Friday, May 20, 2016

Looking for an undiscovered treasure? Try Lombok, Indonesia

Bali can be seen in the distance as the sun sets in Lombok, Indonesia  (Taylor)
LOMBOK, INDONESIA When it comes to travel destinations Lombok, Indonesia doesn’t exactly  roll off the tongue like many more familiar places. On the other hand, for travelers who enjoy being on the cutting edge of new travel destinations Lombok may just be the place.

In fact, for people who want to visit paradise on the cheap, Lombok IS the place.

Add in Lombok’s growing reputation as one of the best surfing destinations in the world and it’s a tough combination to beat.
Deserted beach on Lombok   (Taylor)


Situated across the Lombok Strait roughly 25 miles from Bali, Lombok benefits as a secondary destination for visitors to its bigger sister. Today, however, it is coming into its own as a popular place to get away from it all without spending an arm and a leg to do it.

Lombok is roughly circular shaped with a tail. Imagine an oversized sting ray.

Other than Mount Rinjani, the second largest volcano in Indonesia, there is not much to see in Lombok except magnficent beaches, superb local crafts and an abundance of sunshine.

For the moment, prices are inexpensive. A seaview room at the Sheraton in Sengigi goes for about $80 per night. Gradually new boutique resorts are popping up throughout the island as travelers are “discovering” Lombok as a destination in its own right.
One of three infinity pools at Quinci Villas in Lombok  (Taylor)
Food ranges from international to Indonesian to Mediterranean, but it is also easy to find European dishes as well. An excellent meal including drinks may cost $30 tops.
Lombok limos are a favorite way to get around  (Taylor)


Lombok markets itself, if you can call it marketing, as an “unspoiled alternative to Bali.” Though the term “unspoiled” is accurate, “roughing it” in Lombok is not exactly a Robinson Crusoe experience. Beaches are uncrowded and plentiful.

So far, other than snorkeling and surfing, the myriad of water sports that have invaded other resort areas in the world have not yet reached Lombok. Rather, this is a place to “chill” in the sun.

Most of the better resorts have excellent spa facilities where a 90-minute Balinesian massage costs about $40.

Lombok has two golf courses, but it is hardly St. Andrews, so links lovers would do better to leave the clubs at home unless schlepping your bag is something you just cannot escape.

A car with driver and guide will take you around the island for approximately $40 per person. Keep in mind that driving is on the left side of the road, and while there is not a lot of traffic on Lombok compared to Bali, the mopeds and other vehicles can be a challenge. Better to “leave the driving to them.”
Local artisan weaves intricate patterns into cloth -- Weaving, wood carvings are inexpensive souvenirs  (Taylor) 
Lombok, like Bali, is a shopper’s paradise. Cloth weaving, Batik, wood carvings and basket weaving are high quality, especially if you have a good guide who knows where to go. Be prepared to barter. That’s the name of the game.
Peasants still work the fields just as they did centuries ago  (Taylor)


Indonesia is primarily Muslim, which means that Lombok is subject to early morning and late evening calls to prayer that can be annoying for travelers who like to sleep in.

In many ways, Lombok is like stepping back in time where peasants still work the rice fields just as they have for centuries and local transportation in most villages is by horse drawn “carriages” known as “Lombok limousines.”

Typical thatched roof hut on a "busy" street in Lombok  (Taylor)
Given that Lombok is still new to tourism, wi-fi can be tricky at times, but it is available and, besides, what else are you going to do all day?

English is readily spoken and ATMs are easily accessible though the conversion rate may trip you up at first since 1,300,000 Indonesian rupiah is about $100.
Cock fighting is illegal but still popular  (Wikipedia) 


Do not travel with friends from PETA because cock-fighting, though illegal, is a popular sport in many villages.


Little is known about the history of Lombok before the 17th century. Until that time, the island was comprised of small warring states each of which was ruled by a Sasak prince. Today the 3.1 million inhabitants of Lombok are 85% Sasak whose ancestors are believed to have migrated from Java in the first millennium BC.

Rebellious millennials hoping to seek refuge in paradise should know that a top job in one of the resorts only pays about $8 a day. Talk about “minimum” wage.

Another day ends in Lombok where serenity is the national pastime  (Taylor)
For now, most visitors arrive from Australia and the UK partly because the distance for Americans is considerable. On the other hand, U.S. travelers seeking a truly comfortable, relaxing, inexpensive destination may want to consider Lombok.

