Meet the Grande Dame of Pontresina: The Grand Hotel Kronenhof

*ADVERT*

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is one of the most splendid hotels in the Alps. This heritage-protected luxury-class establishment is located in the heart of the idyllic Engadine village of Pontresina, only six kilometres from St. Moritz. The only 5-star superior hotel in the village, it boasts some 112 spacious rooms and suites as well as the large and well-equipped Kronenhof Spa and several very notable restaurants.

I was cordially invited to stay one night at the hotel in order to explore charming and elegant Pontresina. It was the beginning of my personal Swiss fairytale and I could not wait to get out of my hiking gear, changing into one of my pretty dresses.

Historic Architecture

Historic architecture that dates from 1848, elegant light-filled rooms and suites, one of the finest spa facilities in the world and a superb location in the heart of the Swiss Alps – this unique mix of the magic of times long past, modern comfort, and the beautiful natural world all around is what makes the Grand Hotel Kronenhof so special and unique. After a comprehensive renovation in 2007, this landmark neo-baroque building that is an alpine architectural treasure is now also one of the world’s top luxury and wellness hotels.

The Grand Hotel Kronenhof belongs to a tradition of hospitality that began in 1848. Today, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof is among the best-preserved 19th-century grand hotels found anywhere and is, at the same time, one of Switzerland’s top luxury and wellness hotels.

The Mountaineering Village of Pontresina

Pontresina is situated in a wind-sheltered side valley at 1,805 metres above sea level. The village is very close to the Bernina Massif with the two most famous peaks of the Engadine: Piz PalĂĽ and Piz Bernina. Standing at 4,049 m, the Bernina is the highest peak in the Eastern Alps. The region offers visitors action and variety as it also offers peace and quiet.

Guests first arriving at the historic mountaineering village are immediately captivated with the village itself. The charm of the traditional Engadine houses and the elegance of the Belle Époque hotels quickly transport you to a more tranquil former age.

My opinion: I find it much more charming and relaxing than St. Moritz (no offense).

Staying in Style

With 112 rooms and suites in different categories, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina blends modern comfort with grand hotel elegance and atmosphere. The hotel is ideal for families, especially as most of its stylish rooms can be connected, but also for couples or singles.

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior design of the rooms and their rates as well. Since I mostly travel alone, I always have a closer look at the single rooms. The cozy Deluxe Single Rooms and Superior Single Rooms all exude an alpine elegance. All rooms have a small seating area, and the luxurious bathrooms feature the finest granite and amenities.

During high winter season, prices start at 400 CHF for a single room, which I think is VERY fair. – All rates are in Swiss francs per night and room, and include a gourmet package (half board) as well as free access to the 2,000 sq m Kronenhof Spa and to the fitness centre.

Guests can also benefit from free Wi-Fi, free use of the Kulm Golf St. Moritz and Kulm tennis courts in summer and of the natural ice rink in winter (until the end of February). In addition, the hotel provides a free shuttle service to and from Pontresina train station, and a free ski shuttle to the Celerina/Marguns and Diavolezza mountain railways. Service charges, tourist tax and VAT are also included.

In comparison, Deluxe Classic Double Rooms are located in the main wing, on the South side of the building and feature a view of the magnificent St. Moritz Mountain range. Furnished with cherry wood furniture and light-grey/red granite bathrooms, these rooms offer both functionality and comfort. Some rooms were recently renovated and redesigned by star architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. Prices start at 715 CHF.

Compared to other 5-star superior hotels in the world, this is an EXCELLENT package!

Culinary Art

Guests at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof can enjoy culinary variety in three restaurants. Diners can relish the decor in the magnificent Grand Restaurant, sample a fine gourmet meal at the Kronenstübli, have lunch at Le Pavillon in the legendary Kronenhof Bar & Lounge, or alternatively, dip into Swiss fondue and Raclette at the cosy bowling alley. There’s no doubt that every stay at the Kronenhof is a culinary discovery trip.

Believe me, you will be deligthed to dine at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof: first-class service and excellent cuisine! I strongly recommend to dine at the Grand Restaurant when you stay at the Kronenhof.

In the splendid Grand Restaurant with its neo-baroque vault dating from 1872, guests can experience a wide culinary variety as well as a sense of history and of elegance. Here, breakfast and dinner are really served in style. Swiss culinary specialties combined with international creations and local products all play a part in dishes that are a synthesis of the culinary arts – accompanied by a wine selection that leaves nothing to be desired, of course.

Wellness Heaven for Dreamers

Have you ever tried floating before and can relate to this feeling when you reached total relaxation? Then you know, what I am talking about – an unforgettable experience.

The Kronenhof Spa really is a place of relaxation – for those who enjoy, relax and dream. The unique wellness and fitness offer on 2,000 square meters is one of the most impressive in the Engadine. And it is also available to non-resident guests.

Next to their beauty, body and wellness treatments, they now also offer a oneday mental coaching session, where you can Change your life sustainably, gain clarity and mental power. Currently one of the most renowned Swiss psychologists and mountain guides, Thomas Theurillat, sets the course for success and satisfaction with the Kronenhof guests.

Awaken the Dreamer in You and remember: All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. This is exactly how I felt when leaving the spa area.

A new Favorite Luxury Retreat?

Just a little side note: I once did a trip with my mom along the east coast in the USA and we stayed at the Ritz Carlton Central Park in New York and simply pampered ourselves. Up till now, the Ritz Carlton has been my all-time favorite Luxury Hotel in a Western Country/City because of this special memory and these positive, warm vibes.

Seriously, this has now changed. This warmth and peacefulness at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof just got me right from the beginning when I stepped inside. At the Grand Hotel Kronenhof I really felt like I could just be myself, refuel my energy, bring things back into balance and simply fall in love with the surrounding mountains. I had one of these fairytale moments that are really precious. And I will never forget it.

