Shona | Sydney

Shona | Sydney

SHONA, BOWEN, KOTA & HARLOW 

Shona and Bowen are real sources of inspiration for families who want to create their own adventures. Scrolling through their Instagram feeds just makes you want to pack a bag and dive headfirst into the travel life. Bowen grew up in what is affectionately known as ‘The Shire’. His childhood was spent on the water, taking part in watersports and boating adventures. His wife, Shona, was originally from Melbourne before moving to Sydney when she was eighteen years old. Her early years were spent riding horses and exploring the land. While they both had vastly different upbringings, they shared a common interest, their sense of adventure. Ever since having kids, they have been making new memories through travel and adventures. About a year ago, Bowen decided it would be cool to start videoing their own little family on YouTube as a way to provide a digital time capsule for the kids when they got older. Also, having family and friends living far away, he thought it would be an amazing way to keep them all in the loop, and so they could see Kota and Harlow growing up. Today, they have a thriving VLog where they give tips on some of the more interesting things to do in Sydney and the Surrounding.

Bonte Beach

How do you organize your daily family life?

A standard day for us looks much like any other family in Sydney. While each day is different, most days Bowen will get up super early and head to work before it’s light. I get up with the kids, get them ready and take them to daycare then work, whether that be doing photo shoots or retouching. On non-daycare days, I will usually take the kids out early, we will pack up our bento lunch boxes and venture out to one of our many favorite local places.

What do you do in your free time as a family? 

Every weekend we try to get out of the house, on a new adventure. We always try to find somewhere we have not been before, to explore as a family. During our adventures, I take the photos and some video content, Bowen takes the majority of video content and the kids also carry cameras (Kota especially love photography), while Harlow loves nothing more than running around interviewing people with the GoPro. During the week, we do a lot of research about where to go, places that are recommended for kids, and young families… and/or places to eat. We love food, being a celiac myself, I’m in a strict gluten-free diet and the rest of the family generally eat gluten-free too so we also try to find new places, that have lots of gluten-free food, to feature in our vlogs

Which family-friendly Restaurant can you recommend in the city?

Oh, there are so many choices in Sydney! Dough Box Diner (located in Enmore and Brighton Le-sands) this little retro diner has cute booths and 1950s memorabilia adorning the walls with pinup girl waitresses. They make the most amazing gluten-free crepes, my favorite is their savory options, but they also do delicious looking deserts and you can wash it down with a root beer or shake for a special occasion. It’s a relatively cheap eat, and great value for money. The relaxed environment and colorful decor make it a fabulous place for kids but it can get busy so occasionally you’ll have to wait for a table… However, it’s WELL worth the wait! While not in Sydney city itself, located on the south coast around an hour from Sydney, we also love GF Eats… a cafe dedicated to offering all 100% gluten-free food, it’s the one place I have eaten, where I haven’t had to worry about cross-contamination or having to specify ‘gluten-free’ when ordering. Offering a varied menu, they have lots of options to make healthy settled GF tummy’s, whether you choose the schnitzel with Gravy and chips, sliders, calamari or fish & chips… you had better leave room for dessert! Their dessert case has a wide variety of donuts, pies, slices, biscuits, and cakes… and while we have tried to get through ourselves during our many visits, we have yet to succeed! One thing is for sure though, they are ALL delicious. You can see a feature of our last trip there, in our Kiama blowhole vlog.

Tell us about local specialties/dishes from Sydney?

We take great pride in the multiculturalism of Australia. While we do have a few ‘Aussie specific treats/products’ (hello Vegemite & laminations) primarily, we make a lot of dishes based on those of other cultures, like Italian, Mexican & Asian. In Australia, we do a lot of BBQ’ing, especially in the warmer months. Sausages, prawn skewers & salads. Our laminations make an annual appearance around Australia Day, which is basically jam-filled sponge cake, covered in chocolate, rolled in coconut. If chocolate is your thing, we also have some great Aussie products like Tim-tams & Caramello Koalas. Vegemite gets polarising reviews, but if prepared the right way, it is a great breakfast option and very popular in Australia!

What do you like about the city as a family? And can you give our readers some tips about what to visit in Sydney or surroundings?

