Our Trip to Disneyland Paris (2015)

This is not a sponsored post and was first published on 24 June 2015. We finally used our year passes twice, the second time was after Christmas 2015 until New Year.

disneyparis2015

There are a million ways to go to and enjoy Disneyland Paris. To decide what ways we would choose, I read many websites and forums for tips which were helpful when deciding many things for the trip. Here’s how we did our trip earlier this year (Easter holiday, 5-9 April 2015). By no means I’m saying it’s the best way, but perhaps sharing this, you may find some tips that work for you, too.

We bought 1-year passes

Since Paris (or Marnee-la-Vallée for Disneyland) is only a bit more than 3 hours away, and that we hadn’t had traveling plans for the whole year in 2015, we decided to get the Passeports Annuels and to use them for more than one trip. There are 3 kinds of passes and considering our travel plans, we chose the “Fantasy”, merely due to fewer restriction dates as well as discounts in restaurants and shops. Unlike the cheaper “Francilien”, this one can be used immediately and offers the extra “Magic Hours” and free parking  (you can read about the differences between the passes here).

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Top 10 Reasons Why Swiss Trains are Family-friendly

*Re-post from January 2015*

It may come as a surprise to many that we don’t have a car. Being a family of four and living outside urban areas, some people may find it unimaginable. But we have adapted our lifestyle to it and the excellent public transport in Switzerland has been spoiling us. Here are the reasons why we love and stick with it:

1. The Family Coach and Family Zone

I have blogged about the family coach before. This coach is especially good for going to the airports as these trains passed Geneva as well as Zurich airports. On the lower deck you can leave your stroller and on the upper deck the kids can roam around and play.

On some trains that do not have the space for family coach – the InterCity and InterCity tilting trains, there are family zones, complete with board games. More info here.

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Luggage and flight luggage from the SBB/CFF (Updated)

bagage-heavy

On our long-haul trip to Asia 5 years ago, my husband and I flew with 3 large suitcases, 1 80L hiking backpack, 1 cabin bag, 1 umbrella stroller, 2 small backpacks, a 3.5 year-old toddler and a 6 month-old baby. Unfortunately the airline (Emirates) didn’t offer the possibility to check-in at the station, and as we had no car, we were supposed to take everything on the train with us to the Zurich airport.

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Sensorium in Rüttihubelbad (near Bern)

This post below was previously published in March 2013. A friend visited this museum recently and I asked her if she could add something to this post. This is what she said:

“There’s still the musical instruments. The level with the smelling stuff has a new exhibition added about bees. Outdoors there are as many exhibits as indoors *perhaps more* so it’s absolutely lovely in summer. barefoot paths, gorgeous playgrounds. Great restaurant. The double swingset alone is worth admission.”

So I think I have to bring this post back. A really great place, I promise!

During the February school holiday, the kids and I spent one long weekend in Bern. Since last year, we’ve been doing many few-day trips to Bern as my close friend live there, and the kids always ask to visit her. As a result, we’ve been to many places in Bern and as the weekend was really cold (-10°C, yikes!) we needed something indoor that would be fun for both my kids (4.5y & 21m)

I consulted this list, and decided to go somewhere new (to us) – Sensorium. It’s located outside Bern, in Rüttihubelbad (Walkringen). I can tell you now that I made one fantastic decision! The museum was super fun, and was for all ages. And it was free for under 6s, so that I only had to pay for myself (CHF18), while the three of us went it! Yay! *cheapmom*

Everything that they had in this museum was hands-on. For example this photo below, shows one of the many balance discs, with my daughter hopping on it. Even my son (a toddler!) was super excited and it was very difficult to drag him to leave this area.

sensorium-disc

That was, until we came to to this (photo below), which obviously was my kids’ most favorite part of the museum. My daughter took off her shoes, got blindfolded, and walked on different type of surfaces (wood, metal, sand, rock, etc), while I guided her. Btw, to convince her to do that, I went first with her as my guide – it was fun! My toddler only did half of the track while blindfolded, he just hated not being able to see. But they both made many many rounds afterwards — it was so much fun.