Are you ready for breathtakingly beautiful fairytale-like moments? Then make sure to find your way to the Grande Dame of Pontresina. – My German readers will find a lovely interview with the Reservations Manager below. Enjoy!

xoxo

photo credits: Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Munich Mountain Rebel

The Badrutt’s Palace Hotel

*ADVERT*

Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, in the center of St. Moritz, has been synonymous with glitz and glamour since the resort opened as the Palace Hotel in 1896. This landmark luxury hotel overlooks Lake Saint Moritz and offers views of the surrounding Swiss Alps.

Every guest can feel it. The St. Moritz magic at this hotel. The feeling when you enter the Le Grand Hall is indescribable. Like a spell, far from the daily routine. The history of this luxury hotel in St. Moritz draws you in again and again into its enchantment. This is what St. Moritz looks and feels like!

History

It all started in 1856 when Johannes Badrutt took over the 12-bed Pension Faller in St. Moritz and upgraded it into a hotel with the name Engadiner Kulm (today’s Kulm Hotel).

This was followed by the legendary bet: Caspar Badrutt (1848-1904), son of Johannes Badrutt, purchased the St. Moritz Hotel Beau Rivage, built in 1872 by C. Rungger. He charged the renowned Swiss architects Chiodera and Tschudi with the remodelling of the hotel. The hotel was also renamed Palace Hotel.

Johannes Badrutt won a wager and brought the first English tourists to St. Moritz for winter sports. He built curling rinks and the world’s first toboggan run and, in doing so, invented alpine winter tourism. And that was exactly the time, when the magic began.

The official opening of the Palace Hotel was then on July 29th, 1896.

Regular Guests

Alfred Hitchcock first came to St. Moritz in 1924, and returned here two years later for his December honeymoon with Alma Reville, staying at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (these days, locals just call it “the Palace”).

Back in the day, Alfred Hitchcock was a regular here, staying in Badrutt’s Palace Hotel annually for 50 years. In the picture above, you see the Hitchcock Suite at the Palace.

Rooms & Suites

They have a total of 157 rooms, 37 of which are suites and junior suites. There are four room and seven suite categories ranging from CHF 490.00 to CHF 20’230.00.

I stayed in a Double Room Deluxe with lake view on the 5th floor. Spacious, individually designed, soothing colors. Only the best materials are used, such as Italian marble in the bathroom. My opinion: At the Palace, it is all about details. Very charming and your home away from home!

My friend Milos stayed in a Junior Suite Deluxe on the 2nd floor. The Junior Suite Deluxe meets the demands of a modern man or woman who knows exactly what he or she wants. Guaranteed lake view. Own balcony. Spacious and enough storage. Noble materials – and everything stylish.

My favorite suite is the Hans Badrutt Suite. This suite with lake view is like a catchy tune: it stays on your mind. A marble entrance hall. A cosy library. The princess-like bathroom with make up mirror. From the Jacuzzi the princess overlooks the mountains. The dressing room provides ample space for all treasures. Simply magical!

Restaurants, Bars and Night Club

IGNIV@Badrutt’s Palace: A new restaurant concept never seen before in St. Moritz. IGNIV@Badrutt’s Palace by Andreas Caminada opened on 21st December 2016 in the rooms of Le Relais. IGNIV means »nest« and for Andreas Caminada, the 3 Michelin starred Swiss chef, stands for sharing values, social exchange and comfort. Caminada’s innovative finedining-sharing-experience focuses on time spent together, sharing menu components served on platters and in pans.

La Coupole/Matsuhisa@Badrutt’s Palace: in the 2014/15 winter season the Japanesese star chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (»NOBU«) opened his premier brand Matsuhisa in the former tennis hall, which was once Europe’s first. The Martin Brudnizki Design Studio in London designed the unique interior of this 108 seat restaurant where original classic elements are skilfully combined with modern style. One such example is the original studded steel girders of the former tennis hall which now support a glass dome. This affords guests a view of the legendary hotel tower and also acts as both the landmark and namesake of ›La Coupole‹. The restaurant incorporates a cocktail and sushi bar as well as a private dining room. Japanese Peruvian cuisine; only open in the winter season.

Le Restaurant: The Grande Dame of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel’s restaurants. Guests enjoy glamorous nights in a unique setting for a classic dinner, candlelight dinner or a cultural event. This venue seats 300 people and features International and French cuisine. During the winter a harpist entertains guests for breakfast. A set dinner is served daily throughout the summer and winter season. Dress code: From 07.30 pm jacket required, tie desired.

Le Relais: The Le Relais restaurant offers French cuisine for lunch daily (in winter). The restaurant offers a cosy atmosphere with its colourful dĂ©cor in the Belle Epoque style and large windows with stunning views over Lake St. Moritz. It can be divided into two dining areas as well as a separate area for small to medium sized private events. In summer the breakfast buffet is served here.

Renaissance Bar – Vintage Cigar Lounge: Smoking allowed – in particular fine Cuban cigars! From 3rd December 2016 the Renaissance Bar will become Europe’s first »Vintage Cigar Lounge«. Pure indulgence. The dĂ©cor oozes comfort and encourages lounging. An exclusive choice of cigars. Paired with drinks and cocktails mixed by Andrea Delvo, Manager of the popular bar.

Le Grand Hall: The legendary lobby of the hotel with its stunning views, extravagant dĂ©cor and fantastic architecture is known affectionately as the »living room of St. Moritz«. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s glamorous atmosphere over High Tea, champagne and caviar with live piano accompaniment.