The thing we love about Sydney the most is that it really has something for everyone. Sydney (& surrounds) provides stunning beaches, luscious mountain ranges, epic shopping precincts as well as about a million cafes, parks & entertainment options. If you’re coming to Sydney for the first time, and you have already spent a couple of days checking out the usual hotspots, such as the opera house & the harbor bridge, take a day trip (or weekend trip away) to the beautiful Blue Mountains. The most popular means of transport to the blue mountains is by car however you can also catch a train from the central station to Katoomba where you can eat, shop, hike & soak up the stunning scenery as well as the iconic ‘3 sisters’.

Can you give us some tips on activities in the sunshine and rainy weather with kids.

When the sun is shining, you can’t go past a trip to the beach, zoo or nature play garden. While Bondi Beach is very popular with tourists, there are some much less talked about beaches, that we rate over Bondi. If you wish to get away from the crowds & wish to stay close to the city check out beaches such as Manly, Bronte & Clovelly or if you fancy a bit of adventure try some of our favorite Illawarra & south coast beaches such as Cronulla, Thirroul & Shellharbour. During sunny days, we also love to go to the Zoo, Taronga Zoo is close to the city and offers a good day out, but if you want a real treat head to Symbio wildlife park (located south of Sydney) or the newly opened Sydney Zoo (located in Western Sydney). You can get to Sydney Zoo by public transport, but it easiest to drive to Symbio wildlife park, which is around 1 hour away from the city…. Make sure you pack the kids swim gear for a mid-day cool off! One of our favorite parks to visit in Sydney on a warm sunny day is the Ian Potter Wild Play Garden. Located in Centennial Park, it offers city kids, the opportunity to immerse themselves in an oasis of nature-play & adventure. It’s completely free and open from 10 am – 5 pm daily. Again, bring the kids to swim gear as there is a water play section!

There is an abundance of things to do, even on rainy days in Sydney. If you’ve got little ones and you’re keen on staying closer to the city, you can check our Nubo Play Centre (AUD$20 per child for all-day play) located in Alexandria for a great day filled with unique and fun play experienced for ages 6 months to 5 years.

If you have kids ages 3 and up, Skyzone is located in the same business park and provides hours of fun in this amazing trampolining center. Next door, is Archie Brothers Cirque Electric, an arcade that will rival all others, offering bumper cars, laser tag, bowling, thrill rider & virtual reality. Strictly Adults-only after 8 pm, All under 18’s must be supervised at all times. Entry is free, but grab yourself a game card and load it with credit to use at any of the games or activities within.

If you’re keen to venture out of the city and have kids ages 0 – 10, take a trip UOW Early Start Discovery Centre in Wollongong (around AUD$15 per person). Its open from 9 am-4 pm Tuesday – Sunday and provides an abundance of daily experiences, sure to entertain any young mind. Here just some examples:

 

  • The Camp Site – Come on a camping trip in the Australian bush, complete with a model campfire.
  • Bricks & Clicks – Build your own mini world and stop-motion movie with thousands of LEGO® brick
  • Discovery Garden – Step outside and explore our natural wonderland – an oasis that will excite all your senses
  • Light Sound Action – The stage is yours! Express yourself with costumes, backdrops, and lighting.
  • Marketplace – Take a trolley for a spin and collect your shopping before you start cooking in our Critter Café.
  • Construction – Gear up with a hi-vis vest and tool belt, we’re looking for builders who are ready to help construct our tiny home.

How you get around in Sydney? What is the best transport for families who are on vacation in the city?

Getting around Sydney is pretty easy. If traveling to Sydney, we have an airport train line that takes you right into the city (Between $AUD15 – $AUD20 per person) and also out to the outer-suburbs. Uber is very popular and available everywhere in Sydney (costing approx $AUD45 to the city) …although if catching an uber from the airport, you just need to make sure you’re waiting in the designated ‘Priority Pick-up Zone’. Once in the city, we have great train infrastructure which will get you to almost anywhere you need to be, as well as a great bus system, trams & ferry services. Sydney’s Central Station provides a bag/luggage holding service located on the grand concourse, which can be handy if you are only around for the day. If you’re planning on staying for a while and aren’t staying in the city (where parking can be difficult), you might also look into hire cars (which are also available from the airport) but we suggest you book prior & ensure your license (if international) is recognized.

 

Can you reveal some insider tips for our reader that you can’t find in any travel guide?

There are so many stunning places to visit if you want to venture out of the city, such as Cape Solander, Figure Eight Pools, Boat Harbour, Bare Island. Many of which have been featured on our YouTube channel ’The Mercy’s’.

