On our Switzerland trip. High Street in Gstaad on a Sunday afternoon.

Our Switzerland Itinerary

In September 2018 we decided do a little trip to Switzerland. The plan was to get together with a friend who lives in Switzerland and do a bit of exploring. Taking our time, as always, we were not in a rush to see the whole country in a week. Here’s our Switzerland itinerary. Not the usual well trodden tourist path, but our way.

Our Switzerland Trip

To Geneva

Luton airport always seems to be in a state of chaos when I have been there. Once we had negotiated that and waited in the inevitable budget airline queue, we were on our way, landing in Geneva 1 hour and 40 minutes later.

The approach to Geneva was directly over Lake Geneva, giving us some tantalising glimpses of the lake.

If you are heading to Geneva, consider taking a train. Catch the Eurostar at London St Pancras and you can be in Geneva in around 7 hours. Maybe not as quick as a jet but possibly more comfortable.

The train trip goes via Paris, which brings thoughts of maybe doing a stopover on future trips.

We only though of the train after we had booked our flights, otherwise that may well have been our route to Geneva.

Plage de Perroy

Switzerland. Refreshment at Plage de Perroy with a view over Lake Geneva.

All this traveling is thirsty work! Having met our friend in Geneva we took a short drive to Plage de Perroy and stopped off for a bit of refreshment.

This was our first view of Lake Geneva. Very tantalising on this warm and sunny Saturday. I posted some photos from this spot about this in a previous post: Perroy – Hello Switzerland!.

And so to Les Moulins

Suitably refreshed we headed along the A9 motorway, heading towards Les Moulins. The motorway takes you through very pretty farmlands, dotted with the odd village or hamlet. The mountains, of course, are always in view.

Exit the A9 towards Bulle. At this point the roads are typical mountain roads. Well surfaced but twisty, with low speed limits, and vertical drops off the side. I’m sure you need special training for these roads!

Les Moulins is a village in the Chateau D’Oex municipal area. Both are situated in the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park. The area has a rich history and is essentially an agricultural area and cheese producer. Gruyere and L’Etivaz cheeses come from this area.

This is an area known for hiking and outdoor activities. If you enjoy hiking, follow the ancient cheese trails.

With little of that in mind, we arrived quite late and took our time unpacking and enjoying a glass of wine.

mde

We ended the day with a dinner of excellent pizza, using local cheese of course, at the local restaurant, Pizzeria de la Croix d’or.

Our base in the mountains in Switzerland at Les Moulins.
Our base in the mountains in Switzerland at Les Moulins.

Switzerland Itinerary Evolves – Gstaad

Gstaad. An Alpine building with the luxry Gstaad Palace hotel in the background

Truth be told, our itinerary at the start of our Swiss trip was basically Luton to Geneva to Les Moulins and home. We always develop the itinerary as we go. And so, we spent a Sunday afternoon wandering around Gstaad.

Gstaad is very much an upmarket tourist destination which offers all year round activities. Most popular in the winter, Gstaad offers one of the largest Alpine skiing areas in the Alps.

Summer activities in the area include hiking and mountain biking.

As this was the first full day of our holiday we just wanted chill out and enjoy the mountain air and ambience of this pretty town. As it was a Sunday the supermarkets were closed, but that didn’t stop a number of shops from opening. The hotels and cafes were doing great business.

And no, we didn’t see any celebrities. The area is popular with many celebrities and Royalty do visit from time to time.

It was great to just walk and sit and drink coffee and try some local beer. At this point we really came face to face with the costs of eating and drinking out in Switzerland. CHF 28 bought us an iced coffee, a fruit juice and a couple of sparkling waters – that’s about US$28 or £22.

Chateau de Gruyeres

Since the 12th century the town of Gruyeres has been producing Gruyere cheese, starting to export it in the 17th century.

Gruyeres Castle (Chateau de Gruyeres) was built in the 13th century and has an interesting history. It is a site of national significance and is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland.

We enjoyed simply strolling around the castle an seeing the sights. it is located on top of a hill with a great view.

Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.
Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.

Of course, lunch at the castle could only be a glorious cheese fondue. Take your pick of a number of restaurants, some with a fantastic view.

One bar not to miss is the Giger bar, all designed in the style of the Alien movies. A swiss painter, HR Giger was part of the special effects design team for the Alien movies. Opposite the bar is a museum to his art. Definitely a must if you are into Sci-Fi.

View from the chateau at Gruyeres.
View from the chateau at Gruyeres.