After all, the biggest decision you will have to make after breakfast is whether to swim in the pool or the Indian Ocean.


Just take a short flight from Bali and look for a giant sting ray.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Berthillon: Home of the best ice cream in Paris

Once you sample the all natural ice cream at Berthillon in Paris, you will know why there is always a line  (wikipedia)
PARIS Years ago, when a fellow traveler learned of my immoral habit of taking an ice cream break in the afternoon when I am away from home, she told me about a place to check out in Paris. I did and I’ve never looked back. Never again do I need to search for the best ice cream in Paris.

Some say Berthillon is the “best ice cream in the world.” Others claim it to be merely the “best ice cream in Paris.” I truly don’t know. Nor do I care, because no other ice cream will ever have a chance to find out.

Berthillon is the Orient Express of ice cream. Not just because it tastes so good, but also because of the story behind it, which makes it all the better.

Though Berthillon ice cream has been around since 1954, it wasn’t until the famous, and influential, French restaurant guide known as Gault Millau recommended “this astonishing ice cream shop hidden in a bistro on the Ile Saint-Louis” that it gained worldwide recognition in the 1960s.
Berthillon is just behind Notre Dame  (wikipedia)


If “healthy” ice cream is your cup of tea, then Berthillon is the place. Situated at 20-31 rue saint Louis on the island of Saint Louis, Berthillon’s original tea room is the place to go. There are other locations on the island and throughout Paris where Berthillon ice cream is available, but part of the fun is getting it from the source where it was first created.

Ile Saint-Louis is one of two small islands in the River Seine. It is tucked away and connected by a small footbridge behind the Cathedral of Notre Dame which means that, logistically, it is not difficult to figure out where to begin.

After crossing the bridge, take the main street in the center of the island and walk down the narrow road until you see a line of people on your right eagerly awaiting a chance to sample their favorite cool creamy confection.
Stroll across the small bridge to Ile St Louis and walk down the main street a few blocks...a treasure awaits  (wikipedia)
Don’t be put off by the line. Patience is a virtue. It is well worth the wait. The tea room inside is small, so most people purchase their ice cream out on the street and move on to the great adventure in their itinerary.

There are some 70 all-natural, chemical-free flavors. Each is created from the freshest dairy products available which are usually purchased just before an individual flavor is created. Hence the term “healthy” ice cream, or, at least, as “healthy” as ice cream can get.
Berthillon may not be as well known as the Eiffel Tower, but it gets high marks just the same  (Taylor)
If you have a personal favorite, do not be surprised if it is not available. Berthillon does not produce each of its 70 choices every day. That said, you will discover fruit sorbets like blackcurrant and pink grapefruit, or the more traditional, and richer offerings made from fresh milk and eggs, such as salted caramel, candied chestnut and, even, gingerbread.

Of course, there are also those traditional “vanilla” flavors that used to define ice cream which are far less adventurous. (They are certainly no less tasty, however.) For example, how about a chocolate “affogato” which is a ball of vanilla ice cream served in a white porcelain mug and topped off with hot chocolate before being covered with praline cream.

Now you’re getting the idea.
Ile St Louis is filled with sidewalk cafes  (wikipedia)


Raymond Berthillon, who began creating his delightful desserts in the 1950s, died in August of 2014, but his legendary gift to the world of confectionary delights lives on.

For those wishing to read more, the Berthillon website is available, but it requires fluency in reading and/or speaking French.

There are a couple of other quirks as well, which are important so that you are not disappointed. Berthillon is closed on Christmas and New Years and it also shuts down in mid-April until the first part of May. Also, forget about satisfying your taste buds during the heat of summer. Berthillon is very French, so it closes toward the end of July until early September.
For the best Berthillon experience, go to the original shop (wikipedia)
They are also closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. If all of that sounds like too much work to satisfy your ice cream addiction, just remember Berthillon is well worth the effort and the wait.

Berthillon is accessible by Metro at Point Marie (line 7), Saint Paul (line 1) and Cardinal Lemoine (lines 9 and 10). You can also get there on bus lines 24, 63, 67, 86 and 87.

While it does take a little effort, Berthillon is not really hard to find if you persevere. And besides, when you actually do discover it, you are guaranteed to get your “just desserts.”

