Tag Archives: lake

Travel update

9 Mar

Greetings from Iquique in Chile! A few of you have been in contact and have been wondering how we have been getting on in South America so far. I will write more when I am home (I have been keeping my diary up to date) but so far, so good.

I did have a few really bad reactions to mosquito bites in Iguazu and Sao Paulo and a bit of sunburn in Boliva, but apart from that healthwise, we are both fine.

Here is a short summary of what we have been up to so far:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

I arrived here in what seems like an age ago. Markus was very excited to see me and promptly walked the legs off me, showing me everything that he had discovered in the seven weeks previously. We will be back again to Buenos Aires at the end of the trip but my first impressions were that it is a really nice city. It’s not quite was I was expecting, with large open spaces and lots of public areas. It will be nice to come back here at the end of the trip.

Iguazu, Argentina and Brazil

I love waterfalls and I am slowly ticking off the biggest and the best in world one by one. We had heard differing reviews about which side is the best side to see the Falls from, so we saw it from both. Water is such a powerful, beautiful thing. Unfortunately, when we were there, the weather wasn’t great and we did get a bit wet but we would have got wet from the spray from the waterfall anyway so it didn’t matter much. Plus, as a Brit, I never leave home without waterproofs!

Sao Paulo, Brasil

This stop-over was never part of the original plan but we stopped here because the route was easier to take. The problem was that Portuguese and Spanish are quite different languages. We had no idea what people were saying most of the time. I was pleasantly surprised by the city. There seemed to be quite a lot to do and there is a lot of history surrounding the city. Unfortunately, there is a huge problem with homelessness here.

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

We hardly saw any other tourists here (maybe 3 other couples?). There were some interesting things happening in the main square and the colonial past of the city was quite apparent. We visited a wildlife centre where you could really get up close to exotic birds, butterflies and tarantulas, which I loved.

Cochabamba, Bolivia

Most tourist only visit Cochabamba to see the statue of Jesus Christ which overlooks the city. It is in fact bigger than the statue in Rio, on which it is modelled. We also visited the market, which is the largest open-air market in the whole of Latin America, and Laguna Angostura, where we enjoyed a nice lunch of fish and chips on the lake.

La Paz, Bolivia

Arriving in El Alto airport at 4,000m above sea level feels like you have been slapped around the face with a brick. It took me a while to adjust to it but I was glad of the cooler temperature for a few days. Here we took a free walking tour where we learnt a lot about the city and the politics of Bolivia. I was amazed that instead of trams, you have to take a cable car. What a commute that must be!

We also saw traditional Bolivian wrestling which was an experience. As we were up in the mountains and there was a Swiss Fondue restaurant, we had to indulge a bit in some home food comforts.

Uyuni, Bolivia

Another bucket list was ticked off my list when we visited Salar De Uyuni. I have wanted to go here for longer than I can remember. Armed with wellies and a camera, we set off to explore. It was like being on another planet – so calm and dream like. It far exceeded my expectations. We also waited there until sunset; just magical!

Oruro, Bolivia

This is THE place to be in Bolivia for Carnival time. We were obviously a bit too late for carnival but we did manage to see the statue of the Virgin Mary (which you can’t really miss) and some silver mines. We actually went into the silver mine with the president of the cooperative. It was a bit unnerving and I spent most of the time wondering if they had passed a health and safety inspection so that tourist can visit. Answer: definitely not. There is more to explain about this experience and I will promise to update you soon!

And that is us about up to date. As I said we are now in Iquique in Chile, enjoying the warmer weather and the amazing seafood on offer.

I will write again soon to let you know that we are still alive and enjoying life.

Until next time, or as we say here, Hasta luego!

Exploring Switzerland

23 Jul

Some of my expat friends complain when family members or friends come to stay with them in Switzerland because it means that they have to entertain them and find suitable things to do with them.

I have no such problem. When people come and visit it means that I can explore Switzerland more and go to back to places that I like and would like to visit again.

As my mother has been visiting for the past week, I have been back to some of my favourite places and have seen some parts of Switzerland that I have not been to before. Earlier this week we went to Konstanz in Germany and Luzern. The trip to Konstanz was an out-and-out shopping trip. Lots of people who live in Switzerland take a trip over the border to shop and it is a lot cheaper than in Switzerland. Last time my mum was here, we also took a day trip to Konstanz. We took the train because there was a cheap fare available. I have found out that going with another person means that you can carry twice as much back. The weather was lovely and we did manage to snap up a few bargains. My fridge is the fullest it has been for a long time and I managed to buy a new pair of Nike trainers for less than 70 Euros.

