Three months in Europe for less than $12,000

You may think $12,000 sounds like a lot of money for a three month trip in Europe, but it’s actually very reasonable for everything I got to see and do. A few of the ways I saved money included booking accommodations within 5-15 minutes walk from the train station, so that I rarely had to take a taxi. I also purchased convenient and inexpensive food from the grocery store to limit my dining out expenses.

Doing my own laundry was a savings.

Here are the Stats of my trip (April 2 – June 20, 2022):

5 countries (Italy, France, Germany, Greek Islands, Switzerland)

21 accommodations/18 day trips = 40 destinations

Transport:

12 Planes / 73 Trains / 25 Metros in Paris / 6 Boats / 15 Buses / 6 Taxies / 10 Shuttles / 2 Trams / 400 miles walked

Costs:

$ 3850 Transport

$ 6100 Lodging

$ 1900 Food / Drinks (restaurants/grocery)

$ 1135 Entertainment/Laundry/Luggage storage

$ 365 Cash spent (food/tips/misc. from ATM withdrawals)

$ 600 Misc (Cat sitter/Verizon phone Int’l use)

$ 975 Trip Insurance

$14,900 Total

$ 3400 Minus what I would’ve spent at home while on trip (Grocery, entertainment, clothing, utilities, vehicle gas & car ins., nails)

$11,500 Grand Total

Not bad for such a long trip and for all of the memories!

Trummelbach Falls

After my hike to Murren and Gimmelwald, I took Bus # 141 (to/from Lauterbrunnen) to Trummelbach Falls before returning to my lodging in Lauterbrunnen. It’s the world’s only glacier waterfalls that are accessible underground by lift, galleries, tunnels, paths and platforms. They carry the meltwater of the glaciers from the Jungfrau down to the valley – up to 20,000 liters of water per second. The water carries with it over 20,000 tons of boulders and scree per year and causes the entire mountain to shudder and make a thundering noise.

The falls are part of the Lauterbrunnen Valley’s 72 waterfalls and are a Unesco World Heritage site. The entrance fee for adults is 14 francs. It’s chilly inside but felt great because I was hot from hiking. It’s difficult to capture the sound and sheer power of the falls with photos alone. I took the elevator up to the 6th floor which is the highest it goes and then walked up to the top (10th level). I checked out the waterfalls from each level (6-10) and then walked back down to the elevator and took it to the bottom. I walked up some separate steps to check out waterfalls number one and two so really I only missed out on falls three – five.

The elevator…

When I planned my itinerary back in November/December, I decided to incorporate one night at the Hilton Hotel by the Airport in Zurich (where I was flying home from the next day) mainly for peace of mind since Covid was still prevalent, and in case of any train issues. On June 19, 2022, I left Lauterbrunnen at 8:00am and took three trains before arriving at the Airport. The hotel shuttle picked me up at 11:30am.

This was a trip of a lifetime! I’ll be posting what I packed, how much the trip cost, and how I planned the trip in my next few posts.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Hike from Lauterbrunnen to Murren and Gimelwald

I took a cable car (there’s one every 30 minutes beginning at 4:08 a.m.)(normally 9 francs..less for me with a Eurail pass) from the Grütschalp station in Lauterbrunnen (next to the Coop grocery)(takes 3 minutes to go up) and then hiked 7 km to the very quaint town of Mürren. There’s also a train if you don’t want to hike. That’s what most people did. The hike from Grütschalp to Mürren was scenic. It took me about an hour and a half but I did stop and have my breakfast/lunch on the way

Murren reminds one of The Sound of Music!

Lovely place to take a break…

People like to have their photo taken here…

Upon arrival in Mürren, there were no signs pointing the way to Gimmelwald, which is where I wanted to go next, so I asked a local and he gave me directions. Mürren is a quaint pedestrian-only Village so it’s quiet. It’s a gradual 1.7 km paved downhill hike to Gimmelwald and it’s more scenic than the first hike although everywhere is scenic.

Gimmelwald is smaller and has more of a local country feel to it.

