Monday, November 2, 2015

Personal tips for exploring Europe (Part 1)

I made my first trip to Europe in 2008 when I embarked on a one year NOC internship program to Stockholm during my time in my time in NUS. As a Computer Science student, I initially applied to do my internship in Silicon Valley, but due to the high demand, I was offered a place in Stockholm instead. Although I was extremely disappointed, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The IT community was very vibrant in Stockholm, the Swedish people are friendly and VERY beautiful, and Europe is an awesome continent to travel. Crossing borders in Europe would bring me to a different country, with different cultures, food and architecture. As compared to America, you could be driving for hours and still end up eating burgers and fries and visiting American museums. I'm not saying America is inferior to Europe, but I was just glad that it wasn't a bad thing that I was posted to Europe  instead of America for my one year internship during my time as a student. America is definitely on my list of places to travel and I'm looking forward to an amazing road trip there someday.

Gröna Lund in Stockholm, Sweden 2008

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lausanne, Switzerland 2015

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and Lausanne was the last leg of our Switzerland trip before we completed our winter holidays for 2014. We made a decision to use Lausanne as our base, from which we would travel to visit the surrounding regions: Gruyères, Montreux and Martigny.

We found a nice cosy country-side house on Airbnb. As it was located in the country-side, the roads were not very well lit, rather bumpy and the exact location wasn't easily found on the maps. To add to the challenge, we were driving at night in pitch darkness. We were literally the light shining in the darkness! After ending up in a few wrong locations, some detours and off-road driving, we completed our drive from Geneva and arrived at our country home for the next 3 nights. 

Our Airbnb host, Corinne, is a semi-retired midwife and while cooking our dinner for the night that we arrived, we got to know her and her other longer-term tenants. One of them is a midwife-in-training who's understudying Corinne. We learnt from them that it's very common to do home delivery without the need for a gynaecologist. Even when deliveries are done in a hospital, a midwife would suffice. We have always been interested in having home birth or water birth and so, it was intriguing conversation for us. Of course these situations are for low risk pregnancies.

Bressonnaz Dessus Vulliens Switzerland (
Our country-side home and 4WD Mitsubishi 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Interlaken, Switzerland 2015

We have heard so much about Interlaken and how it is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland, so  after our time in Zurich we decided to stay here for 2 days & explore it with the car we have rented. As with most of the accommodations, we booked a room through Airbnb & it was a very nice & cosy studio apartment connected to the main house but with our own entrance. The view outside the glass doors was that of mountains but we didn't really get to enjoy it because of the thick mist that hovered in the mornings when we were leaving the apartment.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Geneva, Switzerland 2015

When we first arrived in Switzerland, we flew in via Geneva but left immediately for Zurich for our first leg of the trip. You can read more about our Zurich section here.

Getting to the city

But for those that fly into Geneva and are going straight to the city, you can make use of the free train ride to the city.

"Since 2008, you can pick up a free ticket for public transport from the machine in the baggage collection area at the Arrival level. This Unireso ticket, offered by Genève Aéroport, allows you to use public transport in the canton of Geneva free for a period of 80 minutes."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Zurich, Switzerland 2015

Zurich was our first destination upon arriving in Switzerland. Although our flight was to arrive in Geneva, we decided to leave that city for a later part as we had a friend there but he wasn't around during the time we arrived. As per our predictable habit of traveling, we still have yet to decide on how we would travel from Geneva to Zurich when we touched down.

At a park beside Lake Zurich

Traveling to Zurich

We were considering the option of traveling by train or driving. After speaking to the staff on the ground of the various transport departments and considering the cost of the Public Trains (SBB), Swiss Travel Pass and Hertz Car Rental, we decided to rent a car for 24H, drive to Zurich and then return it there. It was actually cheaper to rent a car (including petrol, insurance, different return location charge... etc) than traveling by train. Actually for most travel within Europe, trains are generally costlier, but in some scenarios they are more convenient, timely and scenic. But in our current situation, it was more convenient with a car as it would bring us direct to our accommodation together with the 2 suitcases and 2 backpacks that we had. And since it was cheaper, it was quite a no-brainer option for us. The other considerations we had were flight fatigue, night time driving and snowy road conditions; We had just arrived from a long flight and it was actually snowing & raining.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Switzerland & France 2015

For the winter of 2014/2015, we were planning for our snowboarding trip as it's actually been a while since we last did snowboarding. I first picked up snowboarding during my one year in Stockholm while I was doing my NUS NOC internship. It was definitely a rough and late start to the sport but the beginning of a highly addictive hobby. Since then, I've snowboarded in Romme Alpin (Sweden), Sälen (Sweden), Les Gets (France), Nanshan (China) and Yongpyong (South Korea). 

Snowboarding in Les Gets, France 2009 (
Snowboarding in Les Gets, France 2009

For this trip, we were planning to go somewhere near, preferably in Asia so it wouldn't be too costly. With those considerations in mind, we decided to head back to South Korea. Over there we could find good food, nice people and decently priced places for snowboarding. But as I researched on, it didn't seem as value-for-money as compared to snowboarding in Europe. The prices of the ski-passes and snowboard rental between Korea and Europe were almost the same but the ski domain is significantly larger in Europe. We are talking about 29km of ski runs in Yongpyong and 600km of ski runs in Val Thorens!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Val Thorens Experience

As promised, we are back with our Val Thorens (Snowboarding) Experience in this second blog post.

Val Thorens (
We were so happy that we got to stand up on the peaks & snowboard down snow-covered slopes together.

As mentioned, we had signed up for 5 days of snowboard lessons & that would be conducted by 1 instructor and a small group of us, ranging from 3-10 people, depending on how many turned up for that day. Here's how our day was like for the first 5 days with lessons: