Every week, Andrea Bailey, The Ticket’s Travel Mum suggests a holiday that you will want to take your children on. This week we headed up into the Swiss mountains.
MOUNTAIN HOLIDAYS IN THE SUMMER
Here in the UAE we enjoy the sunshine year round and the summers tend to get very hot. So if you’ve lived in the UAE and your children are in school there, you would end up with a stretch of two months holidays. While a lot of residents travel to their respective countries of origin, there are others who find somewhere to visit, preferably with a cool climate. This is a why a holiday in the mountains whether it be in the Swiss Alps or in Austria is a great idea!
SWISS ALPS: FLIMS-LAAX-FALERA
The towns of Flims, Laax and Falera are situated near each other and are great ski holiday destinations. In the summer they open their doors to guests who want to experience the hiking, trekking and cycling trails.
TRANSPORT AND CONNECTIVITY: The three villages vary in size and are well connected by the free shuttle bus service or the ‘Post’ bus service included in the Swiss Travel Pass. Most of the people working at the hotels in the area stay in one of the three villages and use the same bus and shuttle services to commute.
The transport system in Switzerland is one of the densest in the world and extremely well connected, in large due to the Swiss Travel System.
Visitors can pick up the Swiss Travel Pass for the duration of their stay in the country and can then use the pass on any public transport such as the trams, buses and boats anywhere in Switzerland. The other note-worthy point is that children under sixteen travel for free in Switzerland.
GETTING THERE: Swiss, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways would connect you to Zurich is the main arrival airport. 70 minutes train ride to Chur. 30 minute bus ride to Flims. The Chur to Flims buses wait outside the train terminal and bus schedules are coordinated with the trains.
ACCOMMODATION: In Flims, the Rocks Resort which is a cluster of hotel apartments made with natural stone and wood. Their rooms have been designed keeping in mind the eco-friendly aspect so there is minimal waste of energy.
ACTIVITIES: Take the shuttle bus or Post bus down to CAUMA See OR Lake Cauma. It’s a walk of about 10 minutes in the forest down to the lake. The lake is surrounded by a pine forest and has a little island in the centre, which is quite stunning and feels like I’ve stepped into Narnia.
Even on a cloudy day the water is a beautiful shade of blue-green. A restaurant at the lakeside is open till six in the evening, most days.
RHINE GORGE: A station located high above the Rhine Gorge offers breath-taking views over the valleys below and the Rhine as it makes its way from the mountains of Andermatt in Switzerland to end in Rotterdam and the North Sea.
HIKES IN THE MOUNTAINS: You would have to buy a ticket for the mountain trails as additional to the Swiss Pass. Ski lifts take you up to a point and you can hike or cycle your way down the mountains. I tried the Water Path, a hike that follows the river and offers a magical walk through the beautiful Flims forest. Several waterfalls, bridges and trails make it a very special hike.
For the more adventurous, the Unesco site of Sardona with the older part of the mountain over the newer, is a big draw.
FALERA VILLAGE: The St. Remigius Church sits on a hill in the city centre with megalith stones to one side. The local tourist office has brochures and maps that you can use.
LAAX VILLAGE: This village is situated on a lake and is a pleasant walk down from the resorts at the top of the hill. All shops and establishments usually close by around 5pm in the summer.
JUNIOR AND TEEN CAMP: This is a youth camp run for a stretch of six weeks every summer and open to children from around the world from ages 5-17 yrs. Many children who have previously attended this camp return as camp managers for the summers. Activities include treks, ski trips and language lessons.
Cost: Approx AED 30,000 for a three week stay and AED 1200 additional for travel insurance for the camp which is mandatory.
Parents drop off their children for 3-6 weeks and either stay in the area or travel around on their holiday.
LOCAL CUISINE: Raclette and Fondue are typical Swiss dishes with cheese and bread.
Capuns is another local Swiss dish with dumplings made out of chard, vegetables and pieces of meat.
Polenta is also used in Swiss cuisine.
Prices range on average from AED 60 onwards for a main course.
TOP TIP: The Swiss Pass is the best way to move around the country. Museums are included for free and mountain excursions are discounted. You can use buses, trains, boats for free with the Swiss Pass.
AUSTRIA – WALKING AND HIKING HOLIDAYS
Austria offers some of the most scenic mountain walking and hiking trails.
SALZBURG REGION : ZELL AM SEE – KAPRUN
The holiday region of Zell am See-Kaprun is a real treasure for walkers. The air is clean and fresh, the grass is lush and green, and you get magnificent views of a picturesque Alpine world. The region offers a wide and varied range of routes, from excursions to the top of the mountains to short walks down in the valley.
Walkers have a choice of two majestic Alpine giants, the Kitzsteinhorn, rising up to more than 3000m, and its partner mountain the Schmittenhöhe at 2000m. Several walking routes extend from there into the neighbouring regions and lead holidaymakers on a voyage of discovery through some of Austria’s most unique fauna and flora.
If you like, you can start your hiking with one of the region’s knowledgeable nature experts by your side. They’ll explain everything you see and show you all the detours that are worth making as well as all the quickest short cuts along the woods and meadows.
You can also start your tour at the valley station of the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. In July and August a five-hour walk leads up to the snow-covered peak from there, to where impressive crevasses break up the eternal ice.
The breathtaking view of the surrounding mountain world is free for all to admire. Families with smaller children would prefer a more leisurely route that takes them on the 30-minute panorama walk on Schmittenhöhe.
If the children are tired, there are 55 lifts and cable cars available in the area to help you on. Many of them operate during the summer months too and offer a quick and comfortable alternative for getting down to the valley or up to the mountain tops.
Far up there as well as down below, plenty of original Alpine huts and inns are waiting with delicious Austrian fare.
GETTING THERE: Salzburg is the largest city with rail and air connectivity.
For more information, visit www.austria.info
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