From Gimmelwald I took a cable car down where there’s a bus every 30 minutes to take you back to Lauterbrunnen. View from the cable car.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Schynige Platte Hike

On one of my three days in Lauterbrunnen, I walked five minutes to take the train from Lauterbrunnen at 8:02 a.m. (there’s one every 40 mins. & takes 15 mins.) to Wilderswil where you take a 50 minute cog train ride to Schynige Platte (76 francs r/t, but with Eurail pass 57 francs). There are four hikes that you can do ranging from 1 hour and 15 minutes to 6 hours, so I chose one that is two and a half hours (#3).

This was my favorite hike of all…the scenery reminded me of a combination of Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Alaska, Colorado, Canyonlands, Utah and the Sea to Sky highway on the way to Whistler, Canada. The views of both Lake Thun and Brienz were delightful.

It almost looked mythical…

Wildflowers were abundant…

The hike is a little over six km (6,463 ft. high elevation) and took me two hours.

Taking the cog train…

Views from the cog train were stunning!

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Four nights in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Originally, I was going to take seven scenic train rides (a section of it known as the Golden scenic route) from Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, but after having been on 70 trains in the past 10 weeks, I decided to take the shortest route which only took a little over three hours on three trains. Upon arrival in Lauterbrunnen, I had a five minute walk to my lodging. The view of Staubach Falls from my balcony was stunning (photo below)!

I walked towards Staubach Falls taking photos along the way.

The Friedhof Lauterbrunnen cemetery is adorned with flowers and so well kept.

Staubach Falls drops 974 feet (297 metres) from a hanging valley that ends in overhanging cliffs above the Weisse Lütschine.

The falls are lit up at night.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Matterhorn up close

On my second day in Zermatt, which was my birthday, I was at the Gornergrat railroad station by 7:30 am when they opened to purchase a cog train ticket for a 33 minute ride to see the Matterhorn and Gorner Glacier (the 2nd largest in the Alps) and hike to Riffelberg, via the Riffelseeweg trail #21, passing Riffelsee.

I captured this view of the Matterhorn and it’s reflection after hiking 1 ½ hrs. to Riffelsee.

This is Europe’s highest outdoor cog railway at 10,132 ft. My ticket was 103 francs. I think it’s 67 francs each way but since I was walking down part of the way it was less.

Beautiful view of the Matterhorn on the way up…

At the top you have a great view of the Gorner Glacier…

This lady gives a perspective as to how massive the mountains are…

I began the hike up at the top left…

There were two bees hovering by me for most of the hike. I like to think that it was a message from my deceased husband and child that they were with me in spirit.

You can see Riffelsee Lake in this photo and the cog train…

closer to the lake and the Matterhorn…

I was very lucky to have such a beautiful day on my birthday to see the Matterhorn! It got down into the 20s at night, warming up to 39 degrees when I started the hike, and eventually reached the 50s.

I hiked another hour to Riffelberg, where I took the cog train the remainder of the way back down.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Two nights in Zermatt, Switzerland

I arrived in Zermatt at 5:20pm via the Glacier Express train from St. Moritz and walked less than 10 minutes to my lodging. I loved my little apartment (the outside pictured).

The patio was very relaxing.

I preferred the vibe of Zermatt over St. Mortiz. It was a laid back town with beautiful views.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt

On June 13, 2022 I boarded the Glacier Express panoramic train from St. Moritz at 8:50am and arrived in Zermatt, Switzerland at 5:10pm. The train ride was dramatic! Big cliffs..deep valleys..rushing streams.. quaint hillside villages! The Glacier Express is a direct train and is also referred to as the ‘slowest express train in the world’. It navigates through narrow valleys, tight curves, 91 tunnels, and across 291 bridges.

Scenery from the train

I sat next to a lady from Germany who works for the train company, traveling with her son and husband (they’re pictured below) and we chatted off and on throughout the trip. She gave me her contact information and invited me to come and visit. I pre-purchased the lunch which was average and not worth the 40 Francs.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Muottas Muragl Panorama Trail to Alp Languard

On my second and final day in Saint Moritz, I took a 10 minute bus ride to Punt Muragl and purchased a ticket for 39 francs for the funicular, which dates back to 1907, rises to an elevation of 8057 feet (2456 meters) above sea level and covers a distance of 7221 feet (2201 meters) at a gradient of 56% to Muottas Muragl. I then hiked 7 km on the Panorama Trail to Alp Languard. The views were incredible! There were only a handful of people on it and one lady I briefly spoke to said it was the perfect day for it weather wise and also that the crowds hadn’t arrived yet. I had an egg sandwich for breakfast and took a sandwich with me.

