Tag Archives: June 2017

Getting to the Löschenpass Hütte

You can begin in Kandersteg or in Wiler. Kandersteg is easier to get to by train from Interlaken. If you have a car, you can take it through the mountain on the car train (a train you drive onto that takes you through a tunnel to the other side of the mountain for 25 CHF), and drive to Wiler. The hike from Kandersteg is definitely steeper going up, whereas the hike up from Wiler is a bit more gradual.

We began in Wiler! From Wiler, there is a gondola that takes you up to Lauchernalp. You can buy the round trip, but of course, if you’re planning to do the whole pass hike, buy just the one way. In Lauchernalp, you can stop for a snack before your hike. Berghaus is a delicious little restaurant with an amazing view. Try the rosti!


The path up to the hut is super well marked, and really hard to lose. Crossroads and intersections are marked with signs, and the rest of the trail is marked with red and white paint. There may be snow, so prepare for that. There were a few little glacial run off creeks we had to cross, some were more like waterfalls. All the other hikers we passed had hiking poles with them — not a bad idea.


A bed at the Löschenpass Hütte is available for reservation by phone. Their standard rate is 70 CHF per person, but that includes dinner and breakfast. The rooms are big dorms with bunk beds and lockers. We were lucky to be there on a slow night, and had a room to ourselves.

The beginning of the hike towards Kandersteg is a bit treacherous, down what felt like a sheer rock face, through numerous snow drifts, and over countless glacial run off creeks. All I could think was how happy I was to not be hiking up this side. The valley was totally beautiful. It was huge, carved away from a melting glacier over probably millions of years. The mountains on either side were tall, steep, and craggy. We were surrounded by waterfalls and wild flowers. It was breathtaking. (You can read the story about my experience on this hike here).


Once you arrive at the road, you are in Selden. From here, you can take a shuttle bus to Kandersteg, or you can hike. The hike is very beautiful, super flat, and all around very pleasant. It does add another 2 or 3 hours onto the day. I am sure the drive through the valley would be just as beautiful.

Once you arrive in Kandersteg, the train will bring you back to Goppenstein, and from there, a bus will take you to Wiler. The train runs at the 42 minutes of every hour (1:42pm, 2:42pm, etc.) and the bus is timed perfectly, so you should not have to worry about missing it.

For more information about the Löschenpass Hütte, the pass itself, and the hike, look to the Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC). They are a great resource for information about the shuttle, and if you book through them, they may be able to get you a cheaper rate at the hut! Check their website for more info.

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Wiler to the hut (starred), the hut to where the shuttle picks you up, and then to Kandersteg

Hiking to the Löschenpass Hütte in the Swiss Alps

Today we would hike to the Löschenpass Hütte! After a lovely few days at an Airbnb in Blatten, we were ready to get back on the road. We drove to Wiler, a town near Blatten, and parked our car. We bought a round trip on the gondola and excitedly clambered on. Our first gondola in Switzerland! Going up the Alps! How exciting! It began and whisked us up the mountain. Too fast. It was super anticlimactic. We were both somewhat disappointed when we arrived at the next stop after only one minute.


The hike to the Löschenpass Hütte was beautiful. Straight across and up the side of a mountain towards the mountain pass. The rocks were beautiful, and covered with lichen! We crossed a few little creeks, and found ourselves so high up we were in snow! The snow crossings weren’t too bad, because it was pretty rock solid. A few times we took a step and went right through, knee deep, and once Michael went hip deep, into the snow. It was so adventurous! And so hilarious!


We ate our peanut butter and honey sandwich in the sun, on top of a mountain.

We arrived at the hut, positioned right in the middle of the mountain pass, and checked in. We enjoyed a beer and a bag of peanuts sitting outside. We introduced ourselves to the only other guests of the hut this evening, Christine and Marlon from Washington, and their two year old son, Chess. Together, the five of us enjoyed dinner of salad, soup, and a traditional Swiss style macaroni dish. After dinner, we all retired to bed. We were in our own rooms, amidst the empty bunk beds. Almost immediately, we were asleep.

During dinner last night, Christine and Marlon raved about the hike they did up to the pass. They came up from the other side. They started in Kandersteg. The valley, they said, was spectacular. If there’s one thing I know about Michael it’s that he suffers from FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. We had originally planned to hike back down to Wiler, but what if this valley is as spectacular as Christine and Marlon say? What if we don’t get to see it? We decided to do it.

