What to do in Lugano in six hours?

Switzerland is tiny, but very diverse and easy to explore. In the Italian part of the country is a similar vibe as in Italy, just still organized in a swiss way.

Tessin, or Ticino as they call it, gets usually more sunshine during the year, perhaps hence the more smiley attitude of the locals.

Lugano, being the largest city in Ticino, lies on the Lake Lugano and it’s surrounded by the Lugano Prealps. Easy to approach both from Italy and other swiss cities, Lugano is a delight of the region. By swiss standards a large city, however small enough to explore by foot in just six hours.

A short walk from the train station and the breathtaking panorama reveals itself. Although it’s just 10 am the sun is burning my skin. The view is wonderful, the sky reflecting in the lake, offering a pleasant combination of colors for the eyes.


Along the lake there are plenty of benches to rest and admire the picturesque view. Besides the walk, various activities may be done, such as cruising or paddle boarding.



It’s wise to have swimmers on in case the inviting water and the sandy beach may get too hard to refuse. The ideal summer holiday setting, even though it’s not even officially summer yet. 


At lunchtime there’s no need to bother going far away, as there are several restaurants along the lake, where serving a meal comes together with the panorama as bonus. The choice may be hard though, because all of them seem cosy and the stuff very friendly.



While in Lugano, what could be the dessert if not a delicious gelato? Ice cream that tastes the best when made with Italian skill, gelato is my sweet memory of Lugano and I’d strongly recommend to try it. Yummi, yummi!

For the afternoon I thought about having a look at Monte Bre, the small mountain that’s considered one of the sunniest points in Switzerland. 


The Monte Bre funicular took me up there in a few minutes for the price of a few gelatos. The investment does well worth it. A spectacular view greets the visitors at arrival, offering plenty of spots for postcard perfect pictures.



 It is also the ideal location to serve a drink with a view at one of the restaurants. 



Heading back to the city… There is still a bit less than an hour left, just enough to briefly check out the old town of Lugano with its fancy boutiques and designer shops.

 No shopping for me, but regardless I made a complete picture of the city. With one last gelato purchased I’m happily on my way back to the train station at 4 pm. 

Tasting Romania 🇷🇴 

Probably if I haven’t lived my first 25 years in Romania I wasn’t interested to go there, as you may not be either. It’s reputation is not the greatest and is still very underrated, but it can surprise you in so many positive ways if you give it a chance.
I have my very best friends there and one of them celebrated her birthday last week. With this occasion I flew in to Bucharest, where I don’t fancy spending too much time. 

On the other hand, where her birthday gig took place is a setting out of nature documentaries. Just a few hours away from the busy capital city, in a rather remote area, lies Valea Doftanei ( Doftanei Valley).

When I say remote, it means you should be prepared for bumpy roads at some point, literally bumpy roads, especially if you take the forest road, which some tourists took by accident. 

After a good 3 hours drive we reached this peaceful spot, where it was just us, a super friendly host and the blue sky above. It didn’t take long until the uninvited guests joined us, attracted by the smell of our tasty barbecue. 

Barbecue in Romanian style is a whole ritual of bringing together several types of meat, veggies and the unforgettable tuica, which is the traditional, home made , hardcore alcohol. Food is taken seriously by Romanians , frankly, too overwhelming for me personally. The fact is that every meal is tasty, delicious and just too hard to refuse. 



As a bonus: it’s prepared with so much dedication and passion, that even the sneaky fox gets pious once it tastes it.

That weekend food played an important role in my life, however, what I was craving more was to explore a bit the nature. We did make time for this too and discovered some really nice spots. 



In the middle of nowhere has been totally amazing, I recharged my batteries, but only my own ones, as for my phone there was no need because I completely forgot to use it. No internet, no reception, no communication with the outside world. Isn’t that heaven on earth for a few days? It certainly was for me.