OUR SYDNEY BEACH SHOPPING

CITY GUIDE | 15 AMAZING WAYS TO EXPLORE PARIS WITH KIDS

CITY GUIDE | 15 AMAZING WAYS TO EXPLORE PARIS WITH KIDS

Paris is a city known for being the center of fashion, art, culture and world-class restaurants. There is something so special about Paris that you can’t wait to show it to your kids. But for most children, a trip to Paris means only one thing: Disneyland. Don’t let you persuade! We have some great ideas, activities, and addresses which will keep your children entertained and will please the parents. You won’t find another guide to get faster on the Eiffel Tour but some cool insider tips from Parisian mother and blog reader. So read on and dive into the charm of Paris.

THE ESSENTIALS

When to go: The best time to visit Paris is from April to June and September to early November when the weather is mild. From July 15 until the end of August almost all Parisians leave for holidays and Paris is an empty place and only filled with tourists. This can have its charm but personally, we prefer Paris with its inhabitants.

Where to stay: Paris has a multitude of hotels, from the nice design hotels to huge luxury palaces like the Ritz. Check out in which Arrondisment you want to stay before booking a hotel. You can also check Airbnb but the prices have increased in the last years.

What to do: Visit museums and galleries, spend your days in the parks, enjoy some shopping… Moreover, we will present to you the good addresses in the following paragraphs.

Transportation: The public transport system is excellent. The buses and the subways are operational until around 0.30 at night. If you are really in a hurry, you can always take a taxi or an Uber. You also have the usual e-bike rentals like Bird or Lime.

Currency: Euro

Language: French is obviously the official language. However, the local population mostly speaks English.

Budget: Is Paris an expensive city? Basically yes, but there are also good plans. For accommodation, count at least 150 Euros. For meals, prices range from 20 Euros upwards. The tip is appreciated in all restaurants!

Transport: The Paris Visite travel pass allows you to use all of the public transport networks: the metro, tramway, bus, RER, and SNCF Transilien networks.

Prices for 1 day: 12 € for adults, 6 € for children (10-15 years) | 2 days: 19.50 € for adults, 9.75 € for children | 3 days: 26.65 € for adults, 13.30 € for children | 5 days: 38.35 € for adults, 19.15 € for children.

THE MAP

STROLLING THROUGH THE ILE SAINT LOUIS: A UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE IN PARIS

A walk on the beautiful île Saint-Louis is undoubtedly one of the visits not to be missed during a stay in Paris. It offers a peaceful timeless atmosphere and magnificent views on both right and left banks and on the Seine. All the buildings on the Ile Saint Louis date from the 17th century and most of them are beautiful ‘Hotels particuliers’. They have the typical iron balconies and carved stone doorways. The roads around Ile Saint Louis are narrow and cobbled and very few cars drive through. It is a pleasant place to walk around with your kids.
And why not finish your walk by a visit to the most prominent ice-cream maker of Paris, Berthillon.

GLACIER BERTHILLON

29-31 rue Saint-Louis en l’île | 75004 Paris

The small shop and tearoom are located on the east side of the Rue Saint Louis en l’Ile, just before the crossing with the rue Des Deux Ponts. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 am till 8 pm. At peak hours, the line gets really long. But apart from the main shop, most of the Cafés, brasseries or tea-rooms of the Island offer Berthillon ice-creams

VISIT A CHILDREN’S THEATER IN PARIS

Even if your kids don’t speak french, visiting a typical children’s theatre in Paris is a real pleasure and your kids will quickly get into the story and will follow the spectacle like the little Frenchies. There are many different theatres and shows around Paris and we suggest that you have a look at the website Fnac Spectacles , where you can buy the tickets online.

 If you prefer to see a typical french Guignol Theatre, you can go to the Jardin Luxembourg. Ther e is no need to take the tickets in advance, just be there 10 minutes before the show begins. For more info go to their website.

A LA FOLIE THEATRE

6, rue de la Folie Méricourt – 75011 Paris

Housed in a paved courtyard, La Folie Theater is a small charming theatre in the 11th arrondissement and one of your favorite ones. In the afternoon they propose different shows for kids. You can find their program online on this website.

