Monday, 30 June 2014

Discovering Switzerland (and Liechtenstein!)

Switzerland in my imagination was always like 'Neverland' (from Peter Pan's tale) meaning: a wonderful place where people would dream about going there and (why not?) living there, forever!
During all these years I've been living here in Europe (it already counts 7 years!) I didn't have the opportunity to go there because there were no cheap flights going there (at least from Poland) and no optimal train connections neither. Additionally, I didn't have any friends in there. So, a trip to Switzerland would be expensive and unjustified since there were still so many beautiful places to visit which were much nearer to my location and reachable for much less money, so I kept Switzerland on the bottom of my destinations list (together with Liechtenstein).
Finally, I now managed to gather some essential ingredients for a trip to Switzerland, which were:
  • A FAST CAR
  • HEAVY METAL CDS (Including Rammstein, Motorhead, Soilwork...)
  • FRIENDS IN SWITZERLAND
  • MONEY
The Swiss dream became then something achievable!! The sound of inevitability was ringing in my head: Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire! Go!

Interlaken

The first place to visit was Interlaken, a paradise town between two lakes (and hence its name) and surrounded by many peaks with infrastructure for tourists. I regret I spent only 2 nights there, now I know that a recommended minimum is 4 nights.

The most "mainstream" peaks are the Jungfrau (the top of Europe), which has the highest train station in Europe (above 3000 meters above sea level) and Schiltorn (where a James Bond movie was recorded in the 70's). These two attractions are very expensive and full of tourists (especially from China).

There are several other peaks with breathtaking views which not necessarily must be above clouds, right? This photo of the valley above was taken from the village of "Murren" which was an alternative to Schiltorn or Jungfrau (since these are terrible choices on a cloudy day).

Another choice for a cloudy day would be Niederhorn, with 0 tourists, nice view, still bellow the clouds. Nice photos can be taken from there too:




These photos were taken in Niederhorn. Absolutely, no tourists. If you are searching for relaxation, this attraction is really good!

I already miss Interlaken. I shall go back there some day. For now, the trip goes on. Next stop: Zurich!

Zurich

Not the best place for a tourist! I had difficulties to park a car in a residential area. I was riding in circles with my car for nearly half-hour searching for a place to park (even in a place a far from the city center!). The public transportation is not 24-hour, no night buses neither. If you miss your transport back, you need to get a taxi.
It's better to go there to work for a bank and make some money. Because the night life is weak and the city isn't so vibrating. I can say I was frustrated a bit. Definitely, not my cup of tea. I'm too young for that city and I guess I will still be for few decades. :P


However, if you happen to have spare days in Zurich, don't miss the astronomical observatory! I was there and I could see the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Mercury. The visible planets on a given night may vary. Try to pick a day which you can see at least the Moon and Saturn. These two are the most fascinating to see on a telescope! :)

St. Gallen

This city has a plus! It's close to the Bodensee lake which is located between Germany and Switzerland.
St. Gallen itself may not be such a vibrating city but is charming and it's situated close enough to the town of Constance (Konstanz in German) which is much more vibrating during summer.

 
There is a recreational area uphill which has three small lakes which people use for bathing (for free). There is a small infra-structure like toilet and beverage's shop. Check it out: Drei Weihern

Other attraction in St. Gallen is the local brewery Schutzengarten, also open for visitation. Two nights is the optimal amount of time to save for St. Gallen.

Liechtenstein (Vaduz)


This is technically not Switzerland but is kind of. The currency is the same (CHF) and there is nearly no border crossing indication between the countries. There's only a mere bridge with a discreet flag at the end of with, indicating that you are entering Liechtenstein.

The capital, Vaduz, is not the biggest city but is definitely the one more visited by tourists since the castle of the royal family is there. I had a funny situation when asking the lady in the information desk if there are some tours to the castle. She answered me: "The castle can't be visited. It's private." --  as if I wouldn't know that the royal family lives in there! -- but, I insisted: "I know, I just want a closer view to the castle.", and then she showed the way to follow on foot between the trees to get to the castle but I ended going for a beer instead. Eh... no mood for climbing hills under such severe sun. :)

Well, I will go back to Switzerland some day. I still need to visit Matterhorn and Mont Blanc mountains, as well as the cities: Geneva and Bern.

Cya!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Porsche Museum (Stuttgart, DE)

When I thought about going to Switzerland I quickly had the idea that I could use the German autobahns and spend a night in Stuttgart so I could then visit the Porsche museum.
Porsche cars are legendary. When I was a young boy, the two car makers most spoken of were Ferrari and Porsche. Some Japanese cars can be cheaper and quite fast too but it's not only about the speed we are talking here. It's about the tradition! Porsche 911 model had its 50 years anniversary few years ago and I think Japan was not even in the map of gran turismo back then.
There are so many variations of the 911, but the Porsche model I like the most is the Cayman due to its central engine which gives better stability and ease when making sharp curves. Ok, I've never driven one of it yet but I read about it a lot and I also see the opinions of car testers from different YouTube channels. I will do a test-drive before buying it, for sure, but I need to raise the money first. :)

The photo above is of an 1997 model of the Porsche 911 GT1, one of the pieces I liked the most when visiting the museum. 

Below, see the photo of my current desire: The Cayman S. Why not? :)




... but not yellow. ;)

For full album of photos from the Porsche Museum, click here!

The entrance ticket to the museum is 8 EUR and is worth seeing when visiting Stuttgart. There is also a cool souvenir shop which is accessible without the museum ticket.


Thanks for reading!