At one point in the trail you walk thru a short metal structure, pictured below. There was a hole in it which made a perfect picture frame.

The funicular ride to Muottas Muragi…

Down in the valley the five Engadin lakes were sparkling. The Bernina Massif mountain peaks and glaciers are beautiful!

The trail was mostly flat and well maintained. I had the trail to myself for two of the three hours it took to hike.

There were a few benches on the trail to take a break.

This man was calling for his dog, down on the left, but he came running towards me and then ran to him.

Here’s the chair lift to go back down.

I’ve been on plenty of chair lifts snow skiing, but it’s entirely different hopping on a fast moving one at the top to ride down! Yes, those are La Sportiva hiking boots…love them!

The chair lift ends in Pontresina. I then took the train back to Saint Moritz.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Two nights in Saint Moritz

After disembarking in Saint Moritz from my wonderful Bernina Express train ride, I had a 15 minute uphill walk (with luggage) to my lodging for two nights. After checking in I went to the grocery around the corner. Restaurants in Switzerland are very expensive. I walked down to Lake St. Moritz, which is smaller than the main lakes of the Upper Engadin valley, but very beautiful! It was mid-June and the weather was glorious.

These were the views from my accommodations.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Bernina Express

After spending three glorious days at Lake Como, I boarded a train in Varenna, Lake Como and arrived 90 minutes later to Tirano, Italy.  This is where the Bernina Express train departs and one of the stops is in St. Moritz, where I stayed for two nights. It actually begins in Lugano and ends in Chur, Switzerland. It’s the highest railway across the Alps.

The views from the train are amazing!  I took a sandwich and cannoli with me for the ride. You pass glistening lakes, majestic mountains, and quaint villages.

Looks like a heart

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Villa Monastero, Varenna, Lake Como

It was early morning when I left my place in Varenna to explore and my last day at Lake Como. Before leaving I was zooming around on Google Maps to see what might be of interest in Varenna and came across the Villa Monastero, a Villa and botanical garden. It’s only €10 to see both and a little less for just the gardens. It’s another magical place! I arrived when they opened and had the Villa to myself for a while!

The views were stunning!

The inside was interesting also…

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Varenna to Mennagio, Lake Como

After taking a 15 minute ferry from Varenna to Bellagio to explore, I hopped on another ferry for a 15 minute ride to Mennagio. The scenic shore as we approached Mennagio.

I walked thru a hotel lobby to the pool…so pretty!

Lots and lots of lavender…

Sidewalk cafes…

More delicious Italian gelato!

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Varenna to Bellagio, Lake Como

On one of the three days I stayed in Varenna at Lake Como, I took a 15 minute ferry (15 euros for all day) to Bellagio and then another 15 minutes to Menaggio. It was a full day of sightseeing. Bellagio was as beautiful as I’d heard. There were maybe a hundred steps to get up into the town and then I veered off to the other side of the lake and took another hundred steps down. I couldn’t wait to round another corner and see what delightful scene I would encounter. The weather was glorious and the sky and lake were so blue! I stopped to smell some honeysuckle as I wandered the streets.

There are lots of shops…

and outdoor cafes…

Goodbye Bellagio!

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.

Three nights at Lake Como, Italy

After taking the Gotthard Panorama Express from Lucerne, Switzerland, I arrived in Varenna, Lake Como at 7:30pm. My lodging was located there, only a three minute walk to the train station and three minutes to the water. The next morning I did laundry in my washer, hung it to dry, purchased an all day ferry pass for €15, took a few photos in Varenna and then boarded a ferry for Bellagio (which I’ll cover tomorrow).

Varenna is charming.

The view of Varenna from one of the ferries.

Traveling solo has it’s pros and cons, like anything in life. Although this is a beautiful view, I didn’t sit around much. I was usually walking, exploring, and taking photographs.

p.s.  If you’ve just began reading…I planned an 11 week, 5 European country, 21 accommodations solo trip from April – June of 2022.  Photos were taken with my LG Velvet Android phone.