And that’s this week’s travel “scoop.”.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Petra: Jordan’s incredible ancient “rose red” city

The Treasury at Petra is probably most familiar to fans of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade  (wikipedia)

PETRAJORDAN -- Traveling to Petra  (video) is a journey through a canyon of towering rocks into a land that seems forever sequestered in the past.

The wind gently whistles across ever-changing shades of sandstone while colors adjust to the movement of the sun as it makes its way across the ancient Jordanian sky.

Here the unseen hand of nature has sculpted the rock into an awesome, breathtaking adventure.
Centuries of rushing water flowed through the soft rock, penetrating ever downward through the earth’s crust as though it had some strange, mysterious purpose.

Whispering sands blow through a majestic canyon carved by wind and rain, caressing the stone into wild, fantastic shapes and vast chasms.

The Bible called it Sela. The ancient Nabataean tribe who built the city called it Rekmu or Rekem.

Petra is filled with ancient tombs carved from the rock  (wikipedia)

Today, we know it as Petra; a monumental rock-cut civilization that expands the imagination far beyond the scope of modern technology and knowledge.

Petra traces its beginnings six centuries before Christ.  When translated, it means “the rock,” and truly it is a rock of ages.

The once hidden Nabataean city is located in southern Jordan.  To reach the grandiose setting you must travel on foot or by horseback through an ever-narrowing mile long canyon.

Weathered rock rounded by time leads the way into another world; a valley dominated by sheer cliffs that reach higher and higher the further you penetrate into the heart of the mountain.  It is a ravine that does Indiana Jones proud; a living monument to rival Hollywood’s wildest imagination.  So much so that Petra was, indeed, used as a backdrop in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Petra’s entrance alone is a journey to the center of the earth.  A fantasy ride into reality.  A magical, mystical experience of time travel on horseback where twists and turns lead to the majestic fa├žade of the edifice known as “the treasury.”
Ancient facades which served as dwelling or tombs remain hidden within the walls of Petra  (wikipedia)
At first you are dazzled; awed by brilliant colors where a massive carving rises from a vertical rock-face into a perfectly proportioned sculpture.  Bullet holes serve as a permanent reminder of numerous attempts to release the treasure which local legend claims is still hidden within the recesses of the cave.

Sheltered from the damaging effects of wind and rain that could weather the sandstone, the treasury is the best preserved, and most spectacular monument, within the ancient city.

Petra was rediscovered in 1812 by Anglo-Swiss explorer Johann L. Burckhardt who disguised himself as a Bedouin and talked his way into the site by pretending to make a holy pilgrimage.  Until then, the city had been “lost.” It was the stuff of legends, existing only as a fable handed down by Bedouins who lived within the region.

The site at Petra is vast  (wikipedia)


The Nabataeans were one of many nomadic northern Arabian tribes.  For 500 years, Petra flourished under their control, becoming rich and powerful by invading the caravan routes which carried trade between Arabia and Egypt.

Typical of Nabataean civilization, Petra was so well protected by its massive canyon entrance that a handful of men could hold off an entire army.  Operating from an impregnable base and utilizing adept control of camels as their means of transportation, the Nabataeans dominated a vast area of the region that caused great concern for the Roman Empire.

It was not until the Roman Emperor Trajan manipulated the water supply to the city in 106 CE that Nabataean society declined, allowing the Romans to gain control.

Today, Petra is one of the great natural and man-made wonders of the world, yet it remains relatively undiscovered by large numbers of travelers. 

Many tombs are still occupied, though a significant number have raided by vandals and treasure seekers throughout the centuries.  Even now, the cliffs echo with the sound of goats and sheep that live within; a perpetual, eternal reminder of life as it was lived more than 2,000 years ago.


The movie set that was an actual destination can be found within the 400 ft canyon walls of Petra  (wikipedia)
In the evening, campfires dot the darkness while breezes whisper through the valley and across the rock, following the same natural path carved by water, wind and the sands of time.

The glory of Petra is now but a memory of a fabled and mighty hidden city that was lost and almost forgotten; a place of wonderment and awe.

Petra is truly one of the great achievements of mankind, rivaling the likes of Machu Picchu, Stonehenge and the pyramids.

Today, Petra lives once again in southern Jordan veiled by giant red mountains and weathered stone.

