CH Thun 2019 Oct

The weather had forecast a rainy day and so we headed to nearby Thun by bus (free) using the transport card. But first we strolled along the lake front in Spiez once more before the rain.



Rain started to dump while we were on the bus. Took about 30 min to reach Thun and by then rain turned into drizzles. Strolled around the town again but did not visit the Schoss Thun which we visited before. Had lunch in a Thai restaurant with good reviews – it was delicious and nice to have a break. Grabbed some groceries and returned back to Spiez. 



Did not visit anywhere while rain was getting even heavier from late afternoon. On next morning Niesen @2200m was capped with snow. Left Spiez with fond memories and headed to Ticino in the far south via Zurich.




====>   Ticino   ====>




CH Kleine Scheidegg 2019 Oct

Visited Jungfraujoch – top of Europe in June 2018 when Jungfrau was covered in clouds. Thus, in this trip I had planned a day trip on a clear day hopefully (out of 4 days based in Spiez).  Gladly, our humble wishes were realized ultimately.

Arrived at Kleine Scheidegg @2000m after 2 changes – at Interlaken Ost and Lauterbrunnen via Wengen before 11am.  Hiked up to a small pond Fallbodonsee @2100m on a cloudless day in about 20 min.

Wow, the snowy Eiger-Monch-Jungfrau (around 4000m) was towering in front of us in glaring sun. It was another calm day so we had some shots of perfect reflections of the giants 🙂



After lingering for about 30 min we returned to the station and walked up to an observatory on the other side. Dropped by a heart-shaped turquoise pond (again!) and caught sight of some fall foliage covering the mountain slopes  🙂



Had lunch in Kleine Scheidegg as we did 16 months earlier.  Descended to Wengen @1200m by train and waved goodbye to the giants in perfect weather. Strolled around the mountain town and not many shops were open – maybe in low season.  Spotted some para-gliders in the air taking advantage of that calm day with fall foliage, snowy mountains as backdrop.



En route to Lauterbrunnen descending


Before arriving at Interlaken with more fall foliage


Returned to Spiez on a very crowded train, with lots of passengers standing on a normal day. We were very grateful for the almost perfect weather in the last 2 days in the Bernese Alps.


====>   Thun   ====>



CH Blausee 2019 Oct

Took bus and arrived at Blausee (downhill en route to Frutigen) in less than 30 min. Entrance ticket fee on weekend is double that on normal days @CHF10.   The small lake was less than 5 min behind the entrance.  There were many more people around another turquoise lake on that Sunday afternoon.



We walked around the small lake and left after less than an hour to take next bus to Frutigen station, from where we returned to Spiez by train.

Had another nice Italian dinner (2 nights in a row) close to the lake rim of Thunersee, about 15 min on foot downhill from our apartment.



We had a wonderful day visiting two turquoise lakes surrounded by tall mountains on a fine day. Rested early to be ready for yet another day in the Bernese Alps.



====>    Kleine Scheidegg  ====>





CH Oeschinensee 2019 Oct

Visited Oeschinensee and Blausee as a day trip from Spiez – one of the highlights in this trip.

Took a fairly crowded train to Kandersteg in 20 min but it turned out to be about 45 min. Due to unknown reasons (announcements were made in Swiss-German) the train stopped at Spiez station for about 15 min. From Kandersteg station, we walked towards the cable car station in about 20 min when it was still overcast.


Though it was on a Sunday, we lined up for a while at 10+ am to board the cable car, which took us up to nearly 1700m in around 10 min. Outside the top station, we were surrounded by plenty of summits in blue sky. In higher spirits, we followed an easy trail heading slowly downhill to Oeschinensee in 20 min.



Though Oeschinensee is a lake at nearly 1600m, it is a gem surrounded by summits (Rothorn, Bluemlisalphorn, Oeschinenhorn, Frundenhorn) of well over 3200m. The lake was almost transparent and turquoise on a calm and sunny day. We walked along the lake rim before having lunch in one of the two lodges along the lake rim.  Well, we did not expect food to be  delicious @1600m but it was one of those few lunches with such a scenery that surely we would treasure for many years to come. Service was also friendly despite on a fairly busy Sunday.



On the way back to Kandersteg station after 1pm, there were still many people heading towards the lake. We were eager to catch the next bus to Blausee which only serves roughly once per hour.




====>   Blausee   ====>



CH Spiez 2019 Oct

Arrived at Spiez by the Golden Pass Line from Montreux in about 3 hours with 1 transfer at Zweisimmen. As it was on a Saturday, the train was full with plenty of passengers standing. Luckily we were on board 15 min before departure and had secured seats.

After departing from Montreux @395m, the train had to ascend and descend multiple times – reaching the highest point @1274m before descending into the Bernese Alps.

Views along the train ride



Spiez is a small town on the southern lake rim of Thunersee.  We stopped at this station briefly in June 2018 while transferring trains to Zermatt and Luzern. This time we based here for 4 nights to visit the Bernese Alps.

We checked into an apartment annexed to a hotel. The concierge was nice to offer a free pick-up service from the Spiez station.  Again, we were allowed to checkin early and were given two transport cards in the Thunersee area. The apartment was spacious with views of Mt Niesen. 



After lunch we strolled downhill to Schloss Spiez and along the lake rim.