The beginning of the hike was treacherous, down what felt like a sheer rock face, through numerous snow drifts, and over countless glacial run off creeks. It was crazy. I just kept wondering why we did this. Especially when every sign we saw appeared to have a longer time than it should. “Kandersteg: 5h,” then an hour later, “Kandersteg: 4h 30min.” It was crazy! We hiked in a cloud for the beginning of the trail too, so we really couldn’t see much.

But, right when I started to question our decision, the clouds disappeared and revealed the most remarkable valley. It was endless, carved away from a melting glacier over millions of years. The mountains on either side were tall, steep, and craggy. We were surrounded by waterfalls and wild flowers. It was breathtaking.


The hike down became a lot easier when we were back in the alpine meadows and then down further in the tree line. The shade from the trees was a welcome change. Damn, this Swiss sun! She hot! And still, the signs seemed to lie, “Kandersteg: 3h,” an hour later, “Kandersteg: 2h 45min.” We found the river at the bottom of the valley, and found a shuttle bus stop near the bridge. We weren’t interested in paying for the bus, and decided to walk, the signs all said it was only 2 hours more, and we figured because it was a river valley, it would be somewhat flat.


We were right, the path was so pleasant. It weaved around the river bed, in and out of trees, and through really lovely nature. We stopped for lunch on the river, in the sun, looking up at a towering waterfall. I collected perfect skipping stones and Michael skipped them. It was bliss. We continue our walk, “Kandersteg: 1h 30min,” an hour later, “Kandersteg: 1h.” Wtf?!

It became comical as we walked. We finally arrived in Kandersteg, but had another 30 minutes to walk to the train station. We were exhausted, our feet were tired, we were SO ready to just be there, we were goofy. We walked through the town, arrived at the train station, bought our tickets and found our platform. The train took us to Goppenstein station, and from there, the bus took us back to Wiler where our car patiently waited for us. Phew! What a day!!

Interested in this hike? Click here to read some more information!



Running for the plane in Sicily!

A story of anxiety, hilarity, and near heartbreak.

Sometimes even the most seasoned traveler – the traveler who has been in too many airports to count, has flown in more airplanes than you could imagine, and could probably go through a security check line in their sleep – sometimes even that traveler can fuck it up.

On this particular morning in Sicily, we woke up with the sunrise; it was lovely. We prepared ourselves for our travel day. We would leave Letojanni, take the train to Taormina, transfer trains and head to Catania. At Catania central station, we would take the bus to the airport and get on our flight at 1:10pm. Big day! We packed up and left our beautiful Airbnb. I did my checks of the rooms, and we hadn’t left anything inside. I was messaging our host to thank him as we walked out of the apartment, and as soon as I closed the door, I realized my jacket was inside. No!!! We had just locked the keys inside, so there was no way to get it. We looked under the welcome mat, in the BBQ, and under every plant for a spare key, but to no avail. I messaged our host, and we agreed he would just send the jacket in the mail.

Defeated, we walked quickly down to the train station, only to discover, of course, that we had missed our train. Damn! The next train to take us to Taormina was in an hour, so we decided to bus there instead of waiting. I stepped off the bus at the Taormina bus station at 10:15pm, and asked the info lady how to get to the airport. She informed me we could take the bus that would arrive at the airport at 12:10pm. Our flight was at 1:10pm. It would be tight, but it was better than a €90 cab ride, right?

On the bus, driving. We drove until 12:10pm, and the bus stopped. At Catania central station (not the airport, as promised). I really started to sweat. My stomach did a backflip. The next 15 minutes was the longest 15 minutes ever. Our bus arrived to the airport at 12:29pm.

We found the check-in desk and stood in a short line that was taking WAY too long. I interrupted the four, middle-aged Italian people in front of me and asked if I could go in front of them. They looked at me and in very broken English asked, “Where are you from?” I responded, “Canada…?” The man looked shocked, “Oh no… you can’t get there,” he said and pointed at the check in gate, “wrong place.” Bless him. I don’t need to fly to Canada from here! I smiled and just walked in front of them to the desk. I pointed to my phone and showed the lady the time of our flight. Her eyes nearly fell out of her head when she saw that boarding for our flight began two minutes ago. She worked quickly and checked my bag lightning fast. We ran to security and navigated through the ridiculous, snaking line up to the security gate.

Michael and I are both the traveler who has been in too many airports to count, has flown in more airplanes than you could imagine, and could probably go through a security check line in their sleep, so we breezed through security. Belts off, change out of pockets, boots off, computers out. We went so fast, you could see the wind flutter in the hair of the security officers. We went so fast, time seemed to stop. We went so fast, we ran right past our gate. Right past gate 10, where they were calling our names over the intercom.

