Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Laax


This will probably be my last post this season about the Swiss ski resorts. From the three resorts I've visited, Laax is definitely the biggest. we had a company winter event there and I joined the winter walk activity.



Laax is on much higher altitude than Klosters and you can really feel it - the temperatures are much lower and the wind can be really chilly, especially if you are riding on an open ski lift. So be prepared!

Snow cannons ready when needed
The views were really magnificent and there are many restaurants up on the slopes, some of which were very crowded though. We went up using gondolas and also hiked about on hour, had lunch and then walked down for about 2.5 hours. Unfortunately I don't know which trail we exactly took because we had a guide with us. Walking with a guide was really great experience because he was explaining how  the climate change has impacted the area, different geological formations and the traditional lifestyle in Graubünden mountains. If you ever have a chance, then use a local guide there.

Gondola station / restaurant



Friday, March 3, 2017

Winter wonderland in Klosters


Klosters is a ski resort next to Davos. It's much bigger than Braunwald that I visited a week before. Again, I went for a snowshoe hike. There are no official snowshoe hikes starting from Klosters. The official snowshoe hiking trails are accessible from Dörfli. You can find the resort map here.

Klosters


I went to the tourist info and they recommended me to just go along the winter hike trail from Klosters to Schifer. And this is what I did. At least in the beginning. Soon I decided that since I do have snowshoes I should actually use them and I decided to follow a summer hiking trail.

Winter hike trail


In the beginning it was all very nice but then the trail merged into a ski trail and I couldn't go further on it. Instead of walking the same way back I decided to keep the elevation I had gained and go back to the winter hike trail over the snowy hillsides.


Hiking off-road
Soon I faced streams and steep hill sides where it was impossible to get through. So I ended up doing a really big round and there were sections where I really had to climb on all fours :)
In the end everything ended up well but unless you are very adventurous spirit I wouldn't recommend it :)


When going down I followed a summer biking route and that was really nice. I ended up in Serneus and took a bus back to Klosters.


View from biking trail

Cute houses in Serneus

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Enjoying winter in Braunwald, Glarus

Flag of Glarus
If you are in Switzerland in winter then there is no excuse for not going to the mountains. Even if you don't ski, most of the resorts have other activities that you can do - sledging, hiking, snow shoe hiking. You just need to do a little research before you go. Snow show hiking was exactly what we did a week ago in Braunwald.

The day trip served two purposes - enjoy the winter in mountains and visit another canton in my Swiss Cantons Challenge list. Braunwald is medium size ski resort and about 1.5 hours train ride away from Zürich.


The trail for snow shoe hiking was also meant for regular hiking. So in order to really take advantage of having snow shoes we made some short cuts over the snow. There were also sections where the trail was shared with skiers.

Hiking trail

It took us about 2 hours to walk up to Gumen and have lunch there. It was nice to sit and relax in the sun.


Skiers are having lunch


Para-gliders in action
Wonderful winter views

Monday, February 20, 2017

Orlando in one day

Disney Springs
Recently I was on a business trip to Orlando, Florida. I was there only for couple of days but had luckily the whole Saturday to see the area. What can I say about Orlando? If you are not a big Disney fan then there's really no reason why you should go there. The whole area is full of different Disney-related parks.

You can probably guess that I don't fall into Disney fan category. But since I was already there I tried to find other things to do. I did go to Disney Springs one evening. It is an area with bars, restaurants, shops, cinemas and other entertainment. Below are some photos.



The only alligator I saw during my trip (unfortunately a fake one)


What did I do on Saturday? I decided to go to Orlando Art Museum and to Harry P. Leu Gardens. They are located quite close to each other (about 30 minutes walking). Also, around the art museum there is a nice walking trail that guides you to the Botanical Gardens but I didn't have enough time to go there.

Art Museum
It took me a little bit more than an hour to go through the museum. They have quite good collection of 17th to 19th century American art, plus temporary exhibitions. If you are in the area then I definitely recommend to go but I wouldn't go to Orlando especially for the art museum.

Very close to the art museum is a smaller museum - The Mennello Museum of American Art. It is really small. It takes less than 30 minutes to see it all but they have nice small garden around the building where you can relax.


The Mennello Museum

The Mennello Museum
Harry P Leu was a lot into traveling and collecting plants, especially camellias. The garden mainly has a huge collection of different camellias but also other exotic plants. For kids there are life-size dinosaur sculptures here and there in the garden with some informative boards next to them. You can also visit the house with a guided tour. The house is kept in 1930-s style and the guide does really good job in explaining what you see and also the history of the estate. In total I spent there about 2.5 hours. In the heat of the day the trees offer nice shade and there are plenty of benches where you can just sit and relax. I wouldn't say that this was the most spectacular garden I've visited but it was still nice and relaxing way to spend time.




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Swiss Cantons Challenge. Zug

Lake Zug

A week ago we decided to add one more canton to my "Visited cantons" list. We decided to go to Zug because there was a carnival (Fasnacht) in a small town called Baar. Baar is located right next to the capital of the canton which is also called Zug. The first half of the day we spent in Zug and then walked to Baar to see the carnival.



It was a perfect sunny day. The sun was so bright that it was impossible to see the other side of the lake and the mountains that are supposed to be there. The water in the lake is so clear that it amazed me.


In the modern part of Zug there's not much to see and it didn't impress me much. The older part is very nice.

Zug tower
We visited Zug Kunsthaus (art museum) which displays the works of local artists and Zug castle. there is a museum in the castle that features the history of the castle itself and the history of the city. There are some touch screens with English text but lot of information is unfortunately available only in German. Still, it was a nice visit. You can see everything within an hour.

Zug castle

Zug castle

Old pharmacy in Zug castle

Zug castle



Zug old town

Zug old town
There are some more museums in Zug so you can easily find activities for the whole day. I liked the lakeside the most though.

Lake Zug and some kids having a picnic


Carnival in Baar

Baar is about 5 km from Zug and we just followed the hiking route to walk there. Of course you can also use public transport. Not every canton in Switzerland celebrates carnival. For example, in Zürich it's not celebrated. 

Carnivals take place in many towns but not at the same time. The whole season lasts about a month. There are "carnival societies" in all those towns (several per town) who prepare for the next carnival the whole year. They all wear the same costume and since it would be a pity to just wear it for one carnival, they travel around in Switzerland from one carnival to the other. In Baar there were several groups even from Germany. 

There are live music performances, hot wine and punch, raclette, sausages and other street food. The highlight is the parade where all those carnival societies can show off their year-long efforts. There are lot of people coming to see it and the paraders really enjoy it as much as they can. This also includes bullying the audience a little bit. For example hitting them with brooms or other devices. I got hit several times and one witch also put some confetti into my boots. 

And now some photos:

Tough Swiss men who are not afraid of cold