• BLOG
  • Quiet Towns and Sleeping Lions – Morning Run in Luzern

    Vierwaldstättersee Tiina Kivelä

    I rarely do them, yet I have always liked to do morning runs. Especially in beautiful cities.

    Tie the running shoes to my feet when the most of my surroundings still sleeps. Get to the narrow cobblestone streets and old towns, fortresses looking over the city, before most of the businesses open – while getting to smell the small bakeries and freshly ground espresso brewing  –  and especially before the crowds find their way to the same narrow streets and viewpoints.

     Luzern last week did not make exception.

    The covid-19 restrictions have closed most of the businesses and international borders in Switzerland for many weeks now. Making even the normally very buzzling and busy (of bankers and tourists) Swiss boutique towns resemble sleeping beauties. And this – with the exceptionally warm for April morning sun and clear skies –  made my simple morning run in Lucerne simply great.

    Like always, Vierwaldstättersee and Pilatus with the white swans and snows made an exceptionally nice background. It also happens to be the time for blossoming magnolia’s and cherry trees – a bit earlier than normally for the exceptionally warm winter and spring – and even the Sleeping Lion got a very long stare from this runner. For not being covered by the tourist masses.

    Luzern Löwenplatz Tiina Kivelä

    Luzern Morning Tiina Kivelä

    Luzern Pilatus Tiina Kivelä

    Magnolia Luzern Tiina Kivelä

    You may wonder why I was here though.

    Shouldn’t I stay home in the mountains, or at least in the home trails these weeks? Yes, I do that as much as I can.

    Yet, despite the restrictions and cautious measures there is work to do – even and luckily for me too – and runs allowed in one’s everyday surroundings. And since my current Mary Poppins gigs bring me now to Luzern occasionally, I am spoiled with these morning runs.

    Vierwaldstättersee Luzern Eggen Tiina Kivelä

    Vierwaldstättersee Spring Tiina Kivelä

    Luzern Kapellbrücke Tiina Kivelä


    Where: Luzern / Lucerne, Switzerland (running views from Luzern, old town and by the lake, and Meggen.)

  • BLOG
  • Swiss Christmas Markets & Sternenstadt – The Best Thing Ever

    Tiina Kivelä

     

    It’s a year of a new Grinch movie and I was kinda close to be all grinch this holiday season myself. Hasn’t been much of a my year, despite many awesome things.

    Nevertheless, they started to put up the christmas trees, markets and lights and here I am, all awwwww for the season.

    Central European Christmas markets are world famous and there’s something in the huge festivities in Germany especially. Though not for me really. I tend to like more of the more quaint Swiss ones or the local quarter ones like the Salon one in Brussels.

    Swiss markets smell of raclette and fondue and glühwein and they just are so… Swiss. In other words, just my type, except the most biggest ones. Around this time of the year you also find one in almost every town and village – some last for a whole month and a bit more, some just a weekend, so if you have something in mind good the exact info, just in case.

    St. Gallen, my local one this year, is also almost too big for the best kind of market and the market itself I haven’t really toured yet. But these starry lights in the Aldstadt – Sternenstadt as they call it. And the huge Christmas tree next to the Abbey Cathedral. And the café Øya around the corner, which serves real gløgg. With rum.

    These are the things which makes me like St. Gallen on holiday season and well, the holiday season in general. And the Christmas market too, though still have to walk through it all.

    And to highlight my ungrinchiness, I even got small Christmas tree to the home office.

    One might not have office Christmas party this year (hopefully next year again though) but one can casually have after work (glühwein) every day from now to Christmas, I decided. And for that one needs a tree. Even a small one.

    Because Christmas is only once a year.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: St. Gallen

     

  • Bern
  • Only For Experienced Mountaineers: Schreckhornhütte 2529m

    Tiina Kivelä

    It was a weekend a few weeks back when last minute planning resulted in one of the best tours ever, a night at Schreckhornhütte, the destination for a bergwandern trail only for “experienced mountaineers“. Which I can’t claim yet. But you have to start somewhere, and when the signpost says “only for experienced mountaineers” there is a point when you keep going even without the experience. Because there’s the first time for everything.

