Three reasons to visit the coastal city of Kamakura

Kamakura is a small, rural town. It is not crazy touristic which is surprising considering the quality and diversity of its attractions coupled with easy access from Tokyo: a direct JR train connects the Tokyo station to Kamakura with just an hour of train ride.

Let’s see what this town is capable of and why you might want to go there.

First time in Japan: Mount Takao

Looking back at my experience with New York, this time I decided that four days in a big city is all I can take and that I would definitely need a nature retreat after that.

A quick search revealed that there is a cool mountain called Takao just an hour by train from Tokyo center, with a number of hiking trails up to the summit and cherry trees that bloom later than in Tokyo thanks to the altitude.

First time in Japan: a city of the future?

This post is sponsored by the disgusting and nasty weather of Tokyo which was the reason we had to skip one of the city’s parks and set ourselves to the artificial island of Odaiba because there we could stay indoors most of the time.

The island was created in the 19th century for defense purposes but had barely been in use until 90s when the government suddenly decided to turn it into the new touristic and cultural center. Thanks to the engineering driven city design the district looks quite futuristic, or at least matches what they thought about the future in 90s.

First time in Japan: old and new Tokyo

Traditions and history dive-ins are not really Tokyo things, and it is better known for the chaos of a huge city, neon lights, and crazy youth culture. Those seeking old characteristic Japanese architecture should set their way to ancient Kyoto or at least pay its little sister Kamakura a short visit from the capital.

Nevertheless, even though Tokyo does not have that many and that diverse temples as Kyoto does, you can still get in touch with its ancient culture right in the center of the city, just next to the most bizarre districts and entertainments Tokyo has to offer.

Today we will try to maximize the diversity of impressions that you can get in Tokyo in a single day. This program implies a lot of walking, but you can shorten some distances by taking subway.

First time in Japan: food

The food! It would be a sufficient reason for me to come back to Japan, this was by far the best food experience in my life. The quality of ingredients and the cooking, the arrangement of foods on the plate, the service – even cheap places have it top notch. Today I want to talk about the main differences between the Japanese and European food culture.

Rigi Kulm: a simple panoramic hike close to Zurich

To be honest, I was not a great fan of this trail: the place is not wild enough for me (in fact, not wild at all). On the other hand, this hike might be a nice option for people that stay in Zurich and want to get a glimpse on the main Swiss stereotypes (mountains, lakes, cows, you know). The trail is super easy – no need to climb, and only very little altitude change. Most of the path is even accessible for wheelchairs!

TL;DR

What: a hike next to Lucerne: Rigi Kulm to Rigi Scheidegg cable car station.
Why: great view on three lakes and on the Alps, clean Swiss air (with a scent of cows :D).
How long: 2-3 hours (the hike itself) + 3.5 hours (commute from Zurich and back).
How to get here: train, cable car.
Difficulty: minimal.
Ascent: 243 m.
Descent: 369 m.
How much it costs: ~65 CHF by public transport from Zurich.

“Blue” hiking trail in Alps: Randa to Domhütte

There are three categories of hiking routes in Switzerland:

  • yellow – the shortest and easiest, with little to no altitude difference; suitable for even small children; often asphalted or go along a forest road;
  • red – “mountain trails”, usually imply noticeable elevation, but generally not dangerous; you can just walk them and do not need to climb;
  • blue – “alpine trails”; to do those, you will need decent physical shape and a certain degree of craziness: steep cliffs, absence of an actual trail, glacier crossings are usual on such routes.

This post is about my first “blue” hike with an overnight in a mountain cabin.

It all started when I learned about Europaweg – a 2-day hiking trail along the Mattertal valley. On the way you have a chance to cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Europe (you did not seriously think that Switzerland does not have everything of the most?) as well as gorgeous views on Matterhorn and other 4K summits.

Interlaken and a bit around

Swiss are proud people, they have a lot of “the most”, for example, the steepest cable car or the highest railroad station in Europe.

This pride, amplified by the desire to attract tourists, is very present in one of the most popular regions of Switzerland – in the area of the Interlaken town.