This is the story of a departed race whose legacy yet lingers in the 21st century as a place of inspiration and awe. 


Petra is a symbol carved in stone where time stands still and whispering sands tell tales of Arabian nights.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Chocolate & Coral are major events on St. Lucia

The Pitons are a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the lush tropical island of St. Lucia  (JadeMountain.com)
ST. LUCIA Nestled in the eastern Caribbean Sea, the lush island of St Lucia has long been a favorite port of call for sailors, but it is now coming into its own as a popular tourist destination.

The influx of visitors could not have come at a better time with the increasing growth in worldwide banana production taking its toll. Though it was first under the influence of French settlers, followed by the British in the mid-17th century, St Lucia became a sovereign nation in February, 1979.
St Lucia is a favorite spot for sailing  (wikipedia)


Popular attractions are the island’s drive-in volcano, the Botanical Garden, Pigeon Island National Park and the majestic landmark twin peaks of The Pitons, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since gaining its independence however, St Lucia has also become home to some of the finest resort properties in the Caribbean. JadeMountain Resort, known for its open-air sanctuaries and breathtaking panoramas was recently named to the American Express Travel list as one of the world’s top 25 hotels. In the process, Jade Mountain captured the award for "Most Breathtaking Views."
Infinity pool at Jade Mountain Resort which is famous for its magnificent views  (JadeMountain.com)
Another St Lucia property, which has also received high marks from Conde Nast Traveler, is Anse Chastanet with its idyllic location in the shadow of the Pitons. Situated on the southwestern coast of the island, Anse Chastanet features 49 individually designed rooms that are tucked within a tropical garden at beach level.
The Pitons as seen from a room at Anse Chastanet Resort in St. Lucia  (AnseChastanetResort.com)
Whether travelers choose Jade Mountain or Anse Chastanet, each property is offering a unique experience during the month of August.
Jade Mountain celebrates Chocolate Heritage Month with a program that traces the history of chocolate as an Aztec beverage, its influence in European exploration and contemporary production.
Making chocolate the hard way from the real stuff  (Taylor0
Guests will be greeted with a chocolate amenity and cocktail, a Chocolate Lovers Breakfast in Bed celebration and a chocolate-infused spa treatment.

There will also be classes in Chocolate Sensory tasting as well as an opportunity to make a personalized chocolate bar.
Chocolate packages will continue throughout the year for visitors who are unable participate in the August Festival.
 What better way to savor one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean than basking in the decadent world of chocolate?
Meanwhile, at Anse Chastanet, the resort has announced its dates for a rare annual event which it has participated in for nearly two decades. Thanks to its location, Anse Chastanet annually witnesses one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular performance when the coral spawns each year. This year the spawning is predicted to take place from August 24-26th.
Spawning brain coral is a rare annual phenomenon that can be viewed in August at Anse Chastanet Resort  (wikipedia)
The phenomenon was first discovered in Australia in the 1980s at the Great Barrier Reef. The annual mass reproduction is now known be critical to coral reef survival.
When the spawning process is underway, coral release millions of packets of egg and sperm cells that appear underwater as massive clouds of white and pink. The upward “snowfall” drifts toward the surface for fertilization and the sea is partially covered by the slicks of coral larvae before settling to the bottom to create next generation of coral.
Though much of the process continues to be a mystery, scientists have been able to accurately predict when it will take place. A week or so after a full August moon, just an hour or two after sunset, using darkness for cover, Anse Chastanet’s in-house diving staff takes scuba divers and snorkelers out the witness this rare phenomenon.
Everywhere you look on St Lucia, the Pitons dominate the view just like the Jade Club at Jade Mountain Resort  (JadeMountain.com)
Whether your choice is chocolate, spawning coral or anything in between, St Lucia is rapidly becoming a travel destination that appeals to a new generation of island hoppers. Sailors and day-trippers from cruise ships are slowly learning they are going to have to share the paradise that was once their domain.
And for those newcomers who are “discovering” St Lucia, Jade Mountain or Anse Chastanet just may be your last resort.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Treasure Island in Indonesia: Bali


Traditional dance in Bali where good triumphs over evil   (Taylor)
UBUD, BALI Elizabeth Gilbert “ate” her way through Italy and “prayed” in India, but it was in Bali where she found “love.”