We also enjoyed lovely weather in Luzern, while we wondered around the Old Town and had a look in some of the shops. There is a beautiful lake in the centre of the city but unfortunately we didn’t have time to take a boat trip on the lake. Hopefully, we can take a trip there next time.

We also took the Bernina Express. This was a first for me and was something that I was looking forward to even since I booked the trip. The Bernina Express is a train/bus journey starting in Chur which travels through the mountains and across the border into Tirano in Italy. From there, there is a bus which travels from Tirano through Italy, along the coast of Lake Como and to Lugano, in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.

On Thursday we got up really early to travel from Zürich to get to Chur in time to make the Bernina Express at 08.32. The train was comfortable and had the advantage of having panoramic windows so that you can see the whole of the mountains from your seat. The scenery was spectacular: green fields, glaciers, farm houses, gushing rivers. The weather was a little bit overcast, as you can see from the pictures, but I think that this just added to the mysterious nature of the mountains.


I guess one of the disadvantages of public travel is other passengers. We were unfortunate to be sitting next to a woman who loved the sound of her own voice and had to comment on everything for four and a half hours. It takes that Hollywood shine off the majestic landscape with someone saying “Oh isn’t it lovely?” in a really strong South African accent. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site so lovely doesn’t even cover it.

We arrived in Tirano and found our hotel. The town was lovely. The architecture is so different from Switzerland and the atmosphere and mentality is slightly different as well, which is strange considering how close we were to Switzerland. It was quickly apparent that there was not a lot to do in the town and we had walked from end to end within about 20 minutes. 24 hours was definitely too long to stay in the town, especially when there was only one restaurant that was open in the evening. It was as if the town only existed at midday when the majority of the tourists were arriving for a few hours and then leaving on trains to get to somewhere else.

Nevertheless, it was a relaxing time, walking around the town and soaking in the atmosphere. We can also say that we ate the worse lasanga of our lives in the evening. And, yes, this was Italy. Luckily there was a nice bar that we found (I think the only bar that we had seen the whole time we were there) and we could enjoy some nice beers and snacks.


The next day we took the bus from Tirano, across Italy to Lugano, Switzerland. I was a little bit disappointed by this leg of the trip because of the iterinary. I imagined that we would stop at Lake Como as we drove through Italy so that we could at least take a phtoto but we stopped before the start of the lake to have a coffee and use the toilet and then carried on straight through. Because we were on the right hand side of the coach, we didn’t get to appreciate the view of the lake (which was on the left hand side).

We arrived in Lugano in the early evening and took the train to the hotel that we were staying in. Because of the remoteness of the hotel, we then had to take a taxi to get up to the hotel. I hadn’t realised until a few days before we were due to travel that there were only 2 buses up to the hotel each day. So if you missed them, it was taxi time! It was a bit of a pain but the views of the Lake Lugano were stunning. Overall, I wasn’t so impressed with the hotel and I am still debating about whether to write a formal complaint about our stay. I am not sure what it will achieve which is why I am hesitating but as some of the service was not as I expected, I think that I will be writing in the next day or so. If it falls on deaf ears, so be it.

The next day we took the bus back down the mountain. To the delight of my mum, the bus had an unusual horn which is specific to Switzerland. You can hear it yourself here. The sound of the horn was definitely needed as the bus made it’s way down the mountain side.

We spent the morning and the early afternoon exploring Lugano. The lake is spectaular and lots of people were enjoying the excellent weather by hiring boats and pedalos. The town itself is not very big but it was nice to get lost in the many intertwining cobbled streets and sitting out in the sunshine to get some Vitamin D.


We arrived back in Zürich in the early evening. Just in time to enjoy dinner on the balcony before a huge storm, with epic thunder and lightning, hit. So much for the good weather lasting…

Birthday visitor

13 Sep

One of my good friends from home, Jenny, came over to stay with me for my birthday. It was such a surprise when she asked me months and months ago if it was ok if she came. It felt like a lifetime ago wait until she was here but before I knew it, it was time for me to be a year older and she had arrived.

