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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.
Rail Passes / Train Travel / Switzerland Travel / Zurich Travel / Europe Travel / Budget Travel / → All Tags
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.
Street Food Friday / Travel Tips / Food Travel / Switzerland Travel / St. Gallen Travel / → All Tags
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.
Historical Travel / Museum Travel / Switzerland Travel / St. Gallen Travel / Zurich Travel / Unesco World Heritage Sites / Cathedral Abbey of Saint Gall / → All Tags
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.
Fitness Travel / Running / Running Travel / New York City / Singapore Travel / Taipei Travel / Events / China Travel / Switzerland Travel / Hong Kong Travel / Vietnam Travel / Marathons / Skyscrapers / Architecture Travel / → All Tags
Lace up your runners and stretch out your hamstrings because though it might be winter outside, we have a good reason to keep up your fitness through the season and throw in some travel as well. From New York to Singapore, there are more options to race your heart out with Vertical World Circuit's stair running world tour.
Here are the details: the seven-race circuit of events begins in New York and circles the globe as racers ascend the stairs of some world's most iconic skyscrapers, all in the name of fitness and to have a crack at coming in first place.
Sex Travel / Switzerland Travel / Zurich Travel / Brothels / Naked Travel / Nude Travel / Weird Travel / → All Tags
While Americans debates whether their tax dollars should go to publically fund universal healthcare, the Swiss voted to saddle up and spend $2.6 million on a drive-in prostitution facility.
Legal in the country since 1942, the so-called “sex boxes” are the response to an on-going problem with the sex industry in certain neighborhoods throughout the city of Zurich. The facility is located away from the city center and serves as a bit of a safe haven for prostitutes and their clients.
The details are pretty incredible. The sex boxes, open “daily” from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., are adjoined to a facility that is staffed by city social workers to look after the women. According to the AP, the sex workers must register with the city and “obtain a special permit, at a cost of 40 Swiss francs ($43) a year, and pay 5 francs ($5.40) a night in taxes, which helps the city offset maintenance costs.”
Videos / Zurich Travel / ZRH / Time-Lapse / Swiss Air / Switzerland Travel / → All Tags
Today's Tuesday and, since we've successfully started another week, it's time to celebrate with a cool video. We could come up with a cutesy series like Tilt-shift or Time-Lapse Tuesday, but whatever we call it, the result is the same: a vid with lots of planes! This time around, it's SWISS' time-lapse romp of happy planes taking off and landing on a sunny morning at Zurich International Airport.
As expected, the video is filled with "pluses," both literally and figuratively. The first plus is watching planes of all shapes and sizes zip by the camera lens on their way to a gate or a new destination. Filmed with tilt-shift capabilities, the aircraft look as if they're all part of a tiny, model airport and make us feel as though we're kids again.