SHOPPING IN PARIS: IT’S A MUST, EVEN WITH CHILDREN

Paris is THE place for hunters and collectors. There are always new boutiques with the latest trends and concepts to discover. Stroll through the beautifully decorated Le Bon Marché, discover the latest trends in kid’s clothing and toys at Smalllable or get some new books at one of the established book shops in the 6th arrondissement. Paris is heaven for hunters and collectors, but not only to find the latest products but also for antiques and vintage treasure. Take a tour at the St. Ouen Market or on one of Paris Flea Market.

LE BON MARCHÉ

24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris

Le Bon Marché is the temple of shopping for most Parisians. The selection is sophisticated and you will quickly get lost in the huge offer of products and nice decoration. The kid’s section has a nice offer of kid’s clothes and toys as well as a corner for children’s books.

BONTON 

Bonton is a lovely French Brand with a few shops around Paris. It’ main concept shop is in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris where you can find the brands clothing line, toys, decoration and furniture and even a hair dresser for kids.

SPEND SOME TIME AT A CHILDREN’S BOOKSHOP

We hope you enjoy reading as much as we do. Even if you don’t speak very well french, it is worth taking a closer look at some french children books, especially the beautifully illustrated versions for the smaller ones. Most of the book shops have an english corner. One of our favorite one is Chantelivre. They have large children’s books corner with a great selection.

 

LIBRAIRIE CHANTELIVRE

13 Rue de Sèvres, 75006 Paris

STROLL THROUGH THE TUILERIES GARDEN

With its many playgrounds and its idyllic setting, the Jardin des Tuileries is one of the most beautiful places in Paris. You can stroll along the Louvre and the Pyramide and enter the park from the East entrance. Under the huge chestnuts trees, in the center of the park are hidden two outdoor restaurants. This park is a favorite place for many Parisians who spend their free time relaxing on the legendary green Fermob chairs places all around the park.

When you walk across the park in direction of the Place de la Concorde, you come along a large playground, a carousel, and some trampoline park. Your kids will love it!

WATCH PARIS FROM THE RIVER

There is a way to see the most emblematic places in Paris easily and in your own time. The cruise down the River Seine allows you to take in many of the highlights of the city—the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame, etc.—as you float along the famous Seine River. There are many operators, but the offer and prices are almost the same everywhere. You can choose between 30 minutes or a 1-hour cruise. Go to their website if you want to book a special cruise like a lunch or dinner cruise.

 

VEDETTES DU PONT NEUF

1 Square du Vert Galant, 75001 Paris

Boats leave from the Square du Vert Galant near the Pont Neuf on the tip of the Île de la Cité (within walking distance of Notre Dame). 

Prices: 14 euros for adults and 7 euros for children 4-12. You can find special offers when you book through their website.

AN AFTERNOON AT THE BOIS DE BOULOGNE

The Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Jardin d’acclimatation are two attractions situated in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. When you buy your entrance to the Fondation Louis Vuitton you can enter for free to the Jardin d’acclimatation. It is a nice way to combine an exposition with an afternoon at the Jardin d’acclimatation where you find many attractions, some free play areas, many activities for nature lovers and lots of other interesting things for all the family. 

FONDATION LOUIS VUITTON

8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris

Frank Gehry imagined an architecture inspired by the glass Grand Palais, and also by the structures of glass, such as the Palmarium, which was built for the Jardin d’Acclimatation in 1893. The resulting glass building takes the form of a sailboat’s sails inflated by the wind. (wiki)

JARDIN D’ACCLIMATATION

Bois de Boulogne, Route de la Porte Dauphine

Mini–roller coasters, mirrored funhouse, pony rides, and more. The entry fee is €5 (for adults or kids over 3), as are the actual rides, which you can buy in bulk at varying rates. 

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES IN PARIS

Apart from the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, known for having the most impressive art collections in the world, Paris has many other incredible museums and galleries worth a visit with your kids. Many of them offer workshops or special kids tours. Here is a selection of our favorite ones:

Line in front of the Mona Lisa | Louvre

Centre Pompidou

A new-age architectural masterpiece that houses over 100,000 pieces of art. The Centre Pompidou is often considered to be a shrine dedicated to modern art. It offers exhibitions, debates, and movies. The Kids Gallery is a special exhibition area designed for children under the ages of 16.

