Top 5 Instagram Photos of the Week

One thing that should be a mainstay of any traveller’s kit is their camera. Over on Instagram, tour leaders and passengers alike are sharing their experiences, and we’re loving the results! Why not share yours, and use the #expatexplore hashtag to make sure we see it! Here are a few of the best posts from the week just past…. 

Tour leader Gayle, featured in this week's #TourLeaderTuesday post.

Tour leader Gayle, featured in this week’s #TourLeaderTuesday post.

First up is our own post (which admittedly is a bit of a pat on our own back), but it’s our #TourLeaderTuesday pic of our tour leader Gayle! “#Regram from yesterday’s #TourLeaderTuesday: it’s our tour leader Gayle! She’s been with us since March 2013 and has quite a list of countries under her belt, incl. Egypt, Singapore, Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, Israel, Cyprus, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan! #expatexplore #travel”

Great photos from the top of Jungfrau by @aimeemaryann.

Great photos from the top of Jungfrau by @aimeemaryann.

Next up, check out these great photos from @aimeemaryann! “Words and pictures can not express how beautiful switzerland is! #topofeurope #jungfraujoch #switzerland #besttourguideever #gayle #expatexplore #expattour

Tour leader Benny with passengers just before (or after?) their big jump!

Tour leader Benny with passengers just before (or after?) their big jump!

Prague is a pretty amazing city, but when you throw skydiving into the mix, things get even more amazing!! Thanks for the great photo @kelseachandley. “Ahh! Had the most amazing day today. Explored Prague for the 2nd time then finished it off skydiving with the gang! #dontwannaleave #skydiving #prague #expatexplore @ebonymcewan”

#Swans on the #Vltava #Prague #Czech #expatexplore

#Swans on the #Vltava #Prague #Czech #expatexplore

Now for some more Prague action, this time from our very own tour leader Tim! He’s pretty darn handy with a camera – perhaps evidenced by the fact that we’re featuring TWO of his photos! Catch Tim over on Instagram as @timsayergmailcom. “#Swans on the #Vltava #Prague #Czech #expatexplore

#flowerphotochallenge #expatexplore#Vienna

#flowerphotochallenge #expatexplore#Vienna. Photo by @timsayergmailcom

If you’re on Instagram, why not follow our adventures! You’ll find us as @expatexplore. Be sure to tag your photos with the hashtag #expatexplore, and keep those pics coming! (And for those of you who fancy joining us on one of our epic tours, head over to expatexplore.com!

 

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5 reasons to travel to the UK and Ireland

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – four incredible countries, each with a wealth of fascinating attractions. The UK and Ireland are hugely popular destination for travellers from all over the world. But what are some of the treats in store for travellers? Wonder no longer – let’s break it down!

  1. The history
York Minster, York

York Minster, York

The UK and Ireland are both hot-spots for history-buffs. Thanks to the spread of culture in centuries past, this is where much of the western world took its cues, in everything from language to architecture. The cities of the UK and Ireland offer a charming mix of historical buildings and modern design. Marvel at the spires of York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe. Stroll through the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and gaze up at the majestic Edinburgh Castle. Punt along the canals of Cambridge (one of the world’s most famous university towns). And in Ireland, see Bunratty Castle, which dates back to the 1400s, and kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle! Of course, no trip to Ireland is complete without seeing some of the landmarks associated with its turbulent history. For a taste of musical history, stroll the streets of Liverpool, home of The Beatles. When you’re done, rest your legs in one of the many historic pubs – there’s certainly no shortage of those in the UK and Ireland!

  1. The culture
Traditional Irish Band

Traditional Irish Band

Along with the cathedrals and castles, there are also many museums to explore, and a range of exquisitely-curated art galleries. You’ll find some of the most respected artists and performers in the world coming to the UK, so be sure to check local publications ahead of time to see who might be there when you visit! The live music scene in the UK and Ireland is also a big part of the culture, with local music venues hosting everything from traditional folk singers to modern rock bands and DJs. There’s also a huge respect and patronage for the world of dance, with many respected dance companies touring in the UK and Ireland throughout the year.

  1. The scenery
The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The rolling green hills of England and Wales, the highlands of Scotland, and the wild charm of Ireland’s western coast – this region is famous for its countryside scenery. It’s not hard to imagine legions of iron-clad knights riding around in olden times, and it’s not just us that think so – Northern Ireland was used extensively in the popular Game of Thrones series, and countless other films make use of the UK and Ireland’s beautiful scenery too. The Cliffs of Moher (above) are one of the most famous attractions in all of Ireland – and it’s not hard to see why!

