Archive for the ‘travel journal’ Category
This is it—I’ve reached MONTH 11, yes eleven—in a full year of around the world travel. How can I even begin to describe the adventures? While I write about some of my favorite experiences in bite sized chunks, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Attempting to share everything I saw and did—now that’s proving to be quite a challenge. My mind is filled with so many impressions and facts…I’m looking forward to spending some time reflecting on everything, and of course delving into the huge photo library we’ve compiled over this journey—roughly 65,000 photos so far!
But first comes Fiji, a place I’ve always dreamed of going, and appropriately, the final destination is this giant adventure. It’s been one year, 4 continents, 27 countries, and over 200 cities—and what a year it’s been!
We’re taking a short hiatus while we soak up some sun and sand, but stay tuned for more adventures soon!
Buenos Aires is an exciting city. For starters, it’s home to the sultry tango. Its buildings seem to have been splashed with all colors of the rainbow and turned into open canvases for some of the world’s best graffiti art. There’s a whisper of European flavor to the city, with strong Italian and Spanish roots that have produced great things, among them top notch helado. Plus the city is packed with steakhouses and everywhere you turn are steaming empanadas. Here you can watch a tango show in the park over cold cervezas, shop in street markets for hidden gems, stay out till dawn in the city’s many hopping nightclubs, and just wander about enjoying the relaxed vibe.
St. Gallen, tucked away in Switzerland’s northwestern corner, turned out to be a culinary slice of heaven. This city has it all—classic and modern architecture, a vast historical legacy, a focus on fashion, UNESCO world heritage sights and an emphasis on good food.
Monastery Haute Cuisine
Hands down, the most unique meal in town is the St. Gallus haute cuisine dining experience at Gaststuben zum Schlössli, a restored castle in the heart of St. Gallen’s old town with themed dining rooms.
Most people have heard of Zurich, the Matterhorn or Geneva. But St. Gallen? The name generally draws blank stares. Yet Switzerland’s northeastern capital is charming, foodie focused, relaxed, and blissfully tourist free.
I rode the train from Lucerne to St. Gallen, which turned out to be an incredibly scenic journey. It cut through green expanses of fertile valleys filled with grazing cows below big fluffy clouds in a brilliant blue sky, all surrounded by mountain peaks crowned with snow. Crossing rivers and curving past multiple lakes, this has got to be one of the best ways to see Switzerland, especially since traveling from one end of the country to the other doesn’t usually take more than a few hours.
Somehow the days just keep getting better. This morning I opened the windows to find a spectacular sunshine-filled view of Lake Lucerne, a welcome surprise after a few stormy days, and the perfect weather for an ascent up Mount Rigi, a must-see highlight to any trip through Switzerland. The peak of Mt. Rigi is visible from Lucerne’s city center on a clear day, easily recognizable by its pointed control tower antennae in the distance.
Lucerne, located in central Switzerland at the foot of the Swiss Alps, is simply stunning. From the minute I stepped off the train and caught a glimpse of Lake Lucerne, reflecting snow capped peaks in its swan-filled waters—the city perched at its edge—I was smitten.
The train from Lausanne to Gruyères cut through vineyards, golden in the morning sunshine, with just the slightest hint of snow accenting all the mediterranean colors. The train wound its way up and up through the grape fields, rising high over Lake Geneva, until the vineyards became stacked layers balancing over the lake, seeming ready to spill right into the water. It was a landscape just like this that first enchanted me with Switzerland. As the train made a final turn inland toward Gruyères, the landscape changed entirely, and suddenly everything was coated in a layer of snow—even the cows and sheep.
Today I visited La Maison du Gruyère (The House of Gruyère), a cheese dairy near Gruyères, Switzerland in the Fribourg countryside, where you can learn the entire cheese making process and do a cheese tasting afterwards!
Milk from Cows who Vacation in the Swiss Alps
It all starts with milk, from cows who spend their summers feeding on grass up in the Swiss alps, a vital part of Swiss culture marked with colorful traditions (see more about this below under “Fast Facts”). Gruyère cheese is still made according to a traditional recipe dating back to 1115 AD. At the cheese dairy, the milk is delivered by farmers twice a day and the cheese is made 3-4 times a day. You can watch the entire process and see the cheese makers at work—a perfect way to immerse yourself in Swiss culture.
I was drawn to Lausanne by a distant memory. Back in my college days when I was studying abroad in Italy, I took an overnight train to either Barcelona or Paris. On the way I remember waking up early in the morning and looking out the train window. I was so stunned by the beautiful view that it’s still etched in my mind. The day was crystal clear and there was a big blue lake, reflecting the sky and snow capped mountains in its waters. The hills were exploding with green and tumbled straight onto the water’s shore. I looked for a sign of where we were: Lausanne. I vowed to come back here one day, stop, and linger, instead of just passing through.
Finally today I caught a train back to Lausanne.
We caught the (too) early morning Glacier Express train out of Zermatt. This time the scenery was completely different: it had gone from fall to winter overnight and now it was all snow covered trees and even snow-laden cows! Signs were piled high with a dusting of powdered snow, all the rocks had snow mounds stacked on them. When the train reached Lake Geneva’s wine country, some of the vines stacked on the hills were even covered in snow, their golden leaves peeking out beneath the white.