 

♥ Musée Rodin

The Musée Rodin is situated in the beautiful Hôtel de Biron, a superbly maintained early 18th-century mansion with a huge garden with a pond, rose garden, ancient trees (some over a hundred years old), a café and numerous Rodin sculptures for you to admire.

Musée du Quai Branly

The Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac is a space dedicated to the arts of non-Western civilizations. It is known for its unusual design by Jean Nouvel. The exterior of the building almost seems alive with plant walls and wild gardens, while the interiors are dark, winding, and dramatically lit. You can take one of the family guided tours the museum offers. During the hour-long tour, you’ll discover objects from different continents, from rare pieces to temporary exhibits.

 

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The MAD is situated in the west wing of the Louvre. It has a large collection of Applied Arts & Design, Advertising & Graphic Design, and Fashion & Textiles.  It is home to some 16,000 costumes from the 16th century to the present day but only displays during regularly scheduled themed exhibitions.

 

Palais de Tokyo

 Palais de Tokyo   

 

Palais Galliera | Musée de la Mode

If you enjoy fashion, this is definitely the place to visit. A stone’s throw from the city’s most prestigious haute couture boutiques in the 16th district, the Musee Galliera is housed in a Renaissance-inspired palace. The museum has no permanent collections, so check out the current exhibition on the official website.

Musée Rodin

LUNCH AT THE MARCHÉ DES ENFANTS ROUGE

If you really want to take a dip in the Parisian local culture, visit Le Marché des Enfants Rouges. It is the perfect place to taste a wide variety of food and choose from one of the many stalls that serve dishes from all over the world. It’s a charming spot in the Marais and we recommend it highly for a nice family lunch served on the small typically French tables.

Don’t miss the little shops around the Market like the small charming Photography Shop near the main entrance. They have a wide choice of beautiful ancient photographies, views of Paris and portraits of Parisians in black & white.

When you walk on the Rue de Bretagne you quickly spot the incredible Cheese Shop, who has a waste choice of French cheese. Further down the street, you come across some of the trendy cafés like the famous café Charlot or Le Progrès. Yes, it’s time for coffee on a terrace!

LE MARCHÉ DES ENFANTS ROUGES

rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris

CAFÉ CHARLOT

38, rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris

LA CITÉ DES SCIENCES ET DE L’INDUSTRIE

The Cite des Sciences is the largest science museum in Europe, which is located within the Parc de la Villette and is suitable for all ages with so much to discover, with a focus on science and technical knowledge, that has numerous interactive activities and sections for children upwards. It’s probably one of the best museums to visit in Paris with kids as it is highly interactive and fun.

In a cavernous concrete block of a building, you’ll find the Cité des Enfants where kids can spend a 90-minute session exploring all sorts of things scientific. There are two entry options for the Cité des Enfants – one for kids aged 2-7 and on for kids aged 5-12.  We recommend buying your tickets online to pass the queue.  

Tickets cost €12 per adult and €9 for children.

LE JARDIN DES PLANTES & LA MÉNAGERIE

The Jardin des Plantes is a lovely 17th-century garden to enjoy a stroll with your kids. Moreover, inside this garden, you will find a playground, some greenhouses and even a zoo (la Ménagerie) with more than 200 species of animals like panthers, crocodiles or orang-utans. Just next to the garden is situated at the Natural History Museum. The Evolution Gallery (Grande Galerie de l’Evolution) is very impressive and shows many realistic models of extinct species. 

 

LA MÉNAGERIE

57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris

Located at the northwest side of the Jardin des Plantes, the Ménagerie is France’s oldest public zoo. It was created in 1794 during the French Revolution to house the four survivors from the Royal Ménagerie of Versailles. Nowadays, its inhabitants include vultures, monkeys, orang-utans, ostriches, flamingos, a century-old turtle, plus another one rescued from the sewers, a gorgeous red panda and lots of satisfyingly scary spiders and snakes.

LE SALON DE THÉ DE LA GRANDE MOSQUÉE

2bis Place du Puits de l’Ermite, 75005 Paris

Just next to the Jardin de Plante is located the Great Mosque of Paris with its traditional restaurant “Aux Portes de l’Orient” and its teashop. Have a break with your family and enjoy Turkish delights and other sweet oriental treats while sipping a mint tea.

 

 

SUNSET AT MONTMARTRE

When you visit Montmartre, begin your visit at the Abbesses metro station instead of Anvers, where most tourists start. You can then walk up to the Sacre Coeur through the charming narrow streets of the Montmartre district. For lunch, there are many small cafés and cute restaurants around rue des Abbesses.  Avoid the very touristic restaurants on the Place de Tertre.