  1. The food

When one thinks of the cuisine of the British Isles, one normally thinks of comfort food. Fish and chips, bangers and mash, black pudding, haggis, Irish stew – all these (and many more) are traditional favourites, and are usually washed down with a pint of beer. There’s probably no better way to while away a rainy afternoon than setting up in a comfortable old pub and enjoying some of the traditional cuisine. But modern British cuisine has come a long way from these fairly basic starting points, with influences from around the world now informing many of the choices you’ll find on your local menu. Look around in each city, and along with the traditional favourites, you’ll find brilliant Indian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Chinese, West African, Caribbean and modern European restaurants – the British Isles are a great place to sample foods from all over the world.

  1. Sport

The British Isles are famous throughout the world for the sports that are played there. After all, this is the home of the Premier League! England is also the birthplace of rugby (named after the town of Rugby), and the seeing that the Rugby World Cup is being held here in 2015, there’s no better time to visit if you’re a fan of the game. Cricket is also a quintessentially English sport, with many famous stadiums in England. Golf had its start in Scotland, and is now one of the world’s most popular sports. And let’s not forget Hurling, a game with ancient Gaelic and Irish origins, which is a bit of a mix between field hockey, baseball and lacrosse – and is believed to be the world’s oldest field game. Interested? Watch a video here.

Fancy a tour to the UK or to Ireland? Take a look at our tours of both, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure! Take a look at our Great Britain video below:

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Festivals of Europe: the Boppard Wine Festival

The Rhine Valley is known for its wines, and there’s no better time to visit than during the Boppard Wine Festival, taking this plave from 3-5 October 2014!

The Rhine Valley

The Rhine Valley

With its unique climate and traditional methods of production, the Rhine Valley region is well known amongst wine lovers for its unique style of wines. The last 10 years have also proved especially good for wine producers, who have enjoyed some of the best vintages in living memory. The warm climate of the region boosts the growth of the vines and also helps to bring an early harvest, which should be happening around the time of the festival – definitely cause for celebration!

Boppard from a nearby look-out point

Boppard from a nearby look-out point

Boppard winegrowers are delighted to welcome locals and visitors join in the celebration, making this particular festival one of the year’s highlights. Enjoy the festivities in the market square, visit various wine stands and take part in wine-tasting, enjoy local music and entertainment, and catch the fireworks displays on the Saturday evening. The best place to see them is undoubtedly from one of the many boats taking part, but failing that, a good spot on the promenade will do just as well.

Wine-tasting in Boppard

Wine-tasting in Boppard

If you’re not in Boppard during the festival, don’t worry! Expat Explore offers a free wine-tasting in Boppard, including an in-depth introduction to wines of the region from local experts.

For more information on festivals in Boppard, click here.

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Video of the Week: Roger Federer & Lindsay Vonn at Jungfraujoch

Tennis champion Roger Federer and American World Cup alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn recently went up to Jungfraujoch to take part in an interesting challenge….

If you’ve been on a tour with Expat Explore, you might find yourself saying “Hey, I’ve been there!” Switzerland’s Jungfraujoch not only offers incredible views of the surrounding countryside, but delicious chocolate as well – which you can taste at the highest Lindt store in the world.

Switzerland is known both for its pristine landscapes and its world-famous chocolate, both of which you enjoy to your heart’s content at Jungraujoch.

The journey to the top is a memorable one, with incredible scenery passing you by as the train climbs ever higher into the clouds. Spot picture-perfect Swiss towns and villages nestled in the valleys, and look out for little mountain waterfalls cascading down the mountainside too. Officially the highest train station in Europe, Jungfrau boasts year-round snow – and year-round fun!

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Top 10 Highlights of Italy

Without doubt one of the world’s most sought-after destinations, Italy remains a favourite with travellers. The combination of exquisite cuisine and unbelievable sightseeing makes ‘The Beautiful Country’ a must-see – and let’s not forget the artistic and historical wonders on offer!

  1. Rome
The Trevi Fountain, Rome

The Trevi Fountain, Rome

One of the most famous cities in the world – and a must-see for anyone travelling to Italy, Rome offers an unparalleled view into the ancient world and the inner workings of the empire that once called this city its capital. Along with astounding archaeological treasures, Rome is a cosmopolitan city with style and flair. Like most of Italy, you will never be far from good food, but you’ll also be able to enjoy it a truly unique setting, where ancient meets modern.