Bern – Catching the Train

Bern - old city street view. A contrast of old and new.

An impulsive decision, when we found we had a day free. We decided to go to Bern and see the Bern bears. Why? It seemed like a good idea at the time!

Starting with a walk past the impressive Parliament building, we headed back under the clock tower and towards the Bear Park. Bern is a beautiful city, though we were fascinated by the contrasts. Walk down a street of well maintained old buildings, with fountains in the street. Just make sure you stay out of the way of the trams!

As efficient as the Swiss rail service is, it still takes a couple of hours to travel from Gstaad to Bern, leaving us just the afternoon in Bern. We decided to take a walk through the old city, ending up at the bears.

Heading back, we were just in time to see the show as the mechanical clock marked the hour.

The Montreux Shore

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline

Words from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” which have always stuck in my mind. Leaving late in the morning we took the drive down to the Lake Geneva shoreline at Montreux.

Indeed, we didn’t move from the shoreline, but spent a relaxing afternoon walking and chilling out.

Freddy Mercury’s statue overlooks the lake, and absolutely needed a photo or two. A small tourist train runs along the shoreline. Fascinating to ride the train and see the sights.

One trip was missed was the boat trip on the lake. Definitely one for next time.

The Montreux shore. Looking at Montreux from the waterfront.
The Montreux shore. Looking at Montreux from the waterfront.

Vevey

The big fork in Lake Geneva at Vevey.
The big fork in Lake Geneva at Vevey.

Vevey is probably not on most tourist itineraries. The town is marked by an 18m stainless steel fork embedded in Lake Geneva.

The actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin lived in Vevey. He is commemorated by a statue on the waterfront and a museum. Our time was tight so we didn’t have time to visit the museum or nearby Vevey Castle which houses a museum. Vevey was, in fact, the place where milk chocolate was invented in 1867.

We visited Vevey to attend a small birthday party, which gave us an opportunity to see the sunset over Lake Geneva. A fitting end to our trip as we were heading home the next day.

Sunset over Lake Geneva at Vevey

Heading Home

Every autumn the Alpine farmers bring the cattle down from the high pastures for the winter. The procession is known as Desalpe. Many of the cattle are dressed up with cow bells and flowers and the procession is quite an occasion.

Just one problem. The day of Desalpe was the day we were leaving. Of course the cattle take priority on the road and our friends talked of having taken 5 hours to get to Geneva. We decided to catch the train!

And so we headed home, saying goodbye to the mountains and heading back to the UK via Easyjet.

Cows walking through Les Moulins, ready for the annual Desalpes.
Cows walking through Les Moulins, ready for the annual Desalpes.



Your Switzerland Itinerary

Switzerland is known for its mountains and cheese and snow and skiing. But Switzerland in autumn is well worth a visit, especially if you get off the beaten tourist track. It was very much a green and pleasant land.

The weather is mild, though you need to keep a light coat or jersey handy, particularly in the evenings.

Eating out is costly. We found ourselves paying approximately $30 for a light meal and wine (pasta, pizza, and even a burger), but the food was good. Think about self-catering.

We can’t comment much on accommodation as we stayed with friends. From what we could see, most hotels seemed to start at around $110 for a 3 star room.

Our friends took us to most places we visited by car. The roads are good, but speed limits seemed lower than we are used to in the UK. Our train rides were last-minute decisions. The Swiss rail system is excellent, and we wouldn’t hesitate to travel by train again. I would definitely consider a Swiss Rail Pass or similar. Here’s a handy guide on deciding the value of the Swiss Rail Pass, found on Travel? Yes Please.

We traveled to Geneva by Easyjet from Luton in the UK. I would seriously consider using the Eurostar for a future trip, possible with a stopover in Paris.

Whichever way you do it, take a trip to Switzerland in autumn.

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The View from the Flight Deck Cafe, looking over the pond at the apron.

Flight Deck Cafe – Good Food and Aeroplanes

I like to spend time around light aircraft. So the Flight Deck Cafe at Turweston Aerodrome is a great way to spend time, having a meal, or just a cup of coffee and cake.

With its big windows you can enjoy your food and watch the aircraft taking off and landing. On warm summer day sit on the balcony and just enjoy the place. The aerodrome is well situated to service the local towns. It can be quite busy, especially at weekends.

The Food

The menu offers a good selection of light bites and brunch plates. We have, over time, tasted a good portion of their meals and never had any complaints. Try an all-day breakfast – that’s great. Burgers, well stacked, are also good. It’s always worth having a look at the specials board.

