One week in Bhutan with Bhutan Norter

In early March, Ms B was invited by the brilliant people of Bhutan Norter to spend one week in Bhutan, well six days and six nights, to be precise. I joined her on a special rate. What better way to reach a destination than by flying on an airplane past Mount Everest and some of the other highest mountains in the world. This post and the related posts are intended to give you a good feel for what our trip to Bhutan was like and what yours could be like. We do not try to replicate guide books that have often been written by experts following months of research. Neither does this post include descriptions (or even only mentions) of every temple and sight we visited. We also opted for a lean schedule giving us plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere, to relax, take photos, and enjoy our […]

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Punakha Festival – the mother of all festivals

After a hearty breakfast at our hotel overlooking Punakha Valley, we drove down to Punakha Dzong (1,200m ASL) for the Punakha Festival. Completed in 1638, the fortress is the second oldest (after Simtokha) and second largest one (after Trongsa) in the country. The dzong The first Bhutanese dzong-like structure was built in 1153, but Simtokha was the first to combine administrative with monastic capacities) and all of the older dzongs have had their architectural substance largely replaced over the centuries. Without any doubt Punakha Dzong is one of the country’s most magnificent buildings. Until 1955 it was the seat of the national Government, then the capital was moved to Thimphu.   Confluence of male and female river You reach the dzong via a wooden bridge over one of the two rivers that surround it. It is the Mo Chhu, the female river, which made its way all the distance from […]

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Tiger’s Nest – the highlight of our trip to Bhutan

During our recent trip to Bhutan with the fabulous people from Bhutan Norter, who sponsored us, we did what every visitor to this country does: we visited Paro Taktsang (Paro is the name of this local district, district town, valley, and main river; tak means tiger, tsang means lair in Dzongkha). More commonly known in the West as Tiger’s Nest, it is Bhutan’s unchallenged top cultural icon. Much more importantly, it is an ancient sacred Buddhist site and has been an important place of pilgrimage for more than 1,000 years, long before the first temple was built. Guru Rinpoche The holy site is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava (“He who came into being in a lotus”), who lived and meditated here in the thirteen caves about 1,250 years ago. This former Brahmin royal from India built the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet and then fled to Bhutan (on a flying tigress […]

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Two days in Nepal – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur & Nagarkot

On our recent trip to Bhutan we extended our stopover in Kathmandu to three nights and two full days on the first leg of our trip. Neither of us had been to Nepal before and this former Himalayan kingdom which turned into a republic in 2008 had been on our bucket list from day one. Our stay and schedule were organised by the brilliant people from Bhutan Norter, who had also sponsored our 6-day tour in Bhutan (we paid full price for Nepal, though, USD 650 for the two of us, incl. 3 & 4-star accommodation, breakfast, all admission fees, and guide & driver, who stayed overnight while in Nagarkot). The pictures below are strictly in sequence but in order to spread them out evenly over the blog post, there are instances where the photos are placed in sections that cover different topics: You will find pictures of Bhaktapur’s Durbar […]

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Bad Hofgastein – this skiing paradise 1h from Salzburg sports the Eastern Alps’ longest slope

To me Bad Hofgastein is synonymous with winter fun. My parents first came here with four of my uncles and aunts and one of my grandmothers in the late 1960s. From the time my sister and I were born in the mid-1970s my parents took us to the same B&B for a week every winter. The owners’ son, who now runs the hotel with his wife and oldest kid, and I engaged in snowball fights and built snowmen 40 years ago. This year round, my parents met up with Ms B & me for just an extended weekend (4 days and 4 nights). While my parents brought all of their own gear, we borrowed ours at Ski-Verleih Service Irausek (pre-ordered via Alpinresorts.com, both of which I’d recommend, even though if you can get a decent deal for ski rental at Angertal valley station then go for that, as much more […]

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