  1. Tuscany
The hills of Tuscany

The hills of Tuscany

The hills of Tuscany have drawn visitors since time immemorial, and even if all it had to offer was beautiful scenery and incredible food and wine, that would be enough! Simply prepared and locally sourced, it goes without saying that you’ll eat well in Tuscany. But this is also a region known for its artistic heritage – particularly in the region’s capital, Florence.

  1. Florence

Here in Tuscany’s capital is one of the epicentres of Europe’s Renaissance. An artistic treasure, Florence is home to some of the western world’s most famous masterpieces. It’s also the ideal place to go shopping, with almost every major fashion house in the world represented on Florence’s cobble-stone streets. Look out for grand churches and chapels, visit incredible galleries, sample delicious cuisine… this really is a highlight of Italy for a reason!

  1. Pompeii
Pompeii

Pompeii

Destroyed in 79AD by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, Pompeii was an ancient Roman town. Buried under 4-6 metres of pumice and ash, the town was rediscovered in 1599, and an extensive excavation has revealed very well-preserved relics that have given modern historians and archaeologists even deeper insight into the everyday lives of the ancient Romans. Literally frozen in time, you’ll see exquisitely-preserved Roman homes, forums, amphitheatres, brothels and more – it’s almost like stepping back in time! It’s been a major tourist attraction for over 250 years now, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  1. Sorrento

The perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area, Sorrento is a resort town with style. The nearby Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and the nearby isle of Capri make this the ideal stop-over for travellers. Enjoy the food, soak up the sun and look forward to your next move!

6. Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Translating as ‘Five Villages’, the Cinque Terre region is one of Italy’s most beautiful areas! Clinging to the cliff-side and overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean, the five villages are linked by trains and by hiking trails – cars are forbidden from entering the region. This means it’s also one of the most unspoilt regions of Italy, with cobble-stone streets, quaint cliff-side orchards and vineyards along with incredible views all combining to make it an unforgettable stop on your tour of Italy. The coastline, the five villages and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  1. Venice
The Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Rialto Bridge, Venice

Surely one of the world’s most inspiring cities, Venice is known for its palaces, the famous Grand Canal, artists, the Rialto Bridge, singing gondoliers, exquisite food, and for having more artistic masterpieces per square kilometre than any other city on earth! Venice had admirers all year round, and once you’ve seen it you’ll understand why it’s a firm favourite for travellers from all corners of the world.

  1. The Italian Lake District
The Italian Lake District

The Italian Lake District

Known for its reputation as one of the favourite haunts of Hollywood A-listers like George Clooney, the Italian Lakes are simply breathtaking. Truthfully, they were popular long before Hollywood took an interest in them – the Lakes were a favoured getaway destination for the Romans too! Take in the view of the mountains reflected in the waters of the lakes, marvel at the picture-perfect architecture and enjoy local Italian cuisine. Does life get any better?

  1. Verona

“…In fair Verona where we lay our scene…” Yes indeed, this is the same Verona immortalised in Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo & Juliet. You can even see the balcony where Romeo is said to have wooed his lover. Historically, this city is no stranger to feuds, drama and romance. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city boasts ruins and monuments from every age – ensuring that you’ll be gazing at far more than just Romeo and Juliet’s fabled balcony.

  1. Pisa
The leaning tower of Pisa, Italy

The leaning tower of Pisa, Italy

Ah yes, that famous leaning tower. Surely nothing says ‘I’m travelling!’ like a selfie in front of the leaning tower of Pisa!? Instantly recognisable, this famous tower has been standing for centuries – and with that distinctive lean corrected somewhat (for safety’s sake) it’s destined to stand for a few more! See this incredible landmark on your tour of Italy.

What are you most looking forward to on your tour of Italy? Let us know if the comments below!

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Video of the Week – In Turkey 2014

Turkey is one of our favourite destinations, and when you see our Video of the Week you’ll understand why! Culturally and geographically diverse, Turkey has so much to offer that it’s almost overwhelming. But enough talk – you’ll see what we mean once you hit the play button below…

In Turkey – 2014 from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.

From the bustling bazaars of Istanbul to the Aegean coast, from the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia to the ancient Roman ruins of Ephesus, Turkey is a land of fascinating spectacles and cultural delights.

