VEERA BIANCA
Engelberg Sveitsi Switzerland

A summer hiking adventure in Engelberg, Switzerland

*In collaboration: Switzerland Tourism

The vast mountain range outside the window. Nothing but an adventure ahead of me. As the train started to slow down, I tied my hiking boots a little tighter and threw my camera around my shoulder. We had arrived to Engelberg – a little Swiss village I’ve heard stories of and seen breathtaking photos of for months before.

The name, Engelberg, actually means ‘angel mountain’ and there’s a reason for that. Back in the 12th century, someone had heard the angels sing up on the mountains and later a monastery was build in the village that still stands today.

Posts from Switzerland you might also be interested in: 

Zermatt – Home of the Toblerone mountain

My flight experience: SWISS Bombardier CS300

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Engelberg-Titlis is located in central Switzerland in the Obwalden canton, mostly known as a ski holiday destinations, especially among freeriders around the world. We didn’t visit Engelberg during the winter season, though there will almost always be a bit of snow on top of the highest mountain tops. In summer months Engelberg is perfect for hiking or biking out in the wild unspoiled nature.

Summer was the perfect season for me as I’ve had to quit my ski’ing hobby 10 years ago after breaking my spine in that horse riding accident you’ve heard me speak of before. Well to be honest, after that I called it quits on most sports, but something has changed for me recently – especially over here in Engelberg. So much of the injury is a limit in the mindset, a limit I want to push through even when it hurts.

Already last summer I found myself back in the nature. I hiked among the mountains in Zermatt last summer in the rain after staying up the night before with one or two martinis too many, and despite, I felt full of energy.

I felt at place.

And I wanted more.

I remember dreaming how much I wanted to hike for miles on end and how motivated I got about healing my body from the injuries once and for all.

The mountains are where I feel most at home.

We were about to go hike for the whole day ahead and as I tied my hiking boots again, I felt the fear pop its head up. What if I can’t do it? What if I stay behind the group? What if I fall down? But I had the time of my life. So much so that I wanted to do it again right away – I still want to do it again. I dream of spending a month right here doing the same hike every day. I’ve learned that downhill helps me strengthen those muscles that have gotten so weak as the spine injury has damaged my nerves that make a right leg function.

But words cannot express the joy I felt walking down these mountains.

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Fürenalp – the hike I’d rather do every single day

One morning, we took a tiny little red cable car up to the mountains in Fürenalp. We stopped at the lovely restaurant on the top for some apple juice and enjoyed the sunshine while soaking up that fresh mountain air.

Fürenalp offers several hiking trails lasting anywhere between 30 minutes to six hours. The trails are pretty easy and the views along the way will simply take your breath away. Mountains, waterfalls and cows roaming free.

We did a 3-hour hike down, hopped on another cable car down and stopped for lunch to continue hiking for another hour or so back to the station. Though I felt like I could have gone on for miles.

Something about this hike made me forget how injured I am and reminded me how much I love the nature. Now I even want to go mountain biking next time in the country – that hopeless city girl in my has officially vanished into thin air. I need that wilderness. I need mountains. The wind in my hair.

Along the hike, I also made several cow buddies. One simply has to make cow buddies when in Switzerland. Most of the cows are so friendly and enjoy a scratch behind the ear.

As the hike had came to an end and I got to lift my feet up in my hotel room, I noticed glazing back at the mountains through my windows. I wanted to go back. To stay. I know I’ll return to this place for a longer time some day. I have to. I need to. Something in my souls tells me to. Maybe next spring. Hopefully next spring.

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Engelberg-Titlis – a little village from a fairytale

Engelberg is surely most known for its skiing opportunities among the mountains, but the village comes to life in summer too. Engelberg is situated 25 km from Lucerne at an altitude of about 1 km with the surrounding mountains of Titlis and Hahnen rising up to 2600 meters.

During summer months, Engelberg is an outdoor dream come true. Hiking, climbing and mountain biking. And not forgetting delicious culinary experiences (restaurant recommendations at the end of this post).  500 km’s of hiking paths offer something for every traveller.