The Flight Deck always has a selection of tasty looking cakes. Don’t want a meal? Just enjoy a coffee and cake. And, of course, the aeroplanes.

Some of the items on the menu are gluten-free and / or vegetarian. We have always found the staff very helpful with special dietary requirements

Check out the website for the cafe. Or their Facebook Site. Have a look at a couple of our favourites below.

The View

While enjoying your meal, also enjoy the view of aircraft landing, taking off and doing circuits. When the weather is good Turweston airfield can be quite busy.

Turweston Flight centre with the Flight Deck Cafe on the first floor.
Turweston Flight Centre with Flight Deck Cafe on the first floor and the runway on the far side.

The photo of the flight centre was taken on a winter breakfast visit to the cafe. Be sure that we’ll be back come spring and summer.

Why not drop in sometime yourself.

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The Flight Deck Cafe - please pin this to your boards.
The Flight Deck Cafe – please pin this to your boards.
5 Years On - Can You Travel? Geneva Airport Railway Station

5 Years On – Can YOU Travel?

It’s just 5 years since we “found our wings” and started to travel outside of the UK, where we live. In our view we don’t get away that much, especially compared to other bloggers I read. But we enjoy ourselves and spend a lot of time looking for new places and ways to travel more. Can YOU travel. Our answer was a resounding yes!

So this post is aimed at people perhaps a bit like us. Call us “baby boomers”, “empty nesters”, “silver surfers” or whatever (I hate labels). The kids have grown up and left home. You still need the 9 to 5. The attractions of a tent on a budget trip are not what they were 20 years ago? You look at the adverts on TV and read a few travel bloggers? And wish you could travel.

We are not about to sell the house or blow the pension pot, but we will travel when and how we can, see some interesting places, eat some good food, and have fun.

Destinations – We Went There

Can You Travel - a fishing boat at Bazaruto Islan in Mozambique.
A tourist fishing boat at Bazaruto Island, with sand and fantastic blues and greens of the receeding tide in the background. Many boats are available in the area, from canoes to large dhows and state of the art fishing boats like this.

Looking at some of the travel blogs around, it would be great to say we have been all over the world. We have not, but we visited some interesting places.

  • 2014Ireland and later, the Isle of Wight. And don’t forget Tenby as well. And the wish to travel was growing. The travel bug was starting to bite!
  • 2015 – Santorini, and that fantastic Christmas break in Mozambique.
  • 2016 – Nerja in Spain and Durban in South Africa.
  • 2017 – Valras Plage and Beziers and Carcassonne in France and Hermanus and Umdloti in South Africa.
  • 2018 – Gstaad, Bern and more in Switzerland. A couple of family events took us on many day trips in the UK with visiting family. (Top picture is Geneva Airport railway station).
  • 2019 – So far a couple of day trips to London and Oxford. Thinking about the rest!
  • 2020 – The ideas are already buzzing! A “big trip” at Christmas?

And don’t forget other day trips to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Hastings and more.

Obviously we are operating from the UK, where we live, but there’s normally a way, wherever you may be.

Our aim is to travel more – Working on that one.

So How Do You Travel?

At the beginning of the year, we start with a list of possibilities. Then it’s a matter of bringing the budget together and going. Simple really. Most of the time, anyway.

If there is a “big trip”, i.e. a long haul, expensive one, in the list we can be saving and planning for that over a year ahead.

For European trips we’ll kick a bunch of ideas around and book a month or two ahead.

Whenever or wherever we go, here are the questions we ask.

How will you pay for it?

Travel - Earn it or save the dollars

For many this is where your travel thoughts stop! Travel is expensive! Isn’t it?

Well, let’s put it this way:

  • If you want to just hop a business class flight to Jamaica and stay in a five-star resort for a week you probably won’t have much change from at least US$12,000 for a couple.
  • Pick your time carefully and three weeks in two locations in South Africa, economy class and self-catering will set you back around £3,500.
  • At the right time of year a week for a couple in Europe, all in, can be as low as £900.

Backpackers will tell you how much cheaper you can do it. I don’t know about you but my backpacking days ended a decade or two ago!

We are not talking about year long trips, so there are only two ways to finance your travels:

  1. Save from your income, whether that’s your job or some form of pension income;
  2. Earn some extra cash.

As a couple, if each of you can save or bring in £1 per day (=£14 per week, £60 per month, £730 per year) you are close to that week in Europe.

