Switzerland Travel Guide
The airport in Zurich, Switzerland is apparently so completely decked out and prepared for the holidays, that they’re eager to show off the decorations to everyone. That includes those who aren’t necessarily flying, as the airport is opening up to the public for holiday shopping.
The Airside Center of the airport is usually only available to those holding tickets for same-day flight; however, this season that’s going to change. Anyone is welcome over two weekends, and the second and final one is coming up on December 13 and 14 between 6am to 10pm—we missed the first one last weekend.
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Talk about Swiss precision!
On August 30 and again on September 6, a SWISS International Air Lines Airbus A330, flanked by six Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighter jets of the Patrouille Suisse, whizzed above a crowd of approximately 50,000 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Swiss Air Force and 50th Anniversary of its aerobatic division. It was only one flying display within the AIR14 PAYERNE air show but, for such an occasion, SWISS brought out the big cameras (38 in total!) to create a short "pilots' view" film.
The videography and editing which went into the production of the video is simply spectacular, and it seems the internet agrees; the video has only been posted to YouTube for a couple days, and already it's just short of 50,000 views.
View of Lake Zurich from Old Town Rapperswil
Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. Last week, we stopped in Appenzell in the Prealps, and today we're headed to the lakeside community of Rapperswil for a taste of Upstate New York.
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One of the biggest decisions that U.S. travelers to Europe have to make is whether to purchase a pre-planned rail pass or to wait and buy single-journey tickets on the go. On our recent trip to Switzerland with a focus on the greater Zurich area, we used a Swiss Pass to travel between the small towns and villages.
Below, we break down the cost versus the benefits of the pass.
Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. Last week, we stopped in St. Gallen near the borders of Germany and Austria, and today we're headed to the rural hillsides of Appenzell in the Prealps.
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You know you need to eat an Olma bratwurst, but here's an even better tip to ensure you eat well in St. Gallen: Seek out restaurants that are located on the 2nd floor of a building (or in European terms, the 1st floor). One of the fun facts of the town is that, in the past, all restaurants were built one floor up from ground level, and are today known as traditional "First Floor Restaurants."
Back in the day, when the town was just beginning in the seventh century, things were not as they are today. Roads were dusty, the ground damp, and trash collection was not yet a weekly service. It wasn't the most ideal situation to build living quarters and kitchens, and so the Swiss brought their residential dwellings and, eventually, their restaurants, up one floor off the ground. In the Old Town of St. Gallen, up the stairs is where you'll find the town's traditional restaurants.
Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. This week, we'll take you on a ride out of town for a few easy day trips, starting with St. Gallen near the borders of Germany and Austria.
St. Gallen is 50 miles from Zurich, accessible by a train ride of just over an hour from the airport or main train station. The fare is approximately $40 one-way and trains run consistently throughout the day. You can purchase tickets at the station or in advance online.
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Tomorrow, we'll start to spill the beans on a few day trip ideas when making your home base in Zurich, one of which being the town of St. Gallen. Everyone knows part of Europe's appeal lies in its long history as compared to that of the U.S., and it is in St. Gallen that you can get a glimpse of a medieval monastery library, one that's in very damn good condition with over 150,000 books (30,000 on display).
The library in the Cathedral Abbey of Saint Gall was built in 710 and now contains about 400 books that are 1,000 years old. Regardless of what's inside of them (none are in English but all are historical texts of different varieties), it's pretty amazing they've survived that many generations. Another ridiculous artifact it houses is the earliest known architectural drawn on parchment, fittingly of the Abbey itself. The Library was remodeled in the 18th century and became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1983.
In this edition of Street Food Friday, we take a look at some of the common national dishes of Switzerland. This list is a general one, as most of the following can be found throughout the entire country. Our travels were focused on the greater Zurich area, and next week, we’ll highlight some local specialties when we feature a series of easy day trips to the villages outside the city, dishes that add a big dose of personality to these basic favorites:
In the Prealps that surround the Swiss town of Appenzell is an even smaller summit village called Ebenalp. Sitting at just over a mile above sea level, it is more of a wilderness area than any sort of established village, accessible either via foot or cable car from the Wasserauen train station.
Amongst the hiking trails and rolling hills is a mountain restaurant slash hostel called Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, a popular place with both tourists and locals looking for food and drink at altitude. As you can see in the photo, the setting is absolutely gorgeous, and it's almost impossible to pass through without having a drink on the patio that overlooks the ridge.
When this writer stepped off the train yesterday in Appenzell, the scenery I encountered was exactly what I had always pictured Switzerland to look like in the spring: Rolling hills of dairy farms, a small charming village, a couple cows, and the color green. It looked more like a fairy tale come to life than reality, something that brought an unstoppable smile to my face.
It's my first time in Switzerland, and one of my favorite parts of travel is seeing the expectations unfold one way or another. When I landed in Zurich, I was reminded of many of the other European cities I have visited. But as the train left the city limits, the scenery changed drastically as I entered the Swiss Prealps you see in the distance from Zurich.
This news comes Just in time for allergy season, as there's one airline doing its best to keep passengers from sneezing and sniffling. SWISS just became the first carrier to be classified as allergy-friendly, but just don’t expect them to be busting out HEPA filters between flights.
Basically they’re adding a few new features to both their goodies on the ground and up in the air, as they’re trying their best to help those suffering from allergies when and where they can. Partnering with the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation will help SWISS to decide what allergy-free means for in-flight service, although the first moves seem to be the addition of lactose- and gluten-free food and beverage options on the in-flight menu. Alternative coffee creamer and a different chocolate bar will be just a couple of the new options, yum.