La Diala (Rhaeto-Romanic for »mountain fairy«): The latest of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel’s restaurants. Situated within Palace Wellness, the restaurant offers a light Mediterranean cuisine with a wide selection of salads and sandwiches. The family friendly restaurant with its terrace opens daily from 09.00 am to 08.00 pm.

Chesa Veglia: One of the oldest farmhouses of St. Moritz (built in 1658). Chesa Veglia is a hideaway for the rich and famous and its restaurants are among the favourites in St. Moritz. It features three restaurants and two bars: The Pizzeria Heuboden for original Italian pizza and pasta, the Grill Chadafö for elegant dining with classic French cuisine and the Patrizier Stuben for Swiss and International specialities. The Polo Bar and Carigiet Bar are the perfect place for a get-together, as well as for pre and after dinner drinks.

King’s Club: All party animals and fans of sophisticated nightlife are on tenterhooks. The new King’s Club has been revealed in its new outfit during winter season 2016/17. Tantalising afresh in shimmering red and glittering gold. Sizzling with life and energy, on fire. Mirrors, sparkle and light elements galore make the club and its future clubbers shine bright. The new King’s Club celebrates the beautiful things in life: combining the joy of live music and famous DJ stars with an elegant, relaxed atmosphere and a tempting list of signature drinks and irresistible urban street food. Open only during the winter season.

Hotel facilities

Palace Wellness

  • Indoor swimming pool with access to heated outdoor pool, Jacuzzi
  • Treatment Centre with ten individual treatment rooms including two luxury Spa
    Suites, private Hair Spa, Pedi Spa, Solarium, one room for facial treatments and four
    rooms for body treatments, Wet Zone/ Palace Spa with two Saunas, Ice Room, Mist
    Room, Aroma Therapy Room, Salt Steam Room, Massage Shower and Rain Shower
  • Fitness Centre with latest fitness and cardio facilities
  • Yoga room
  • Private sun terrace
  • Outdoor tennis courts managed by professional tennis coaches (summer only)
  • Natural outdoor ice-rink with instructor (winter only)
  • Kids’ Club Palazzino with professional day care

Palace Galerie

  • Gallery with designer boutiques and elegant jewellers plus shopping guide: Bulgari,
    Rebecca Ardessi, Church’s, Embassy Jewel AG, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, De Grisogono, Les
    Ambassadeurs, Trois Pommes, Miu Miu, de Nicola, GĂĽbelin, Four Emotions, Santoni, Snow
    Sports St. Moritz, Tom Ford, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, Harry Winston, Lucia
    Pieri, Fabio Caviglia and Galerie Gmurzynska

Service Spectrum 

  •  Palace Ski School in winter
  • In-house ski service, shop and rentals in winter
  • Ski pass included
  • Kids’ Club Palazzino‹ with professional day care included
  • Free laundry service for children until 12 years
  • 24-hour Room Service
  • 24-hour Concierge Service
  • Butler service for all rooms and suites
  • Free use of refreshment bar, movie channels, WiFi Internet access in all areas and free
    newspaper
  • Limousine service and car hire, including Rolls Royce transfers
  • Shuttle service to/from Zurich, Milan and Samedan airports on request
  • Free use of all fitness facilities
  • Free access to ice-rink
  • Events & Guest Relations Team
  • In-house fitness trainer
  • In-house bridge hostess
  • Baby sitting service
  • Coiffeur Hair Spa

To sum it all up: Tradition and quality endure. So it says daily in the ads. If the sales arguments are still the same almost 90 years later, it seems like tradition, quality and innovation were actually proven – and the St. Moritz glamour-factor is still there.

xoxo

Alaska Highlights

As promised, I put together my travel highlights from my trip to Alaska. After screening all 1,962 images, it was pretty tough to pick my top four. The state is just so incredibly beautiful. You can tour a whole year through Alaska and still wouldn’t be able to see everything. Just three words: magical, endless and adventurous.

My personal Alaska highlights

Just a little side note before I put together my highlights. Alaska is worth a trip for you if you love the great outdoors, are up for adventures and have some camping experience, not being afraid of the wilderness. If you are looking for a wellness destination or some nice city trips, this is nothing for you.

Denali National Park

Well, this one is obvious. One of the most magical places. However, there are several ways you can explore Denali: by a touristy bus tour, staying at a cottage and going for daily hikes or by camping.

There are soooo many cruise tourists coming to this place, it can be pretty annoying. Thus, I would recommend to explore Denali on your own. Take the train from Anchorage to Denali: it is a beautiful 8-hour train ride through the whole state where you can spot wildlife and get to learn about the history of the state, exploring some of the most magical spots. But only take a one-way ticket. Either finish your trip at Denali or go to Fairbanks afterwards. But don’t book a tour where you have to take the train both ways only staying for one or two nights. You should schedule in at least five days for Denali – in my opinion. It’s a real paradise for outdoor lovers. Also, make sure to compare prices. Sometimes you find cheaper tickets with Gray LineAlaska or when you buy a coupon book at the visitor center so that you get a 2 for one train ticket special. You can save up to 150 bucks.

If you are not much into camping or backpacking and prefer to stay at a little cottage, just going on daily hikes, I can recommend the McKinley Chalet Resort. From there you have some pretty cool bike and hiking trails directly into the park.

You should definitely check out the Visitor Center at the park to get an idea of all your options. Whether you are looking for trail recommendations, wanna join a guided tour or need a permit for the backcountry – this is your place to go to.

IF you wanna explore the backcountry going backpacking, then you do need a permit. You have to get a proper briefing from one of the rangers, they need to make sure you are prepared for the wilderness. But, I need to be honest: only do it when you have some camping & outdoor experience.

You need to have good outdoor equipment, you need to be prepared that it can snow at any time. It gets really cold at night. You will see wild animals: bears, wolves, moose, maybe even a lynx.

