My Life in a Postcard

Welcome to my Life, my Blog and my Adventures in Switzerland. The name didn't give it away, did it?! :-)) My name is Giada and I feel like the proverbial mouse living in a giant picture postcard perfect round wheel of Swiss cheese. The sheer concentration of natural beauty in this country is mind-blowing, as is the accessibility to high mountains and remote fairytale valleys. That's why I call it my Swisstagram dream!

Yes I like hiking, but this is not just a hiking blog, it’s about living life now and what this looks like in Switzerland. I share tips on how to research your adventures, how to stay fit outdoors, where to sleep, what to see and how to keep a permanent smile on your face!

Did I mention that I’m also a Yoga teacher and a tour guide?

Ok, so let’s get into it: Hiking is definitely one of my favorites, it gets you out there, on a  trail, by yourself or with others, it doesn’t matter, your feet are your transportation, you WALK yourself across a valley, up a mountain, over a ridge.. the sheer sense of accomplishment from having done it under your own power is intoxicating. On top of this you’re immersed 360 degrees in incredible scenery which you can drink in as you hike, even the hard climbs are cool because when you reach the top you feel like you’re “on top of the world”.

I like that when I go hiking I reduce my life to minimum terms: minimum clothing to bring along, minimum “stuff” (strictly necessary and useful stuff makes it into the backpack) and suddenly you realize that you don’t need much at all. Mostly your basic needs are covered and you can really start to focus on filling your emotional cup living through the experience. If this all sounds like mumbo-jumbo, then I say to you, try it once. It’s really an adventure and you’ll get such a high from just one day out in the open, perhaps one night in a mountain hut, you’ll feel like a kid again, with that same giddy excitement just bubbling under the surface.

I’ll have plenty more posts about the Swiss love affair with hiking and how you can get in the action too, but let me start today by giving you a real insider tip for getting off the beaten path and discovering a true gem of the alps…

Who’s been to this place? have a look at the picture below…

This is the Lötschental valley, a hidden gem which keeps on giving – it’s nicknamed the Magic Valley – and it delivers exactly that. I’ve hiked here in summer, climbed in autumn and skied in winter – definitely one of my top recommendations if you want to get a bit “off the beaten path” and see a more authentic and wild side of Switzerland.

Hiking: big adventures within your reach

For starters you need to keep in mind that Switzerland is quite a small country but it’s packed full of high mountains, lakes, flowers, rivers, cities, villages, mountain huts, traditions, farms, cows, cowbells, cheese & chocolate and Swiss people who speak 4 different languages and coexist together under a direct democracy equal to none. The Swiss are know for their punctuality and precision, and it shows… keep reading….

When it comes to hiking, there is no better and safer place to actually lace up your boots and take on a trail than in Switzerland.  All hiking paths are marked, and I mean well-signaled and signposted, so the choice is yours.

Start by having a look at the map on: https://schweizmobil.ch/en/summer  It’s a great starting point, it’s in English, you can filter for difficulty, length, steepness, point to point vs. circular hikes, and it also has an app version which is handy to check on your phone.

Not into hiking or maybe it’s winter? you can also practice other outdoor activities like snowshoeing (a must try if you want to up the fun factor in the snow)  winter hiking paths to warm cozy huts, sledding & tobogganing parcours, and so on, everything is maintained, information is updated, there are amazing apps to use, great guides to show you the ropes, friendly people to ask for help, and you’re really never far from civilization as we know it. So suddenly, adventures which feel super remote and give you those moments of “awe” are actually within our reach!

Speaking of accessibility, let’s talk about how easily you can ride up to 3,000+ meters mountain peaks –  which would normally be completely out of reach – with super ingeneous gondolas & trains, sitting comfortably while they fly you over glaciers and alongside sheer rock faces. And it’s not just the big popular mountains which are equipped, no, it’s almost every small village and small resort which has some sort of gondola or ride. I have to check on this but my guess is there are more gondolas per capita in Switzerland than anywhere else in the world.

In essence, Switzerland is like a pocket-sized country which folds up neatly into a square, but when you open it up it packs quite a punch (like a pop-up card in 3D with music (yodel anyone?))! The mixture of well-organized & reliable infrastructure (trains, buses, gondolas) with well-maintained and marked adventure trails really makes the great outdoors accessible to everyone and with confidence.