We figured it out after we ran down two flights of stairs and were told by some airport workers to go back upstairs. We arrived at gate 10, sweaty, breathless, and hopeful. The woman smiled and picked up the phone and made a call. The other lady took our passports and told us to breathe. We made it!

The Bethst of: Beaches in Favignana

Favignana is a gem off the coast of Sicily. It is one of the three, and the most populated of the Aegadian islands. Favignana is a thirty minute ferry ride west of Sicily and is among my favourite islands to adventure. Once off the boat, head over to Noleggio Ginevra di Catalan Amadeo (their website) and rent yourself a hog for the duration of your stay. It’s the best way to get around.

Lido Burrone

Lido Burrone is a beautiful sandy beach. It is also the only beach with facilities. Here, you can rent a beach chair and an umbrella, and you can head up to the bar to order a drink or buy a snack. You can also use their toilets. It’s nice to be on a sandy beach, but this one can get quite crowded. It’s not good for incognito topless tanning, but it is great for people watching!

Sandy: yes

Crowded: definitely

Swimmable: yes

Speedos: too many to count

Cala Azzure

Cala Azzure

Named after the colour of the water, Cala Azzure is a total stunner! The water is so crystal clear, it’s almost unreal. As for lounging by the water, there are a few sandy parts for lounging, but there wasn’t much room when we arrived. We walked along the beach, over the rocks and found a more secluded area to set up camp. This place can get super busy too, I am sure, but feels a bit less so because of the way the rocks are located around the water. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only ones there.

Sandy: somewhat

Crowded: not if you walk to the other side

Swimmable: yes and it’s refreshing AF

Instagrammable: #youbetterbelieveit

Bue Marino

Bue Marino

This is less of a beach, and more just a really cool place to hang out and not swim. There is a little path down towards the water that opens up over a huge, flat area. The cliffs down to the water are jagged and beautiful, and the water is, again, crystal clear. Here, you can find all sorts of caves in the rock. It’s a fun place to adventure, hang out in the sun, and drink fresh orange juice from the huge, orange-shaped bar at the top of the hill (if it’s parked there).

Sandy: no

Crowded: not a soul in sight

Swimmable: not if you want to live

Adventurous: totally!!

Cala Graziosa

Cala Graziosa

Yes, you will park in a big, empty parking lot, yes you will be across the street from a big factory looking thing, no, there won’t be any other cars in the parking lot. You’ve found the place! This is such a lovely swimming hole. The quality of your experience will be determined by the wind. If it’s coming from the north, skip this place. If it’s coming from any other direction, this place is heavenly. The water is still, deep, and super clear. There are rocks around the edges perfect for jumping into the deep watering hole. Don’t feel like swimming? That’s fine! Go explore the rocks, you’ll find an abundance of tide pools around!

Sandy: no… it’s rocks

Crowded: not when we went! We were the only ones there!

Swimmable: if you’re prepared to jump!

Life in the tidepools: crabs and urchins galore!

Italy: Five things to know before you go!

You’re going to Italy?! Buonissimo! Italy is the birthplace of some of the best things in the world: pizza, pasta, gelato, aqua-ducts! And, it is a country with something for everyone: beaches, mountains, old stuff, lots of wine… It’s an easy country to travel. That being said, there are some things I wish someone had told me before I arrived. Here are five things to know about Italy before you get there

1. Know some Italian!

There are a few places you may travel in Europe where English is commonly spoken. I have gotten by in many European countries knowing none of the native language. Italy is not one of those countries. The first thing we did when we landed in Rome was go for a piece of pizza and a beer, and neither of us knew how to order it. The woman working didn’t speak a lick of English, either, so it was an awkward exchange! Know some basic Italian before you arrive. Here are some key words and incredibly important phrases:

Ciao (chow): hello AND goodbye!

Grazie (grat-see-uh): thank you. people will respond by saying, “prego!”

Per Favore (pear fahv-or-ay): please

Uno (oo-no): one

Due (doo-way): two

Tre (tray): three

Possiamo avere due bichierri di Prosecco per favore: Can we have two glasses of Prosecco please?


2. Carry Euros, credit/debit cards are not used universally

Italy is a place where you will want to bring cash. Supermarkets, most hotels, and most tourist places (museums, etc.), will accept credit card, but as you travel out of city centres, out of tourist areas, and into more local spots, cash is the name of the game.