Once you arrived at the Sacré Cours you can enjoy the incredible view over Paris. The best moment is at sunset. Explore the tiny, winding little streets behind the famed old basilica, for a nice sunset-hour walk you won’t forget. 

 

RESTAURANT SIGNATURE MONTMARTRE

12 rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris

A very nice small restaurant with a mix of French and Asian cuisine. Reservation is a must! 

OUR FAVORITE PLACES TO STAY IN PARIS

It goes without saying that you’ll have to spend the night somewhere. The big question is which hotel to choose, as the choices are vast. We’ve prepared a selection of great places:

Mama Shelter is located in the 20th district and was designed by Philippe Starck. It feels rather out of the way, but this is an interesting area both now and historically when it was home to industrial workers. The metro is around a 10-minute walk from the hotel and takes you to the center in 20 minutes. It’s a trendy establishment with a colorful restaurant, a lively bar, and a seasonal rooftop terrace. It features as well an amusement area with table football and a gift shop. A top hotel to stay if you want to avoid the crowds in the center.

It’s one of the city’s more relaxed, easygoing, and affordable (for Paris) options, it’s also in a great location just a few steps from Grands Boulevards Metro Station. Set in a historic 18th-century mansion and now classified as a monument historique, the Hoxton Paris is undoubtedly the most beautiful place to stay for a few nights.

Staying the night at this luxury hotel is a real treat, like a slice of paradise in the middle of Paris’s beating heart. Le Meurice is an inspirational and fascinating place where 18th-century splendor and the most innovative modern comforts sit happily side by side.  Across the street are the Tuileries Gardens, home to a carnival in the summer months and Paris’ famed carousel. This makes it one of the most central locales in the entire city and a perfect place for families. Then there are the connecting rooms, perfectly designed for families of four. There’s no doubt that this Parisian locale has a certain joie de vivre.

A very cozy and nice address in the center of the Marais and perfect when you travel with your family. The famous Place des Vosges is just across the street and many of the top shopping addresses are situated in the Marais like Merci or APC.

It’s an elegant, family-owned boutique property, located in an aristocratic mansion. You can expect a warm, low-key welcome, comfortable rooms and an excellent breakfast. Some of its best dining spots are a short walk away.

The Hotel Crayon takes us back to the time of classrooms, blackboards, pencils, and boxes of colors that have shaped our childhood. This Parisian hotel has colorful decorated walls and furniture to welcome its guests in a happy atmosphere. Located in the 1st district, Hotel Crayon is situated in the center of the city and close to all main major sight-seeing spots.

Parisian real estate being what it is, there’s almost no way to open a hotel that’s both humanely comfortable and genuinely affordable within the actual city limits. Which is why you’re looking at a hotel in Saint-Ouen.

Tablet’s first hotel in the Parisian suburbs is the product of Cyril Aouizerate, a hotelier whose populist bona fides are indisputable — he was one of the co-founders of Mama Shelter. So we’re inclined to trust him when he says his new project, Mob Hotel of the People, is worth a few extra minutes on the Métro.

We hope you will enjoy your trip to Paris. And don’t forget to send us your best tips and addresses in the comments section. 

See you soon for new adventures!

OUR PARIS SHOPPING

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MOUNT PILATUS | A PERFECT DAY TRIP

MOUNT PILATUS | A PERFECT DAY TRIP

At 2,128 meters above sea level, and overlooking the spectacular Lake Lucerne, the legendary Mount Pilatus (or “Pilatus Kulm”) is part of the Swiss Alps. Many legends are behind the name of “Mount Pilatus” – formerly called “the broken mountain” – and many of them imply the existence of dragons who would have populated these mountains. Among them, a legend tells that in 1421, a dragon flew to Pilatus. He was seen by a farmer who, not believing his eyes, lost consciousness. When he awoke, he found as the one and only proof of the passage of the dragon, a piece of coagulated blood and a stone with extraordinary healing properties, later called “dragon stone”. Another legend says that its name is due to a Roman emperor, Pontius Pilatus, who would have ordered the death of Jesus Christ and that the devil would have punished him by throwing his body in one of the lakes bordering the mountain.