A land rich in historical treasures, you’ll find relics from every age, from Roman temples to Ottoman relics. But it’s not just the history that will fascinate you – modern Istanbul is home to a thriving art, design and architecture movement. Plus, the dramatic natural beauty of this diverse country will astound even the most seasoned travellers.

Visit Turkey and see some of these incredible sights for yourself!

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The 5 best things about Europe at Christmas time

Although summer in Europe is in full swing, some of you will already have started thinking about your Christmas plans. And with good reason! Christmas is one of the best times to visit Europe! Read about it below, and enter our Christmas and New Year Competition on Facebook now for a chance to win a Xmas & New Year tour!

  1. Snow!
Catching the train to Jungfrau - unforgettable!

Catching the train to Jungfrau – unforgettable!

Depending on where in Europe you are exactly, you have a pretty good chance of seeing some snow – particularly if you’re headed anywhere near the Alps! Switzerland is breathtakingly beautiful at the best of times, but a snowy landscape at Christmas-time is sure to set hearts aglow, even those of the most scrooge-like curmudgeons. Have snow-fight, make a snow-man, or just sit back and enjoy the incredible beauty of it all.

  1. Mulled wine / vin chaud / gluhwein OR hot chocolate
Beat the winter chills - and treat yourself - with European winter cuisine

Beat the winter chills – and treat yourself – with European winter cuisine

Whether you’re in France, Germany, or anywhere else in Europe for Christmas for that matter; spiced, hot wine is one of those indispensable winter companions. Nothing takes the chill off quite like a steamy mug of mulled wine! Actually, hot chocolate isn’t a bad idea either – definitely something to try when you’re in Belgium!

  1. Markets and festivals
A Christmas market in Switzerland.

A Christmas market in Switzerland.

Many cities in Europe host Christmas festivals and markets. Whether you’re after something special for a loved one’s Christmas stocking, or you’re just eager to soak up that festive spirit, don’t miss markets in places like Paris, Bruges, Interlaken, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and more!

  1. Winter food
Swiss fondue - a classic Alpine recipe!

Swiss fondue – a classic Alpine recipe!

Depending on the region, there are a range of rich winter delicacies to indulge in. From fondue or raclette in alpine France and Switzerland, waffles in Belgium and venison and roasted chestnuts in other parts of Europe, there’s usually something yummy on the go in every city you visit!

  1. Indoor activities

When the weather turns chilly, many places in Europe offer more indoor activities. Europe’s many museums, art galleries, palaces and cathedrals are ideal to visit in the winter when the options for what to do outdoors are limited. Look out for festive concerts and events!

What’s your favourite thing about travelling in Europe at Christmas time? Tell us in the comments below!

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Why you should take a trip to the top of Europe, The Jungfraujoch

One of the optional excursions on the Europe Jewel tour when you are in Switzerland is a train trip to the Jungfraujoch where the Sphinx vantage terrace sits at 3571 metres above sea level, and where on a clear day you have spectacular panoramic views across the Alps. (Words and photos by Jo Castro.)

Jungfrau Map

So this is a map of where you go on the train. What a trip!

It’s an amazing trip, and although the holiday town of Interlaken, where we stayed, is drop-dead gorgeous, the Jungfrau rail trip really emphasises the majesty of the mountains, plus it’s an incredible engineering project too.

As an optional tour, it’s up to you whether you decide to book or not, but I know that despite adverse weather conditions, I would have had serious FOMO (fear of missing out!) had I not embarked on this amazing expedition to the very top of Switzerland.

On top of Europe
After a wow-a-minute 2 hour train journey (on three trains) the sign that greets you as you enter the Jungfraujoch station is “Welcome to the top of Europe” and you certainly feel on top of the world. You may also feel some effect of the high altitude – I found that fast walking suddenly became a bit more of an effort.

The train steadily climbs towards the top of the Jungfraujoch leaving picturesque Swiss towns and villages way down in the valleys below.

The train steadily climbs towards the top of the Jungfraujoch leaving picturesque Swiss towns and villages way down in the valleys below.

Permanent Snow Scenes
This Alpine tour offers much more than just a train ride to the top, although the train ride is itself part of the objective.

Far reaching snow filled views across France, Germany and Italy are your reward on a clear day, although you are pretty much guaranteed snow at any time of the year.