3. It is expensive, but you can do it on a shoestring.

Italy is an expensive place, there is no doubt about it. In July and August, prices skyrocket! That being said, you can find cheap stuff. A few tips to save some Euros. Make your own lunch! Having a picnic is the best. Pack some prosciutto, pecorino, bakery fresh bread, and a small bottle of wine, and find a bench to sit on! Some of my favourite Italians were the ones we met working at the deli counter, they often give you free samples! Stay in an AirBnB with a kitchen. It will absolutely have a little coffee pot and you can make your own cup. Even when an espresso is only €2, if you plan to be in Italy for two weeks, it can really add up! And when looking for inexpensive restaurants and cheaper eats, go outside the city centre. Use apps like Foursquare, Tripadvisor, or Google to filter restaurants by top rating AND cheap eats.

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The perfect picnic! Read a story about it here

4. On that note, don’t eat at a place that has pictures of the food on the menu.

Chances are, you have stumbled into a tourist trap! These are the places that have stereotypical Italian food, but also serve things like “American breakfast” or “British fish and chips.” Unless you are really hankering for an egg and bacon breakfast (which you could cook up in your Airbnb kitchen for a third of the price), steer clear of these places. The experience you will have will probably not be authentic, and you will pay far more than it is worth. When you arrive at a restaurant, stick your head in and listen. Are the patrons speaking Italian? Grab a table and enjoy! (I wrote a story about the best meal I had in Florence! Read it here).


5. Don’t eat mounded gelato!

This is probably the most important piece of information there is. I thank my mother for this tidbit of info. Don’t eat mounded gelato. In the display case of a Gelateria, you will see ice cream piled high, drizzled with syrup, adorned with fruits and chocolates. These mountains of gelato will be enticing— they look beautiful!— but that ice cream is not cold enough. Real gelato is meant to be served super duper cold, and when it is displayed in big mounds, the ice cream is not being kept as cold as it should be. When you see mounded gelato, keep walking and wait until you see the stuff that is flat in the container.


Partying like an 18 year old in Napoli

Tonight we would dine at Trattoria Da Nennella. Michael read online that it boasts a three course meal with wine and water included for only €12! We also read online that the line up can sometimes be so long, people wait for an hour or even two to be seated! We found the place and stood in the line. It was only about half a block long, so we didn’t think the wait would be too long. Everyone around us was drinking Aperol Spritz in little plastic cups, so we followed suit. Michael quickly found the place selling them and ordered two while I stood in line. He came back, “they were €1 each,” he said. “Well,” I replied, “it looks like we are getting wasted tonight!”


Michael went to get our second round; the first one went down so quickly. The line hadn’t moved, so I asked the young guys in front of me how long they had been waiting. “For what?” one asked. “Aren’t you in line for Nennella?” He laughed and told me that no, in fact they were just standing there, drinking. Michael came back and told me that on his venture to get two more drinks, he went to the other side of Nennella to discover the actual line — a way bigger line. We both laughed. The young guys in front of us “in line” introduced themselves as Luca and Francesco.

The street was bustling! Shoulder to shoulder people. I was getting a bit hungry, and Luca told us to eat at Nennella, but to just skip the line. He told us that we could either stand in line for ~2 hours and have 3 courses and wine for €12, OR we could order our food from the window and eat it on the street. We went to the window and ordered two bowls of penne, Michael ordered seafood, and I ordered pesto. When I took the bill to the cash register to pay, the man told me €5. I’m sorry? For both? When the meals came, the bowls were HUGE. I love Italy.

We ate our meals and chatted with Francesco and some of his friends. Francesco told me he is in first year university. He said he is older than all of his friends, that most of them are still in high school! Michael and I laughed. There we were, hanging out with 18 year olds That’s when Francesco asked, “Want to go to a trash party?” Yes, Francesco, we do. We didn’t drink 4 Aperol Spritz and two €2 glasses of red wine to just go home before midnight!


We followed our new young friends through the back streets of Napoli. People were on the streets everywhere, drinking, eating, smoking, and having the coolest time. We finally made it to the trash party. It was in a big courtyard of an old building. Under-the-table beer was €2, and a DJ was set up at the end of the courtyard. I danced. I was drunk. Just so drunk. So, I danced. The DJ was horrible. He played only 90s and 00s hits (which is old school for most of the attendees), but only the choruses and then there came a point when he didn’t even play the whole chorus, and just skipped to the next song. Even drunk Beth knows this is poor form.


We lost our friends, they probably realized early on that this trash party was going to be garbage (haha). After a bite to eat at a street food cart, we stumbled home. Man, partying like an 18 year old when you’re 27 really takes it out of you!