sensorium-blindfold

In this part (photo below) we tested our senses of smell. We opened the numbered jars and sniffed them, and if we could not figure out what smell it was, there was a list (the green one on the wall) that we could refer to.

sensorium-smell

And there were these mirrors. Can you see how much fun my little monkeys had?

sensorium-mirrors

There were many many more to see, smell, hear, touch, feel… we easily spent 3 hours there. The 2 kiddos were never bored!

sensorium-rocktower

There was a rest area, with tables and seats, where you can sit, drink and eat (We brought our snack and drinks). There were cold and hot drinks that you could purchase there, but no real meal. For that, you could go to the restaurant of Rüttihubelbad (same complex as the museum) that also offers breakfast or brunch packages (museum ticket included in the price).

We used public transport to reach this museum, and it was really easy. We took Tram #6 (if you come from Bern central station, take the S7 train) until Worb Dorf, and there we switched onto a Post Bus. Just make sure you check the schedule in advance as Post Buses don’t run often. We didn’t, and missed the bus by minutes(!), and thus had to wait almost an hour for the next one (it was a Sunday, and the buses only run once an hour). But there were cafés in the area, and we ended up having yummy sandwich lunch and coffee in a convenient store directly at the Worb Dorf station.

I highly recommend to visit this museum, especially if you go to Bern area. From Lausanne it takes around 1.5h by car and a bit more than 2h by train (take the IC train that has a family coach so that your little ones can entertain themselves during the trip).

Have fun! And don’t forget to comment below if you had been there or after you go there!

For more info, check the link below:
Sensorium
Rüttihubelbad (Walkringen)

The Children’s Area in Geneva Airport

Last week kids and I spent our “Relâches” school holiday to visit a dear friend in Belgium. We flew from Geneva airport and of course I used the opportunity to check out the renovated Children’s Area.

GVAplayroom1

The Children’s Area is located at the Mezzanine level in transit/departure area. Roughly after the bag check and in between shopping area and the A gates. Really easy to find when you follow the “rocking horse” signs.

Below is a photo of the location (pink arrow). By the time this photo was taken it was directly above La Prairie shop.

GVA-arrow

There is stroller parking just outside the room. Kids are expected to take off their shoes but keep their socks. Adults must wear the provided blue plastic covers regardless whether they keep their shoes on or not. There are shoe racks outside the room as well as racks for cabin bags inside.

There was a lady who managed the facility but you (or another adult) must be there with your kids at all time.

After the renovation they did a couple of years ago, the play area feels brighter. It has a better flow for traffic now that they put the playpen for babies on the side. Many different types of toys are now available, from the climbing-jumping-sliding ones, to coloring, cooking set, and books.

GVA-playroom

GVA-playroom2

The facility also offered a closed room for changing diapers, complete with wet wipes and a mini toilet.

GVA-changingroom

There is also a kitchenette with microwave, normal chair and a high chair.

GVA-pantry

As this children’s area was located after the final security check, we could stay there until the last minutes before boarding time. However as we flew EasyJet and board from D gates, we started going much earlier.

So, next time you fly with the little ones and still have time to kill at the airports, don’t pass this facility. It’s great!

Opening hours: every day from 08:00 am to 08:00 pm.
Phone: +41 22 717 71 92

P.S.1: Btw, on the way to the D gate, we passed by a much smaller open play area, which we didn’t use. I’m not sure if they have more of these, but obviously it’s great and may be more useful when you only have a short time at the airport.

P.S.2.: In case you’re flying from Zurich, don’t forget that they also have nursery and playroom in Zurich airport!

 

*Photo on the very top of the post was kindly provided by Johanna

Transport Lausanne: The Taxibus Matin & Nuit

My husband and I don’t own a car and when we lived in Epalinges (until 2011), we relied heavily on TL and CFF to commute. We are happy with their service and still use public transport to commute until today. So here I’m sharing some of the special services from TL that we have tried and tested, and may not known by some of you who don’t use TL that much. This time I’ll tell you about the Taxibus Matin & Nuit.

Taxibus Matin & Nuit is a special service for commuters who have to travel early in the morning (before the buses and métros begin) and late at night (when they have stopped). As the name indicates, it’s a regular taxi that will pick you up at a TL stop (these taxis have Taxibus signs).

