The Travelling Tourist

A travel blog for all the fellow tourists out there. Main focus on destinations in Europe.

Gimmelwald is a charming, car-free village in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, nestled in the Swiss Alps. This hidden gem offers a tranquil escape from the bustle of city life, making it an ideal destination for those seeking peace and natural beauty.

The village is perched on a cliffside, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. With a population of around 130 residents, Gimmelwald maintains a traditional Swiss ambiance, where you can experience authentic alpine culture. The narrow, winding streets are lined with wooden chalets adorned with colorful flowers, adding to the picturesque scenery.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Gimmelwald is a paradise. The area offers numerous hiking trails suitable for all levels, from gentle walks through meadows to challenging climbs up steep slopes. The hike from Gimmelwald to Mürren is particularly popular, providing stunning vistas along the way. During the winter months, the village transforms into a snowy wonderland, perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

Accommodation options in Gimmelwald range from cozy guesthouses to charming mountain lodges, often run by local families. This ensures a warm and welcoming atmosphere, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local way of life. Dining options are limited but delightful, with a focus on hearty Swiss cuisine, featuring dishes like fondue, raclette, and rösti.

Reaching Gimmelwald involves a scenic journey, typically starting with a train ride to Lauterbrunnen, followed by a short bus ride and a cable car ascent. The effort is well worth it, as the journey itself offers spectacular views of waterfalls, cliffs, and alpine landscapes.

Gimmelwald is an excellent choice for those looking to disconnect and enjoy the tranquility of nature. Whether you're hiking through lush pastures, exploring the nearby villages, or simply relaxing and taking in the views, this alpine village provides a serene and memorable vacation experience.

To reach Gimmelwald from abroad, fly into Zurich or Geneva Airport, then take a train to Interlaken Ost. From Interlaken, transfer to a regional train to Lauterbrunnen, followed by a bus to Stechelberg, and finally a brief cable car ride up to Gimmelwald. Alternatively, you can travel from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp by cable car, take a scenic train to Mürren, and then another short cable car ride to Gimmelwald. Purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass can simplify transportation, and it’s advisable to check Swiss Railways (SBB) for current timetables and tickets.

Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece, and it is a captivating destination for anyone seeking a blend of natural beauty, rich history, and tranquil surroundings. Known for its stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and charming villages, Kefalonia offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience.

The island is renowned for its diverse and dramatic scenery. Myrtos Beach, often cited as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, features striking white pebbles and turquoise waters, framed by towering cliffs. For a different beach experience, head to Xi Beach, where the soft, reddish sand contrasts with the clear blue sea. The waters here are shallow and warm, making it ideal for families.

Kefalonia is also home to the captivating Melissani Cave. This underground lake, illuminated by sunlight streaming through a collapsed roof, creates an enchanting play of light and water. Visitors can take boat tours through the cave to fully appreciate its beauty. Similarly, the Drogarati Cave, with its impressive stalactites and stalagmites, offers another fascinating underground adventure.

For history enthusiasts, the island has much to offer. The Archaeological Museum of Argostoli provides insights into Kefalonia’s ancient past, while the ruins of the Castle of St. George offer a glimpse into the island’s medieval history along with panoramic views. The Monastery of Agios Gerasimos, dedicated to the island’s patron saint, is a serene and spiritual site worth visiting.

Exploring Kefalonia’s charming villages is another highlight. Fiskardo, in the north, is one of the few villages that survived the 1953 earthquake intact, preserving its traditional architecture. Its picturesque harbor, lined with pastel-colored houses and lively tavernas, is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Assos, a tiny village nestled on a narrow isthmus, is equally charming with its Venetian castle and scenic views.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do on Kefalonia. Hiking trails, such as those in the Ainos National Park, offer stunning views and the chance to see the rare Kefalonian fir tree and wild ponies. The island’s varied coastline is perfect for kayaking, snorkeling, and diving, with opportunities to explore underwater caves and shipwrecks.