Although exploring the forest, dipping our feet in the ice cold creek and counting the stars on the clear sky has been amazing, on our departure day I was looking forward to the journey back to the city because we’d planned to stop at a beautiful spot that I eyed up already beforehand.



Paltinul Lake, the place we stopped at on our way back to the city, is a place that, too my shame, I didn’t even know it existed. Green grass, tall trees, blue sky reflecting in the crystal water of the lake and a friendly cow savouring it’s lunch, undisturbed by my camera. 





Pretty much the perfect scenery, but … I’d so much love to imagine that it was just the beautiful spot and no extremely loud music coming from a house nearby, no litter forgotten randomly here and there, no rotten stench of a dead dog left by the shore. Although, our nose and ears were clearly affected, we managed to put away the negative for a bit and just stare at the beauty that was lying in front of us. Maybe by next time the dead dog will disappear, the litter will be collected and the party at the house will be kept private … 

❤️ AUSTRALIA ❤️ – When a dream comes true…

The Land Down Under was ( and it will stay forever) my number 1 country to visit on my endless travel list. A childhood dream , which came true at the age of 29, after a long wait and fantasizing about . It was my birthday present from myself to myself, cause yea, I deserved it. Three wonderful weeks in the most fascinating surroundings, mind blowing nature and exciting cities, scary but yet admirable wild life and above all: amazing, truly great people. 

If you like Australia before going there, once you reach it you will completely fall in love and leaving it behind will be much harder than imagined. Such an emotional, beautiful trip, the best of all and so private, that I’ll just release a few pictures that talk for themselves, for the rest just one suggestion : go there and experience it and then  you will understand what I mean.

Darwin

   
 
Brisbane

   
   
Gold Coast

   
   
Melbourne

  

Great Ocean Road

   
   
❤️ Sydney ❤️

   
   

Hiking spot:France – view: Switzerland 

Geneva, as city is not too bad, it’s location is convenient either you wish to visit Switzerland or France. The local bus in less than 20 minutes takes you to the border and literally you walk out of the country easy as it sounds. No border officer to nag you, no formality – at least not on this lovely Wednesday. However, for a second it feels a bit like the middle of nowhere and slightly confusing but the view is interesting.

 At the cable car station, asking for directions it’s impossible not to notice a bit of the typical French arrogance, which actually makes me smile back cause my mood is too good today to be disturbed by such manners. It seems that Megan and myself are the only brave gals determined to hike up to the top of Mont Salève, which at first sight seems to be just a massive rock.

  
As we follow the trail, trying to find the well hidden signs, we realize that’s it’s not an easy hike – we are both beginners, let’s be clear about that – sweating becomes normal, some complains are hard to avoid, but overall it’s a fantastic work out. Even if the trail most of the time takes you between the trees, in the middle of the woods, at some point you reach some great viewing points and the view gives you the push you need to continue. 

   
 
The path, then some steps, the steep trail – all lead you to an unexpected sight: a village up in the mountains.

   
 
It’s quiet and away from the busy cities, all surrounded by green trees, in a picturesque setting there are several little houses, a church, a cafe and even some locals speaking decent English. I’m in a very positive way surprised! 

  

Leaving the cute village behind, our aim is the top, in order to reach it we continue on other steep paths leading to some other unexpected locations.

  
Buddhist center? Yes, that’s right, I didn’t expect to find that up there, but I enjoy this day full of discoveries. And who wouldn’t enjoy  also this beautiful nature which surrounds us?

   
    
 
I’m just wondering why all those young people we see at the destination had chosen taking the cable car instead hiking up? The satisfaction you have when you “suffered” to reach the top must be incomparable. Your legs are shaking, sweat is trickling down your back under the T-Shirt and your face is all red, but brightens up as you look down and see the perfect picture: the city, the lake, the trees, the roads, the moving cars – and you are all above them, watching in silence as if time stopped for a while.

   
    
    
 
For me time stopped for a while… I lie down, the sun burns my cheeks and I like it, I breath in  the fresh mountain air, I enjoy the French spot and I admire the Swiss view. Voila!