Today, Mont Pilatus is a renowned excursion site that welcomes visitors from all over the world each year, for an experience closer to nature, totally suitable for a trip with children. The “Golden Circuit” formula around Mont Pilatus can be done from Lucerne, and it will take you about a day to fully enjoy this extremely diverse trip. Boat, rack railway, gondola and cable car “Dragon-Ride”: embark on a memorable family adventure, through breathtaking landscapes.

THE MAP

ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

Golden Tour packages include a boat trip from Lucerne to Alpnachstad through the impressive Lake Lucerne, which offers a breathtaking panorama of the alpine landscape. From Alpnachstad to Pilatus Klum, take the famous cogwheel train invented by engineer Eduard Locher and put it into service in 1889. Regarded as the world’s fastest cogwheel train, this daring electric train (since 1937) moves on an area with a gradient of 48%. It takes 30 minutes to get from  Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm.

A trip during which you can admire impressive landscapes composed of rock formations, forests and wild meadows. Arrived at the summit thanks to the “Dragon Ride”, the famous and vertiginous cable car of Mount Pilatus, a panoramic view of exception will allow you to admire no less than 73 alpine peaks, as well as lakes and surrounding villages. You can descend from Pilatus Kulm in Lucerne in the famous “Dragon-Ride” (cable car) and thanks to the panoramic gondola that will allow you here again to appreciate the wild beauty of this exceptional natural site.

                  View on the Lake Lucerne from Fräkmüntegg

FRÄKMÜNDEGG – ADVENTURE & SPORT & FUN

The Golden Tour of Mount Pilatus promises great family moments thanks to the activities specially set up for the delight of the children. In addition to the Pilatus Dragon Trail, with legends and other fantastic myths about the history of this mountain, you can enjoy the PILU LAND adventure park on the Krienseregg. The nice Red Dragon welcomes young and old in his castle and his forest for a moment with a happy and playful family. 

On Pilatus Kulm, discover the fascinating “Dragon World” exhibition, a veritable interactive saga. Finally, on the flank of Mount Pilatus, the famous summer toboggan run in Switzerland, located in Fräkmüntegg promises thrills and unforgettable moments for the whole family.

PILATUS TRAIN – WORLD’S STEEPEST RAILWAY

   View from Pilatus Kulm

On the way, many restaurants welcome you, offering breathtaking views and offering à la carte typical Swiss dishes. If you want to extend your stay, you will also be able to sleep at the top of Mount Pilatus or in an unusual accommodation located in the trees in Fräkmüntegg, and go down the next day. Excursions on the “Golden Circuit” formula are generally possible from the beginning of May to mid-October or the end of November depending on the agency, and you will need to pay around 100 euros for an adult and 50 euros for a child. Mount Pilatus is a very popular tourist place, think, as far as possible, to book your tickets in advance to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

BACK TO LUCERNE WITH THE STEAMSHP

                                                                                                                                                                                          Back to Lucerne with the boat (80 minutes)

Discovering Mount Pilatus with kids is one of the top listed things to do in Switzerland. The many activities for young and old, the possibility of having a picnic with a great view or sleep under the trees in the forest makes this place an exceptional stay for the whole family.

We hope you will enjoy your trip to Mount Pilatus. 

See you soon for new adventures!

OUR SWISS SHOPPING

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KHANH | HANOI

KHANH | HANOI

KHANH, NAM & HOA

Khanh lives with her husband and their daughter Hoa in the Southwest of Hanoi, a residential area far away from the busy and touristic city centre. Khan works as an english-vietnames translator, a job which leaves her enough sparetime to take care of her daughter after school. Her family is a typical Hanoian family, living in the area since generations, while her husband’s parents are from the central region of Vietnam. Nam, her husband, works as a cameraman for a national TV station and has long working hours, sometimes even during the weekends. He met Khan through a cousin when she was an university student. Today, they are married for over 9 years and have a beautiful 7 year old daughter called Hoa. Hoa was named after a doctor who saved her live. When Khan was 2 month pregnant, she suffered from Rubella virus and the doctors in the public hospital pushed her to have an abortion. Luckily, one doctor named Hoa advised her, after a complete medical check, not to do that. Thanks to this competent doctor, the baby girl was born healthy and named after the doctor.

How does your typical family day looks like?