Snowy scenes on the way up to Jungfrau

The scenery became ever more snowy as the train wound its way higher.

We took the tour in late April on a cold day of mist, rain and snow. We hoped the weather forecast would be wrong, but it wasn’t and at the top the views we had anticipated consisted only of walls of white, and more white!

Did it worry us? No, not a bit because Expat Explorers from countries where no snow falls, quickly fell into snow angel poses in the powdery white stuff on the Sphinx Terrace and a snowball fight broke out between Colombia and Malaysia!

Alpine Sensation
Those of us who had seen snow before enjoyed being caught in a thick snow storm as we changed trains, and also enjoyed discovering the many exhibits at the summit – such as the Ice Palace, the Alpine Sensation, the Jungfrau-Panorama and the gift shops (think Lindt chocolate!) as well as learning about the construction of this amazing station and the research facility high up amongst the mountain tops.

Getting there
We witnessed swirling clouds, thick mist and high waterfalls as we rode up on a train which was not busy and had a distinct absence of skis and ski poles stacked in the baggage areas – because the winter ski season had just finished.

However, an air of expectation and excitement hung heavy in the air as rugged-up passengers contemplated a journey to the very top of Switzerland, and we began the steep awe-inspiring ascent with big smiles on our faces.

Jungfrau scenery

These are some of the scenes you might be able to see on a clear day. Our day consisted of snow and more snow, without the Alpine scenery you can see pictured behind me.

What to expect
On a clear day the Jungfraujoch is a fairy-tale world of ice and caves, and you could have a view of the Aletsch Glacier, the largest ice stream in the Alps which is around 22 kilometres in length and covers an area of around 80 square kilometres.

On days without clouds or snow you can also expect fantastic views over the borders of Swizerland to the Vosges Mountains in France and the Black Forest in Germany.

The Train Ride
From my journal: “We leave the beautiful town of Interlaken and pass forests, gushing rivers and tumbling waterfalls before changing trains at Lauterbrunnen for the first ascent, and then later we change trains again at Kleine Scheidegg.”

Tip: Kleine Scheidegg is at the foot of the Eiger’s North Wall. It’s the watershed between two Lutschinen Valleys and it’s a meeting point for Alpine herdsmen and climbers attempting the Eiger.

From my journal: “Long sheer drops and spectacular views of hillsides dotted with picturesque, picture postcard perfect houses and spring flowers are the first things we begin snapping photos of as we are able to pull down the windows on the train to take photos.

We are on the Wengernalp Railway which boasts the longest stretch of cogwheel railway in Switzerland (19.3 kilometres) and because of the snow, I’m glad of the cogs and the snow plough on front of the train :)

We wrap our jackets tight around us against the snow, and those of us in trainers wish, as we sink deep into the white stuff, that we had worn waterproof shoes!”

There are two picture stops as we pass through a tunnel hewn out of rock; at the Eiger Wall or Eigerwan and at the Sea of Ice or Eismeer. In good weather you can expect panoramic views of the Eiger North Wall and over the glaciers from large windows that have been cut into the tunnel walls and on clear days you can expect spectacular views. There are also toilets at these stops.

Temperature gauge, Jungfrau

Yes, it really was cold at the top! Take warm clothes, hats and gloves.

From my journal: “When we left Florence yesterday the temperature was 27 degrees Celcius, and now past Wengen it’s snowing and below zero. Big white flakes clump on the branches of pine trees as we climb higher and higher, and the fields have changed from deep green to white. We seem to be heading into a wonderland of cloud and snow, windows are snapped shut and jackets zipped up. Soft, shimmering, pastel hue’d Tuscany this is not! It’s white, bright and mysterious as we head upwards into the clouds.”

What is there to do?
The Jungfrau trip really consists of three main things:

1. The interesting and scenic train journey.

2. The exhibits, tunnels, ice sculptures and snow experience.

3. The incredible views (on a clear day).

Jungfrau train

3 trains, and two changes across snowy stations during our incredible journey to the top.

Alpine Sensation
This is a 250 metre long tunnel between the Sphinx Hall and the Ice Palace and it’s called the Alpine Sensation Round-Tour Subway.

In the Sphinx Hall a panoramic 360 degree audio visual takes visitors into the high Alpine world around the Jungfraujoch with a 4 minute audio cinematic journey through the world of ice, rocks and snow of the region.

