Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Swiss Railway Adventure - Photo Diary

I can't believe almost 10 months have passed since my trip to breathtaking Switzerland! Time seems to be passing in an odd way and has little meaning at the moment whilst we're observing the lock down.

I've been having a little sulk about all the travel plans for 2020 that have been put on hold. Thinking of my friends who have had to postpone weddings, those who have been in the final stages of pregnancy in lock down and everything going on in the world now puts things into perspective. This extra time at home has given me food for thought and I've been pondering over the things I'm grateful for and all the wonderful trips I've been lucky enough to go on with my husband have to be at the top of the list.

I'm not going to blabber on too much in this post because I think the photos speak for themselves. Most of these were taken on a broken old iPhone without any skill and Switzerland still looks stunning. I can't quite believe I was really there surrounded by the mighty Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

lauterbrunnen

alpine cow









Jungfrau bahn




cable car

Swiss rosti





lake thun



Stay

We stayed in such a stylish and well appointed apartment during our trip to Switzerland. Maria, our host had decorated the place beautifully and even left us a selection of Swiss treats to enjoy on our first evening. It was the perfect size for me, my husband and dog for our week long stay. You can find the listing here.
The apartment was located a short walk from Wilderswil railway station and we could see the historic Schynige Platte Railway pass us by from the balcony. A railway lovers dream for two railway workers like myself and my husband.
 

Getting around

Train travel is the best way to take in everything that Switzerland has to offer. The sedate pace, the views, the ease and punctuality of Swiss railways all combine to make it the obvious way to explore.

If you’re planning any Swiss travel, particularly if you are planning to travel Switzerland by train, you most likely have come across the Swiss Travel Pass.  The Swiss Travel Pass is an all-inclusive  pass which gives access to the Swiss rail system but also entry to museums and travel on some ferries and cable cars too.

Whilst the price of the pass is expensive, once you add up the price of individual Swiss rail tickets, plus the entry to a few museums you soon make your money back and even start to save. For me the mass meant that you don’t have to worry about making bookings, carrying around multiple train tickets and even being concerned with missing a train - because you can simply catch the next one!


See


I'm sure we only scratched the surface of all the things to do in Jungfrau and the surrounding areas during our trip so I may miss out some 'must see' destinations but here are my holiday highlights:

Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station was a must see for me. This train ride takes you from Interlaken all the way to 11,000 feet above sea level. You can choose to go via Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.

A journey to the Jungfraujoch is incredibly popular bit it’s certainly not cheap. When combining some of the best views of the Alps with taking a ride on a modern-day marvel of engineering, this is one train ride worthy of a spot on your bucket list and worth the ticket price.

Route: Lauterbrunnen – Wengen – Kleine Scheidegg– Jungfrau or Interlaken – Zweilütschinen – Grindelwald – Kleine Scheidegg – Jungrfrau.
Duration: Roughly 2 hours one way
Don’t miss: The towns you pass through. They’re so picturesque – so leave time to stop in Wengen or Grindelwald.

Gelmerbahn Funicular

With an incline of 106% this is one of the steepest funiculars in Europe. 

The Gelmerbahn runs daily from 21st May – 25. Oct. It runs roughly every 25 minutes starting at 9.00. The last ride up is 15.48 (16:36 in Jul/Aug) and the last ride down is at 16.00 (16:48 in Jul/Aug).

After a ride with spectacular views you're greeted by Gelmersee, a man-made reservoir with beautifully bluw water. The Gelmer funicular is how the workers got up the mountain to create the reservoir back in the 20's. 

Lake Thun Cruise

Lake Thun is one of most picturesque destinations for a boat cruise that you can experience. I really enjoyed the leisurely trip  from Interlaken to Spiez, taking in the views of the Bernese Oberland on clear blue waters. Spiez Castle is surrounded by vineyards in what is said to be the prettiest bay in Europe.


There are so many more cable cars and trains journeys we took and to be honest, they were all spectacular. You won't be disappointed by any of them. I recommend heading to this site for a full breakdown of all the things to see and do.

