The happiest place on earth

United States Travel Blog

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The happiest place on earth Disneyland is the self-proclaimed "happiest place on earth," but according to a 2008 study by Britain's University of Leicester, Switzerland was ranked as the second happiest place on earth behind Denmark. After spending time in Switzerland, there is little wonder why its inhabitants are among the world's happiest.

The Alps contribute to Swiss happiness. Interlaken, a well known city in the Bernese Oberland region, is the portal to one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world.

The Berner Oberland Bahn train climbs 4,915 feet through the Lauterbrunnen Valley, finally stopping near the base of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, three of Europe's most famous peaks.

Hiking trails with difficulty ranging from the Sunday stroll to the quad-burning trek await the casual or more adventurous traveler at the Kleine Scheidegg rail station. The hike to the base of the Eiger provides spectacular views straight up the formidable North Face making any onlooker feel insignificant in teh midst of its majesty.

Near the trails, herds of carefree cows complete the postcard worthy scenery as they graze on the Alpine grass. In the widely seen commercial, whoever utters "Happy cows come from California," has never been to Switzerland.

The Jungfraubahn train leaves Kleine Scheidegg and enters a tunnel inside the Eiger that leads to the Jungfraujoch station and the Sphinx. Along the forty-five minute train ride, there are two fifteen minute stops where travelers can get out in the middle of the Eiger and look out windows built into its face.

At 11, 782 feet, the Sphinx Observatory, a glass structure situated on a ridge between the peaks of the Monch and the Jungfrau, overlooks the largest glacier in Europe. The awe-inspiring views stir emotions like few other natural settings.

After a hike and a train ride to the "Top of Europe" enjoy a dinner of Swiss fondue at a traditional Alpine chalet. Although only the Swiss know what it is like to be one of the world's happiest people, a trip here will make you one of the world's happiest travelers. 
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Calling all Gallaghers, O'Sullivans, and Murphys it is time to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Limerick and Clare Country, Ireland.

At the Cliffs of Moher, the most stunning spectacle on Ireland's west coast, the sign reading "Don't Go Beyond this Point" only begs onlookers to go beyond the sign into the dangerous area where there is no barrier between you and the edge of the cliff. If you look over the edge, you will be staring 700 feet straight down into the jagged rocks and pounding surf of the Atlantic. The sight, although spectacular, makes you jump back three feet and plant your feet solidly on the narrow trail.

The Cliffs of Moher range in height from 394-702 feet and extend for more than five miles. Tens of thousands of birds make their home in the cliffs and are easily seen soaring in and out of their nests and down to the ocean. With a little imagination you can envision a marauding fleet of Viking longboats rowing up the coastline to the Shannon River.

A tourist attraction at the cliffs is O'Briens tower, built in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. Cornelius built the tower for the tourists who came to the cliffs in the 1800s. He aimed to help the local economy by developing tourism in the region. The observation area at the top of the tower commands views of the Aran Islands to the west and a mountain range north of Galway Bay known as the Twelve Bens.

For a ground up view, take a boat ride into the ocean and sail along the path of the cliffs. Finding a reliable boat company can be difficult. The captains at the independent company I visited lived by the motto that "it's five o'clock somewhere" and had one to many Guinness by the time I wanted to buy a ticket. Click here for more information on a dependable boat company.

Spending the night at the Adare Manor, an Irish castle twenty minutes from Limerick, makes for a royal ending to the day. The castle is secluded on 840 acres and features a world class golf course used twice for the Irish Open tournament.

One of the best parts of the Adare Manor is the Tack Room Pub, a rustic underground piano bar. The piano player can play any Billy Joel request, and after a couple drinks, the guests start to sing along.

Ireland is only about 130 miles wide, so after spending two or three days on the west coast, head to Dublin. Although it takes time to become acclimated to driving on the opposite side of the road, renting a car allows for spontaneous sight seeing stops that are not possible if traveling by tour bus or plane.

After experiencing the Cliffs of Moher and other treasures of Ireland's west coast, your eyes will be smiling even if you are not Irish.

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