Then you’ll walk through tunnels to a hall decorated with Edelweiss lights and a Little Switzerland display, before moving walkways take you past a mural illustrating the development of tourism in the Alps. There are historic photos telling you about the construction of the railway and information about the ground breaking vision of Adolf Guyer-Zeller the builder of the Jungfrau Railway. There’s also a bridge through Europe’s highest altitude karst cave.

Jungfrau ice cave

Ice Palace tunnels, like an underground labyrinth.

The Ice Palace
I really enjoyed the amazing ice tunnels and sculptures of the Ice Palace an enormous cavern hewn from ice in the glacier itself. It was begun in 1934 and now it’s like a maze, covering an area of over 1000 square metres with large and small passageways and ice sculptures; penguins, eagles and a sculpture of Sherlock Holmes are just a few.

Jungfrau ice sculptures

Ice Palace sculptures. The caverns and nooks and crannies in the ice palace are chilly but the sculptures are awesome.

Retail therapy and Food glorious Food!
Within the complex you’ll find 5 Restaurants, several shops and a post office – the highest in Europe! You can buy souvenirs, Swiss watches and Lindt chocolate under the ‘Top of Europe’ brand.

The Sphinx Terrace
The Sphinx Terrace is reached by a fast lift that takes you to the Sphinx Observatory in 27 seconds. The vantage terrace can, on clear days, give you a great view over the Aletsch Glacier, to Vosge in France and across to Germany’s Black Forest too.

Sphinx observation deck

This is a picture of one of the posters at the station of the set up at the top of the Jungfrau. As you can see, on a clear day the views would be incredible.

Snowballs and Snowmen
Have fun in the snow – throw a snowball, make snow angels, build a snowman! If you’ve never seen snow, you’ll be sure of finding some at Jungfraujoch.

Walks and Hikes
If the weather had been fine we would have liked to do the Jungfrau Eiger Walk – This is around 3 kilometres in length and the uphill walk will take you about 1 hour, downhill about 45 minutes. It’s a hiking trail from the Eigergletscher station to Klein Scheidegg. Apparently it gives you an insight into the tough conditions of the Eiger. One of the focal points of the Eiger legend, the historic Mittellegi Hut, which was erected on the northeast ridge of the Eiger in 1924 and was a refuge for generations of alpinists, gives today’s hikers an idea of what it was like for the generations of climbers who used it as a sanctuary.

Snow on the way to Jungfrau

Sheila our tour leader giving us a happy smile from the carriage behind us, during a snow storm.

What if it’s snowing?
If it’s cloudy and snowing you won’t have great views from the top, but it was cold and misty when we visited and we still managed to have a fun time and enjoyed the snowy journey on the train, just witnessing the incredible engineering of the railway, and the exhibits at the top.

Fast Facts
The Jungfrau Region is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland stretching from the town of Interlaken to the snow capped summits of the Jungfrau massif about 18 kilometres away.

First pencil sketches of the railway were drawn by Swiss industrial magnate Adolf Guyer-Zeller in 1893. He had an idea while on a hike to blast a tunnel through the rock of the Eiger and Monch and construct a cogwheel railway to the Jungfrau summit. Europe’s highest altitude railway at 3454 metres opened on 1 August 1912 after 16 years’ construction.

On peak days the Jungfrau Railway makes up to 110 journeys bween Klein Scheidegg and the Jungfrau in both directions and in summer the trains run to a half hourly schedule.
The Ice palace can move up to 15 centimetres per year and has to be constantly recut. Due to the warmth generated by thousands of visitors it has to be constantly cooled to minus three degrees.

The Sphinx ridge was named because of its similarity with the figure from Greek and Egyptian mythology. Between 1936 and 1937 a two storey building was erected on the Sphinx rock and after several additions the current vantage hall was added to the observatory in 1996 giving visitors panoramic views in all weathers, inside or outside.

Swiss Highland Single Malt whisky is matured in an ice grotto on the Jungfraujoch. Only around one thousand 50 cl bottles of this limited cask are available for sale per year.

Disclaimer: Jo’s trip to the Jungfraujoch was courtesy of Jungfrau Railways and Expat Explore.