—–

Taxibus Matin

The taxibus picks you up at any TL bus stop inside the zones 11 and 12.

Pick up hours are:

  • 03h30
  • 04h00
  • 04h30
  • 04h50
  • 05h10
  • 05h30

Drop off in one of these stops:

  • Chauderon
  • Bel-Air
  • St-François
  • Georgette
  • Lausanne-CFF
  • Croisettes
  • Pully-Gare
  • Lutry-Gare
  • Galicien
  • Renens-Gare sud

—–

Taxibus Nuit

Operating hours:

  • 0h20
  • 0h30
  • 0h40
  • 0h50
  • 1h00
  • 1h30

Pick-up points:

  • Lausanne-Gare (bus stop #1 direction Blécherette)
  • St-François (bus stop church side, in front of kiosk)
  • Bel-Air (stop lines #1, 2, 7 and 8, North side)
  • Chauderon (bus stop North-East side)
  • Georgette (bus stop lines #1, 2, 4, 8, 17 that goes up)
  • Croisettes (on bus area)
  • Pully-Gare (bus stop la place de la gare)
  • Lutry-Gare (bus stop la place de la gare)
  • Galicien (bus stop lines #32, 33 South side)
  • Renens-Gare sud (bus stop lines #31, 32, 33 station side)

Your destination should lie within the network zone 11 and 12.

—–

These Taxibus Matin & Nuit services are offered everyday. To book, call the hotline 0800 805 805 at least 30 minute in advance. Don’t forget to let the operator know how many people will travel with you. You will need regular ticket covering the zones you’ll be travelling (or a Mobilis subscription) plus a CHF4/person, payable to the Taxibus driver. We found this service a very good value when we had to catch very early train to go to the airport. When we still lived in Epalinges, we used to pay around CHF27 to go to the train station (2010 price). With this service, we only had to pay CHF8 for two (fyi, we both had Mobilis subscriptions). We still had to go to the pick-up point, so that it was less convenient than being picked-up at home, but as the bus stop was only 2 minutes on foot, it was never a big deal.

The links to Taxibus Matin & Nuit are here and here.

For more info and other services, check out TL website.

*Logo courtesy of Transport Lausanne

Annual Change of Timetable for the Trains – 2014

 

lausanne-gare

Important note for those of you taking the train, especially the ones going to airports on Sunday and commuting to work on Monday, the annual change of train timetable will happen this Sunday, 14 December 2014. Do check for the schedule of your train, as I remember the many changes they introduced in Dec 2012 created confusion and delays.

There are also new trains being introduced, especially between Bern, Fribourg, Payerne and Lausanne, aimed to improved the connections in the western part of Switzerland. However there will be price increase of 2.3%. One good news is that Supersaver tickets can now be purchased via mobile apps. You can read about them and more here.

There may also be changes in schedule of Transport Lausanne, however I didn’t seem to see any news about it on their website, so perhaps things stay the same for now.

Have a smooth and safe trip!

*Image was screenshot from SBB CFF FFS mobile app

Family Friendly Places to Visit in Switzerland (Updated)

This post was originally compiled by Carmen and published in July 2009. I updated it and included the links to post from our own trips. (Second update 21 February 2014)


General Tips

http://www.ausflugstipps.ch (in German)
http://www.ausflugsziele.ch (in German)

Erlebniswelt

http://erlebniswelt.liliput.ch (in German)

Castles in Switzerland

http://www.swisscastles.ch

Finder for Family Hiking & Biking Routes

http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/interests/hiking1.html

Sleep in the Straw in Barns throughout Switzerland

http://www.agrotourismus.ch/en/sleep-on-straw-group-accommodation-and-more


AARGAU

Rolling Rock Inline Skate Park – Aarau
Climbing Walls & Inline Skating.

Schweizer Kinder Museum – Children’s Museum – Baden

Seilpark Gantrisch

Lenzburg Castle – Lenzburg (read my post about our trip here)
Children’s Museum inside and a playground outside.

Murimoos Organic Farm – Muri
A playground, small pet farm, horseback rides & little cafe.