They do show you a safety video and tell you what to do when you see a bear or a moose, but there is just so much more to it. AND: don’t do it alone. Just don’t do it like Christopher McCandless! Be prepared and be aware of your surroundings and changing weather conditions.

Check out the offical park site for more specs. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the famous bus from “Into the Wild” – there was no way I could cross the river and the weather conditions didn’t allow it. But that was okay. It was still one of the most magical places.

Mountain Biking

Alaska is a paradise for mountain bikers. BUT: things are different over here. Don’t expect these awesome prepared trails you know from Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland. Alaska is WILD – so are many trails.

For Downhill & Bike Park fans, I can recommend Alyeska. If you need a rental bike, check out the Trek Store in Anchorage. They have the latest bikes and can help you out with almost anything.

One of the most magical trails that are all in good shape: Flattop Mountain Trail, Powerline Pass Ride and Kincaid Park – all Intermediate and near Anchorage. Beginners can check out the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage. Probably the sweetest single trail would be along the Lost Lake Trail. Simply awesome!

Whatever you pick, even if you wanna explore the wilderness on your own, just like I did – you will never forget these rides. Just one little tip: be prepared to get muddy, especially in September. I totally LOVED it.

Heli Fat Biking

If you are up for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, save some money and book a heli fat biking tour. Don’t book it in advance because you won’t be able to cancel it last-minute. Contact the local aviation services two to three days before you wanna do it. Either call or send them an email with your date options. Since the weather conditions need to be pretty good to fly out on a glacier, you do need to be flexible.

I personally can recommend Alpha Aviation. If they cannot help you, they can hook you up with other local services. Just don’t make the mistake and book the first package you find online or at the visitor center. Make sure to compare prices. Flightseeing experiences vary from 150 bucks to 450 bucks. So, here it is worth to make some research. Also, if you meet other bikers or backpackers, ask them, if they would be interested as well. Sometimes it gets cheaper when you have a little group of three or four.

Honestly, I wish they would offer it in Switzerland. Heli fat biking in Switzerland must be so freaking awesome.

Knik River Lodge

I admit after spending a lot of time out in the wilderness and doing lots of biking, hiking and exploring, you should definitely schedule in some time to relax and unwind. But don’t do it in a hotel or at some touristy location. Either book a nice cottage via Airbnb or pick a location far out where you have everything you need: a nice little cottage with a fireplace, access to food and water and then nothing but the wilderness. Just like the Knik River Lodge.

I loved watching the helicopters come and go from the Knik glacier, checked out the nearby trails as well as the river and could have just sat there for hours, simply reading my books and enjoying the most magical views. Their Perch Restaurant is a little food heaven: traditional burgers, parmesan fries, fresh scallops, really good craft beer and excellent wine – literally 7th heaven. An excellent place to refuel your energy.

My recommendation: stay there for three nights, then your chances are also pretty good you will get to see the aurora borealis.

What else have I learned

Well, as I mentioned earlier, there is no way you can see it all in such a short period of time. Plan at least three weeks to explore this state and pick a focus. Make sure to enjoy the highlights and don’t try to rush through everything just like these crazy cruise tourists. Also, don’t book a package. Travel on your own. This way you are far more flexible. Here are more things I will remember:

  • Anchorage (as well as other cities): totally overrated. You feel like you are stuck in a time capsule. In 1964 Alaska was hit by a major earthquake. This explains the landslide, the peculiar ripping hills and slumping effects in some areas. Naturewise, pretty impressive. But regarding infrastructure and architecture, you feel like you are stuck in the ’60s or ’70s. Only schedule in an overnight stay if you need it, but don’t spend more than one day in any of the cities. Anchorage itself has some pretty mountain views as well as beautiful views of the ocean, but the city is extremely ugly. And not safe between 11 pm till 6 am. NOT SAFE at night! So, if you wanna travel the country on your own, rather stay in little cottages in between your stops than in the major cities. Not worth it.
  • Wilderness: They teach you what to do when to see a bear and how to hide behind a tree when you see a moose, but that’s about it. But there is so much more. Make sure to learn about animal tracks, how to react when seeing a lynx or meeting wolves a night. What fish are safe to eat, what river areas are safe and how you can protect yourself. I am honest: when traveling through the wilderness, you should consider taking along a hunting weapon. There were two situations where I would have felt safer. And, to be honest: don’t travel alone. Just don’t.
  • Weather: Yes, Alaska is a wild and rough state. Bad wild fires, extreme heat, heavy rain showers and snow. I saw it all. Always be aware of your surroundings and the changing weather conditions.
  • Moose steak and reindeer burger: The meat over there is delicious. Go to local farmer markets and always buy local food or eat at restaurants where they serve local food. You should definitely try moose and reindeer. Sooo good.
  • Wednesdays and Fridays are usually cruiseship days: make sure to plan your touristy activities around these two dates. Believe me, you will regret it, if you don’t.
  • Alone as a woman: Well, as I already mentioned several times, Alaska is rough and old-school. And for a woman, it can be dangerous. There are areas that are not safe. When traveling the state, you mostly meet animals, but there are occasions where you meet other people. And believe me, sometimes people are more threatening and frightening. Once I took a wrong turn and ended up on a private ground near the river. Wow, they immediately chased me through the woods. Literally! Not fun at all. So, again, always be aware of your surroundings and not too trustworthy.
  • Don’t make too many plans: Alaska is the largest state in the USA. Hence, don’t make too many plans in advance. Take it easy, enjoy life and simply go with the flow day after day.
  • Glaciers: Yes, there are many glaciers and many excursions. They are all impressive: Knik Glacier, Portage Glacier, check out my list of recommendations.

