Five Days of Swiss Life

A trip bracketed by the view of the Swiss Alps and an exciting Olympic Museum tour.

Through the oval windows of the plane, the frosty white tops of the Swiss Alps greeted us into Switzerland. Indeed, we were heading into a land of peace, beauty and chocolate. Our trip was made perfect by the Switzterland Tourism team.

May 18

We landed in Genève’s airport and took a train straight to Montreux located on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). The shoreline is famous for the annual Montreux Jazz Festival.DSC09633

We settled into Fairmont Le Montreux Hotel, a comfortable hotel perfect for international travelers. At the Montreux Jazz Café, dinner was accompanied by a view of the lake at night. We ate a delicious local fish topped with a drizzle of a lemon pepper sauce. The fish was served with a side of green mashed potato and an avocado sorbet salad. After dinner, we explored the sleeping Montreux’s historical streets while getting a sense of the city’s energy.DSC09600

May 19

After a pleasant breakfast at the hotel, we went to Vevey to visit the home where Charlie Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life. His house opened to the public on the anniversary of his birthday on April 16 this year.DSC09652

Today his house consists of the main house, the studio, the garage turned into a gift and souvenir shop, and a restaurant. Walking around the rooms of his house we came across relics of his personal and professional life. The walls were lined with screens showcasing his work along with lifelike wax figurines of some of the significant influencers in his life. We watched one of his short films in the theater and once it finished the screen lifted up to reveal his studio that contains original pieces from his sets.DSC09647

Later we visited Vevey’s town market, which is the second biggest in Europe. Not too far, the world biggest fork sticks out of the lake in front of Alimentarium, a food museum. A fulfilling dinner in Safran Montreux concluded our day.

May 20

We checked out from Fairmont and headed to Chillon Castle, an ancient floating Castle on the shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman).

The architecture on the islet was breathtaking. Walking through the halls we found ourselves admiring every pillar and detail. The castle also included exhibitions of weaponry and renovated murals.DSC09755

After our dose of history we stopped at Montreux at le Palais Oriental for some Iranian cuisine. We were served a traditional platter mezzeh along with grilled meat over fragrant rice.

On the pier, we took a moment to appreciate Montreux before catching a boat to Lausanne. We revisited some of the city’s monuments and then greeted Lausanne.

We stopped for some coffee at the newly renovated Royal Savoy, and later had dinner hotel Beau-Rivage’s restaurant Café Beau-Rivage.

May 21

The weekend livened up the city, and the hustle and bustle of the residents gave us an intimate look at life in Lausanne. Every Wednesday and Saturday, people come to the downtown area to sell their goods. The hullabaloo of the marketplace created a fun atmosphere to shop in. The city’s personality is reflected in its many opportunities for shopping, especially in the posh street Rue de Bourg. After buying enough cattle figurines and chocolate we headed on to the culinary highlight of the trip.DSC09727

Lunch was at the acclaimed restaurant Eat Me which offered a taste of various cultures. Each page in the menu represented a continent and each small-portioned dish was flavorful. The cozy ambience and delicious bites combined into a great dining experience.DSC09804

May 22

Our last day in Switzerland was dedicated to the Olympic tourism. The Olympic Museum showcases the vast history of the international sporting competition. One room was dedicated to the countries that have hosted the Olympics. Perhaps the best room of all was the one that displayed Olympic torches from every Olympic event in history. The museum also commemorates the Greek history and culture behind the games. We ended the tour with a walk outside where statues of athletes stood tall. Later we ate brunch at TOM Café, which is situated at the top floor in the museum.DSC09780

Useful Info:

  • May require a Schengen Visa.
  • Public transportation is perfect; I recommend you get an all-inclusive pass to easily travel through towns.
  • Language changes with each region in Switzerland, German is the most popular with French coming next. The areas mentioned are prominently French.
  • Invest in an umbrella; weather is unpredictable.
  • Franc is the national currency; Euros are considered a foreign currency and you may have to pay extra to use it.
  • Shops close early. Most shops are closed on Sundays.
  • Electricity: 230 Volts AC, Swiss hexagonal three-pin plug.


Bringing It Home Ramadan a’ la Jeddah

There’s a certain whiff in the air around town, and it’s not the humidity signaling the beginning of a scalding summer. It’s the cooling wave of spirituality and excitement of Jeddawis anticipating for the holy month of Ramadan.