At one time or another we have all heard the expression “I’d go to the ends of the earth for you.” Well the island of Bali in Indonesia is about as far as you can go from the United States before you find yourself on the return trip home.
An island nation filled with temples  (Taylor)


Of the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia, Bali nestles between Java and Lombok. It is also the Hindu hub of an archipelago that has a majority Muslim population.

What strikes visitors the moment they set foot on Bali, which is roughly 100 miles in width and 75 miles from top to bottom, is the warmth and serenity of the people. There is a gentleness in the Balinese spirit that is both welcoming and captivating.

With an average salary for most Balinese of about $500 per month, it is obvious that the island population is not a haven for the lifestyles of the rich and famous. At least the local population that is.
Which, in its own way, defies the notion from Islamic nations that the lack of resources is an excuse for global terrorism.
Communities are an integral part of Balinesian life that center around local temples  (Taylor)

Bali was the third stop for Julia Roberts in the movie Eat, Pray, Love based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert in 2010.

And it doesn’t take long to discover what captured Gilbert’s heart about Bali. Everywhere you look there is a temple rising above congested streets filled with mopeds and other forms of transportation.

Woman praying at her temple  (Taylor)

Yet, somehow there is a spirituality within the minds and souls of the people that is infectious. It is a serenity of spirit that travelers immediately understand though it may be subliminal at first.

Ubud is a thriving, growing community that both Gilbert and Roberts found infectious. At one place or another, no matter when you visit, you will discover a festival somewhere. Here grateful residents bring their offerings to the temple to honor their individual histories.
Bali is filled with lush vegetation that is just a heartbeat away from streets filled with traffic and shops (Taylor)
Bali is lush. Despite its teeming streets filled with traffic, there is also a primeval atmosphere where birds sing in the tree-tops, palm trees and other tropical plants abound amid terraced rice fields, active volcanoes and a huge national park to the west.
The night market is a favorite place each evening  (Taylor)


The night market is a daily gathering of local food vendors cooking up traditional Balinese street food. Everything from chicken, beef, pork and, even, goat sate (skewered meat on a stick) to spicy roast pork, fried fish and other local fast food. Don’t look for a Big Mac. You won’t find it in Ubud.

Closer to the main square in Ubud is the more traditional street market where hawkers sell their wares by negotiating a price for scarves, masks, wood carving, bracelets and all manner of other traditional Balinese trinkets.
Balinese artisans are excellent craftsmen at wood carving, weaving and stone sculpture  (Taylor)
For travelers who want to become instant Donald Trump wanabees, Bali is the place. With an exchange rate of roughly 13,200 Indonesian Rupiah to the dollar. In other words if you go to an ATM and get $100 you are an instant millionaire in Bali with 1,320,000 IDR in your pocket.
The Monkey Forest is a popular 27 acre park where monkeys put on a daily show for visitors  (Taylor)
Other than the markets, popular attractions in and around Ubud are the active volcanoes in the northeast, the terraced rice fields and the Monkey Forest in the main part of the city. Visitors enjoy strolling through the 27 acre forest to view the monkeys that occupy the area by the thousands. No matter when you go, you are guaranteed to see a great show.
Hotels are elegant and deluxe...this is not "roughing it" Robinson Crusoe-style  (Taylor)
It takes some effort to reach the Indonesian nation. It’s not the traditional 6 to 8 hour flight to Europe from the east coast of the US. But if you plan for at least a day of travel to get there you will be richly rewarded.
Working the rice fields just as they have done for centuries  (Taylor)
Then you too can return home to tell your best friend that you literally “went to the ends of the earth for him.”


Thursday, April 14, 2016

The mysterious Black Madonna of Einsiedeln, Switzerland


The famous Black Madonna of Einsiedeln, Switzerland has been a pilgrimage  site for centuries  (Taylor)
 
EINSIEDELN, SWITZERLAND For more than ten centuries pilgrims from all over the world have journeyed to pay homage to the Black Madonna in the Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln. Yet for traditional travelers, Einsiedeln goes largely unknown.

The mysterious black statue which resides in the center of Einsiedeln’s monastery is clad in elegant brocades embroidered with floral accents of gold. In her left arm, the Madonna holds the Christ child, who is, himself, holding a black bird.