Jo Castro is a freelance travel writer. She’s resident in Western Australia and she’s lived in 11 different countries on 4 continents with her geologist husband and two children. You can find her on her blogs Lifestyle Fifty (inspiration and lifestyle) and The ZigaZag Mag (travel and Western Australia) or on Twitter @johannaAcastro. Connect with her on Facebook at Lifestyle Fifty (http://www.facebook.com/lifestylefifty) or The ZigaZag Mag (http://www.facebook.com/thezigazagmag). Join her on Instagram at Lifestyle Fifty http://www.instagram.com/lifestylefifty

Interlaken

We were at Interlaken in Springtime and the flowers around the town were beautiful.

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Sailing the Maldives on a Sailing Safari

The Maldives is undeniably beautiful – everyone knows that. But if you’ve got an itch to see some of the world’s most beautiful tropical beaches, eat incredible seafood, dive some of the world’s most stunning reefs and even have a chance to learn about local life and customs… then there’s a new way to do all that with a Maldives Sailing Safari.

The Felicity at sunset, the Maldives

The Felicity at sunset, the Maldives

What is a Maldives Sailing Safari?

When you think of a Maldives holiday, you probably think of turquoise waters, dazzling coral reefs with abundant sea-life, palm trees swaying in the wind, lazy days spent on the beach soaking up the sun… and being largely confined to a resort. And you’d be right! Except for the last part that is. Now there’s an easier way to travel to the Maldives, and to see more of the islands and experience more of the culture than ever before.

Enjoying a meal on board the Felicity, the Maldives

Enjoying a meal on board the Felicity, the Maldives

A Maldives Sailing Safari is the ideal way to spend your holiday in the Maldives. Setting off from Male, the nation’s capital, you’ll set sail for North Male atoll, stopping in Himmafushi, the Goidhoo Atoll, Eydafushi and Mendhoo Island before returning to Male. Over 8 days, there’s simply no better way to relax, see the sights and appreciate the local culture.

Local Experiences

Learn to fish the traditional way on your Maldives Sailing Safari

Learn to fish the traditional way on your Maldives Sailing Safari

On your all-inclusive Maldives sailing tour you’ll have the chance to visit local villages, accompanied by a local guide. Learn about how the distinctive local boat – the dhoni – is built, get a feel for local life and sample local food too! Plus, you’ll have the chance to learn how to fish using traditional methods under the tutelage of local fisherman.

Sailing

Sunset from the foredeck of the Felicity

Sunset from the foredeck of the Felicity

Travelling between islands as we do on board the ‘Felicity’, you’ll have time to sun-bathe on deck and take in the incredible scenery. Look out for dolphins! What’s more, the Felicity is equipped with air-conditioned cabins, a PADI dive centre set up on a dhoni, windsurf / canoe / dinghy, and a TV & music library (just in case).

Island life

Diving in the Maldives

Diving in the Maldives

Of course, the Maldives is known for its pristine beaches. You’ll have more than enough time to relax and soak up the sun! For those with a little more energy, head into the water and go snorkelling, swimming or diving – the Felicity features a PADI dive centre. You also won’t need to compromise on comfort. The Felicity’s accommodation includes 4 double and 3 twin cabins – all air-conditioned and with en-suite bathrooms.

A double cabin on board the Felicity

A double cabin on board the Felicity

So if you thought that traveling to the Maldives was all about being confined to sanitised (boring) resorts – think again. There’s a new way to see the Maldives, with all of the sun, sea and relaxation, and loads more fun.

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Video of the Week: Barcelona GO!

Barcelona – the Catalan capital and an epicentre of cultural marvels, cuisine, history and hedonism – makes it into our Video of the Week with this unique look at the city by filmmaker Rob Whitworth. Have a peek and enjoy this fresh look at a city with soul!

Barcelona GO! from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

Whether you’ve been to Barcelona or not, this is one video that’s sure to inspire you to visit. Profiling some of the city’s most famous sites and managing to capture something of its frenetic pace, cultural riches and even the fascinating ambience of the winding alleyways, this is a brilliant introduction to one of our favourite places! Look out for the following attractions:

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Gran Teater del Liceu
Sagrada Familia
Museu D’Historia De Barcelona
Palau de la Música
Santa Maria del Pi

Blessed with a fantastically warm and sunny climate, historical marvels (including striking architecture by the legendary Antoni Gaudi) a vibrant night-club culture, bustling boutiques and a cuisine all its own, Barcelona makes for a fascinating destination – and Whitworth’s film is a fitting tribute to the colour, creativity and culture of Barcelona.

Read more about Barcelona by clicking the Barcelona tag. And visit Barcelona on one of our coach tours of Europe!

 

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