Save or earn £10 per day extra and you could go to South Africa, Australia, or similar.

Take that luxury trip to Jamaica when you win the lottery!

Tip: Remember also that what you spend at home on meals, going to the pub, etc., is money in your pocket for the trip.

Tip: Look at using customer loyalty points on store cards and debit and credit cards which accumulate points which can be swapped for travel.

What we do: We save each month, but also look for other means to make some cash.

When will you travel

When wil YOU Travel

As “older travellers” you don’t have to worry about the kids, school holidays and the like. So choose a time that suits you. Having said that, the first thing I do every year is fill in the school holidays in my planner. In red. That’s when we don’t travel because the crowds are there and it is more expensive.

Typically prices are lower in the “shoulder” seasons, especially in the first half of the year.

What we do:

  • Use Google calendar and fill in the school holidays.
  • Then create a calendar with the seasons in possible destinations.
  • That tells us when we are likely to travel. Except when we don’t! Like going to Mozambique at Christmas!

Who will travel?

Traveling with friends can be tricky. It’s a good way to break friendships. But with the right friends its a great way to share the cost. Do leave each other room to breathe and be accepting of each other ways. We’re all different.

What kind of Travel do you want?

We are not big into visiting iconic sights and places. Great, if we are close, but that’s not our main aim. In Switzerland we had an unexpected free day, so we hopped on a train and went to Bern. Why? It was a good idea at the time and great fun!

Tip: Decide what you want to see and do. Be clear on this one. If you are into weekend city escapes, or magical beach holidays, or walking holidays, then plan to do those things. Travel for fun!

Where do you want to stay?

Our Hotel in Perivolos, Santorini
Our Hotel in Perivolos, Santorini

Some enjoy the all-inclusive, sit by the pool trip. Others will only ever go self-catering. Some want five star, while others are happy with a hostel. Where would you, realistically, like to stay?

This can be tricky. Opt for self-catering and you can find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no access to interesting places. Opt for an expensive all-inclusive deal and you could find that the restaurants down the street are much more interesting. But now you have blown the budget.

What we do:

We will always opt for the self-catering option first. And then do our homework. In Santorini and Nerja we chose a bed and breakfast, flights and hotel deal. That meant we found places for lunch and dinner away from the hotel. We ate well! On our 2017 South Africa trip it was all self-catering, except when we chose to go out.

Tip: A bit of homework is necessary, and can be done easily using Google Maps – simply zoom in on the place you are heading for. The ideal is a self catering spot with a cafe, restaurant and store, probably a small supermarket, within 10 minutes walk. The cafe for breakfast and restaurant for dinner with the store supplying everything else.

How will you eat?

Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.
Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.

A big part of our trips is enjoying local cuisine. Strange as it may sound, that often means skipping the big flashy restaurants and hunting down the popular local ones.

Most hotels, we have found, serve very toned down meals to try and meet everyone’s tastes.

What we do: We have a light breakfast. Every day we aim to eat out once, but look for the simple local spots. the food is often better and more representative of the local cuisine. Then we will buy simple food like cold meat and salad and eat that on the beach, or even in our hotel room.

Tip: Ask a local!

Greek food – Santorini, in a restaurant in a cave.

How will you get there?

Switzerland – A train at Lausanne station

If it’s a long haul trip, you have little choice but to find the most economical flights.

Short haul generally means using a budget airline, as much as you may hate those.

But look at your options and preferences. Train travel to and in Europe is an attractive thought and something we haven’t tried. Bus travel and self drive are options as well, though we don’t find either of those attractive.

What we do:For Europe we have typically used the budget airlines, which are never fun. For future trips we are thinking carefully about the train.

Then Go

Then we just go. And enjoy.

Okay, there is normally a bit of anxiety attached. Will the plan work? Will the budget work? But that is all part of the fun.

Can YOU Travel

5 years on – Can YOU travel.?

Yes, we can. You can too. It does take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it!

Give it some thought.

Drop us a comment with your thoughts.

On a sunny day in the town of Nerja, in Andalucia on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The Balcon de Europa, giving a fantastic view of the sea and nearby coastline, is a 19th century monument. Here’s the view along the boulevard looking back towards Nerja.

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5 Years on - can YOU travel? We can. Visit us and see how we go.
Yorkshire Burrito

A Sunday Roast in your Hand – Yorkshire Burrito

 

After a busy and interesting morning walking around the market, it’s time for lunch. Camden Market offers plenty of choice, whether you want to sit in a pub, or retaurant, or, like us, explore the street food. We checked out a few places, but wanted something different. Then we spotted the Yorkshire Burrito stand.