Wildegg Castle – Wildegg
Indoor Children’s Experiential Room and a play area outside.


BASEL

Dampfbahn – Mini Steam Engine – Psychiatrichen Universitaetsklinik Basel
Mini Steam Engine rides every second Sunday (middle of April through middle of October).

Puppenhausmuseum – Doll House Museum – Basel

Tierpark Lange Erlen – Basel
Animal Park

Zoo – Basel

Wiesner’s Beeriland – Bottmingen
Berry picking in June & July.

Park “Im Grünen” – Münchenstein
Playground, Mini-Golf, Restaurant…

Solarbob – Langenbruck (BL)
A rodelbahn (alpine summer sled run) that uses solar energy for the lift.


BERN

Museum of Communication – Bern (read about our visit here)
This museum has plenty of hands on activities and interactive exhibits.
For stamp buffs, it houses more than 500,000 stamps from all over the
world – one of the largest collections in Switzerland that is open to the public.

Kindermuseum Creaviva Zentrum Paul Klee – Bern

Zoo Tierpark Dählhölzli – Bern

Ropetech Adventure and Seilpark – Thunplatz in Bern
Children (from school age allowed) under 14 have to be accompanied by an adult.

Reichenbachfall in Meiringen BE
Very nice family friendly town to visit
http://www.meiringen.ch/tourismus
with the water falls where Sherlock Holmes “died”
http://www.reichenbachfall.ch/html/reichenbachfall.html

Seilpark Gantrisch – Rüschegg Heubach BE
Children under 12 have to be accompanied by an adult.

Zoo, Playground & Restaurant – Studen

Gurten Park im Grünen – above Bern in Wabern
Lots of open space, play areas, kid’s train, and restaurant,
kids sledding in winter as well. Good views on the city and the Alps.

Ballenberg Open Air Museum – Brienz

Brienz Steam Engine Train Ride
Hour long train ride with stunning views and a restaurant at the top. The bottom station of the railway is just a stones’ throw from Lake Brienz and its boat rides, pedaloes, mini train etc.

Aare Gorge – near Interlaken

St. Beatus-Höhlen – near Interlaken

Sensorium – Walkringen (read my post about our visit here)
Hands-on experiences for young and old:-)


FRIBOURG

Fun Planet – Bulle
bowling, mini golf, laser game, billiard

Charme(y) Aventures – Charmey
5 adventure trails (parcours) in the woods.

Château de Gruyères

Papiliorama Swiss Tropical Gardens – Kerzers (read my post about our trip here)
Butterfly / Nocturnal animal place.

Espace Junior – Fribourg
Indoor play park for kids ages 2-12.
TEMPORARY indoor play areas


GENEVA

Beaches in Geneva

City Parks
The town has some great parks with lots to do for children – such as “Les Eaux Vives” and “Bois de la Bâtie (Bâtie Woods). They both have paddling pools in the summer and the latter has a free mini-zoo.

Espace Junior – Geneva Palexpo
Indoor play park for kids ages 2-12.
TEMPORARY indoor play areas

Excursions by Minitrain – Geneva

Natural History Museum – Geneva
Free entrance – The largest museum of natural history of Switzerland.

Swimming Pools in Geneva

Yatouland in Vernier-Geneva
Indoor play place for 0-10 year olds

Summer Bobsledding & Mini Golf – La-Roche-sur-Foron (France)

Forestland – Divonne-les-Bannes (France)
Just across the border about 20 km from Geneva: great pool, mini golf, go-carting and “Forestland”.


GRAUBÜNDEN

Pradaschier Rodelbahn & Seilpark – Churwalden GR
The largest Rodelbahn in the world.


LUZERN

A Place for Us – Luzern
An indoor play area for kids up to the age of 4 – also has playgroups/courses

Glacier Garden – Luzern
It has a great room of mirrors to walk through.

Swiss Transport Museum – Luzern

Lido in Luzern – across from the Transport Museum
An outdoor swim area on the lake with a big playground. A mini-golf course is nearby.