    Nevertheless, for a similar trip without the experience, I do suggest you either hire a guide or take along companions with more experience and skills; people who you can trust no matter what. On the SAC trekkingscale, our trail was level 4, which we made even more challenging by our timing, just before the official season. During the official season, the trails have ladders and wires to support hikers on their way, and the huts have service like food. This time we could only lean on our experience and pure courage. And good weather forecast.

    MEET YOU THERE

    On this trip, we were self-catered, both on the trail and in the hut, where only the winter room facilities were at our service. Nevertheless, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever done. Basically in my backyard, which I miss a lot now when in Zürich. It’s all good here, but no mountains or glaciers as easily accessible as there.

    That Saturday, I decided to join the mixed group last minute. The first two of our group had left earlier for some glacier training; the ones I’m now used to follow almost everywhere. And then there were the two paragliders, flying the last part of the hike back on Sunday. And then there was me and my favourite couple (thanks for the ride L&A). It wasn’t an easy trip for any of us, though definitely worth the effort with the mountains and glaciers and views to Finsteraarhorn, the highest peak in Berner Oberland (4274 m).

    Normally, when route descriptions say 3h, I can take appr. 1h off the overall time, but this tour proved that when it’s level 4, the 5h description was more than accurate. And so, leaving quite late on Saturday, first driving to Gindelwald and taking the cable car up to Pfingstegg (8CHF with SBB half-far travelcard, in 2017) from where the initial hike started, we finally reached the hüt just in time before dark.

    On the way, we were “guided” by a steinbock couple and motivated by the desire to find our way to the cabin before sunset. Stopping briefly at Berghaus Bäregg on our way, to fill our water bottles, while the paragliders collected information of flying possibilities from there for the next day. And finally, after a bit scary and very challenging hike along the exposed path next to the Obers Ischmeer glacier, we met the first “group” around the corner of the cabin, just when the sky started to turn golden. And enjoyed a magnificent sunset with well-earned sip of wine.

    Tiina Kivelä

    HÜT DINNER IS A FIVE STAR DINNER, ALWAYS

    This weekend, we got the whole hut to ourselves. Or not the whole hüt exactly, but the parts open as so-called winter room. There was even enough room to separate the snoring ones, which is a real luxury in mountain settings. Normally, the snores, smell and unknown people belong to the most authentic mountain experience. But here’s a reason I love the off-season in the mountains; fewer people, more space and authentic off-season luxury mountaineering experience, when the timing is right.

    For dinner (which btw is always 5* up there, no matter what you are eating) there was wine and extra speciality in the form of porto bottle (extra points for people carrying wine in glass bottles up the mountains!). And then there were the steinbocks and marmots and the best people as company; what else can a girl ask for? There was laughing, there were challenges overcome with the help and support of others (lots of swearing too, I have to admit), and there was just pure joy mixed with the good kind of exhaustion.

    MOUNTAIN THERAPY

    After a good night sleep, there was my quiet morning yoga moment in solitude on the hüt “terrace” (well-needed with all the stress I’ve had related to the move and life changes in general), while two of us started their climb to higher mountains and others continued sleeping a bit later. And for some reason, I came back from the trip with one inner sole less of my amazing Lowa shoes. I have the feeling those curious marmots I saw that morning had something to do with this, or then it was just the tired me leaving it to dry in the sun eternally. Nevertheless, no matter what the initial reason, the sole has now been replaced by the lovely customer service of Lowa, and I can keep on going further and higher on these mountains.

    Once again I have to say these really are the kind of days and nights I’ve learned to love the most. Going forward, going higher and learning so much. This time the biggest lesson was to learn how tall the crevasses of the glaciers really are. A humbling experience indeed. Obers Ischmeer and Finsteraarhorn were magnificent, especially seeing them this close. Walking past them and standing below them, I also started to think that maybe a glacier and/or mountaineering training course would be good to take at some point. Because no matter how scary, glaciers and high mountains are oh so tempting and I want to have more of them and learn more (and krhm climb a >4000m peak before I turn 30). Zürich is nice but… I guess I was spoiled by Berner Oberland so that now I can’t be too long a time away from the mountains.

    Luckily though, SBB serves quite well, to the mountains and back. And these guys just keep on being themselves no matter where we meet. Though best enjoyed in the mountains.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Schreckhornhütte SAC 2’650’592.125, 1’159’206.469, from Grindelwald