Eat

Switzerland can be a tad expensive so we prepared our breakfasts and evening meals at the apartment to both save costs and rest after really long days out exploring. We did treat ourselves to come lovely cakes and coffees whilst out but the standout meal for us was at the Swiss restaurant Weidstübl in Lauterbrunnen. They had a varied choice of traditional dishes like rosti, fondue and sausages and the surroundings were very quaint and cosy. We ate in the outdoor seating area (heated) and our dog Coco was very welcome there.


Until next time, Switzerland!


Gemma
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Thursday, 7 May 2020

Gugelhupf Cake Recipe



Gugelhupf Cake

This is one of my favourite treats and reminds me of my holidays in Zell am See and Innsbruck with my husband. Served both in cafés and Austrian homes, Gugelhupf cake is an absolute classic. There are also sweet raisin-filled yeast bread versions of this cake but the marbled one is equally as delicious.

this is a picture of gugelhupf cake dusted with icing sugar


You will need
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 330g  plain flour
  • 170ml milk
  • 330g icing sugar (plus a little extra to decorate)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cocoa
Instructions
  • Preheat your oven to 170°C  and coat the bundt cake tin with plenty of melted butter.
  • Whisk the butter with the egg yolk until foamy, add all the icing sugar, and stir until creamy. Add vanilla extract or sugar (sachets of vanilla sugar are very common in Austria and Germany but I've never seen them here)
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix half of the flour into the butter mixture and combine. Add the milk, combine, then add remainder of the flour. gently fold in the egg whites.
  • Pour roughly half of this mixture into the cake tin. Add cocoa to the rest and mix. Pour the darker batter on top of the lighter one into the tin.
  • Drag the handle of a wooden spoon or a fork through the batter and wave it around to achieve the marbled look.
  • Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on a cool rack, then take the cake out of the pan. Dust with icing sugar before serving.



    If you have a go at baking this please tag me in any photos you share, I would love to see.

Gemma
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Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Kimchi fried rice - Kimchi-bokkeumbap 볶음밥


I'm always inspired by my friends Instagram story cook-alongs (I'm looking at you Sophie) but end up eating the same handful of meals on repeat.  I've got a lot more time to cook now that I'm currently working from home and cutting out my daily commute so no excuse not to try some more adventurous dishes.

I've attempted to cook kimchi fried rice for friends a few times but the recipe I'm sharing here is my favourite version. Kimchi fried rice (Bokkeumbap) is a popular Korean fried rice dish that is a great way to use leftovers and provides a super quick and comforting meal. This Korean recipe takes only 20 mins to make from prep to dinner table, ideal for a midweek treat. 

This dish is easy to customise and I've made it with less chilli flakes for friends who don't like things as hot as I do. You can also swap out the pork for tofu, spam or bacon and drop the egg and swap the kimchi for a vegan variety.


Serves: 2
Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins 

You will need:
  • 115 grams kimchi, chopped (I used this one)
  • 3 tablespoons of kimchi juice 
  • 2 teaspoons gochugaru (chilli flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon gochujang 
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil 
  • 2 servings cooked rice (day old is best) 
  • 115 grams pork belly 
  • 2 Spring onions (finely chopped) 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped  
Directions
  • Cook chopped pork belly in frying pan until slightly browned  
  • Add half of the spring onion and all of the kimchi and cook on high heat 
  • Mix the kimchi juice, garlic, gochujang, gochugaru, sesame oil and soy sauce together  
  • Add the rice and mixed ingredients to the pan and reduce heat to medium
  • Stir until everything is well incorporated and the clumps of rice are broken up, cook for 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Top with a lovely, runny fried egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds and remaining onions to serve.

    I've also made a recipe card for those who like to print and save these kinds of things 😊
This is a photo of kimcho fried rice with an egg on top

Gemma
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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

My Walt Disney World 2019 Trip Photo Diary


I’ve travelled to all sorts of exciting places with my husband, Martyn. We've been to the top of the Austrian Alps, travelled on the most scenic railway in the world and toured the remote Scottish Highlands on our honeymoon. We've shared our love of adventure and railways but this trip to Florida allowed me to share my cherished childhood holiday memories with him and I attempted to bring him into the cult of Disney (my brother and I are already fully-fledged members).