There are only around 5000 people living in Engelberg, but it’s still lively enough to enjoy a fun holiday.

Winter season in Engelberg starts in October and lasts til end of May. The area is surrounded by three major mountain areas; Titlis, Brunni and Fürenalp.

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Where to stay and dine in Engelberg, Switzerland?

There are several accommodation options in town and more hotels are getting build in the area as tourism continues to grow as more of the world find this fairytale village among the mountains. We stayed at Alpenclub, in the heart of town. Alpenclub is a simple but cozy alpine hotel with all that you need from a comfortable bed to a delicious restaurant. 

If you look for something fancier, many travellers seem to recommend a stay at Ski Lodge

There are also some budget options such as a Youth Hostel. You can also rent an apartment or stay at some small guest houses.

What comes to dining, you will be spoilt in Engelberg despite its being a village. The restaurant at Alpenclub offers a delicious fondue, pizzas the locals have to eat weekly, a crazy good cordon bleau and if you are fan – don’t leave this place without trying their schnitzels.

Other restaurants worth recommending in Engelberg would be Restaurant Eienwäldli, Bergrestaurant Fürenalp and Brasserie Kondrad. Also don’t miss out on the mountain restaurant Flühenatt and their delicious älpenmakaronen.

And make sure to visit Gerschnialp and Sälmi for some cheese. And if you are looking for a good coffee, SpannortInn has your back.

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That clean Swiss cuisine and cheese to die for

As you probably noticed on my Instagram during this trip, Switzerland impressed me big time – and I mean big time. I’ve had such a passion for understanding nutrition and healthy eating that I wanted to understand a bit more about why the Swiss are so healthy – surely they are the outdoorsy kind, but nutrition has to play a big part too.

The crazy thing is that the Swiss consume a fair bit of dairy and meat products, which many of us have learned to see unhealthy in today’s world – and yes, that mass produced overly chemicalised s*it is bad for you. And I guess everything in excess is bad for you – even Swiss cheese for that matter, which I’m not willing to accept.

The thing I really respect about the Swiss and their food is how they try to eat what their own land offers first – no vegetables get imported before their own are eaten first. And whatever need to be imported will be prepared inside the country as much as possible to ensure a clean production with fewer chemicals, so yes, even Coca Cola is healthier in Switzerland!

And what comes to the consumption of meat and dairy – I believe the way the animals are raised make a massive difference. Most animals that end up on your plate in Switzerland get to live a happy life outside most of the year. Yes, of course there is still the same slaughter as for any animal in the food production, but the better treatment throughout their life surely has a major impact.

Combining that clean eating with that clean mountain air made me feel like a new person.

On our second night in Engelberg, we got to enjoy dinner at Jonna’s place who is a dear friend of Johanna from the tourism board who was with us. And our dinner outside in the summer rain under an umbrella was perhaps one of the most memorable nights of the entire year! So Johanna and Jonna – if you two are reading this, thank you so so much for the incredible experience! And the wine. And the cheese. And the more cheese.

Forgot my memory card at the hotel as we dined at Jonna’s place, so I only had this phone snap of the place 

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Thank you again Switzerland Tourism for this wonderful adventure! 


Read more about Engelberg here.

Airlines Sveitsi Switzerland

My flight experience: SWISS Bombardier CS300

*In collaboration with Switzerland Tourism

I got to fly SWISS for the first time last week on my return trip from Zurich back to Helsinki via Stockholm Arlanda.

Swiss International Airlines is the largest airline in Switzerland and was founded only in 2002. SWISS operates vastly around Europe, but also in North and South America, Africa and Asia – all together to around 70 destinations. The airline is a part of Star Alliance.

My flight was sponsored to me by Switzerland Tourism, with whom I got to adventure in Geneva, Lucerne & Engelberg for one wonderful week. So stay tuned for more posts from the destination itself!

Read also: Zermatt – Home of the Toblerone Mountain

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Flying the new Bombardier CS300 onboard SWISS

I actually had no idea I was going to experience the new Bombardier CS300 nor that SWISS flew them as not many airlines at least thus far do. And actually as I first sat down, I thought I had boarded the usual A320 for a second, but the bigger windows, new cabin and the 2-3 seating made me wonder.