Cruising around the cornich, you start seeing a trace of Ramadan lights going up with an aroma of cardamom and coffee at kiosks preparing for iftar picnics. It’s the holy month of connecting deeply to religion and to Arab pride that appears through embroidered linen gowns, fried goods, nostalgia bazaars and packed mosques.Balad_15

It starts with a decorating trip to Souq Al Shate’, with the flamboyant red and Islamic designs covering every corner, with customers haggling their way to get the best deals from the little shops. Singing lanterns and decorative ornaments that dangle from palm trees illuminate the streets and the hearts. The month is only official when your mom asks you to bring down the box of gimmicks from storage.

Soon, kindness will radiate through the streets with young men standing at traffic lights waiting to feed those stuck in traffic at iftar and neighbors extending hellos and food platters. More importantly, you will reunite with your loved ones over a decadent table of food.Balad_2

It’s about the old meeting the new, Al Balad revisited with floods of people remembering old Hijaz, the different generations getting together without the excuse of life or stifling schedules.

Lastly, it’s about our Islamic heritage brought back home to where it all started, with Makkah and Madinah just a drive away. It’s about being close to the spirit of Islam alongside our modern celebrations in a city Muslims can call home.


Ramadan Decorations DIY Lanterns In Jeddah

It often becomes redundant decorating for Ramadan. You go to Soug Alshate and pile on the red Hejazi print in its many forms, add a few old lanterns from storage, and accept your effort. Well, how about something new for a change? Turn Ramadan decorating into a family affair, and create a bonding experience by making them from scratch.

The most prominent item to decorate with is fawanees, lanterns; they light each household for the duration of The Holy Month, so why not make them from scratch?

You need:

  • Mason Jars: (any shape or form will do as long as they are made of a heat resilient material, preferably glass)
    Available at: Saco, Sultan St, and Andalus St. Or Soug Alshate appliances stores, Malik St.

  • Glass line:
    Available at: Jarir Bookstore, Sari St, and Jarir Mall Sultan St. Or Fanoos Bookstore, Soog Alshate, Malik St.

  • Glass paint:
    Available at: Jarir Bookstore, Sari St, and Jarir Mall Sultan St. Or Fanoos Bookstore, Soog Alshate, Malik St.

  • Pattern of choice printed in a size according to your jar

  • Aluminum craft wire (color and material can vary)
    Available at: Saco, Sultan St, and Andalus St. Or Jarir Bookstore, Sari St, and Jarir Mall Sultan St. Or Fanoos Bookstore, Soog Alshate, Malik St.

  • Brushes
    Available at: Jarir Bookstore, Sari St, and Jarir Mall Sultan St. Or Fanoos Bookstore, Soog Alshate, Malik St.

  • Round nose pliers
    Available at: Saco, Sultan St, and Andalus St.

  • Wire cutters
    Available at: Saco, Sultan St, and Andalus St.

  • Masking tape
    Available at: Saco, Sultan St, and Andalus St. Or Jarir Bookstore, Sari St, and Jarir Mall Sultan St. Or Fanoos Bookstore, Soog Alshate, Malik St.

  • Candles
    Available at: Saco, Sultan St, and Andalus St. Or Ikea, Tahliyah st.

Islamic pattern lanterns:

  1. Start with washing and drying your mason jars and drying them making sure there’s no residue left, otherwise the paint won’t settle well.IMG_0019

  2. Pick your design, print it, and line it on the inside securing it with masking tape.IMG_0024

  3. Grab your glass liners (test them first on paper getting comfortable with its use) trace your design, and let it dry.

Advice: start with settling the nozzle onto the starting point, push out the product steadily, pull up and let the product string with a consistent stream then settle back down at finish point.IMG_0029

  1. Fill in your design with paint, alternate with colors of choice, and let it dry.

Hinna lanterns:

  • You can print out a design to trace or stencil, but it is easier to freehand it.

  • Freehand henna designs onto your lanterns considering symmetry, and let dry.

Wire Hangers:IMG_0031

You will need to assemble two pieces of wire, one to go around the rim in the tightest part, and one to hang from the hooks to the rim piece.

  1. Grab the wire and mold it around the tightest area of the jar neck, go half way then loop it using the round nose pliers (make sure loop is big enough to fit the wire through).

  2. Continue closing the circle again, cut the wire 2 cm away from the closing circle and loop it again around each other creating another closed circle.

  3. Measure the handle to your liking, and cut them separate.

  4. Loop the both ends with pliers without closing the circle.

  5. Let the handle ends through the rim loops you made then close them, and make sure they are secure by tugging gently at them.

  6. Hole them from the handle to make sure they support the weight.

  7. Lastly, ease the candle in and light it up carefully to enjoy them.


10 Graduation Gifts To Show Your Graduate You Are Proud Of Them

Show your graduate you’re proud of them, by getting them the right gift.