Rigi Mountain – near Luzern

Restaurant Alpenhof – Kuessnacht am Rigi
has a large playground

Schongliand Amusement Park – Schongau

Pilatus Mountain – near Luzern
Gondola/cograil, metal toboggan run, large playground and hiking, caves at the top with Dragon stories.

Pilatus Seilpark – Kriens Luzern
Fun for the whole family, 8 years and older.

Glasi Hergiswil – Hergiswil near Luzern
Children watch glass being blown and can blow their own glass ball.


SCHAFFHAUSEN

Rheinfalls – near Schaffhausen
The largest waterfall in Europe. You can take a boat ride and there is a playground.


SCHWYZ

Natur- und Tierpark Goldau
Children can throw food to the bears (who catch it in their mouths), pet and feed deer.  Great playground and restaurant.

Alpamare – Pfäffikon
Indoor Water Park

Sattel Hochstuckli – Sattel
Summer: Roller park, bouncy trampolines, metal toboggan run, chair lifts…

Cheese Factory in Seewen


SOLOTHURN

Storchensiedlung Altreu – Stork Colony – Grenchen
It’s on the River Aare and you can visit the info center for free.There are various restaurants in the area and boat trips are also possible.  Lots of storks are in the trees! Open from April to the end of September.


ST. GALLEN

Säntispark – Abtwil bei St. Gallen
Waterpark

Abenteurerland Walter Zoo – Gossau

Sportbahnen Atzmännig – Goldingen
Summer: Playground, trampolines, metal toboggan run…


THURGAU

Connyland – Lipperswil
Outdoor amusement theme park.

Pferdehändler – Märstetten
Donkey & Pony rides, horse camps…


TICINO

The 3 medieval castles of Bellinzona

Alprose Chocolate Museum in Caslano-Lugano

Caslano Minigolf
Great little place with minigolf, trampolines and small cars

Lido di Caslano
Nice small sandy beach on the lake between Ponte Tresa and Lugano

Lama Trekking – Iseo

Lido di Lugano
Great place in the summer months with huge fun paddling pool

Play Planet in Pregassona-Lugano
Pizzeria & Indoor playground for 0-12 years

Swiss Miniatur in Melide-Lugano
An open-air museum with the most important Swiss buildings and means of transportation.

Tassino Park – Lugano
Great park with lots of space, picnic and play areas.

Zoo al Maglio – Magliaso
The zoo is situated on the banks of the Magliasina river and is especially suited for young children since the animals can be petted and fed.

Monte Tamaro
Take the cable car to the top of the mountain – Lots of activities for children, summer bob sledding, adventure park and play ground for the youngest

Lamatreks – Ponte Capriasca
Lama trekking in the mountains for children and families…


VALAIS

Chez Gaby – Champoussin
Farm, restaurant, horse back riding & adventure park in the woods.

Labyrinthe Aventur Parc – Evionnaz

Happyland New – Granges
Minigolf, game rooms & amusement park rides.

Aquaparc Water Park – Le Bouveret

Swiss Vapeur Parc – Le Bouveret (read my post about our trip here)
Located near the lake not far from Montreux, close to France.
Great fun for the little ones to ride the trains through miniature towns

Fun Planet – Brig
bowling, billiard, games


VAUD

Parc Aventure – Aigle
Outdoor adventure park fun for the whole family, 8 years and older.

Espace Junior – Aigle
Indoor play park for kids ages 2-12.

Park Im Grüene Signal de Bougy – Bougy
Located between Lausanne & Nyon.
Large open air park with mini-golf and playground.

Le Swin-Golf de Cremin – Cremin

Espace de Inventions Vallee de la Jeunesse – Lausanne

Musée de zoologie – Lausanne (see many post I wrote about this museum here)

Swiss Museum of Games – La Tour-de-Peilz
Located in a castle on Lake Geneva between Montreux and Aigle.

Zoo La Garenne – Le Vaud

Tobagganing Park – Leysin
Located in the mountains above Aigle.

Billy’s Indoor Playplace – Montreux
Ages 7 months to 7 years accompanied by an adult.

Payerneland – Payerne
Go-carting, Mini Golf and Indoor play park.