Normally, my husband and I have breakfast near our companies, but my daughter has breakfast at home so I get up early to prepare her breakfast. My husband or I take her to school which is close to our house. We have lunch at our work and we take turns to pick up our daughter from school depending on our schedule. Usually we cook dinner at home and sometimes eat out for a change or on special occasions. After dinner, I help my daughter with her homework. At weekends, we normally go out to a nice cafe or park near our home to spend the day with friends.

How do you spend your free time as a family?

My husband usually works one of the two days of weekends. When he doesn’t work we spend the week-end together and usually take our daughter to a splayground or a park.  Sometimes we go to my husbands hometown in the countryside to visit his family and relatives. There is a very nice beach called Cửa Lò. 

As a parent, how do you see your children in 15/20 years? What do you wish for them?

As a mother, I really want my daughter to have a good education both at home and at school. Particularly, I wish her to live a healthy life and be strong. Therefore, I usually take her to the swimming pool in summer and find modern dance class for her in winter. I hope she will become a kind person with a good heart. I also wish she would go to University to get a good job in the future. The university education is not free in Vietnam, but it is reasonable/affordable for most of people. For poor family, they can get loans from the Government for university education with lower interests.

Tell me more about the food in your region/country. Who is preparing the food? What is the typical dish in your country/city?

In terms of food, every region has its own speciality. My husband comes from Nghe An, a province in the central of Vietnam while I am from Hanoi, in the north of Vietnam. Food in these 2 regions are very different. My husband likes salty food, fish sauce, spicy, fried food while I like steamed food, vegetables, beef. Our daughter is a fussy eater, I always have to cook special dish for her like salmon, beef without spicy, and she usually eats before my husband and I as she spends hours before finishing her dish. Therefore, in my family’s dish, we have many kinds of different food. I am not always the cook in the family, sometimes my husband cooks too when he does not go to work.

In western countries, we have to learn our kids to reduce screen time. Kids today have easily access to smartphones, computers and TVs. How is this in your country?

It’s similar in Vietnam now.  Many kids use smartphones, computers and TVs. My daughter used to spend hours watching youtube on Ipad, She was really addicted to it. So we decided to set some rules to control her screen time. Sometimes when she has good marks, I will let her access to the Ipad for limited time.

Now, my daughter plays more with her toys and we spend a lot of time outside. It is really important to reduce screen time for kids. I think this is a global problem as all this gadgets are now available everywhere.

By the way, we have a nice game which kids usually play, it’s called Ô ăn quan. It is a traditional Vietnamese children’s board game enhancing calculating ability. My daughter also loves drawing and painting. She sticks her works all over the walls in our house. 

How does a normal couple live and share work/life? Are they both working? If yes, is there any maternity leave? How long?

There is still a separation in work life and family life. Nowadays in Vietnam, it is normal that both work to generate income to support the family. But when it comes to family life, women have still do the housework.

We have 6 months of maternity leave, this is only for women. I heard that in some countries they also have a paternity leave which we don’t have here in Vietnam.

Can you recommend us some good food places in Hanoi?

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. As travellers, when exploring Vietnam, you should enjoy the local ways and and street food is a great place to experience it. If you stay in the old quarter of Hanoi, there are a few places that you can go for street food: bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles) at Bún chả Đắc Kim, egg coffee at Giang Cafe, phơ at Phở Lý Quốc Sư… At a higher level, you can try a big menu of food at Quán ăn ngon, or Hanoi specialty “cha cá” at Chả cá Thăng Long…

We ask each family we interview to share a typical recipe of her region/country. Find below Khanh’s recipe for Nem Dan:

What are the nicest places to visit in Hanoi?

Basically, in terms of architecture, Hanoi can be divided into 4 areas: the Old Quarter, the Citadel Area, French Quarter and Newer Area. Normally tourists stay in the Old Quarters, the center of Hanoi’s old town where the most attractions are situated. These are nice places near the Old Quarter you can visit when in Hanoi: Hoan Kiem Lake, the Saint Joseph Cathedral, the Opera House, Hoa Lo Prision, Temple of Literature, Train Track Street. It is very nice just walking through the small narrow streets of the Old Quarter or visit the weekend night market. Outside the Old Quarter you can find the Museum of Ethnology where the different ethnic groups of Vietnamare are displayed and explained. If you are into arts, the Museum of Fine Arts is a good place to go.

Hanoi is definitely a nice place to discover and a good start when you travel through Vietnam.