Spring Hike II

Rodersdorf – Mariastein – Landskron – Fluh

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What better way to spend a gorgeous Sunday than to hike through the woods, to famous religious sites and on to impressive castles? In my humble opinion, there is no better way to make the most of a day that is filled with sunshine, family time and exploration.

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We did the hike listed below for the first time today and enjoyed every minute of this awesome route.

2016-04-10-Hike_23 Tram: 10 towards France – Rodersdorf tram stop – make sure to check the schedule as the tram doesn’t always go to Rodersdorf – sometimes the tram stops in Fluh and goes no further.

2016-04-10-Hike_10When your back is at the tram head left. There you will see a board with all the wanderwegs, head towards Mariastein. The walk will take you through some lovely forests, where you will continue on.

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Once you walk for about an hour or so, you will see Mariastein to your right through fields. From there you can elect to head down towards Mariastein or follow the small brown signs to Ruine Landskron.

2016-04-10-Hike_55 If you haven’t been to Landskron before, this is a beautiful castle located in France. Approaching the castle from this vantage point, offers a stunning view. Plan to have a picnic at the castle. There are a couple of places to grill, or simply pull up a spot at the castle. From there, head towards the left of the castle and head down to Fluh. The tram 10 will take you back to Basel.

2016-04-10-Hike_33 The walk took a good portion of our day. This walk is possible with a stroller, however, there are several uphill portions, though nothing too intense.  Have fun and enjoy the spring!

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winter can be tough.  Many of us would rather stay indoors away from the rain and cold temperatures, cozy in our homes, but when you have children, staying indoors all day simply isn’t an option.  If you are looking for a beautiful exhibit that the entire family will enjoy, then don’t miss the beautiful Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit currently on display at the Natural History Museum of Basel.

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This child–friendly museum houses live bugs, microscopes for hands-on discovery, large dinosaur skeletons, a woolly mammoth and a great deal of other opportunities to keep children occupied.  The top floor is currently home to some spectacular images shot from professional and novice photographers from around the globe.  Children will be inspired by the gorgeous images of animals, natural landscapes and might even be keen to take – up photography when they see the child section on display profiling budding artists.  There is one section that shows man vs. animals, which provides graphic images of how man uses/abuses animals. This section can easily be skipped over if one finds the images too disturbing, or better yet, may just provide a wonderful opportunity to teach children compassion and kindness.

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The exhibit will be on display until April 3, 2016.

Address: Augustinergasse 2, 4051 Basel
Hours: Closed Monday     Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
Cost of Admission –Museum Pass Accepted or CHF Adults CHF 7 and Youth/Students – CHF 5
1st Sunday of the month – Free Admission -I believe the last hour of museum operation  is open free of charge under their “happy hour” admission.

Kids Explore

Part of the fun, as a kid growing up, is exploring your environment and testing your limits.  This is contrasted by a parents fear of letting go.  The benefits of kids exploring outdoors is unparalleled!  Have you ever heard of Forest Playgroup for kids?  This has been going on for years in Switzerland, a great time for the kids, and teaches them about nature; to respect it, and to enjoy it.

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This photo was posted as part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Brunni, Engelberg

2015-09-27-Engel_84We needed a distraction, something to take our minds off of Dad’s long departure that would take him to South America and ever so far from us.  We understood his need to support an incredible organization (Operation Smile), but that didn’t mean we would miss him any less. The perfect remedy for his absence seemed to be to escape and the mountains were the ideal destination.

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As a mother traveling solo, I needed something quick and relatively easy. Thus, we made our way to Engelberg, a short 2:00 train ride from Basel. We dropped off our belongings at the Angels Lodge, made our way to the Tourist Information Center, obtained a map and headed out to explore. We happened to stumble across the iconic Swiss celebration of bringing the cows down from the mountains for the season, which was a hit with the children. We then made our way to the Monastery, meandered through, and entered the shop where we were able to witness cheese being made (excellent educational opportunity), before purchasing some locally made yogurt, which we ate in the warmth of the sun.

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Just a short walk past the monastery to the left (towards the end of the valley), there is a lift station that will take you up to Brunni. Brunni is a haven for children of all ages. With swings, a trampoline, rock climbing wall, a water station, slides, ropes course and knock your socks off views, the entire family will be happy. We spent most of the day playing, and exploring and when we grew tired, we had an early dinner at the restaurant located at the lift station. For more hiking options and less crowds, take the chair lift up to the top.

The next morning we woke to heavy fog blanketing those gorgeous peaks I came to see, bummer. Instead of throwing in the towel and heading for home, we took the gondolas up to Trübsee and hiked around the lake. Fresh air, glimmers of mountains and virtually no one on the trails, we were all happy, despite the pang in our chest for the man of the house.

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Hotel Note:

We stayed at the Angels Lodge located about a 10-minute walk from the train station. The hotel was perfectly clean, the staff was warm and welcoming and the breakfast was a great spread. For those not traveling with small children, there is a hot tub and sauna onsite, which is a lovely treat after a long day of hiking in the mountains.  There are no special facilities for children, however, we spent very little time at the hotel and there are plenty of play opportunities in the town and up in the mountains.

The Angels Lodge – Alpenstrasse 1, 6390 Engelberg – 041 637 20 45

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Papiliorama

2014-07-12-Bfly_078jpgRoughly two hours from Basel (the train will drop you off right in front of the gardens), located in Kerzers, sits the interactive and incredible Papiliorama. With a butterfly sanctuary filled with exotic and stunning butterflies filling the air with beautiful colors and graceful flights, we were all immediately captivated. Our children were wrapped in warmth of the glass domed houses, as they watched in amazement as the 60 butterfly species swirled overhead, landed on their shoulders, feet and heads. We were all mesmerized and the cold temperatures outside dissipated.

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After we existed the butterfly area, and learned all about the life cycle of a butterfly, we moved onto the nocturnal room. We quickly explained what nocturnal means to our children and without really thinking much further; we dove into the next experience. Whew, was the room dark! So, dark in fact it took a few moments for our eyes to adjust and once they did, we were amazed at the fact that there were live bats just flying around freely. Whoosh…there goes another one. We all thought this was incredibly cool and slightly, well, unnerving.

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The botanical garden is not confined to the inside; outside, another world awaits. A small petting zoo is on site and a fantastic playground. If the weather is good, the children will lose themselves with the animals and engaging play area.

A restaurant is also on premise, but we packed our lunch and enjoyed a leisurely meal in the restaurant area designated for those wanting to picnic.

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Overall, we had a wonderful day filled with new discoveries, educational opportunities, and lots of laughter.  On a side note, a beautiful thing about Papiliorama is their dedication to rain forest preservation.  Papiliorama has a “sister foundation” in Belize where conservation and protection is at the forefront.

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Opening Hours: Daily except for December 25 and January 1

Summer Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (last entry is 17:15)

Winter Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (last entry 16:15)

Admission Cost: Adults: CHF 18  Children (4-15): CHF 9

For a side trip from Kerzers, consider visiting the village of Murten, just a short ride via train from the botanical gardens.