Well, I hope this gives you a little overview of my adventures. If you wanna know more, just drop me an email or DM on my social channels. You will also find more images on my Facebook page.

xoxo

photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel, Alpha Aviation

Atlanta Super Bowl 53

My brother and I attended this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta. And as it turned out, it was an awesome brother-sister weekend. Nope, not because of the most boring football game in history. There is so much more to Super Bowl Weekend. Read all about my personal tips and highlights.

Hyundai Super Bowl Experience

The Super Bowl Experience Driven by Hyundai is the NFL’s interactive theme park celebrating Super Bowl. For me personally, this was the best day during the whole Super Bowl weekend. My brother and I bought tickets for Saturday morning so that we had all day. We bought them online to skip the line at the entrance.

Man, this interactive theme park was huge and had it all. History of American Football and all the sports legends, interactive football games, photo ops, live shows and broadcasts, a live auction, shops, interviews and meets and greets with players and so much more. All in all there were about 43 different stations where you could earn individual badges and win some football stuff. As you can see in the pictures below, my brother and I had a great time. Simply download the official NFL Super Bowl App with the fan mobile pass and have fun.

One of my personal highlights: â€ŞI met Nelson Agholor from the Philiadelphia Eagles, Robby Anderson from the NY Jets and Corey Coleman from the NY Giants. My brother and I even got our footballs signed and ended up in their Instagram Stories. We will never forget this Saturday afternoon.

I can definitely recommend this sporting event and would do it all over again. It only costs about 50 bucks and is something for the whole family. Lots of fun and action guaranteed.

Just one little tip: Don’t get too excited buying something from the official NFL store on site. Make sure to compare prices online first. And wait for the day after the game, when everything is 50% off. It’s worth it.

Super Bowl Festivities

There is so much going on during Super Bowl weekend. So many side events, different parties, concerts, lots of free stuff. This year there were several big pre-concerts happening: Bruno Mars, Cardi B., Aerosmith and the Foo Fighters.

Always watch out for the DirecTV Super Saturday Night concert and buy your tickets in advance, since they sell out fast. This year it was the Foo Fighters who were rocking Atlanta, streaming the whole concert live getting the party weekend started.

But if not one of your favorite bands is playing at a concert, check out the official event calendar and look out for free events.

Super Bowl Sunday

My brother and I were so excited. I mean, he has been dreaming about attending the Super Bowl for quite some time and now it got real. Cheering for the G.O.A.T. live in Atlanta. Yes, we are Patriots fans. Get over it! We wanted to experience the whole thing and first went to Walmart picking up our breakfast and buying some camping chairs for the pre-game tailgate party. I am always up for a great barbecue.

A tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating, which originated in the United States, often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. Also, it is part of the whole Super Bowl experience.

There is one official tailgate party from the NFL with lots of celebrities and famous players. The tickets start at around 700 bucks, just for the pre-game party. No stadium entrance included.

My brother and I thought we would simply hang with locals and ended up at a CRAZY block party. Binge drinking, drugs, gang bangers… Wow. That was something. I will spare you the details. Just one side note: been there, done that, no need to do it again. NEXT!

The Game

Honestly, it is not difficult to get tickets, IF you are willing to pay a lot of money. Regular ticket prices started at around 2,300 $. I don’t support this money-making business and rather save up for a mountain bike. But if this is your big dream, I got one tip for you. Prices drop rapidly right before the game. This time they dropped to 800 $. So, wait for it and then buy them at stubhub or a similar trustworthy source. Don’t buy them on the black market or from some dealers near the stadium. They are mostly fake.

Well, yeah, we were lucky to see the Patriots. But darn. What an awful, boring game. Even the parties inside the stadium and afterwards were pretty lame. Was it because of the Pats, because Brady got his 6th ring, because of the dull game? I don’t know. Or was it just Atlanta? Even Pats fans outside the stadium were like: “Oh yeah, they won. Let’s go home.” SOOOO strange! My brother and I certainly know how to party and decided to celebrate back at our cottage, enjoying the moment, having fun.

All in all, an awesome weekend! We did not meet any foreigners, though. It was mostly Americans and locals, except for some sports journalists. For my brother it was a dream come true and I just had the most amazing football afternoon at the Hyundai experience. That, I would always do again. The Super Bowl itself: a liiiittlle overrated – too much money business. But we were there when Brady made history! In the strangest after-party atmosphere…

Planning Ahead

After receiving so many questions about how much money we spent, how we managed to get there, I put everything together for you.

It is actually just all about planning. I planned one year ahead. As soon as you find out where the next Super Bowl will take place, simply book your accomodation with a chance to cancel it for free. The next one will take place in Miami.

Accomodation

So here is what I did: I looked for a nice little cottage in the suburbs, did not book a hotel in the city center, since I thought it would get crazy. And that was right. Directly at or near the stadium, it was insane. Roads were blocked, construction works, security and extremely crowded – not relaxing at all. Hence, I went for a quiet neighborhood and just rented a nice little cottage in Decatur. Just a 20-minute ride from Downton Atlanta.

This was our home away from home and I simply rented it for a whole week and spent about 600 bucks. A whole cottage for ourselves, breakfast included; a nice little neighborhood where I could go running, supermarkets and restaurants just right around the corner as well as public transportation.

I booked it one year in advance and did not regret it. We did not spend a whole week there, but it was a great deal anyways. Our host Betsy was very accomodating. She would have even driven us around and even brought us some fresh fruit from the farmer’s market. Definitely a sweet home away from home. I always recommend spending your vacation in a local home, just for the whole experience.

Flights

We booked our flights about six months in advance. You will find pretty cheap deals on skyscanner. Since Atlanta was just a short stop during our longer trip in the US and Canada, we booked several flights. One important thing, though: make sure to compare prices. Very often a one-way ticket to the USA is more expensive than a round trip. Hence, my brother and I simply booked a round-trip ticket to Atlanta and back for about 300 EUR.