Martyn is used to me watching Mulan and Tangled on repeat and I think he agreed to join me on this holiday because he knew I really wanted to visit Disneyworld again but I don't think he expected to actually enjoy it himself. (He really did)

The first evening of our trip was spent at the hotel after two exhausting days of travelling. We chose to stay at the Coronado Springs Hotel which is part of the Disney resort. It has a Mexican and American South West feel and is set alongside a pretty lake and had an impressive Aztec themed pool. It isn't as ostentatiously Disney themed or aimed at children as some of the hotels in the resort as it has some conference facilities but it suited us perfectly. The rooms had been recently renovated to a very high standard and had all the amenities we needed. 


I wanted Martyn to get a traditional Disney experience on the first day of our 9-day trip so we headed to the Magic Kingdom park on our first full day. You're struck by how beautiful the park is before you even enter when you're greeted by colourful floral displays and a steam train.

When I entered the Magic Kingdom for the first time since I was 14 and saw the castle at the end of Main Street I got a little emotional. The quote above the entrance reads "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy." which is 100% true. The theming of each distinct land in the park is so detailed and immersive you are transported to another world. 




We both adored the classic attractions like Peter Pan's Flight, "it's a small world' and Tiki Room which you don't really find in UK theme parks where thrill rides are the main draw. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a great addition to the park which wasn't there on my last visit. This new coaster was super smooth and the mine carts swayed and tilted with the track. 

The 20-minute long firework, music and projection extravaganza Happily Ever After is the perfect way to end a day in this park. The show is a feast for the eyes, using Cinderella Castle as a backdrop and contains two of my favourite Disney songs - Out There and Go the Distance from the often-overlooked films Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules.

The Magic Kingdom is really iconic with its castle but Disneyworld is made up of a number of parks, all of which have a different theme and feel. The Animal Kingdom lets you explore the wonder of amazing rainforests, African savannas and Asian jungles in an immersive wildlife experience. 

The highlights for me were the Kilimanjaro safari where you can see up to 34 different species including giraffes, hippopotamus and lions and Expedition Everest, a thrilling roller coaster that travels backwards as you are being chased by a yeti. Fun fact - Expedition Everest is the most expensive roller coaster in the world. It was reported to cost $100 million to build.







During our time in Orlando, the Epcot park was hosting Festival of the Arts and there were lots of booths with artists, performers and food inspired by art. I particularly enjoyed the Disney on Broadway performance in the park where I was able to enjoy songs from favourites like Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Frozen and High School Musical performed by Broadway stars. The park is also home to the World Showcase where you can learn about cultures from 11 countries and sample their food and traditions. 





The park I most enjoyed spending time in and soaking up the atmosphere was Hollywood Studios. Most of my childhood memories come from this park - the Beauty and the Beast live show, Fantasmic and the thrills of Tower of Terror. I love the feel of Old Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard all lit up with neon lights.

My last visit to this park was in 1999 so I was excited to return and see the new Toy Story Land. I thought the Slinky Dog Dash coaster would be an attraction aimed at children but it was ideal for all ages. It twists and turns past giant toys in Andy’s oversized backyard! It's even more impressive at night when it is all lit up. I recommend trying to get a place in the queue when the fireworks are going off just before park close as wait times can be very long early in the morning. 








A few aquaintances scoffed when I, a 32 year old woman, said I was going to Disneyworld. I know some people travel to seek out a type of authenticity or cultural discovery but there's nothing wrong with a simple, fun holiday. Is Dinsey a man-made construct? Yes. Does that make it any less fun or valid? Not really. I had an absolute blast on my holiday but also equally enjoyed my rail trip to Switzerland. 

An aspect if the trip that I loved but haven't touched on in this post is all the Disney dining and treats. You can read all about my favourite Disney eats in an older post and what I packed for my trip here

Roll on Disney 2021!! (trip planning in progress) 


Gemma
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