  1. For the documenter: 3in-1 attachable phone lenses

Item: Micro Lens, Wide Angle Lens and Fish Eye Lens Camera
Price: SR 27.60


  1. For the music fan: Vinyl player

Item: Ion Vinyl Motion deluxe brown
Location: Virgin Megastore, Red Sea Mall, King Rd. Rd.
Roshana Center, Tahlia St.
Price: SR 699


  1. For the artist: drawing tablet

Item: Turcom TS-6610H 10 x 6.25 Graphic Drawing Tablet with Pressure Sensitive Stylus
Price: SR 245


  1. For the old soul: board game set

Item: HECTOR SAXE Croc-Effect Leather Multi-Game Set
Price: approx. SR 6,316.44


  1. For the sentimental lady: a bracelet

Item Tiffany’s sterling silver lock bangle with 2 diamonds
Location: Tiffany Store, Boulevard, King Rd.
Price: SR 3050

  1. For the techie: Apple watch

Location: Tokyo Games, Red Sea Mall, Malik Rd.
Talal Center, Batarji St.
Virgin Megastore, Roshana Center, Tahlia St.
Red Sea Mall, Malik Rd.
Price: starts from SR 1, 499


  1. For the professional: a men’s grooming kit

Location: Lush Stars Avenue, King Rd.
Price: starting from SR 200


  1. For the beauty junkie: bath products set/ gift basket

Location: Bath and Body Works, Flamingo Mall, Al Aziziyah.
Herra Mall, Herra St.
Serafi Mega Mall, Tahlia St. and Siteen St. intersection
Sultan Mall, Prince Sultan St.
Price Starting from SR 75


  1. For the future female entrepreneur: work-friendly bag

Item: reversible tote
Location: Zara Jeddah, Al Salam Mall, King Abdullah Rd.
Haifa Mall, Palestine St.
Aziz Mall, Imam Shafi St.
Herra Avenue Mall, Herra St.
Mall of Arabia, Al Nuzhah St.
Price: SR 179


  1. For the stylish male: accessories

Item: Alexander McQueen Studded Silver-Tone Cuff
Price: Approx. SR 645.43

Alexander McQueen - Studded Silver


SAPTCO Buses and their services in Jeddah

As you look through the window of your car, you might have seen a fleet of giant orange buses with its 3 doors and a black SAPTCO sign written on its side. The Saudi Public Transport Company acronym might ring a bell regarding the infamous Jeddah-Metro, but with its 1120,000,000 capital, it offers more. The company’s vision is bringing the Kingdom’s edges closer, and along with the promised metro, a network of buses is going into action. Though it is yet to be fully established, the mission is in action, and here is what Jeddah needs to know.

The SAPTCO public buses divide into five:

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  • Inter-City buses:

    • They connect over 385 cities, villages and small villages all over the Kingdom.

    • You can book tickets from, online, phone, or designated offices around all cities.

    • Passengers are allowed single bags up to 75KG for adult tickets and 35KG for children tickets (charges apply for excess weight).

    • Special needs access available, with a travel permit allowed for a companion (disability identification needed).

    • Passenger documents required, with regards to visa regulations, visit this page for more information.

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  • Urban Buses within Jeddah

    • Tickets cost SR 2.

    • Tickets can be purchased at the bus station or paid on the bus within entry.

    • Buses have three doors, with one especially for women with special seating up front and fair box; the back door is for families; and middle door for singles.

    • All buses are air-conditioned.

    • Buses stop at: Al Balad, Madinah St., Square bridge, Khaldiyah circle, Khaldiyah Saudi Airlines, Kayal market, Rawdah St., Salamah St., Al Zahrah Dist., Saudi German Hospital, Makkah Rd., Kandarah Dist., Al Ashrafiyah, Siteen St., Palestine St., Arbaeen St., Vegetable market, Sultan bin Salman St. and Sinaeya.

Location: AlBalad
Tell: +966-12-6481419

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  • International buses:

    • Reach neighboring countries with direct trips to UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan.

    • Trips to Egypt and Sudan available with connecting ferries.

    • Tickets available online, bus stations, or by calling 8001249999 (self service machines available for Qatar and UAE trips)

    • Regulations available here.

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  • Education buses:

    • Transport to schools and universities (public or private) available.

    • Check with schools and universities for availability.

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  • VIP buses:

    • Higher luxury, more comfortable buses available on theses routes:

      • Makkah – Madinah

      • Jeddah – Madinah

      • Riyadh – Al-Khobar

      • Riyadh – Bahrain.

      Bookings available online, phone, or office in Eiffel Hotel.
      Safe travel, and for more information visit, or call Tel: +966-11-2884400