The flights in the USA and in Canada itself are pretty cheap. We spent 100 bucks to travel in between places. If you travel with Delta Airlines, be aware that you cannot book any luggage beforehand, only when checking in. One suitcase costs about 50 bucks. If you book a long distance flight, I cannot recommend Delta, though. Not very much legroom, pretty old planes, not the best service.

I had great experiences with KLM, Air Canada and Lufthansa. But you make your pick.

Transportation

Well, this one is tricky. Of course, the NFL recommends to use public transportation, but seriously, it was insane. Way too crowded. So my brother and I checked for any road blocks and took a Lyft.

This way, we were much more flexible and avoided the big crowds. By the way, very often Lyft was a lot cheaper than Uber. So make sure to compare prices as well.

All in all, we spent about 800 EUR per person for the Super Bowl weekend: flights, accomodation for a whole week, transportation, food, local events and stuff we bought. So, if you ever think of booking a Super Bowl trip, the festivities are definitely worth it and you can have a great time even when you aren’t inside the stadium.

And one day I will take my brother to a regular football game.

xoxo

photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel

Winter in Ontario

Due to the recent weather conditions, I got a little extra time working on my stories. When exploring parts of Ontario, Canada, I basically had no expectations. What a beautiful province!

In total, there are 10 Canadian provinces, with three territories to the north. The provinces are, in alphabetical order: Alberta,British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.

Winter in Ontario

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, comprising 40 percent of the country’s total population. It is also home to the federal capital of Ottawa and the unofficial financial capital of Toronto. It is best known for Algonquin Park, the Niagara wine region, Bruce Trail (the oldest and longest continuous public footpath in Canada), and the many beautiful forests and lakes. And oh boy – I had no idea it can be so beautiful.

I admit there was a time when I missed the mountains. But do you know this feeling when someone says the right thing in the right moment? Amin reminded me that you can’t have everything all the time and within a split second I realized how stupid my thoughts were. I could have hugged him for this. If I could pick someone I would get lost in a snow blizzard with, it would be him. It would be fun and safe at the same time.

Seriously, who was I to complain? I was in Canada enjoying the great outdoors, making one of my dreams come true. So, after this stupid split second, I was very grateful that all my hard work paid off and was just living the moment.

The Great Outdoors in Ontario

Initially, my brother and I had totally different plans, but due to the weather, our itinerary changed on a daily basis. Snow blizzards, freezing rain, ice storms, you name it. But this is nature. You just have to go with the flow. That is actually something I love about the Great Outdoors. And I was prepared for any kind of weather out there, even for very cold temperatures.

Freezing rain

I had never experienced this kind of freezing rain before. Freezing rain is the name given to rain maintained at temperatures below freezing by the ambient air mass that causes freezing on contact with surfaces. Unlike a mixture of rain and snow, ice pellets, or hail, freezing rain is made entirely of liquid droplets.

This means: When the freezing rain hits your windshield, it freezes immediately and makes it very brittle. Pretty dangerous, actually. When the freezing rain gets in contact with your face, it feels like tiny little needles hitting you. If you then add this crazy wind chill, temperatures felt like -25 degrees Celsius or colder and you really needed to cover your face to avoid frost bites. But I loved it anyways. Even went running – not for long distances, though, but I did get out there.

Snow blizzards and ice storms were nothing new to me. Since I live pretty close to the mountains and have been to Finnish Lapland during one of their coldest winters, I am used to these kind of weather conditions. For me, it even can be somewhat romantic and adventurous at the same time. Love it. My brother: NOOOOOT so much.

Blue Mountains

A two-hour drive, north from Toronto, there is a little holiday resort called Blue Mountain. Some people call this area “Little Switzerland”, but I would not go this far. They just have one tiny hill up there. Elevation gain: 650 m. So, no offense, but you cannot call it “Little Switzerland”.

However, it is very picturesque and beautiful. Regarding the atmosphere it sort of reminded me of Whistler Village. And yes, pretty touristy, I admit. If you are into winter sports, you might be a little disappointed, but if you just wanna chill and relax with a little exercise, you will love it. I took skiing lessons, since I am currently not sure, if I should switch.

When I went snowboarding, I started to feel the pain from my severe hip injury last year. Not sure, if it’s my technique. But I think I will take more skiing lessons back in Munich so that I am more flexible when choosing my winter outdoor activities. This weekend I will probably go cross-country skiing, working on my general fitness.

Northern Ontario

Wow, just WOW. I had no idea that you could see Northern Lights in Ontario. With all the snow and ice storms, I did not expect any kind of magic. But then there it was. I just wanted to go for a walk, still had too much energy. LOL – I think sometimes my brother was annoyed of my inner adrenaline junkie.

So, I went outside and started to see little shadows on the sky. First, I thought it was just wafts of mist, but then, after a while, they turned green. – I still have this Northern Lights App on my cell-phone from my visit to Finnish Lapland. Hence, I turned it on and then: holy cannoli. It was going crazy. So I went back, put on my warmest clothes and went hunting the lights. And there they were. There I stood. Me alone at the lake in Canada. And this magical moment. Goosebumps and tears in my eyes.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and was just happy and grateful. Priceless, beautiful. The most magical gift!

So, this was my time in Ontario. I will definitely come back checking out more places during different seasons. I don’t know what and when, yet, but I surely will. Canada, you are pretty awesome!