Zermatt – all seasons paradise – Switzerland 

As much as I may love Zürich, life in the city becomes boring at times. In such situations day trips are life savers… or mood savers. In any case, on weekends not just me, many others escape the city life and go to the mountains. I took my hiking shoes and my friend, Ania, an enormous amount of excitement, a little doze of determination for doing sport and after a 3 hours smooth train ride we arrived to the beautiful, car free mountain village of Zermatt. Not only the fresh air hit our nose, but also a few rain drops coming from the massive, dark clouds above us.

  

We must have scared away the grumpy clouds with our big laughs ’cause once we set our feet on the trail the friendly sun came out and followed us a long while during our hike.

  
  
  
Before you’d believe what a professional hiker I am, I should admit that I was tempted to stop every 2 minutes to take a pic of the view?!  … And I actually did stop to do so. Just because the nature over there it’s gorgeous, pure, beautiful and so on, so on. 

  
Still, for a daytrip from such a distance as Zürich, it’s a bit rushed, but God bless the cable car! In aprox 40 min this magic invention will take you all the way up to Matterhorn, where is winter, freezing cold, ice, wind and fog, but a special sensation, though if you take a thick jacket you will appreciate it more than I did in my thin hoodie.

  
   
  
 Is my smile convincing you to not wear winter gear in August? Maybe the ice and snow will make you think it over.

  
  
On the way back down there’s a lot more to discover than just warmer temperatures. Some cute, little lakes and the beautiful lake of Schwarzsee surrounded by the massive rocks of the mountain. Hard not to feel connected to nature in such a place. 

  
  
  
In Zermatt not only  mountains, also love is all around you! You don’t believe me? Have a look what’s up there on the balcony?!

  

  

🍀 Fascinating Ireland 🍀

In a short period of time, less than a week, it’s a little rushed to cover two cities and a gorgeous island. Still, I felt that I explored those places piece by piece, letting place for getting connected with nature, eating in interesting restaurants, meeting wonderful people and getting tipsy in Irish style. That being said, my advice  would be: pack and go! In as short as 5 days time, you’ll get to discover a lot more than you would expect.

Start in Dublin

Landing at 10 pm on a Saturday evening in Dublin doesn’t leave you many options, so yes, it’s a good idea to spend the night in the capital. Dublin is a rather small city and as I noticed immediately, it’s very compact in the centre. That means that most probably any of the hostels you choose to stay at it’s very likely to be surrounded by at least a couple of bars. That can be pretty annoying if you had a long day and are looking to get some rest in a calm ambiance. Forget about it, it’s not going to happen, unless you are willing to pay much more than just 15 euros/night somewhere else.

I think you got the point: Dublin has great nightlife, vibrant, noisy, full of life city centre, packed with tipsy, but friendly Irish and dozens of tourists from all around the world.

The next morning though it’s exactly the opposite. Sunday morning around 9ish you can barely see some early birds wandering around. On the other hand, unfortunately you can see a lot of waste on the streets, such as empty beer cans, bottles and basically all you could imagine that a few hours before served for making someone’s party mood. 

That shortly will be cleaned away ( already should have been though) and you get to discover a pretty city in a rather grumpy day. 

     
Weather is just a detail however, which  changes quickly in Ireland, luckily this time to better. During a day you might experience various seasons, switching just in a minute from rain to sun and so on. For a short time while the sun is up Dublin becomes bright and refreshed.

  
  
  The Dublin Castle, right in the city centre is beautiful and hard to miss while walking along the river.

   
Temple Bar area is cute and diverse, plenty of bar, pubs, boutiques and options for eating and also accomodation. I especially liked the fact that in particular this area is full of flowers. The facades of several buildings are nicely decorated with colorful flowers, giving a special charm to the narrow streets and a romantic touch to the whole district. 

  
  
  
Allocate for all above aprox 3 hours, that’s the average time you need for a relaxed discovery of downtown, attractions visit excluded. 