Here are some of the things that we did while she was visiting.


After arriving at the main station we stopped for a few beers and when hunger hit we moved to Zeughauskeller, which is a lovely, but quite touristy, restaurant that serves traditional Swiss food.

Jenny didn’t need a lot of convincing to join me in trying a Corden Bleu, which is pork, ham and cheese in breadcrumbs with French fries. It went down a treat and so did the mass of beer that we both had. I’ll be honest I had to use two hands to pick it up! We also had a dessert, which was about the size of a UFO to follow. It hit the spot though!

Jenny's dessert!

Jenny’s dessert!

Biking and the lake

On the Tuesday, we hired some bikes and went cycling around the lake. It was the first time that I had been on a bike in a decade I think. I was a bit wobbly at the start of the day but as the day progressed it got a lot easier. Having said that it wasn’t too much fun when I managed to fall off the bike and into a hedge because I was trying to avoid a parked car. My chain slipped off as well because I was messing about with the gears when we were stopped looking at the scenery. I still don’t understand the gears on the bike. It’s a lot easier driving because you can hear when that the engine is struggling and, consequently, when you need to change gear. On a bike I always think that I’m not fit enough which is why I’m finding it tough going and not because I should change down gears!

The day couldn’t have been more perfect. The sunshine was out and it was about 28 degrees. We cycled from the main train station to Thawil and then got the ferry from Thawil to Rapperswil. In Rapperswil, we stopped for lunch at a nice pizza place that I have been to a few times before. There is also a medieval castle in Rapperswil that we looked round and they have some deer as well. It was idyllic. We then cycled from Rapperswil to Stäfa, where we stopped for a swim in the lake. Swimming in the lake has fast become one of my favourite things to do in the summer; the only problem is that I felt that I didn’t make the most of the lake swimming while I had the chance. I will do next year though! We caught the train back home and dropped the bikes off. I looked on googlemaps and saw that we had cycled about 25km, which isn’t too bad when you considered how long it had been since I had ridden a bike.

It was great fun. We both enjoyed it, even though we were both a little sore the next day.


Our bikes for the day, parked up as we have a well deserved break at a cafe


Night out with friends

After the cycling and swimming, we joined some of my friends for some drinks. I celebrated my birthday at 12 midnight on the dot with tequila! We partied into the early hours of the night and had a fantastic time. I am sure that there are a lot of pictures and videos somewhere but fortunately I don’t have any of them so I can put up a link to them

Exploring the city

Jenny and I spent the next day exploring the city. Again, the weather was perfect which helped our enjoyment of the city. Like most places, Zurich isn’t quite as nice when it isn’t basking in the sunshine. But we were lucky. It was nice to show someone round (and we discovered that I actually know quite a few facts about the city – maybe guided tours could be a sideline for me if I ever need it) and it meant that I was a tourist in the place that I live. I can’t remember the last time I wandered the streets and just had a look around. We went to Grossmünster, which is a reformed church in the Old Town of Zurich, and to St Peter’s Church, which has the biggest clock face in Switzerland.

We also wandered around the shops but it was more like window shopping because of the famous and expensive names on Bahnhofstrasse!

Jenny was kind enough to buy me lunch for my birthday and we found a lovely Italian restaurant that I have never been to before. The food was lovely. And the company was even better!

It hadn’t felt all that long since I was meeting Jenny at the station but it was soon time for her to go. It was sad because Jenny was the first person (apart from my mum last year) to come and stay with me and because she had flown over for my birthday, it was extra special. It makes me realize how much I miss people from home. I hope that she had as much fun as I did.

Jenny also bought me some presents from home; things that you can’t get that easily over here, including about 1,500 tea bags! I have worked out that if I drink 3 cups of tea a day, these tea bags will last about 15 months. So I’d best get drinking!

Birthday dinner

I went to Ascot with Jon for my birthday meal. Ascot is a lovely restaurant in the city and probably my favourite. We went all out and had the surf and turf: a 300g steak, prawns and a lobster tail. It was delicious and perfectly rounded off an excellent few days.

Where we stopped for a swim, Lake Zurich

Where we stopped for a swim, Lake Zurich


ZüriSee, September 2013

5 Sep

ZüriSee, September 2013

An absolutely amazing day. Cycling round the lake, a stop for a swim and good company. Perfection personified!