Zoo de Servion – Servion

Tropiquarium de Servion – Servion

Château de Chillon – Villeneuve
near Montreux

Fun Planet – Rennaz (Villeneuve)
bowling, carting, minigolf, billiard, games, accrofun


ZUG

Kids Meeting Point – Baar
Indoor play place for kids ages 1 1/2 to 12


ZURICH

Saurier (Dinosaur) Museum – Aathal

Grüt Farm – Adliswil
Mövenpick Restaurant with Playground & small zoo

Hasenmuseum / Rabbit Museum – Bubikon

Bruno Weber Skulpturenpark – Dietikon
Open from April to the end of Ocotber, every Saturday and the first Sunday of the month.

Starbie Indoor Play Park – Dietikon

Trampolino Indoor Play Park – Dietikon

Milandia – Greifensee
Migros Indoor Adventure Park

Minigolf at Gasthof zum Morgenthal Restaurant – Hirzel

Wildpark Langenberg – Langnau am Albis
Playgrounds, restaurant, great walking paths to view animals…

Naturzentrum Sihlwald – just after Langnau am Abis
The outside area is open year round. It has a small play area and nice walks along the Sihl river. The museum and small café/gift shop are open from about the middle of March until November.

Park Im Grüene – Rüschlikon
Outdoor playground, miniature train rides, puppet shows, swimming pool, cafeteria…

Jucker Farm – Seegräben
They have a cafe, petting zoo, a store selling fresh produce
and homemade food, and a playground.

Kindercity – Volketswil
Indoor educational activities for kids up to age 12.

Planeta Magic – Wädenswil
Indoor Play Park for kids from 1-12 years

Minigolf at Restaurant Schönegg – Wädenswil

Technorama Science Center in Winterthur
Wonderful hands-on activites for ages 4 and up

Urania Observatory – Zurich

Waldhaus Katzensee – Zurich
The perfect family restaurant with a collection of 1-franc rides out front, a small train to ride, and a playground – all within view of an outdoor eating area.

Zoo – Zurich

This & That Week #50 – Dec 2013

Tried to keep the list short but turned out I had quite a lot to share!

  • End of 2013 festivities in Lausanne and around in e-booklet. Hard copies available for free at : the offices of “info cité” (place de la Palud 2 and rue du Port-Franc 18) or “Lausanne-Tourisme”
  • Christmas with E.T.. Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 at 20:30 – Cinéma Capitole (Avenue du Théâtre 6,1003 Lausanne). Free entry, limited space. From age 7+ (accompanied by adult) or 10+ (unaccompanied). I so want to go but can’t due to previous engagement 🙁
  • This current exhibition “Véhicule” at Art Brut looks very interesting. With workshops for kids (6-12y), vintage shuttle bus program on Sundays, and soapbox race. Free on first Saturday of the month, otherwise CHF5-10. Until 27 April 2014.
  • Have you seen this flash mob at Flon métro station by OCL? I {heart}. Wished I was there.
  • Lausanne 2020 (bid for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics)
  • Swiss stamp made of real gold
  • SBB CFF day cards – special offers 2 tickets for CHF69 (2nd class) or CHF109 (1st class). For sale until 5 Jan 2014 and can be used until 31 Jan 2014. Note that at least one person must have a half-card.
  • Get 20% off Disney on Ice tickets when you present your Coop Supercard at Ticketcorner sales points.

The Family Coach on Swiss Trains (Updated)

Have you been on the Family Coach of the Swiss (double-decker) trains? We’ve been there a few times now and it has been really great. The whole coach is dedicated to families, with spacious area on lower level to park strollers and a play area above. It can be found either at the beginning of end of the train, with animals painted on it (it would be hard to miss it!). The trains with these coaches are marked with “FA” on the time table.

There is also this nice corner reserved for family, which we have used happily many times now!

Here’s a shot of the play area, with a small slide and a boat.

Not all trains have this special coach yet. At the moment, these tracks have it:

  • St. Gallen–Zurich HB–Bern–Geneva Airport
  • Romanshorn–Zurich HB–Bern–Brig
  • Basel SBB–Bern–Brig
  • Basel SBB–Bern–Interlaken Ost
  • Basel SBB–Zurich HB–Chur

For more info, see CFF website.

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