Galway

From the very beginning I thought about visiting the charming city of Galway, which is just a 2 h bus ride from Dublin. July is a great time of the year, lots of events going on during the festival of arts. Galway is small, but hosts plenty of cultural events and I personally think that on it’s main street are busking the most talented amateur artists I’ve heard performing in Ireland and not only. 

During the summer there is a small market, where I found my speciality for the day: crepe filled with strawberries, maple syrup and whipped cream and a mix of white and  dark Belgian chocolate. Absolutely, dangerously delicious!

  

 In two steps you get away from the main street and you have the option of following the river for a stroll or just walk along the coast. I did both, aprox 2-3, short stops included.   Along the way you meet people who cycle, walk the dog, jog or just wander around. 

  
  
  
  
  
Galway is as much vibrant at night as Dublin, many pubs have live music on a daily basis and the atmosphere in such places is incomparable. Irish hospitality is definitely present, it’s not unusual at all that people come over to you in the bar to cheer and ask you what brings you to their country. The funny view is when you spot the ginger Irish dude’s face turning into lobster color after a few pints of Guiness. The atmosphere is fantastic, beer is good, prices are acceptable – I don’t even wonder why pubs are full every night.

  

    

  
Inis Mor
The following day is looking to be exciting since I booked a scenic flight, which means I fly in a tiny plane just above Aran Islands and Cliff of Moher. The excitement fades when I receive the call in the morning, announcing that it’s cancelled due to low visibility, but instead I can still take the regular flight to the island, spend a few hours there and after fly back to Connemara. A bit dissapointed, but I’ve chosen to go and it turned out to be a great day. I hopped on right next to the pilot in the mini plane and in less than 10 minutes we were landing on Inis Mor, the largest of Aran Islands.

  
 

 I took a bus tour together with some fellow travelers I met just in the bus stop. Our guide introduced us to the rich Irish culture, which is so alive on the island and took us to the most picturesque sights. Inis Mor is mesmerizing, even the sun came out to greet us. 

   
There are several bed and breakfasts, hostels and one single hotel and one supermarket on the island. On the question : ” is there any hospital on the island?” our funny guide’s proud answer was : ” no,we are healthy: we eat fish and drink Guiness”. Locals live their simple lives, keeping traditions and the language alive, having a few cows and going fishing. It’s admirable how happy and satisfied they are, away from the agitation of the mainland, having the ability of finding the fulfillment in the beauty of the nature that surrounds them.

  
  

  

  

End in Dublin

Since Dublin has an international airport, most likely the majority ends the holiday there. If time allows you I would include also Howth. It’s a short, 30 min train ride from the centre and it’s a real treasure if you are a seafood fan. 

  
Otherwise, The Bank on College Green, right in the heart of Dublin, is the best choice. A former bank transformed into a high class restaurant nowadays, serves a variety of delicious meals and a selection of Irish beer and whiskey in an elite ambiance. Finishing your Irish adventure must include a bar hopping and you have where to choose from for sure. If you :checked out some pubs, had a few more beers, listened to the typical music and ended up strolling around the city at 1 am with your Australian mate trying to find the right way – you did well in Ireland!

A piece of China in the heart of Zürich

  

It’s that month of the year when the gates of the beautiful Chinagarten open again. Between April-November for 4 Chf everyone is welcome to step in this mesmerizing little park,where you completely forget about the outside world and for a while even about the fact that you are still in Switzerland.

Located right next to Zürichsee,just a few steps from downtown, Chinagarten awaits it’s visitors with the most beautiful magnolia trees and unique Chinese pavilions.

 

  

  

The garden is a gift from the Chinese partnertown ,Kunming and besides the buildings  it contains a complex mixture of plants and water world.

   

 

 Pleasing to the eye,mind and soul – Chinagarten is the place to go on a sunny spring ( or summer or fall )day. The smell of the magnolia and the perfect harmony of the place is capable to produce magic.