Bombardier is especially committed in producing more sustainable fleet for the future of aviation. The new Bombardier CS300 took its own Eco Design team to take into account every minor detail during production to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Surely flying has not yet anything to do with living a sustainable life, but at least the entire industry has taken a leap into the right direction – which is beyond necessary as air traffic is enjoying a rapid growth in the years to come.

The new Bombardier CS300 fully fits the new sustainability requirements set by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation).

SWISS Bombardier CS300 cabin offered more comfort than many I’ve experienced before. I myself traveled in business class, but the seats are the same throughout the cabin in most short-haul aircrafts anyhow. The seats are not massive, but a little wider and the leg room is a little extra than in most aircraft cabins.

So from my one 2-hour flight experience, I don’t have a bad word to put for the Bombardier CS300.

Aside of the Bombardier CS300 and CS100, SWISS also flies on several Airbus types and Boeing 777-300.

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Service is SWISS business class

As mentioned in a prior chapter, I flew SWISS in business while my dear friend happened to fly in economy and shared her experience with me as we landed to Arlanda – read more on her experience in the next chapter about service in SWISS economy class.

I was seated in 1A on the two-seated row and the seat next to me was reserved empty for my comfort. On the three-seated row the middle seat is kept empty in business class. What I noticed a tad unusual from most flights was that there was no curtain to separate the two travel classes, which I think is an improvement as there’s nothing worse than sitting in the first row of economy with a little curtain flowing over your knees.

The service on business class was good, but nothing remarkable. Everything worked as should, but I would have expected the flight attendant to smile a little more and to be fully present with the few business class passengers of our flight. But mostly the crew seemed to be of friendly manner.

On SWISS business class flights within Europe there is always a meal served just after reaching the set altitude. The cruising took a bit longer due to heavy clouds and some bounces as we headed towards the sky.

My newly adopted Swiss cheese diet got to continue as the meals were served. For dinner, I enjoyed some dried beef with vegetables and cheese

With dessert I enjoyed some tea, but I actually always bring my own teas on flights so I just request some hot water with lemon.

Before landing, we were served some incredible Swiss chocolate, which I can never have enough of.

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Service in SWISS economy class

My intention was to fly SWISS in economy towards Switzerland and business back, but it was more convenient to head out on a direct Finnair flight from Helsinki to Geneva. But as mentioned above, luckily my friend was travelling economy on the same flight so she could spare her thoughts on it with me as we had landed to Stockholm.

The great thing is that on all flights  over 2 hours, they serve a snack included in the price also in economy class, expect on Economy Light ticket class on flights to and from Geneva. Also beverages are included in the meal service for economy class passengers, which seems to be a luxury on shorter flights these days.

The seats do not differ in the economy on Bombardier CS300 and economy passengers were also served Swiss chocolate before landing.

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The new SWISS Business Lounge at Zurich Airport

On my return journey I made sure to have a bit of time to spend in the newly opened fabulous SWISS Business Lounge at the Gates A area.

The lounge can be found right after security walking a couple of minutes towards the right. My first note was on how modern everything was as I walked through the automated gates towards the bathroom and its automated doors.

The new SWISS Business Lounge is on three floors. Next to the front desk on the first floors there are already a few seats, the second floor has a bigger seating & working area and meal + drink service. On the third floor there is a quiet working space, which is something I often miss at an airport lounge on a longer layover if I have a ton of work to catch up on as per usual.

I’ve heard a few people say the lounge can get a little too crowded at peak hours. I was flying in late afternoon and while the lounge was reasonably busy, it was still easy to find a comfortable seating.

The lounge is modern but with a lot of interesting details for those who take a closer look, the ceiling is structured almost in a traditional Swiss chalet style, but just with that modern twist.

The meal options looked delicious with a burger stand, salad bar and some delicious cheese – but I was unfortunately not feeling hungry, so I went straight to my usual Gin & Tonic. I would say the food looked better than average. Though truth to be told it was no vegetarian or vegan dream though.