Kefalonia’s cuisine is another reason to visit. Traditional dishes such as moussaka, meat pie (kreatopita), and fresh seafood can be enjoyed at local tavernas. Don’t miss tasting the island’s Robola wine, a crisp white wine that pairs perfectly with the local flavors.

Accommodation options range from luxury resorts to family-run guesthouses, ensuring a comfortable stay for every traveler. The island’s relaxed pace and warm hospitality make it an ideal destination for unwinding and enjoying the simple pleasures of Greek island life.

Living in Lassi is an excellent choice for those looking to explore the island of Kefalonia. This charming resort area, located just a few kilometers from the island's capital, Argostoli, offers a perfect balance of convenience, comfort, and access to the island's many attractions.

One of the key advantages of staying in Lassi is its central location. Being close to Argostoli means easy access to essential amenities such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities, as well as a variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops. The vibrant atmosphere of Argostoli, with its bustling harbor, picturesque square, and lively markets, is just a short drive or a pleasant walk away.

Lassi itself is known for its beautiful beaches, making it a great base for beach lovers. Platis Gialos and Makris Gialos are two of the most popular beaches in the area, featuring golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and excellent facilities. These beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water sports. The proximity to these beaches means you can easily spend your mornings or afternoons soaking up the sun and the sea without needing to travel far.

For those interested in exploring the natural beauty and cultural sites of Kefalonia, Lassi's central location is ideal. The island’s famous Myrtos Beach, with its dramatic cliffs and turquoise waters, is about a 30-minute drive away. The stunning Melissani Cave, where you can take a boat ride on an underground lake, is also within easy reach. A bit further afield, you can visit the charming village of Fiskardo, known for its preserved Venetian architecture, or hike in the Ainos National Park, home to rare fir trees and wild ponies.

Transportation from Lassi is convenient, whether you choose to rent a car, use local buses, or hire taxis. The island’s road network allows you to explore various attractions at your own pace, and many of the island’s scenic drives start close to Lassi. Renting a car provides the most flexibility, enabling you to venture to remote beaches, hidden villages, and off-the-beaten-path spots.

In addition to its strategic location, Lassi offers a wide range of accommodation options. From modern hotels with sea views to cozy apartments and villas, you can find a place that suits your preferences and budget. The area is also known for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere, making it easy to feel at home.

Whether you’re drawn by the natural beauty, historical sites, outdoor activities, or culinary delights, Kefalonia promises a rich and rewarding travel experience. It’s a destination that captivates and lingers in your memory long after you’ve left.

Traveling to classic weekend cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona might seem appealing, but there are several reasons to consider alternatives.

Firstly, these popular destinations are often overcrowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. Major attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and La Sagrada Familia can have long lines and large crowds, making it difficult to enjoy the experience fully. The sheer number of tourists can also lead to a lack of personal space and an overwhelming atmosphere.

Additionally, these cities tend to be more expensive. The high demand for accommodation, dining, and attractions often results in inflated prices. You might find yourself paying a premium for everything from hotel rooms to a simple meal at a cafe. This can quickly add up, making a weekend trip more costly than anticipated.

Another drawback is that the classic cities are frequently targeted by tourist scams. Pickpocketing and overcharging can be more common in these heavily trafficked areas, leading to an increased risk of unpleasant experiences. Navigating these issues can be stressful and detract from the overall enjoyment of your trip.

The commercialization of these cities can sometimes result in a loss of authenticity. Many local businesses cater primarily to tourists, which can dilute the genuine cultural experiences you might be seeking. Instead of traditional eateries and shops, you may encounter numerous souvenir stores and international chain restaurants, reducing the charm and uniqueness of your visit.

Also, the environmental impact of tourism in these popular cities is significant. Over-tourism can strain local resources, damage historic sites, and contribute to pollution. By opting for lesser-known destinations, you help reduce the pressure on these iconic cities and support more sustainable travel practices.

Good thing then that Europe is filled with hidden gems perfect for a weekend getaway. So here are five lesser-known cities that offer unique experiences without the crowds.

First on the list is Ghent in Belgium. Often overshadowed by Brussels and Bruges, Ghent is a medieval city with a modern twist. Its well-preserved architecture, such as the Gravensteen Castle and St. Bavo’s Cathedral, complements a vibrant arts scene and lively nightlife. Stroll along the picturesque canals or explore the Museum of Fine Arts, home to an impressive collection of Flemish art.

Another charming destination is Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. This small, green city is known for its friendly atmosphere and stunning scenery. The Ljubljanica River flows through the city, lined with outdoor cafes and baroque buildings. Don't miss Ljubljana Castle for panoramic views, and be sure to visit the Central Market to experience local flavors and crafts.

Portugal’s second city, Porto, is an excellent choice for wine enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Situated on the Douro River, Porto boasts stunning views, colorful buildings, and a rich cultural heritage. The Ribeira district, with its narrow streets and historic buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tour the port wine cellars and sample the region’s famous export, or take a boat cruise along the river for a different perspective of the city.

In Estonia, Tallinn offers a blend of medieval charm and modernity. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is filled with cobblestone streets, gothic spires, and historic walls. Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Toompea Castle, then explore the trendy Kalamaja district with its creative spaces and hip cafes. The city’s compact size makes it perfect for exploring on foot over a weekend.

Finally, Plovdiv in Bulgaria is a city rich in history and culture. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, Plovdiv offers a mix of ancient ruins and vibrant street art. The Roman Theatre, built in the 1st century, is still used for performances today. The Kapana district is a hub for artists and musicians, filled with galleries, cafes, and boutiques. Stroll along the Maritsa River or explore the Old Town’s charming cobblestone streets and traditional houses.

These five cities provide a mix of history, culture, and scenic beauty, offering a refreshing alternative to more commonly visited European destinations.

Packing efficiently for a city weekend can help you avoid the hassle of checking in luggage and save valuable time. Here's what to pack and how to make the most of your carry-on.

Start with versatile clothing. Choose pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. A pair of comfortable jeans, a couple of tops, and a versatile dress or skirt are great options. Opt for neutral colors that are easy to pair. Don’t forget a lightweight jacket or sweater for cooler evenings. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to maximize space and minimize wrinkles.

For footwear, pack a single pair of comfortable walking shoes that you can wear all day. Depending on the weather and your plans, you might also include a pair of flats or sandals that can transition from day to night. Wear your bulkiest shoes during travel to save space in your bag.

Limit your toiletries to essentials. Most hotels provide basic items like shampoo and soap, so you only need to bring your personal favorites. Use travel-sized containers for liquids, and consider solid alternatives like bar soap and shampoo bars to avoid liquid restrictions. A compact toiletry bag with clear pockets can help you stay organized and compliant with security regulations.

Don’t forget the necessary gadgets and chargers. Bring your phone, a portable charger, and any other electronics you might need, such as a camera or tablet. A universal travel adapter is essential if you’re traveling internationally. Keep all your chargers and cables in a small pouch to prevent them from getting tangled.

A small bag for daily outings is a must. A lightweight backpack or crossbody bag is ideal for carrying your essentials while exploring the city. Include items like a reusable water bottle, sunglasses, a compact umbrella, and any necessary travel documents.

For accessories, pack items that can enhance your outfits without taking up much space. A scarf can double as a blanket on chilly flights, and a simple set of jewelry can dress up an outfit for an evening out. A hat or cap can provide sun protection during the day.

Finally, consider packing a few helpful extras. A travel-size laundry detergent can be useful if you need to wash clothes on the go. Ziplock bags or packing cubes can help organize your belongings and keep items like dirty laundry or shoes separate from the rest of your clothes.

By packing smartly and efficiently, you can make the most of your city weekend without the need for checked luggage. This approach not only saves time but also makes your travel experience more streamlined and enjoyable.