On various visits to the market we have enjoyed many dishes from simple fish and chips to exotic Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. This was something unusual.

Okay, in England we know that they do things differently “up north” :). But what is a Yorkshire Burrito?

Put simply, it’s a good old Sunday roast, in your hand.

Take a large Yorkshire pudding. Add some stuffing and a few spinach leaves. Take your choice of beef, chicken or cauliflower cheese, add it to the Yorkshire pudding along with a splash of gravy and, most importantly, some crispy roast potatoes. Carefully roll it up and seal it in a panini toaster (or something like).

What a different way to do the traditional roast! And very tasty too.

We tend to think of “street food” in terms of exotic foreign dishes, so it’s great to see something very English as a street dish.

Actually, talking to the guys running the stall, it was only their second day. They had sold out early on the first day, and were heading that way very quickly when we visited. Good luck to them – it’s a great idea!

Have a look at their site: A special English hand meal – A Yorkshire Burrito.

Have you tried a Yorkshire Burrito?

What sort of interesting but unexpected street foods have you discovered in your travels?

 

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Brritos - Yorkshire Style

Camden Town. A street view as we walked from the tube station to Camden Market.

Camden Market Visit – Street View

A trip to London with overseas visitors is never complete without a visit to Camden Market. We dropped in right at the start of the year, on the 2nd January, to be precise. While I would rather visit the market in the spring and summer days (as we did in May 2018), the winter cold didn’t seem deter the crowds.

If you are visiting London, Camden Market is easily reached by bus or tube.A trip we have talked about but never actually done is the trip from Little Venice to Camden Lock on the Regents Canal, on the London Waterbus. That could definitely be interesting, especially in summer. Think about this one if you are planning a visit to London.

Put simply it’s a huge market located next to Camden lock. And it is big. I really can’t think of much you can’t get there. Now I hate shopping (like most guys I know), but I can happily spend a day exploring the labyrinthine passages of the market. And I rarely leave without a bargain. There’s a great selection of street food, from all over the world when you are hungry, so it is worth making your visit a day trip. On this occasion we arrived around mid-day and left well after 5:00. There was still time to see the Christmas lights and Winter Wonderland (it has to be done!!) in London.

The picture above is a street view, pretty much as you arrive in Camden Town. The market is located next to Camden Lock – hard to miss (below).

Have you been to Camden Market? Drop a comment below and let me know your experience.

Camden Lock - looking down the street as you arrive in Camden Town.

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Trafalgar Square. By Night! And Now Its 2019.

And Now It’s 2019

Where did 2018 go? Now it’s 2019, and a belated Happy New Year to all.

Our 2018 is probably best described as tumultuous. An unusual mix of highs and lows and general family chaos, though that is quite normal. The year was largely filled with great times spent with family and friends and some unexpected events. Between kids (adult) getting married, having babies (we became grandparents for the first time) and visiting friends and family the year got busy!

The Christmas period marked the first time in some years that the whole family was together. As we started to prepare for that, around the end of November I decided to take a blogging holiday until the new year.

I stopped doing anything on this blog and on most social media. Trying to find the time amidst work changes and all of that family activity was simply becoming very stressful, and there was a need to review the blog and ask some serious questions.

Should I just shut it down? Should I change track and blog about something else? Or do I need to simply improve what I am writing about?

Actually I put a lot of time into looking at the technology. That’s my overlap with blogging, of course. I run IT for a manufacturing group. In that position I have become very involved with various aspects of cloud computing, including, and especially, the classic “access any time from anywhere” idea. With the right apps and a smartphone the Gutenberg editor and a bluetooth keyboard make an interesting blogging platform (when Gutenberg actually works), among other things! Of course I am also a long time Linux fan.

In short, One of my hurdles in blogging was not making best use of the tech in order to best use my spare time.

So the plan going forward is to focus more on the “people like us”, i.e. getting older, still in the 9 to 5, limited travel (and tech) budget (and time), but a wish to travel, take photos and enjoy good food.

Add in some technology, maybe in a sister blog and hopefully you will read and enjoy.

New Content

My Trello boards and photo albums are full of content. Now it’s a matter of getting it out there. Here’s a little sample, starting with a bit of madness: we went to Trafalgar Square. At night. Who does that 🙂 !