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Conclusion about my experience flying SWISS

  • Route: Zurich-Stockholm Arlanda
  • Aircraft: Bombardier CS300
  • Seat: 1A
  • Class: Business
  • Travel time: n. 2h 20 min

This was my first ever flight onboard SWISS and it was definitely mostly a very positive one, just as I expected knowing the usual Swiss standards and quality. The comfort in the cabin of Bombardier CS300 was outstanding, while the service was good but average.

As mentioned in the beginning, SWISS is part of Star Alliance and currently does not operate any routes from Helsinki. I myself am in the Finnair Plus program, so I mostly fly on other  oneworld airlines, but like to experiment and review as many as I can on my travels. I may return to Switzerland later this fall and fly SWISS again and will share my experiences later. I hope to some day also have the opportunity to experience a long-haul flight with SWISS as I’ve heard only good things.

Remains to be seen if SWISS one day starts to operate from Helsinki, last year they did a little adventure all the way to Rovaniemi in the winter after all!

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Have you flown SWISS before?

Blogging Career

10 tips for a successful travel blog

After 10 years of travel blogging, the subject itself is the one I get the most questions on these days. Back ten years ago when it wasn’t exactly a career choice, things were very different. I started this blog solely for the love of sharing a story through writing and photography. Little did I know a travel blog could ever become my career and, well, my entire life.

I was probably the last one to join all the hip social media channels and I remember my class mates in university posting their coffee cups on Instagram when I still had no idea what it was all about. When I started my blog it was called Running with Wild Horses as I lived on a horse farm in Australia. Next I changed it to Wanderlust Expert because I felt like I had to. And a few years later I started to use my name Veera Bianca everywhere – in an ideal world your blog has the same name since the beginning.

Now this travel blog is the biggest part of my identity and a big part of my career. I make about half of my living through this blog and half through projects that I’ve gotten through it one way or another. I work in social media marketing, photography and influencer marketing, do some speaking and training here and there. And boy I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I never planned a career in blogging, because it wasn’t exactly an option back in the days. Things just fell into place because I never stopped doing what sets my soul on fire the most and that shines through.

But hey, without further ado shall we get to the point! Here are 10 things that in my opinion make a good travel blog;

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1. Be you, all of you

The first point might sounds a little generic, but it cannot be emphasised enough. If you look at the most successful bloggers out there what most of them have in common is an interesting bold personality. Sure what comes to travel blogging, we tell stories of destinations but we tell them through our eyes, which is the way we get people hooked on following exactly our journeys of the thousands and thousands out there.

So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Lonely Planet is there if someone is just looking for destination information.

2. Niche is important, but only if it comes naturally

There was a time in the blogging world when everyone was talking niche niche niche. I remember stressing over this so much I lost days of sleep. Am I backpacker? But what if I also like luxury hotels? Am I a city girl but what if I also love the mountains? Later I realised that being myself is niche enough. If I enjoy travelling like this, why limit it?

Niche has a point, especially in this vastly rivalled world of travel storytelling but there is not point to stress over it. Travel in itself is sometimes niche enough.

Surely if you have a specific niche it may help you on your journey and bring you more opportunities even with a smaller audience.

These days I call my ‘niche’ value experiences, because I think life is boring spent in a 3 start hotel. I want to stay a night at the Four Seasons drinking champagne but I’m just as home at a quirky hostel dorm in Tokyo. Life should taste a little more like adventure.

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3. Write with emotion

Surely as a writer you gotta have some writing skills to start with, but don’t let bad grammar stop you if writing stories is what you love. The more you write the better you get. I know I make a ton of grammar mistakes both in Finnish and English, but I try not to stress over it when it’s my own blog – I’ll stress about it when I’m writing articles for other publications such as Matador Network or Expedia.

The most important thing is to write through your emotions. Facts can be googled. Bring some soul into your work.

4. Learn the art of photography and develop your own personal style

Bloggers don’t need to be professional photographers, but camera skills go a long way.

This doesn’t mean you will have to start by investing thousands of dollars into  a new fancy DSLR. A small mirrorless camera or even a good smart phone goes a long way.

