well at!!! This is a country with accountability! I love it!!!!

Sami came to town in the UMZUG (parade) last Saturday night. Her is a video from a nearby village Umzug– don’t be alarmed by the guys wearing white pointy hats and white robes carry torches. The video is only a short clip but normally Santas enterage includes the Smutzli this video explains his purpose and origins:

Here in our village it was a long processional of lantern carriers and bell ringers. He has been visiting speil gruppe today and leaving little treats for the children. Axel has heard that all areas of Switzerland have their own Samichlaus- there are many of them. It appears that he is a man of the cloth since he dresses like a catholic priest and made a speech last week on the steps of the church after the parade. I couldn’t understand his Swiss German so I am a little out of the loop. The parents of the children in town receive a paper ( a cheat sheet of sorts) that must be filled out for Sami so that he can have talking points, then we dropped it off at the little candy/newspaper stand in the village where Sami goes to collect the sheets and make appointments. We got a telephone call from him on Tuesday and were shocked to learn that he has picked up some English and will be able to talk to us in both German and English. He will bring treats for the kids and we hope to see some clean bedrooms today!

Other things that are keeping us buzzing with Christmas Spirit is the Free Cookie making at the big shopping center near us. They take the children over 3 and help bake, and decorate a box of free cookies!

norman-rockwell-cooking-and-baking-painting

I always imagine this Christmas tradition of family cookie baking to be one of the most happy and memorable of the season. In my mind its a Norman Rockwell painting, the fireplace is lit, the house smells of cinnamon, the tree is glittering with handmade ornaments. Mothers smile wearing the perfect share of red lipstick, high heels and a beautiful pressed white apron. They cradle a lovely ceramic bowl in one arm and calmly stir the concoction into a lovely cookie dough. The counter-tops are clean and magically free of the giant mess that seems to be inevitable with a baking experiment that includes the children’s help. The cookies come out of the oven at the perfect golden brown and the frosting and candies are applied with artistic precision. My attempt at the tradition have never born the stress free smiling version of this fantasy but I still try every year. And this year Landerpark allowed me to stand smiling in my heals and red lipstick while I watched professionals cover the kids in plastic aprons and carry them through a painless process stress free! My kitchen is clean and I am smiling. Not to mention the word free is rarely used in Switzerland so we get pretty excited when we hear it!!!

The kids and I also took the train into Luzern on Wednesday (that’s the day all kids get out of school by 11:30) and we went to the Christmas market and walked around drinking warm Christmas punch and looking at the decorations in the city. It was a perfect afternoon because the sun came out and the skies were clear and you could see beautiful snow covered mountains all around. We lingered in the book shop to warm up and then headed rode the train back to the village while snacking of freshly made chocolate filled “berliners” (they aren’t Krispy Kremes but they’ll do in a pinch).

day of the donut 2009

Since this post is full of links I only a few good ones for the weekend:

  • Motivations for my work out 
  • I know this is probably old news in the states but we have watched this video a 100 times- amazing!!!! Does this kid have a scholarship yet?
  • This looks so good and with a name like Christmas Crack it must be addictive too!

Finally let’s not forget the reason for the season:

Tomorrow we travel to a few nearby villages with reputations for some very special Christmas Markets (here too), it will be a fun way to spend the day. I wish you were here! What are some of your families favorite traditions that put you in the mood for Christmas?

Discover Klewenalp in Kanton Nidwalden.

cows1 One of my favorite places to go hiking in Nidwalden in one of the many trails up Klewenalp. The views are beautiful, it never feels to crowded, The lift fee’s are reasonable (comparably and especially if you have 1/2 tax card), and it’s very close by for me. If you are coming from Lucerne take the train to Stans and catch a bus to Beckenried. The stop you’ll want to listen for is “Beckenried Post”. Also at this stop is a tourism information office just in case you want to know about more about the area. If you choose to drive there is a large free parking lot at Klewenalp gondola station. You will see large white arrow shaped directional signs pointing you uphill toward the Gondola building.
Tip- if you want to grab a picnic lunch there is a bakery here on the corner or a Volge grocery store just up the street on the way to the lift. If you do not want to picnic there are plenty of restaurants at the top. There are also loads of other recreational activities other than hiking that you can enjoy at Klewenalp, pick up a little brochures at the lift office, every gas station and grocery store and train station and tourism office in the area.

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The Cable car leaves every 30 minutes and sometimes on busy days even more often to accommodate the crowds. Tickets for the cable car are purchased at the window and you may choose round trip or one way if you plan to come down the mountains in a different place. Our itinerary included a descent from Niederrikenbach, and we were also able to purchase the lift ticket for that at the same time (half tax cards are recognized at both locations). We began the (terrifying for me) exhilaration ascension up the mountain, if you can bear to peek I hear to views of lake Vierwalderstattersee are breathtaking. For me the cable car experiences are breathtaking enough with out looking!

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Once safely at the top we began our “wonder”. We spent the day hiking toward Niederrikenbach and serendipitously hiked all the way up to the Musenalp peak. I was with a friend and my 4 year old daughter and we had perfect weather the whole day.

chocolate face

No self respecting swiss hiker goes up a mountain with out chocolate, some just like to carry it on their faces.

If you go to Niederrikenbach as directed I think it is an easy walk even for small children. We took breaks along the way for a picnic and photos and to enjoy the peace of the mountain tops. It took us about 4 hours, but the signs would indicate 2-2.5. I suppose if you are a Swiss mountain goat in a hurry you could do it easily, but as a mom in less-than-optimal fitness condition and encouraging a four year old along the trail with snacks, and conversations with the local wildlife (cattle populations are abundant) than I suggest planning for about double the recommended time.

cow with bell

klewenalp views

Be warned: a short portion of the hike up to Musenalp peak was challenging for a small child, there was a rocky steep cliff to climb, and while we were able to do it no problem, I just want to warn those parents out there who might want a heads up. If you can conquer the climb (there is a wire rope/railing to help steady yourself) you will be rewarded with soft rolling hills at the top, perfect for those sound of music style photos.

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Of course at the peak there is a lovely little farm with a restaurant that looks to serve hearty and delicious food. I saw a meringue dessert that was almost worth the extra 1/2 hour distraction but since we were a little off course I proceeded straight to the private gondola that takes you down another steep and terrifying (others might refer to it as exhilarating) cliff right at the foot of the Niederichenbach gondola station.

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  DSC_4003cable car_1

view from window of muslialp~ moxiblog.com

view from window of muslialp gondola

The cost of the ticket was an extra 7 chf for adults and my daughter was free. If you love the views from a little container surrounded in glass dangling from a wire – than you will certainly find this hike especially fun, my children love it! Once we were returned to our route and our schedule we waited for the next gondola down to Dallenwill. It also departs every 30 minutes and takes your breath away. At the bottom of the mountain looking up you can safely appreciate the view of the steep decent and the reward of accomplishment for having enjoyed a long afternoon of exercise and fresh air in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From here, walk through the parking lot and follow directional signs to the train. It is across the street and while you wait you can admire the mint green glacier water flowing through the river next to you. The train will take you quickly back to Stans bahnhoff (less than 10 minutes) where you started.