Einsiedeln's Abbey is also an exclusive school  (Taylor)

Situated approximately 20 miles southeast of Zurich, Einsiedeln was settled in the Finsterwald, or Dark Forest, of northern Switzerland It can be reached in about an hour by car or by train from Zurich via Wadenswill.

Toward the end of the 8th century, a 40-year old monk named St. Meinard went searching for greater solitude to practice his religious beliefs. Arriving at the place which is now Einsiedeln, he entered the Dark Forest and eventually built a small hermitage.

Among Meinard’s few possessions was a statue of the Virgin Mary given to him by an abbess from Zurich. Over time, Meinard became known for his piety and kindness, and his statue was said to possess miraculous powers.
Elaborate and beautiful Baroque ceiling inside the abbey  (Taylor)
 
One particular feature made the Madonna stand out from all others. It was black.

Local folklore claimed that years of candle smoke had darkened the statue. Before long the ebony figurine gained a reputation for having a magical aura. St. Meinard made his Black Madonna part of his altarpiece and, in a day when superstitions ran high, mythology grew about many miracles attributed to “Our Lady of Einsiedeln.”

One day Meinard rescued two ravens that were being attacked by hawks and, as legend goes, the ravens became the monk’s allies for the remainder of his life.
 
Two thieves murdered the saint in 861 during a robbery attempt. As they fled into the village, the ravens followed them, squawking loudly until the killers were apprehended at a nearby inn by the alerted townspeople.

For the next 80-years small groups of Beneditine monks came to live in the area now known as Einsiedeln or “The Hermitage.” Over those decades, Meinard’s tiny hermitage was transformed into the Lady Chapel which was said to have been consecrated by Christ himself.
The abbey library has a massive collection of books dating back several centuries  (Taylor)
 
In 948, on the eve of the consecration, the bishop who was to perform the ceremony had a vision of the church being filled with a brilliant light as Christ approached the altar. The following day as  proceedings began, a voice spoke to the bishop saying the chapel had already been divinely consecrated. Sixteen years later Pope Leo VIII confirmed the miracle, and the Abbey of Einsiedeln has been a major pilgrimage site ever since.

The original Black Madonna was replaced long ago by the statue which is seen today. In 1799, while restoring the present Madonna, Johann Adam Fuetscher wrote that there was no doubt the face had “initially been flesh-colored.”

Following the restoration, the devoted common people demanded their precious Madonna be painted entirely black.
 
Now completely enclosed in the Lady Chapel within the nave of the magnificent Baroque basilica of the expansive abbey of Einsiedeln, the Black Madonna is praised daily by the monks at 4:30 pm. An on-going ritual that has taken place for four hundred years.

The location of the current Black Madonna chapel is believed to rest over the site of Meinrad's original hermitage.

Whatever the true significance may be, approximately four hundred Black Virgins are now located throughout Europe. Some say the mysterious statues reside in natural energy centers, many of which are remote, which are believed to have been focal points for centuries for numerous earth mysteries.

Though pilgrimages have abated in recent years, the monastery still offers much for visitors. The breathtaking Baroque basilica alone is stunning.
Diorama of Bethlehem tells the Christmas story and the birth of Christ  (Taylor)
 
For more than a thousand years, Einsiedeln has been a center of learning and a residence for numerous saints and scholars who have studied its priceless collections of letters, manuscripts and music.

The abbey library contains nearly a quarter of a million volumes that are still in use by the community of 60 monks in residence today.

Also worth viewing is the inestimable collection of stringed instruments including some by  Stradivarius and Amati.

With its highly regarded academic reputation, the abbey features a school for approximately 360 advanced students from all over the world. Entrance requirements are strict and only the best and the brightest are accepted.

Just a short walk from the monastery is the Dioarma Bethlehem which is said to be the largest nativity scene in the world with over 500 carved wooden figurines.

Equally famous is the Panorama, a 300-foot long, 30-foot high painting depicting Jerusalem and the the Crucifixion.

For active travelers, Einsiedeln is a popular ski destination featuring three ski areas including ski jumps.

The tiny, yet delightful, community is compact. From the railway station at one end of town to the abbey at the other takes ten minutes or less without stops.

Nestled within lovely rolling countryside, the journey from Zurich to Einsiedeln is a visual feast. It’s an ideal day-trip in Switzerland where the mysterious Black Madonna, and her magic, awaits.