A particular and very nice feature I discovered in Switzerland is that in every hotel I checked in so far, a complimentary travel pass is handed out with the room key/card. One can travel on all public transport for free for the length of the stay. What a nice idea! In Geneva airport, I discovered a ticket machine in the baggage pick-up area. The only thing one has to do is to press the button and the machine produces a travel card valid for 80 minutes for the Geneva area. This is sufficient time to travel to any accommodation. As soon as one arrives there, the pictured travel pass is handed over. And this did not only happen to me in Geneva, but also in Basel …
This wonderful idea prevents you from wasting a lot of time: navigating around in a foreign or unkown area, no lengthy searches for parking space and not knowing what, where and how to pay for the parking space (if it is not a garage). The ride by car/taxi from Geneva airport to the city usually takes 20 minutes and sometimes even longer. The train takes only 7 minutes. Above all, it also saves a lot of money and energy resources too. Very well done!
Flying into various European cities by plane can be quite time-consuming: you have to travel to the airports which are often on the outskirts or somewhere in the countryside. Security checks also usually take considerable time; then you have to be at the aiport at least one hour in advance. Despite low-cost carriers, flight tickets are still usually much more expensive than train tickets if they are booked well in advance. So, here is a model journey with prices from 2017:
If, for instance, you start in Munich and go to Salzburg and then further to Vienna it costs you less than EUR 50,- If you take a day trip from Vienna e.g. to Budapest, it costs EUR 48,- (return trip) and if you travel further to Venice it is EUR 49,- If you take a daytrip from Venice to e.g. Florence, it costs you EUR 60,- and if you visit Milan and continue to travel to Nice, it costs you only EUR 35,- From Nice at the cote d’azur it is TGV-country: if you take a day trip to e.g. Marseille, it costs you EUR 20,- (return trip) and if you decide to travel to Paris, it costs you EUR 47 and further to London, it costs you EUR 56,- So the whole journey through a lot of Europe only costs EUR 350,- if you plan well ahead. If you spend one day in every city, it takes you 10 – 12 days.
Most trains are equipped with WiFi and restaurants. So you could move from A to B to C … while enjoying a good meal, watch the landscape and perhaps meeting new people. And in the end, you have a good conscience because you travel ecologically compatible.
It might seem so, but Hamburg in Germany is not a coast town. The sea, however, is quite close and there are wonderful daytrips from the city of Hamburg to some lovely beaches. One of the best-known seaside resorts in Germany is the island of Sylt. It is possible to go there by car but only via trainservice. As the island can ideally be explored by foot or by bicycle, it is better to go there by train because there are frequently long queues of cars waiting to board a train to go to the island. There is a train to Sylt at least every hour and there is a special ticket (Holstein-Ticket) for only €28 (2017) for the first person and every additional person only pays €3. The ticket is valid for a whole day; so this is ideal for a daytrip to a seaside resort (or in fact any other stop in Schleswig-Holstein).
Sylt itself is a wonderful island with the often stormy north sea on the one side and the very calm and shallow, muddy “Watt” on the other side. In spring and summer the whole island is wrapped in a captivating rosy scent because every path is seamed with particular hedges with roses. The island’s scenery is very special, almost unique and, therefore, the whole island is a wildlife sanctuary. Despite this fact, the island is equipped with wonderful restaurants (highest density of Michelin starred restaurants) and nice shopping opportunities. So you can enjoy nature, but also a very decent meal and shop around (a lot!).
on the beach
on a dune
A dayticket for a London sightseeing bus tour is usually well above £20. When I show people around, I usually take bus no 11 from Liverpool street to Fulham broadway. This is a particularly ideal trip for people arriving at Stanstead airport who have limited time. The route is along many London sights: Fleet street, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey court houses, Trafalgar square, quite a short glimpse of Buckingham Palace if you do not hop off; Whitehall (Downingstreet etc), Horse Guards Parade, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. James’s Park, Belgravia, Chelsea, Sloan Square and King’s Road (shop shop! AND the Saatchi gallery!), Fulham with its nice market and restaurants . Particularly between Trafalgar square and the Houses of Parliament, walking along the bus route is ideal because then you only hop-off once, walk a little and see the sights more closely. The exact route can be found here.
A single bus fare costs £1,50 and if you have an oyster card or a contactless credit/debitcard, every second bus fare within 90 minutes is for free. So even if you hop-off 4 times, the sightseeing tour costs you only £3,- If you hop-off 6 times, it costs £ 4,50 and so on … However, you cannot pay by cash anymore. A travelcard for the whole day will cost you £6,60 (prices as per 2017). Then, you are als able to take the tube, a tram or even a boat on the Thames.
If you go from Liverpool street station to Fulham in one go it usually takes you 1.5 hours.
Lugano is very swanky, always warmer than the rest of Switzerland, almost mediterranean with no Mediterranean but with very much Italian flair, a wonderful lake and beautiful scenery. Anyway, it can easily be reached by train from almost any point in Switzerland. The esplanade at the lake offers stunning views to the mountains on both sides of the lake. The city itself has many fine restaurants, idyllic places and unique shops.
One mountain, Monte Brè is an ideal lookout point where one gets a view of Lugano and the north of Italy. Those fit enough walk up the mountain and enjoy a drink in the café at the very top of the mountain. Those not that fit can get there by cable car, enjoy the breathtaking views and walk down into the city. As you can see, I have tracked my little city hike. If you look closely, you will see that I paused frequently because I had to take so many photos of the fantastic views.
The advantage is that you can actually do this tour quite quickly (60 – 90 minutes) or you take your time and the tour takes half a day or even longer.
For many months, indeed years, I was planning a travel blog primarily focussing on travelling green and fair, or at least greener and more fair than a few years or even decades ago. I like to explore cities or landscapes by foot or bike. Sometimes I even go into the blue, without any plan and without any map out of curiosity wondering what might be the view after turning into the next street of after climbing the next hill.
Yes, sometimes we need to take planes due to pressure of time and/or a significant distance. However, my personal rule is not to travel by plane any distance below 1500 km / 1000 miles; also in most cases not to travel by car, but by public transport, or by bicycle, by foot and preferably by rail (if there is one).
With my resolution to explore the world greener, I discover many spots which I might have missed had I travelled by car. Some of my experiences, hints and tips are to be featured in this blog every now and then.