Saturday, July 2, 2011


Chamonix is a ski resort in the French Alps. It makes for a great day trip from Geneva. But honestly, one should stay in Chamonix for at least a few days to enjoy its beauty and experience all that it has to offer. It is ideal for both summer and winter as the activities on offer are unique to the season.

Everytime I landed in Geneva, I noticed at arrivals, the various signs for buses to Chamonix. It intrigued me and finally last year when one of my friends Blanca went to Chamonix on a skiing trip, I knew I had to go and see what it was all about.

You can either take a bus from Geneva airport or the Train from Geneva Cornavin to Saint Gervais-les-Bains or Martigny and take the Mont Blanc express to Chamonix. The journey through the alpine forest region is spectacular.

There is plenty to do during the summer. Chamonix is in a valley surrounded by Mont Blanc (4810 m), Montenvers, Aiguille du Midi (3842 m), Brevant (2525 m) and many other mountains. Each has its own charm and various treks and hikes that one can do. Best is take the Mont Blanc pass if one plans to do more than one moutain in a day. There are cable cars and ski lifts that go to the various summits and from Aiguille du Midi one can even do the ride to Italy. Aiguille du Midi is also the best point to gaze at Mont Blanc up close and personal.

The other interesting thing to do would be to take the Montenvers rack railway which starts from Chamonix and, in 20 minutes and in total safety, reaches the bottom of the Mer de Glace (1,913 m), France’s largest glacier (7km long, 200 m thick). This historic site marked the start of Alpine tourism in the 19th century and offers a panoramic view of famous peaks such as Les Drus and Les Grandes Jorasses.

The 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. It can be entered either by a walk of around 20 minutes on a footpath, or by gondola lift. Unfortunately, due to shortage of time, I was unable to visit the Ice cave.

The “Galerie des cristaux” (Crystals Gallery) with its collection of items from Mont Blanc and the “Musée de la faune alpine” (Alpine Wildlife Museum) are also included in the tour.

Check out for more information.

Pretty church

Typical alpine village

Streams running through the town


Cable car to Le Brevant

Paragliding seems to be a major summer activity here.

The slopes of Le Brevant as viewed from the highest point

Me against the beautiful Mont Blanc summit

Aiguille du Midi

Mont Blanc - Up close and personal

The highest point of Aiguille du Midi

These guys have guts

This is where one can actually attempt to start their climb to Mont Blanc.
It is also where one can take a cable car across to Italy.

I admire these brave souls

Mer de glace

The famous glacier

Cable cars to the Ice cave

Montreaux - one of the most beautiful places in the world

I first heard about Montreaux 3 years ago when I was in Geneva. I was told that it was famous for its Jazz Festival held in July and is a pretty town. Little did I realise how true was the information, till I got there.

Montreaux lies on the north eastern shore of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps. It has been a very important settlement from the Roman times.

It has one of the most beautiful walks along the lake stretching from Villeneuve to Vevey. Deep Purple's famous song "Smoke on the Water" tells of the events of 1971, when a Frank Zappa fan with a flare gun set the Montreux Casino on fire.

The Chateau de Chillon is a beautiful castle at one end of Montreaux and was the inspiration for the poem The Prisoner of Chillon by Lord Byron. The poem is about Francois Bonivard a Genevois monk and politician who was imprisoned in the castle's dungeons from 1530 - 1536. The castle is also one of the settings in Henry James' novella Daisy Miller. The castle is influenced by 3 different periods from the 12th Century - the House of Savoy, the Bernese and the Vaudois. Studies show that there has been human settlement here from the Bronze Age!

Montreaux is famous for its Jazz Festival held every year in July

The beautiful lake front

The flower clock in Montreaux

A tribute to Freddie Mercury and I believe there is a special celebration held in his honour in September

First view of the Chateau de Chillon

This is wine country

View of the Lake from the top of the castle

The beautiful castle


The flower clock in Lausanne

The lake front in Lausanne

Gothenburg - Midsummer festivities and a conference

The IATA slot conference was held in Gothenburg, Sweden. Would I have visited this place if it were not for the conference? Probably not! But am glad I was given the opportunity to visit as it was also Midsummer which is a celebratory occassion for the Swedes.

Midsummer festivities generally begins on the Friday when the Swedes head enmasse out to the country side to their family homes. Swedes are generally attuned to nature and everyone leaves town, everything shuts down and the streets are deserted. We got to experience that! But unfortunately we didnt get to see any of the festivities.

The symbol of midsummer

Check the link below for more information on the Midsummer Festivities.

Gothenburg is a small city and is easily covered on foot. It is also a city with plenty of canals and one should try and do the padden boat tour so as to see the city from a different perspective.

The Theatre

The Tradgardsforeningen garden

The canal

The Opera House

The Harbour

The Art Museum on the famous Aveny street

The Padden boat tour

The footbal stadium

The old city seen from the boat

We had dinner on this Barken Viking boat. It is now a hotel.

The strawberries in GOT were delicious

Liseberg is Northern Europe´s largest and most beautiful amusement park, and one of Sweden´s most popular attractions of any kind.