====>    Oeschinensee   ====>



CH Lavaux 2019 Oct

Visited Lavaux/Cully as a day trip from Montreux. Lucky it was a sunny day after a rainy day on the day before. Took a commuter train (heading to Lausanne) and alighted at Cully – a scenic village. Walked uphill in about 20 min passing by UNESCO Lavaux vineyards with gorgeous views of mountains surrounding Lake Geneva.


Lunch in Michelin recommended restaurant in Cully, overlooking Lake Geneva. Lucky to be seated w/o booking, while some were having business lunch. Delicious food and good service, also nicely decorated.



After lunch, we strolled around the town briefly before descending downhill and took train to Vevey.


Lakefront in Vevey, and the Fork



Views of Dents du Midi from hotel room

from the moment we checked in Montreux it caught our attention in the distance. Captured some shots in early morning as well as before sunset. The summits were dusted with more snow after a long rainy day.




====>   Spiez   ====>



CH Gruyeres 2019 Oct

Visited Gruyeres uphill as a day trip from Montreux. A well preserved medieval village and our main goal was to visit the Chateau de Gruyeres, which has been turned into a museum after being bought back by the Canton of Fribourg.


Chateaux de Gruyeres

The castle was first built in the 13th century and was inhabited by the counts of Gruyeres. In the mid-19th century it was acquired by the wealthy Bovy family, who established artists’ colony and invited guests to stay including impressionist painter Corot and pianist Liszt etc.





Beautiful landscape from the Courtyard



Lunch in Gruyeres


Views taken on the train – lush green, snowy mountain tops, Montreux and Lake Geneva




====>    Lavaux / Vevey   ====>



CH Montreux 2019 Oct

Arrived at Montreux in 1 hour by train from Geneva and early checked into lakeside hotel with balcony overlooking serene Lake Geneva 🙂



Chateau de Chillon

Visited Chateau de Chillon after lunch in less than 3 hours. It is a medieval castle built on rocky spur on the lake rim for the Dukes of Savoy.


Strolled along the lake rim to Montreux town centre for dinner – interesting sculptures.


====>   Gruyeres  ====>



CH Geneva 2019 Oct

Wife and I visited Switzerland for the second time in 17 days from early to late October, focusing on Lake Geneva, the Bernese Alps, Ticino and fall foliage.

We relied entirely on efficient public transports and did not bother to drive, based on good experience on our previous trip in June 2018. We both had the Swiss Half fare card and obtained local transport cards from hotels/apartments so local commutes (by bus and train) were free. We also forwarded our luggage to the next SBB (train) station for collection 2+ days later with a small fee of only CHF6 in some locations.

While there were rainy days as expected, we were grateful to enjoy sunny days during our visits/hikes in Geneve, Chateau de Chillon, Lavaux, Oeschinensee, Blausee, Kleine Scheidegg/Wengen, Locarno.

Overall itin – Geneva (2n) > Montreux (4n) > Spiez (4n) > Lugano (5n) > Luzern (2n)



We arrived at Zurich airport after an overnight flight direct from HKG. As it was about 15 min late, the connection to the domestic Swissair flight to Geneva was quite tight – security checks on carry-on bags plus boarding in another zone. We thought we would not make it though luckily when we arrived at the gate boarding had just commenced.

The domestic flight departed on time and the flight was brief in 1 hour. We were seated on the left and caught sight of the distant and snowy Swiss Alps floating in a sea of clouds not long after sunrise at around 8 am.



Arrived at our serviced apartment in the old town by bus (free tickets obtained in baggage collection) before 10 am. Luckily a room was available and we were allowed to check-in early. The apartment was spacious at 42 sqm and properly furnished as in a 4/5-star hotel – my wife was happy (with my choice as usual 😀 )


Strolled around the lake rim and the English garden – less than 5 min from our apartment on foot. Had lunch in an Italian restaurant and it was almost full – many were closed on Sunday. Afterwards, we dropped by the Palais de Nations – also closed, and strolled in the old town before dinner.

#palaisdenations #brokenchair #genevaoldtown


On the next day, took the yellow boat (covered by the local transport card) to cross the lake, dropped by the Russian Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sundays and Mondays. 

Also took some shots of the Jet d’Eau in rainbow colours – at the bottom and the apex.


#cathédralstpierre #placedubourgdefour #placemolard #grandtheatredegenève


Nice Italian dinner prior to leaving Geneva – almost full house even on Monday. Good I had booked it weeks ago. Food was delicious and good service.

#restaurantlestroisverres #muranochandeliers #chablis #bolgheriwine🍷



====>    Montreux   ===>



JP 2019 Sep Koyo Sapporo/Otaru

Returned to Sapporo for 2 nights before flying back home. While koyo won’t be in Sapporo until mid to late Oct, it was more for relaxation and to enjoy French dinner course served in a 3-star Michelin restaurant.

Quickly dashed to our fav sushi restaurant in Sapporo for lunch after dropping our luggage in JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo.



Dinner in fav izakaya. No sightseeing as it had been raining quite heavily in Sapporo.


It was a sunny day on the next morning after the passage of another temperate cyclone. Went to Otaru again for easy strolls in its canal and glass shops.


Seafood-don lunch in Sankaku market


French dinner course “Terroir” in Michelin 3-star restaurant – delicious food and superb service !!



Dropped by the former Hokkaido Government office Building again and Odori Park before departure.

That is the end of our 1-week koyo trip in Hokkaido.



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