My favorite camera to use on my travels has for years been both the Olympus PEN or OMD series with a 25mm f1.8 lens.

I’ve learned photography by taking photos (dah) but years of doing so have inspired me to sign up for a photography school from where I’ll be graduating later this year.

Editing is a big part of your photo game. Practise goes along way and helps you develop your own personal editing style. Lot of my photos might be the generic Instagram photos of me holding my hat and looking out into the horizon but they still look like my photos through the edits I make. Lightroom is your best friend and worth the money. On mobile, I often use VSCO, Afterlight or Snapseed – or even each one just for one photo.

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5. Be present and engage with your audience in an authentic way

In today’s world of travel blogging everyone is just racing to the top to get the most followers to get invited on the most amazing adventures. But we have to take a step back and remember what all of this is about. We should remember to authentically engage with the people who have hopped along our journey. It brakes me to see the follow-unfollow games, automated liking and commenting, the not responding to DM’s and just the GAME.

Let’s forget pointless games and going after numbers. If we authentically spend time engaging with people, our channels will grow organically and be of more value for potential collaborations too.

I have met so many of my followers here in Finland and around the world. I even sent flowers to one when she got out the hospital a couple of weeks ago – treat everyone as a friend. That’s the magic of it all.

6. Network with other bloggers and the industry

Networks are your most important asset in any business. Get to know other bloggers through Facebook groups and events in your own hometown. Attend some conferences like TBEX, World Travel Market or ITB. Most of my friends these days are travel bloggers, because I’ve gotten to meet so many incredible people throughout the years on press trips and at events.

There are groups like Female Travel Bloggers, Girls vs Globe and Travel Blog Chronicles to help you mingle with your colleagues around the globe.

The question I get the most is how do I get invited on trips? How do I get to collaborate with airlines? And how do I get so many products sponsored? Well, it comes back to the networks that I nurture. I have met so many PR representatives at events and travel fairs and actually spent time to get to know them and their product. Most of the brands and destinations I’ve worked with want to work with me again and word-of-mouth goes along way too in an industry so small in the end – you’ll learn fast that everyone knows everyone, haha.

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7. Learn some SEO 

Blogging comes with a lot of boring tech stuff too, which will be important to master if you are in it for the business of it. SEO is the way to bring traffic to your blog for years to come. Learn some. Let someone teach you. Watch Youtube videos.

About 60% of my traffic comes from Google these days which to me is a good number. I’m no SEO expert but you learn a thing or two in ten years.

8. Invest some money to get started with a professional website

If you are in it to win it – take some money in the beginning to invest into a good website. Let someone design it for you or purchase a theme from somewhere like solopine.com (my personal favourites). Get your own domain and decide on the name right from the start to build domain authority from day 1.

There are so many bloggers out there too who know how to build a website, so ask for some help in different groups and be ready to invest some hundreds!

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9. Master social media – but don’t stress about being in all channels

Social media has become more and more important in the blogging word. Many travel influencers might not even have a blog but just Instagram or Youtube. But at the end of the day the world of social media is ever-changing and your website is yours.

You don’t need to jump on all social medias at once, but master one. For me Instagram is most important and my absolute favourite channel even though the algorithm changes totally bug me too like everyone else.

For an English blog I would suggest to learn Pinterest or even hiring someone to promote your posts through Pinterest, it’s a great source of traffic especially in the beginning when your blog is not yet so well ranked on Google.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram yet, you’ll find me here.

10. Don’t give up if you don’t reach thousands of followers in a year

I started this blog 10 years ago from a passion to storytelling. Back then it wasn’t really a career option, so I did it for the absolutely love of it.

There are thousands of new bloggers every day and most quit in the first year of blogging. So many get discouraged for not reaching massive follower numbers or getting invited on great trips. I spent 7 years working on this before anyone ever reached out to me on business reasons. I’m not saying you can’t build a blog business in a year, but do know it takes W-O-R-K.

There are many easier ways to travel the world, but if you know this is what you’d love – then go do whatever sets your soul on fire.

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What are your favourite travel blogs? Would you add any tips?