Wild strawberries staright from Mother Nature
That feeling of Adventure is easily intoxicating. Click the pic to find out where
The Queen of mountain flowers, ladies & gentleman, the "Edelweiss". Click the pic to learn about Edelweiss
Plenty of opportunities to get playful with it. Click the pic to find out where
Not that far from civilization, yet feels so remote. Click the pic to see where
Easy navigation on any trail with the distinctive Yellow trail markers. Click on the image to get all the info you need on navigating the iconic yellow markers.

I’ve been on countless hikes, climbs and tours, often by myself and also with friends, mountain guides, groups… it all starts with careful research and planning. First things first you need to decide what to do – let’s assume you want to go on an easy hike, nothing crazy, big panoramas and plenty of WOW moments. Where do you start? So first thing you need to do is check the Switzerland Mobility website (or app) https://schweizmobil.ch/en/summer open it up (it’s in English too) and start checking the map – you can use the filter to narrow down the options, i.e. 1 day hike, family hikes, etc.

Once you’ve selected and area where you want to hike, check the web for the local tourism website of that region and do a bit of research on the trails that you’re considering,  maybe check some hiker’s reports, check current information about the trail, check the gondola operating hours (or trains that you need to take), check distances, elevation, where is the nearest hut or restaurant? really take your time mapping out an itinerary so you have all the details covered. Be sure to read my post about “All you need to know about Hiking Signs” https://swisstagram.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-hiking-signs/ before you set out!

Swiss Houses: the real deal

You know the timbered houses with the typical a-frame roof which you immediately associate with Heidi and / or the Swiss countryside? Just like the one here to the right –>

These houses are sprinkled around everywhere in Switzerland, so you happen to be walking to your local supermarket and you pass 3-4 of these cute houses with their wooden framed windows with embroidered curtains, bunches of colorful geraniums sticking out from the windowsill, the doorway neatly decorated with the year of construction engraved in roman numerals and you think you’ve landed in a time-warp. Some are private houses, some are offices, museums, community rooms and when you manage to visit one, it’s a great experience: exposed wooden beams everywhere, low ceilings, creaky floors and tons of charm.

These traditional houses contribute to the postcard feeling when dotted on lush green countryside hills or perched on mountain ledges, complete with grazing cows and the local farmer. It doesn’t get more “real” than this.

How cozy is this dining room? That's the magic of these old wooden houses, they're dripping with charm and authenticity

One experience which always feels like an adventure is sleeping in one of these houses – there are plenty of historic hotels, B&B’s, mountain huts & chalets where you can spend the night and be transported to the past – think candlelight, water basins, hardwood floors… it’s all very romantic and fun.

Here’s the link to some of those sites where you can book & research these unique sleeps:

Here you find listings for truly historic and unique houses:

https://vacancesaucoeurdupatrimoine.ch/fr/experiences/hiver-dans-un-monument/

Nest up is the Swiss Historic Hotels website (full of gems):

https://swiss-historic-hotels.ch/en/hotels?view=list

For good measure, check also the Switzerland Tourism website here:

https://alp.holidaybooking.ch/?language=en

Walking everywhere keeps you fit!

In this country everything is close by and easy to reach either on foot or with the train or the bus. For me it was a shock, coming from Miami where I would drive practically everywhere,,, but I embraced the lifestyle and swapped out my stylish, but generally uncomfortable, shoes for sneakers and started doing the groceries on foot, running errands on foot, taking the train to wherever and then walking around, going to the mountains with the train and the bus and then hiking… and it’s doable and you’ll see the daily step-count adding up pretty quickly. On top of this, consider all the hills, stairs and other vertical meters that you’re covering, and you’ll see that walking around is a workout.

This subject deserves it’s very own post, so i’ll keep it short: until then, focus on your feet and think of them as your main transportation.

Check our the Zurich Vita Parcours trails if you're in the

Check the link below for ad hoc fitness walks sprinkled all over Switzerland which are fun and easy to follow, often in the nearby forests minutes away from your house:

https://www.helsana.ch/en/individuals/services/trails.html

Think of it as including your fitness into your daily routine without setting special time aside for it, just changing the way you move. In other words, walk walk walk and always take the stairs 🙂

 

Thank you to everyone for reading my blog, I’m truly happy to share so please leave a comment below and share your Swissta-worthy pics!

Also check out the link below for a post entirely dedicated to Hiking Signs.

Until next time,

Giada