View of Lake Brienz from Harderkulm
Disclosure: A big thank you to Hertz, Eurowings and Bürgenstock Resort Spa for sponsoring this post and making our Switzerland road trip very memorable. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I would not recommend something that I don’t personally believe is awesome.
Switzerland has been at the top of my bucket list forever, so when Hertz and Eurowings contacted me about a partnership to promote their new route, I could not resist. I called up my sister Kim and planned an impromptu scenic road trip around Switzerland. I was excited to finally see iconic Swiss sights like alpine villages, wooden chalets, rolling green hills and glacial lakes with my sister. Switzerland has natural beauty in abundance so you can’t really take a bad picture, and every scene looks like it came straight out of a postcard.
A road trip through the picturesque mountain passes and the jaw-dropping landscapes is the best way to experience the country. There are inspiring panoramic views at every turn and driving allowed us to see them all at our own pace. We spent 4 days driving ourselves around the Bernese Oberland region exploring the many villages, lakes and mountains in the area. This comprehensive guide and road trip itinerary will outline the route, drive times, accommodations, and restaurant suggestions to help you plan your OWN trip. The itinerary is broken out by day, with ideas on where to stop and what to see at each location.
On my last day in Europe, the weather finally got warm and sunny. We decided to take it easy and chill on a paddle boat on the Vltava River. From the water we had an amazing view of the bridges, Old Town and the castle. It was a nice change of pace to see Prague from another vantage point and a great way to end the trip.
A short train ride from Prague is the small town of Kutna Hora where you will find the Sedlec Ossuary, more commonly known as the Bone Chapel. Inside the church, bones and skulls have been made into all kinds of things, from chandeliers to coat of arms. These bones came from the victims of the Black Death who were buried, then later exhumed and stacked in the chapel.
Prague exudes old-world charm and its skyline is no different. From the iconic red rooftops to the green domes and spires, it all looks like something from another century. When visiting the city, make sure you climb up those well worn steps to the top of any one of the towers (or five of them like we did) and experience this bird’s eye view. Maybe just not after a full meal.
The very first thing we noticed in Prague was the music, ringing from every corner. Everywhere you go, there are musicians playing their instruments or singing. Here you can see a circle of people congregating in Old Town Square listening and dancing to the troubadours playing festive traditional folk songs.
Our last day in Berlin was overcast and dreary. Instead of letting it deter us, we grabbed an umbrella and headed out to the largest public park in Berlin. Walking through Tiergarten, we had a little fun with our umbrella trying to see who can have the best ‘swept away’ pose. Clearly Kim won.
There are a lot of memorials in Berlin, many commemorating the victims of Nazi Holocaust, but none as far reaching as these stolpersteine (stumbling stones). Created by Gunter Demnig, they are found all over Berlin as well as the rest of Europe. Each one is engraved with the name of the victim, the date of their deportation and death. All the blocks are about the size of a cobble stone, embedded into the street in front of the house of each person murdered. Many people may walk by and miss these small reminders, however they are there to let us know these people existed and the atrocities they have suffered.
On day 2, we finally made it to Berlin after a round-about flight. Our first stop was the East Side Gallery to check out the famous graffiti on the Berlin Wall, a memorial for freedom. Some of the art work were quite poignant, while others were just weird and wacky in a wonderful way.
Our first day in Europe was spent relaxing in rural Duisburg. Spending the morning at the farmer’s market, we had casual conversations with the friendly vendors as we wandered around, picking up fresh fruits and beautiful hydrangeas. The strawberries sold here are not the typical overgrown, hormone-induced variety that we often see at home. They are quite small but packed with loads of flavor, a perfect balance of sweet and tart.
After a long hiatus, I am finally back on the road, but what makes this trip special is that I am going with my baby sister. Even though we are 12 years apart, we are always on the same wavelength about everything…except when she is trying to convince me to go to a rave and I am convincing her to go to a lecture at the Reichstag. LifeAfter9-5 will be featuring Kim as a guest blogger, describing her travel experience from a student’s perspective.
Unlike my cultured sister, I am unfortunately not as worldly when it comes to travelling. I’ve been to Asia a few times but my parents tend to do all the planning, and I just have to show up at the airport. Being 22, I don’t have a lot of experience organizing big trips (yet), but I’m hoping to change that this summer. Without too many daunting obligations and a year’s attempt of saving money, I’m planning on visiting a few countries. The first stop? Germany and Czech Republic with Caitlin! While preparing for my first major trip, I’ve learnt a few tips and lessons for other aspiring travelers. Continue reading