But for now, I am looking forward to go back home and honestly cannot wait to be back in Davos. I miss it and also cannot wait to see my dearest friends again…

xoxo

photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel

Accomodation Grischa – DAS Hotel Davos

ADVERT

(click here for English summary)

Für mein Mountainbike und Trailrunning-Training übernachte ich jeweils im Sporthotel Grischa und muss ehrlich sagen, dass ich das Hotel auch privat großartig finde. Generell brauche ich keinen übertriebenen Luxus, sondern möchte mich einfach nur Zuhause fühlen. Da ich meistens alleine reise, bevorzuge ich gemütliche Einzelzimmer zu einem fairen Preis; sauber und komfortabel. In der Regel ist man allerdings gezwungen, ein Doppelzimmer zur Einzelnutzung zu buchen oder man erhält ein Einzelzimmer, was gerade mal so groß und komfortabel ist wie eine Abstellkammer. Sehr, sehr uncool. Nicht so im Grischa. Da ist wirklich für jeden etwas dabei: für Singles und Alleinreisende, Pärchen und Familien.

Die Zimmer im Grischa

Ich selbst habe jeweils in der Suite Bocktenhorn übernachtet und war rundum zufrieden: extrem geräumig, ein großes Badezimmer mit Dusche und Badewanne, zwei Balkone, ein großer Wohn- und Essbereich und ein schöner Ankleidebereich im Flur. Für eine Person fast schon zu groß, wenn man bedenkt, dass ich die meiste Zeit eh draußen in der Natur verbringe. Von der ersten Minute an habe ich mich wie zu Hause gefühlt.

Vor allem das Bett war großartig. Dadurch, dass ich extrem viel unterwegs bin, ist das für mich ehrlich gesagt mit am wichtigsten. Es gibt nichts Schlimmeres, als verspannt aufzuwachen. Schließlich liebe ich den Outdoor-Sport, um mich eben komplett zu entspannen und abzuschalten. Auch die Kosmetikserie von Rituals war eine Punktlandung. Ich versuche immer mit so wenig Gepäck wie möglich zu reisen, was auch Kosmetik- und Hygieneartikel betrifft. Wenn ich weiß, dass ich im Hotel eine gute Bodylotion habe, mit der ich mich vor dem Schlafengehen einreiben kann, bin ich happy.

Trotzdem habe ich mir während einer Hotelführung auch die anderen Zimmer angeschaut und muss sagen, dass ich wirklich ganz besonders von den Einzelzimmern begeistert bin. Der gleiche Standard und Komfort wie bei den anderen Zimmern und auch nicht zu klein.

Was mir zudem gut gefällt ist, dass jedes Zimmer einen eigenen Touch hat. Im gesamten Hotel findet man außerdem sehr schöne Naturaufnahmen, die der Inhaber selbst fotografiert hat. Das gibt dem Ganzen eine persönliche Note und passt auch richtig gut zu einem Sporthotel.

Kulinarisches

Auch hier erfĂĽllt das Hotel wieder nahezu jeden Wunsch. Ob chinesisch, ausgefallene ShowkĂĽche, gute Hausmannskost oder ein erstklassiges Käsefondue, das Grischa verfĂĽgt ĂĽber fĂĽnf unterschiedliche Restaurants, so dass kaum ein Wunsch offen bleibt. Auch das FrĂĽhstĂĽck kann sich sehen lassen.

Ganz egal, wonach einem ist, ob man es lieber süß oder herzhaft mag, die Küche ist ausgezeichnet. Ich persönlich hab genau zwei Schwächen: Burger und Schokoladenkuchen. Beides auch im Grischa eine exzellente Wahl.

Übrigens ist es ganz angenehm, abends nach einer Biketour draußen auf der Terrasse oder in der Bar zu chillen. Die Atmosphäre hat mir gut gefallen und das Publikum ist wirklich sehr lässig.

Zusammenfassend kann ich sagen, dass es ein sehr gutes Hotel ist. Vom tollen Extra-Service für MTB-Fans hatte ich ja bereits berichtet. Der Wäscheservice, die persönlichen Tourentipps und der Transport-Voucher sind top. Das Einzige, was ich eventuell manchmal vermissen würde, wäre ein hausinternes Schwimmbad, da ich nach einem harten und anstrengenden Lauf gerne etwas Schwimmen gehe, um zu entspannen.

Für zwei Nächte habe ich 360 CHF bezahlt.

xoxo

photo credits: Grischa – Das Hotel Davos

——————————————————————————————————————

English Summary: Accomodation Grischa – DAS Hotel Davos

For my mountain biking and trail running training in Switzerland I stayed at hotel Grischa – a very accommodating sports hotel. Since I mostly travel by myself, I always need to book a double room for single occupancy, which is actually quite annoying. But at the Grischa they also offer spacious, comfortable single rooms for active outdoor enthusiasts like me.

Generally, they have different rooms for almost anybody: families, friends, singles, couples, business travelers. I was very surprised by the variety and the unique features of each category. My personal highlight: the sleeping place. Since I travel a lot, I really need a comfortable bed in order to relax and have a good night’s sleep. Let me tell ya: I slept like a baby – no tension in my back, neck or shoulders, extremely cozy. Almost as great as my boxspring bed at home.

Also, I loved the bathrom amenities. Most of the time I love to travel light, leaving loads of stuff at home, including toiletries. Hence, I highly appreciate it when a hotel offers high quality body lotion so that I can have my evening beauty routine. At the Grischa they collaborate with Rituals, which is excellent. Going to bed with smooth, soft skin, smelling good – what else do you need?

Cuisine

You can really spoil yoursel at the Grischa, choosing from five different restaurants. Whether you prefer Italian cuisine in an stylish ambiance, specialties from the grill, seasonal delicacies or authentic Chinese cuisine, they have it all, always offering the best quality. My personal favorite: burger and chocolate cake.  Sorry, but after a long run, I ALWAYS crave either a burger or chocolate cake; cannot help it. – My personal tip: enjoy a sundowner on their terrace after a nice bike ride. You will love it.

