Traveling Yogi: What I did in Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland.

One of the most gorgeous, gorgeous places I have EVER been to in my entire life. Besides Interlaken, but I will write about that another time.

After leaving Geneva, I took a 30 minute train ride to Lausanne, my first ever trip on a European train. So of course, I didn’t know that I had to get my ticket validated. Luckily, my Air bnb host in Geneva helped me out – he was getting off at a stop before me, and wanted to make sure I went to the correct place (do you see a recurring theme here of people helping me out because I get lost so easily?!). Anyways, we literally sprinted to the ticket office, cut in front of people in line, got my train ticket stamped, and sprinted up 2 flights of stairs to make the train on time. I honestly thought I was in shape, but I guess having a huge backpack on your back makes you rethink your true fitness level. Below is a recap, with pictures, of my time in Lausanne:

Day 3: September 16, 2015 – Lausanne, Switzerland

7:30 am: train from Geneva to Lausanne
8 am: Arrive at Lausanne train station

Lausanne olymp

Luckily, I found a great hostel located right next to the train station, and I saw it as soon as the train pulled into the city. At this point, I was starting to get more comfortable with directions and making my way around – I only got lost 2 other times the rest of the trip, and only for about 10 minutes. So you could say I learned a lot in my travels haha.

After getting off the train, I walked over to my hostel and hung out a little bit. I couldn’t check in until the afternoon, so I decided to hang out and plan my day. There were a few places I wanted to visit, and I found an awesome guide for bus transit through out the entire city. Which, I only ended up using once because the city wasn’t all that big – but I did walk a LOT. So I planned my day, hitting every single one of the spots I wanted to see, with a plan B if I ran over time.

First Stop: Botanical Gardens
This was not in my initial plans, but since I loved the botanical garden in Geneva so much, I decided to stop here. And I am SO glad I did… beautiful. Everything was amazing, and the view at the top… worth the walk! Pictures don’t even do justice. The view of the city, the houses, the mountains across lake Geneva… just stunning

lausanne garden 2

Lausanne City 2 LAusanne City

lausanne garden

I also found an awesome mural at the top of the gardens and decided to do a few handstands. This place was deserted, so I got to play around as much as I wanted! The whole city was so peaceful.

lausanne garden yoga

After my trek around the botanical gardens, I found a huge water fountain to do handstands around… not really sure what was so great about the fountains, but they were in a pretty cool park.

lausanne switzerland

After the gardens, I made my way to the Ouchy fishing pier. I can’t believe this wasn’t even on my list to see – the view was amazing. Nothing but water and mountains for miles! I really wish I had a better camera – to see everything in person was unbelievable. As soon as I walked around the area, I decided I was coming back in the afternoon for a run, not matter how tired I might be!

Lausanne Ouchy 5

lausanne fish Lausanne Ouchy 4

Lausanne Ouchy 3

lausanne yoga 1

After walking (and handstanding) around Ouchy, I hopped on a bus to Rue De Bourge, the city’s shopping center. I went here for 2 things: Chocolate and Yoga. While at the hostel earlier, I found  yoga studio – Yogashala – to take a 12 pm class at. And while most would think taking a yoga class in another language would be confusing, it is also very, very beautiful. Well, in French it is.

I took a Vinyasa/Anusara class led by Tracy Chaplin – and it is by far my most favorite yoga class I have ever taken in my life. The French language is absolutely beautiful – and while I had no idea what was being said half the time, I loved the movements, the mix of meditation in the practice, and the feeling of peace I felt in the class. While practicing, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude – the though of, “Omg, look at yourself. You are taking a yoga class, in Switzerland, in french. WHAT IS THIS LIFE.” And I started to tear up in class, full of gratitude and awed by the fact that I was able to create this experience in my life. And this is the point that I truly, truly, began to believe in myself. Which is why, if anyone ever asks me, I will always say, this was my favorite class – because it was a moment in time that changed how I view myself and the power I have to create what I want.

lausanne yoga

After the class, I walked around the city, exploring little shops and enjoyed getting lost in the windy, hilly, brick streets of Lausanne. My last stop was actually right next to where I took the yoga class, so I stopped in to Blondel Chocolates – a highly recommended chocolatier in Switzerland. And, I swear, this is hands down the best chocolate I have ever eaten in my life. Also, the most expensive. But, life changing. The tiny store has an entire wall lined with sheets and sheets of different chocolates, and a case full of handmade truffles. I’m not going to say how much I spent here, but I will say that it was worth it. Also, I wish that I had bought more! If anyone is in the area, this is the place to stop.

lausanne3 lausanne

lausanne2

After shopping, I walked back to the hostel to check in and rest for a bit. After getting settled in, I went back out for a run, planning to stop at the Olympic Park/museum next to Ouchy. After walking for a solid 3+ hours that afternoon, my body was still up for a 4 mile run. Running down the hills – awesome. The 2 miles back up – not so awesome. The view = worth it. After making it to the Olympic park, I ran all the way to the top, and the view was worth it all. Amazing view of the lake + mountains! Overall, complete gratitude for a laundry list of things: one year ago, I was learning to walk/run again… and here I am, running 4+ miles up and down the hills of switzerland, exploring on my own, soaking up the beauty of the mountains, discovering things about myself, and feeling joy that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Completely Surreal.

olympic garden lausanne ouchy

Just a note – I didn’t actually go into the museum – museums really aren’t my thing. I am like a little kid – I’ll go in and look at everything, maybe touch a few things, then leave within 5 minutes. I’d rather just experience everything around me versus walk through a building.

After arriving back at my hostel, I showered, did some laundry, and chatted with a few people from the hostel. I was recommended to go to a local Italian restaurant nearby, Milan, so I took a walk around 9 pm and grabbed dinner by myself – the perfect end to a wonderful day. (Yes, those are fries on my plate. After eating nothing but chocolate all day, I decided to actually get some salty food in my body ;))

lausanne dinner

I wish I had more pictures that captured the beauty of Lausanne – it was truly a lovely city, and 1 day was the perfect amount of time to explore. If you are ever making your way through Switzerland, I highly recommend stopping at this gorgeous city!

Traveling Yogi: What I did in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France

Hi Loves!

When I initially planned my Euro trip, I only planned on hitting Switzerland & Germany. Luckily, I heard about some mountain called Mont-Blanc and a cool glass box you could stand in that looked like you were hovering thousands of feet above a snow-covered mountain. I mean, if I am going to travel all the way Europe, I might as well get some cool pictures. Out of all of the places I traveled, I loved Chamonix almost as much as my time in Switzerland. The mountains were gorgeous, and the town was so little and perfect. Below is a recap of where I went and what I did!

Tuesday, 9/15
7 am: Took city bus to central bus station with Air Bnb Host (He was afraid I was going to get lost again!)
8 am: Grabbed breakfast at Starbucks (really regret this as I should have gone to some local cafe and ate some delicious baked good, but Starbucks has WIFI! I was such a travel newb on day 2.)
8:30 am: Departed Bus Station in Geneva, Switzerland to Chamonix Mont-Blanc (a (ski) resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy), located at the base of Mont-Blanc. Why Mont-Blanc? Because it is the highest summit in the Swiss Alps, that’s why.

So something happened on the ride to Chamonix that is going to seem pretty craz y – I met not one, not 2, but THREE people from Ohio, who all happened to be staying in Geneva and bought the same exact tour package to Chamonix on this exact same day. Completely unbelievable, but absolutely amazing. I ended up meeting up with them (1 couple on their honeymoon + another traveling for work) in Munich for Oktoberfest the week after and had an absolute BLAST. Below is a picture of us in front of the Alps doing the O-H-I-O sign – one of my favorite pics from the entire trip!

chamonix_OHIO

Anyways, upon arrival, we all split ways and made our way up Aiguille du Midi – it is a 3,777 meter tall mountain next to Mont-Blanc, and it took 2 cable cars + 1 elevator ride to get all the way to the top. and it.was.FREEZING.

chamonix lift chamonix cable car

Luckily I was smart enough to wear 2 long sleeved shirts + a sweatshirt, a scarf, and fleece leggings… even still, I could not feel my body for about half the day. But the view… the VIEW. 100% worth everything. Why is Aiguille du Midi the mountain to go up? Because the terraces on top have a 360° view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, and a lift brings you to the summit terrace at 3,842m, where you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc (source). Also, this is where that cool glass box thing was, and I could not NOT go. I waited almost an hour to take the elevator to the top… and it was worth it. I mean, just LOOK at the view!!

Chamonix Pan

augill

Also – there were several people coming up and down the mountain – you can see them as small dots in the picture below – total Respect for these hikers!

chamonix4

Handstands were necessary, although it was super icy, cold, and hard to breathe that high up. but I managed!

Chamonix Handstand

And now for the glass box… It is called “Step into the Void” – a big glass box that hovers over the mountains, making anyone that steps into it look like they are floating 3,800 meters high over the mountain. Since the box is made of glass, you had to put special slippers on, and a very helpful employee would take your pictures.

Glass Box Chamonix Glass Box Mont Blanc

After all of the excitement, I could barely move I was so frozen and was feeling a bit dizzy from the altitude. So, down the mountain and off to meet back up with the group for lunch at Hotel Gustavia – and it was amazing. A warm Beet Root soup & salad with ribs, au-gratin potatoes, and a fresh salad. Absolutely amazing! I really, really do not like beets, but I have already bought ingredients to try and re-create this soup.. Europe has forever changed my taste buds!

chamonix restaurant chamonix soup chamonix lunch

After lunch, the group took a trolley to Montenvers – Mer de Glace to see the “Grotte de glace” (Ice Cave). A quick description from the websiteThe tour of the “Grotte de glace” (Ice Cave) takes visitors into the very heart of the glacier. Re-sculpted every year, it describes the life of mountain people in the early 19th century.

I took a gondola lift down, then another 400 steps down to the caves. Yes, it took a while to get there, but it was worth it. I basically sprinted down the steps in order to explore and get back to the trolley on time. I was expecting a huge maze in the glacier, but when I finally got inside, it was just a small loop that took about 1 minute to see. However, it was amazing. There were lights in the glacier that turned colors, which made everything look that much cooler. Pictures can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was!

glacier opening ice cave entrance

ice cave ice cave2

ice cave handstandGlacier Chamonix Handstand

After exploring the cave, I tried to run up the 400+ steps back up… tried. More like running up stairs, then stopping to rest at every level. But, I made it back in time for the trolley to take everyone back to Chamonix. I ended up walking around the town a little bit & taking pictures – I still cannot get over how cute this place was. There was an older couple that had spent a week there and were making their way through France, hiking and visiting wineries. Basically, life goals. Amazing and romantic place to visit – I will be back! I added on to my bucket list to come back and run the 23km race someday… I loved the area THAT much!!

chamonix

Around 5 pm, we all headed back on the bus to Geneva. I stopped at a local store and bought copious amounts of swiss chocolate for my family before heading back to my Air Bnb… yes, I carried about 10 lbs of chocolate with me through Europe. Totally worth it 😉

After arriving back at my Air Bnb, my hosts cooked me an authentic Italian meal of spaghetti. The absolute perfect way to end the day!

Overall – Chamonix, I love you. I will be back to visit, for a longer period of time, and to run 14+ miles up the mountain 🙂

And BTW – if anyone is visiting the area, I highly recommend taking a tour through Viator – no, I am not getting paid to promote this. I just had such a wonderful experience, and the guide, Neil, was absolutely hilarious. So don’t think buying pre-planned tours is touristy – it takes the stress out of planning every single day of your trip, and you end up meeting some really, really, awesome people who are also traveling!

Traveling Yogi: What I did in Geneva, Switzerland

Hi all!

I am finally back in the state, getting settled in, and catching up on the chaos that is work and life. It’s day 3, and I finally feel like the Jet Lag Fog has cleared, and I am starting to feel normal again. When traveling back on Tuesday, I was up for 24 hours straight! I worked from home the next few days, and I just felt like my head was in a fog. It’s my first time ever really experiencing jet lag, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect!

Anyways, I wanted to give a recap of all of my adventures in Europe! There is so much to talk about, so I decided to break down each city into once blog post. Below is a recap of the first day on my trip: Geneva, Switzerland!

Sunday, 9/13 – 3:30 pm flight from Columbus to New Jersey -> sprinting to catch my connecting flight to Geneva
Monday, 9/14 – 7:30 am -> arrive in Geneva!

geneva aiplane

After arriving in the Geneva airport, I needed to buy a SIM card for my phone. Never having changed the SIM card in my phone or even really understood what it did, I walked around for about a half hour asking where to buy one. FINALLY – $20 at the post office. done. I was able to call the air bnb host I was staying with, and I hopped on a bus to pick up the keys to where I was staying. I finally arrived, and my hosts were great! an air mattress to sleep on, and a room all to myself. I ended up laying down for a hot second, as I only got about 1 hour of sleep on the plane.

After getting directions and information on how the bus system worked from my host, I ventured out.. and got lost. Luckily for me, I ended up downtown and was able to explore the nicer side of Geneva. Think: expensive shops, beautiful fountains, and hot business men in suits. So you could say I was lost, but I definitely found something I didn’t know I was looking for 😉

geneva fountain

After exploring, I hopped back on a bus and got lost. Again. 1.5 hours later, I made it to the place I initially wanted to go: the broken chair. Basically, a giant monumental sculpture that symbolizes opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva (Wiki). It’s a huge freakin chair with a broken leg – and I of course, had to get a picture in front of it. A handstand picture. duh.

broken chair geneva

After hanging out around the chair (the UN building was right behind it), I went for a walk to the Botanical Gardens nearby. Now let me just preface this by saying I am NOT a hippy nature girl – normally I opt out of the site-seeing, history learning, nature stuff and do more adventure things (likeeeee bungee jumping in switzerland… but that’s another post in itself). So I got lost, again, but finally made it to the garden. And O.M.G. the beauty of everything, just absolutely amazing. I felt like I was in a secret garden full of magic. I literally looked like a little kid, jumping around and smiling. I mean, look at these pictures… how beautiful is this place??

botanical garden geneva2  botanical garden geneva             botanical garden 5 botanical garden geneva3

botanical garden magic

Unfortunately, all of my getting lost made me out exploring later than I planned. And it rained. A lot. I was in a little glass botanical garden area, which was cool. But not for over an hour. So, I ended up walking back, in the rain, to the bus station. I took the bus back, stopping to grab a muffin for dinner at a local store, and made it back to the air bnb. The rest of the night, until about 10/11, I ended up chatting and drinking homemade liquor with my hosts. They were absolutely wonderful! I ended up sipping on 4-5 shots, my favorite being the italian chocolate… it was like drinking chocolate syrup! So, so good. You can’t get this stuff anywhere else.

I finally went to bed, and my host ended up walking to the bus station with me in the morning (I was taking a tour in France and had to meet at a bus station in the city). Him and his girlfriend were very worried I was going to get lost again, and they mapped out very detailed instructions for me! I must have seemed like a lost cause LOL

After returning from my day trip to Chamonix (read about it here!), my hosts made me dinner on my second night in Geneva – homemade italian pasta (my host is italian)! Just amazing.

I planned out my entire trip, and I will say that my favorite things were never items I had planned. I stumbled across the botanical garden, and I could never have asked for better hosts, which I now consider good friends. Overall, Geneva was wonderful – definitely not my favorite part of the trip – Lausanne & Interlaken will forever hold a special place in my heart – but a great city to explore in for a day or 2.

Has anyone been to Geneva, or are planning a triip? I would love to hear your thoughts!

How to pack for a 10-day Trip to Europe (Updated!)

**UPDATE 9/23! since returning from my trip, I have added notes in Bold/italic below about anything I would have or would not have packed.

Since booking my trip back in June, I haven’t given much thought to packing until the past week. Insert: frantic last-minute purchases on amazon prime. Since I am only taking 1 backpack, there is some serious consolidating happening. Which, surprisingly, hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I already knew i wouldn’t be taking any hair appliances, and I’m perfectly fine with walking around in leggings the entire trip. So, I did a lot of research and made a list of what I needed to bring, including a few non-negotiable must-haves. Below is a list of everything I have packed – it seems like a lot, but it’s just a bunch of small things that all add up to fitting perfectly in 1 bag. Also – I am bringing a second bag for souvenirs & crap that won’t fit into my backpack (my books!).

BackPack

Backpacking Front     Backpacking Side

Backpacking Carry On

Packing Cubes – You definitely need these for organization while traveling!

Backpacking Cubes

Top cube: Toiletries Middle cube: Bathing suit/socks/underwear Bottom cube: Clothes

Toiletries (travel size):
sunscreen – barely used this, would only bring if I went somewhere warmer!
shampoo & conditioner
body wash
hairspray
toothbrush & toothpaste
floss
hairbrush + hair ties/bobby pins
deodorant
razor
band aids

Clothes: **Planning on doing laundry at the hostels as needed!
pairs of socks
15 pairs of underwear – could have brought less, since I did laundry during my trip
bras
scarves – these have secret pockets in them to carry my passport/valuables in! I had these made on etsy in black and grey – I could have honestly done without these – it wasn’t super cold, and I felt safe with just my cross body bag
pair of shorts – never wore, it was way too cold!
pairs of black leggings
t-shirts
tanks (1 white, 1 black, 1 casual)
3 workout outfits **Planning on running around the cities/impromptu yoga classes! – wore 1 workout outfit when I went for a run, and shorts when i did laundry. could have survived with packing only 1-2 outfits
bathingsuit – never wore this, but glad I brought it just in case
long sleeved shirts + pair of fleece-lined leggings for when I am in the mountains!
1 long-sleeved chambray button up shirt
sweater – for the plane ride & cold nights – i completely underestimated how cold it was going to be when I was over there! i probably would have brought a second sweater that was thicker for when I was in the mountains!
rain jacket – it’s supposed to rain 2-3 days I am there! – one of my best packing choices, it rained a LOT!
pajama outfit

EuropTripPack

Travelers Scarf Secret Pocket

Travelers Scarf Selfie

Secret Scarf with Hidden Passport!

Shoes: – perfect amount of shoes to bring, no complaints!
flip flops
toms
tennis shoes

Backpacking Shoes

Misc:
workout arm band – used this when I went for a run
charcoal tablets (for food poisoning/stomach issues)
peppermint oil (headaches/sinuses) – i used this + lemon everyday!
contacts + glasses
sunglasses – used everyday!
adapter plugs – for Germany & for Switzerland
camera – only used a few times, mainly used my phone for pictures!
locks – for my bag zippers + storing my bag at the hostels – honestly didn’t really need, I felt pretty safe the entire time!
Eurorail train tickets
Day bag for exploring + money belt for under my clothes – could have done without the money belt, day bag = best item brought on the trip! used it everywhere I went, and had no issues with pick pocketing
mini duct tape (who knows what type of emergency I’ll have ;))
Also brought an extra bag for souveniers – so glad I did! 10+ lbs of chocolate, a huge 1 liter beer stein + misc things collected – all needed to be carried back and would never have fit in my suitcase!

Travelers Bag (1)

Plane Necessities:
passport (duh!)
pictures/copies of ID/passport on phone/email
headphones – lifesaver!
aleve
baby wipes – lifesaver!
electrolyte packets
protein bars – lifesavers!
sleep medicine
hand sanitizer
aquaphor – my lips were chapped the entire trip, so glad i brought this!
tissues – i wish i had brought more, as i used these for small spills and my runny nose!
carabiner/flashlight/whistle all-in-one – only used once while in the hostel, but still good to have.
phone charger
backup phone charger – one of the top items used while traveling. SUCH a lifesaver! My phone battery drained quickly from using maps
mini notebook for travel notes – used this until I lost my pen ;/
books **planning on leaving these on the plane for the next person once I am finished – less weight to carry! – honestly wish I had only brought 1 book, if any. I didn’t really have time to read them, and it was hard to lug them around
gum/mints
Jet Lag medicine for the flight back – so far this stuff is magic! I didn’t sleep for 24 hours straight while traveling back to the states, and i got about 8-9 hours of sleep when I got home. Feeling a little groggy, but I was able to work and get stuff done the next day perfectly fine.

EuroTrip Pack

Below are a few of the apps I downloaded on my phone – are there any others that I absolutely need to have?

Apps:
Hostelworld this has all my booking information for where I am staying **Used this a few times for directions

TripIt I have my entire trip planned out on here – Every confirmation email I got (flights, hostels, events, etc) – I forwarded to Trip it, and it automatically created my schedule. I then went in and added details as needed. You can also send a link to friends/family so they know where you will be (in case you ever go missing ;)). **Only used this a few times

City Maps 2go I downloaded maps for the cities I will be in to navigate my way around, no internet required – if you are traveling, you MUST download this app! I used it everywhere I went – it points you in the right direction and is totally accurate.

Rail Planner – i was able to look up all of the times trains were leaving and create a list fo every train/transfer needed. If I miss my train, I can check for other times with no issue, as I don’t have to be online to look! — used this a ton to double check my train schedules!

Gate Guru – I use this for all of my plane travels! It has information on every single thing to do at each airport by gate, with maps. It is awesome for layovers & for finding out about any flight changes!

Google Docs – my travel spreadsheet with all info was on google docs – I accessed this a LOT

And that’s it! Everything fit in my bag, and I am ready to go. Has anyone ever traveled to Europe with just 1 backpack? Am I missing any essential items? I am planning on buying a SIM card as soon as I land in Switzerland. Anyone have experience/tips for this? **bought my sim card at the post office as soon as I landed in Geneva

Traveling Yogi: Backpacking in Europe + Oktoberfest in Munich!

Hello all!

Ever since I got back from Belize, I couldn’t help but begin to plan my next adventure: 1.5 weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland & Germany. I have never traveled to Europe, let alone by myself, so I am terrified… but so excited to go! Once I started planning, I had to narrow down to just 2 countries because it was getting a little overwhelming (Italy, I am coming for you next year!). I’ve literally spent hours planning this trip already, and I still have a lot to do… I’ve only booked my hostel for Munich, so I’ll be booking everything else in the next few weeks! Below is my schedule so far:

Day 1: Fly to Geneva, Switzerland

Day 2: Arrive in Geneva early AM
check in at hostel
Rent bike and tour the city
visit the broken chair
Yoga class! (Any recommendations?)

Broken Chair

Day 3: Day trip to Chamonix French Alps

Chamonix

Chamonix Tour

Day 4: Travel to Lausanne/Montreux
check in at hostel
hike/explore
check out chocolate/cheese factory & eat my body weight in delicious swiss chocolate

Day 5: Travel to Grindelwald
check in at hostel
Yoga Class in morning/afternoon
bungee jump or paraglide! **anyone ever do this? I am terrified!

Day 6: Travel to Munich via train
check in at hostel, get situated
buy dirndl for Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest
Day 7, 8, 9, 10: Oktoberfest!
hit the Schottenhamel tent for first beer pour of the festival
hang out with fellow Americans at the Hofbräu tent

Day 8, 9,10: Explore Munich
visit Olympiaturm (flying fox!)
Canyoning
visit Theresienwiese – Maiden of Bavaria
Tour Andechs Monastery and Brewery
Visit Hofbräuhaus

Day 11: Fly back to the US

I started out wanting to end my trip in Italy, but it got to be too much in too little time. So for now, extra time in Switzerland and Germany! Transportation is probably the main thing that is stressing me out – do I need to book ahead of time? How much time do I need to take into account when traveling via train/air in Europe? How do I know what trains to take in between cities/countries? Do I need to purchase ahead of time? I am so excited to plan and travel this trip all by myself, even if it seems a little daunting. Has anyone traveled to Geneva/Oktoberfest? Any tips for a newbie solo backpacking in Europe? I would love to hear about your experience !

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