All in all, it is an excellent hotel, which I would always book myself, especiall when I take my bike with me to Davos. Thumbs up!

Norway Travel Tips

3,000 miles in one week. Insane? Totally! Worth it? Well, it depends. Together with my mom & dad I traveled from Sweden to Norway, exploring the beautiful fjords and mountains. Our route: Malmö – Helsingborg – Halmstadt – Göteborg – Fredrikstad – Oslo – Lillehammer – Mjøsasee -Vinstra – Geiranger Fjord – Skei/Stryn – FlĂĄmbahn – Bergen.

Bergen vs. Oslo

I gotta admit that I wasn’t fond of doing any city trip. As an outdoor girl I was more into exploring the beautiful landscape and doing some outdoor activites: biking, running and hiking. Hence, my expectations were pretty low when visiting Oslo and Bergen.

If you ask for my opinion, which city is definitely worth a trip, I would clearly recommend Bergen. Of course, as the capital of Norway, Oslo has more of that big city feel and a long and rich history. And if you are interested in art, vikings and history, Oslo surely is YOUR city.

BUT for me, Bergen has it all. Surrounded by the hills – sorry, living in Munich I cannot really call them mountains – Bergen is more scenic and picturesque. The crowd seems to be cooler and more relaxed as well, more trendy. I really loved these picturesque wooden houses along the seafront as well as the little alleys – all very charming. Just one little downer: it rains A LOT in Bergen. But as you probably know: there is no such thing as bad weather. Only wrong clothing.

My favorite things to do in Bergen

Hiking Mt Ulriken & Mt Fløyen: Known as the gateway to the fjords, Bergen offers endless hiking opportunities on the seven mountain tops around the city. One of the most popular self-guided treks is the panoramic hike from Mount Ulriken to Mount Fløyen across Vidden (around five hours).

If you want a shorter hike, Mount Fløyen is a good option. You can either start the hike from the bottom of the mountain or take the Fløibanen funicular up and start the hike from the top station.

Restaurant tips: I checked out the tips from Marina O’Loughlin and recommend to do the same. Down at the waterfront, at the Bryggen, a complex of tiny alleyways and pavements made from wood, is where you can get to grips with old Bergen (so much so that the area has been given Unesco World Heritage status). It’s worth fighting your way through the tour groups and seeking out the likes of local restaurants. – Also, make sure to check out Fish Me at the fish market. I LOVED it.

Fjord Cruise: I can recommend a day trip to the nearby Sognefjorden, the longest of the fjords in Norway and breathtakingly beautiful. For people interested in a more extensive voyage, check out the Hurtigruten. This cruise sets off from Bergen on a daily basis and travels all the way along the Norwegian coast to its northernmost point.

The Fjords of Norway

Well, I am honest: I did not really fall in love with Norway. Somehow I missed the magic from the Bavarian / Austrian / Swiss Alps. Don’t get me wrong, the landscape is very beautiful and, depending on the light and setting, you surely have some magical moments. But I was not as excited as I thought I would be.

Geiranger Fjord: Geiranger itself is VERY touristy and way too crowded for me. We went there via the “Trollstigen mountain road”, which is an absolute must-see attraction. We did not go to Trollstigen directly, but drove part of the 100km mountain pass. The road opened in 1936 and is a testimony to superb engineering and construction skills using the simplest of tools from the hard thirties. Definitely worth a photo stop.

I don’t think I would go on another ferry ride, though. It was just a one-hour trip from Geiranger to Hellesylt and too touristy for my taste. Me personally, I would simply stay in Stryn at a friend’s house, go biking & hiking to Geiranger and then do a kayak tour on the fjord. But, I do admit: the Geiranger fjord is one of the most gorgeous fjords in the world – that is for sure.

Sognefjord: This one I REALLY liked. The Sognefjord, situated in the middle of Fjord Norway, extends all of 204 km inland and contains some of the wildest and most beautiful scenery in Norway. National Geographic Traveler magazine has called this area “the world’s most iconic destination”. I would not go so far, but it was one of my highlights in Norway.

GĂĄlĂĄ

This was probably my favorite area: staying in a mountain hut, drinking hot chocolate, waking up to a magical sunrise, surrounded by nothing but a pretty lake and great nature. GĂĄlĂĄ is a Norwegian resort in the district of Gudbrandsdalen, catering for both winter and summer leisure activities. However, it is definitely more popular during winter season, especially for cross-country skiing.

Hence, you can really enjoy some quiet and peaceful moments during late summer season. My personal recommendation: rent a nice cabin for a week and simply live the Norwegian kind of lifestyle.

FlĂĄm Railway

The FlĂĄm Line is a 20.2-kilometer long railway line between Myrdal and FlĂĄm in Aurland and has been described as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. Again, for me personally, the glacier express in Switzerland is far more magical, but you do get to see some picturesque houses and waterfalls during this little train ride, stopping at Kjosfossen waterfall. At this tourist stop you get to see the Huldra, an elusive forest spirit from Norse mythology, singing her song to the tourists. According to local folklore, she lures men into the woods to seduce them.

Is the train ride worth it? If you plan on traveling from Flam to Bergen, then this little stop is definitely worth it.

Make sure to take along some delicious Norwegian pastry. Darn, I almost got addicted to these sweet, little things.

All in all, yes, I was a little disappointed. It probably was insane to travel that far within such a short period of time. Make sure to schedule in at least three weeks when exploring this country so that you can actually enjoy it.

However, some day I will definitely go back visiting my friend Tobi, going on some awesome MTB tours over there. But I would also love to explore the north, the Lofoten and Norwegian Alps, trying to uncover some real mountain magic – hopefully.

xoxo

photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel