More Summer Fun at Montreux Jazz Fest

We went to Montreux this weekend for the 46th annual Montreux Jazz Festival.  Even though I had taken Twin & Solid while they were here, I still wanted to go back.  This marks my fourth time and Gabe’s 3rd time going to the festival.

A round trip train ticket from Geneva costs 25 CHF each for us to go, but it is a fun summer activity.

A very pleasant ride from Geneva – an hour total and 25 CHF with your half fare card and 10% SBB discount for attending the JazzFest (no ticket required).

Everyone thinks we are weird that we don’t buy tickets for the shows.  My physio gave me a very quizzical look.   But, the free music is lovely.   You just simply show up to the park, find a spot and listen to your heart’s content.  The shows start about 3:30 on weekdays and 2:00 on the weekend and play back-to-back with 1/2 hour or hour breaks in between.

Taking in the scene, listening to a South African band.

Pants optional. Dogs are allowed. As demonstrated by this gentleman.  To his credit, the lake is right there.

 

If you feel like walking around, there is plenty to see and do.  There are a ton of vendors selling handcrafted goods.

Also the food is pretty yummy.  Gabe and I justify our expenditure on 25 CHF train tickets + festival food = cheaper than a low end restaurant in Geneva.

Image courtesy of Henry Birmingham from last year. The paella guys were back again this year.

 

Some people wander to the end of the festival to enjoy the swimming.  This is one of my favorite docks.

Lovely dock on Lake Geneva – Montreux.

This year, you could watch the gliders come in and try to land on the orange pad.

Coming in for landing….

 

Approaching…

Boom!

Freddie Mercury even enjoyed watching them a time or two.

Freddie Mercury tribute statue in Montreux.

The festival runs until this Sunday, July 15th – I’d encourage you to check it out!

An Impromptu 4th of July Picnic at Genève Plage

Today is the 4th of July.   As I have mentioned, sometimes it can be quite strange living somewhere that doesn’t celebrate your typical holidays.   Gabe is also out of town on business.  Since he doesn’t get US holidays (only Swiss), he had a work trip starting Monday and landing at midnight tonight.

I didn’t want to let the day escape without celebrating.   Luckily, some of the other ladies were up for getting together to recognize Independence Day.

M had suggested Genève Plage (Plage = Beach in French).  She and some of her mom group friends had gotten season passes as it provided a good kid-friendly meet up place, just about a mile outside of Geneva.  I had never been before, so I was excited to try it out and purchased a single entry at 7 CHF.

A view of Genève Plage from the water

So, we found a nice shady spot to spend the afternoon.

Our 4th of July Headquarters

Everyone dressed in fun 4th of July clothes.  The moms of us had to get their kid’s clothing on trips to the US long before the actual 4th of July.   Something that you take for granted!

All the little ones were dressed so cute

Miss Yoga is from Japan, but we were so glad she joined us for our Independence Day celebration.  Check out the yummy food she made, blending Japanese tradition with USA flair.

4th of July bento sushi – white rice, orange crab, black seaweed and little stars!!  Cute and yummy!

Caprese bites and deviled eggs with fish eggs

K made cherry pie pockets, so that they’d be easier to serve.  She pitted the cherries and made them from scratch since ‘pie filling’ doesn’t exist.  They were incredible!  I scored an extra to bring home for Gabe when he got home at midnight.

Cherry pie pockets

I made Red, White & Blue cupcakes.  Mama Mia had brought us some Red Velvet Duncan Hines cake mix in April, and I imported some cream cheese frosting from the States my last trip.  Since they didn’t have blue icing at the store, I just used blueberries.

Red velvet cupcakes for red, white and blue

P having some fun with the cupcake

We also had lots of fresh fruit, snack mix, and nuts to complement the red, white and blue.

After eating, a few of us went swimming.   The beaches in the Mediteranean can be quite different to some who have never seen stone beaches.  I remember when we went to Greece, it was Gabe’s first time seeing one.

Swiss lake beaches are quite similar.   When his family came in March and we went to Hermance, it was also a surprise.  Geneva also has stone beaches, as that is what is natural vs. the sand.  The pro is that you don’t get sandy.  The con is that sometimes it hurts to walk on.  Also, ‘rock’ castles don’t turn out so well.

Stone beach of Genève Plage

Genève Plage has a pool and a waterslide.  It was really busy that day, so I opted to get my thrills jumping off the high dive into the lake.

I did the middle section…the top one was closed.

The water wasn’t actually that cold this year.  Must have been the warm weather we had last week?

As for now, its 8pm Geneva time and I am listening to the rain pour down outside.  I’m glad we got our little celebration in before the storm.   Hopefully everyone back in the US is enjoying their Independence Day.  And a huge shout out of thanks goes out to all our servicemen for all you do to protect our freedom!

Related Posts:  

The Swiss Watch Blog:     Canadienne Buffet: USA Style

The Swiss Watch Blog:     A fantastic 4th of July with Henry Birmingham

Swiss Wife Style:  Party Recap

The Swiss Watch Blog:     Happy Swiss National Day

The Swiss Watch Blog:     Valentine’s Day and Other Non-Events

 

The Ring of Kerry took our breath away

When I first started researching our Ireland trip, something that caught my eye was driving the “Ring of Kerry”.   It is a road, about 112 miles looping in the county of Kerry through some pretty amazing and dynamic landscape.

Image courtesy of The Moorings

We got a hotel in Killarney which is the northernmost part and also the biggest town.

Here are some of our views from the drive:

Cliffs of Kerry

Cliffs of Kerry

Watching some surfing action.

Rolling hills of green

House overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

Loved the many little islands

Beautiful panorama

We were warned that there would be tour buses galore and it would get annoying driving down the roads.  However, we only saw three tour buses all day, so we really lucked out with the mild weather and unpopulated roads.    We only had to watch out for these guys :

Sheep in the road

In my reading, it said you could take from a full day to an entire week to do the ring of Kerry.  We only had a full day.  By the time we’d stopped at a few gorgeous places, we were running short on time and had to keep trekking back in order to get to our hotel at a reasonable time.  However, since we’d driven from Liscannor, we only started the ring at noon, so didn’t have a full day to start.

We stopped for an awesome seafood dinner at this “beach bar”

But to those going, I’d encourage you to break it up and try to do it in two days.     One, you can do it more leisurely and see more.  Two, if you are like me, I got so overwhelmed with how gorgeous it was that at the end, I couldn’t take in any more.  I had “panoramic shock”.

If you do it in two days, note that there were plenty of cute B & B’s along the route that would be lovely and advertise only 25 euro / night rooms.

Our tips:

–Do two days if possible

–Do the Skellig Ring add-on.  Our favorite!

–We also heard people liking the Skellig islands but we didn’t have time

–We ran into some recent grads from UGA and they said the cut through path in the middle of Ring of Kerry was pretty incredible too

–Don’t try to go too far off road. We almost got our rental car, Patrick, stuck in the middle of nowhere:

Yup, we drove down this road.  Gabe’s idea.  

Ireland’s West Coast: The Burren and The Cliffs of Moher

Our first day in the countryside included a drive down to our B & B near Liscannor, on the Western coast.   We drove from Dublin, through Galway and then southward.

On the way, we passed through The Burren which has an incredible panorama.   Edmond Ludlow in 1650 said,  “(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him…… and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing.

Landscape of The Burren

We found our B & B, Atlantic View, operated by energetic Mary and then headed to see the Cliffs of Moher.

Backpackers near Liscannor

We arrived around 7pm.  The views were breathtaking.  We had heard about them from Couch Surfer.

Gorgeous Cliffs of Moher

She had told us about people climbing on the path on the edge and she thought they were crazy.   Gabe coaxed me out there but I didn’t stay long, wanting to get back behind the safe wall.   The reason is that it is very windy.  I know it would take a lot to blow off the edge, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Hubby on the edge.  He’s braver than me. 

The other side

We enjoyed the view for about two hours, quitting just before sunset.  With the sunset at about 10pm in Ireland during our trip, neither one of us could postpone dinner any longer.

One last glance. Beautiful.

We found a local joint, Daughan’s Anchor Inn, in the fishing village of Liscannor and happily enjoyed our seafood dinner.

The next morning we set off for Killarney, our base for exploring the Ring of Kerry.

Monaco and Monte Carlo

Post by Lauren

Gabe has wanted to go to Monaco and Monte Carlo since we have moved to Europe.  Being a fan of James Bond, I think he wanted to see the winding roads and glitzy casino up close.

We arrived into Monaco in the morning, making it a perfect time to enjoy coffee and croissants at the famous Café de Paris adjacent to the Casino Monte Carlo.  The Gladiator, Mama Mia, Gabe and I soaked in the rising Monaco sun as we watched Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentley’s roll by.

Gabe and The Gladiator enjoying Café de Paris

Our immediate takeaway is how pristine everything in Monaco was.  To me, it felt like we were walking through an alternative universe, almost like a Barbie village, too immaculate to be real.

Monaco is a sovereign state, ruled by a royal family.   It is currently ruled by Prince Albert II.  His parents were Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly.  Princess Grace, previously a Hollywood actress, died when she had a stoke and resulting automobile crash over one of the notorious corniches.

Monaco is the second smallest sovereign state in the world, after Vatican City.  It is also the second most densely populated, only occupying one square mile of land.   It is the same size as Central Park in New York City!  It takes about an hour to walk across the entire country (not counting me with my bum feet).

We took a little train tour, and learned a number of things about Monaco’s history.   For one, they have a police officer for every 60 citizens.  Thus, crime is virtually nonexistent.

Monaco doesn’t have taxes, making it a desirable place to live.   The casino was started as an effort to start bringing income to the principality.  There is also no border patrol. They speak French and take euros in addition to their currency, the monegasque franc.

 

And how can we forget the F1 races?  Monaco’s notoriety has soared because of these infamous races that take place in its winding streets.  We think these would be neat to see one day.

 

Image courtesy of F1 4 Kids

 

However, for now, “Goodbye, Monaco”.  Back to reality for us….

 

Villefranche, a quaint sea village

Post by Lauren

We had heard from numerous people that Villefranche was a great place to stay on the Cote d’Azur.   After spending one night, we’d wholeheartedly agree.

Villefranche was quaint and beautiful.  The colored buildings were gorgeous at both sunset and sunrise.  The small port had cozy restaurants lining the water and provided a nice way to relax and reflect on our trip.

We stayed at Hotel Provençal which provided stunning views. We have a dear friend that recommends The Welcome Hotel as well if you are considering a trip.

 

Adoring Villefranche

 

After checking in and enjoying our balconies for a bit, we drove down to the port.  We ended up checking out all the menus along the waterfront and selected Les Corsaires.  Mama Mia announced after we were seated that this night would be their treat in honor of Gabe’s birthday.  It was a perfect way to celebrate!!  Mama Mia had prawns, The Gladiator and Gabe had steaks (Gabe was still on the steak train from our experience in Arles) and I opted for a veal chop.

The place was family owned and dog friendly. In fact, this little guy kept checking on how my veal chop was.

My dinner table friend

 

Villefranche, we’ll be back some day!

A drive through Cannes and Nice

Post by Lauren

As we continued down the Cote d’Azur, I wanted to stop in Cannes.  I have always been intrigued by the film festival and this interest was accentuated by the HBO show Entourage.  I know, silly reason.

Luckily, Mama Mia & Gladiator were also game for seeing the coastal village.  So, we did just that – took a little detour and drove down the streets of this town in the South of France.

It was busy, bustling with a lot of folks getting photos ops by the grand theatre where the film festival is done.

Downtown Cannes, France

After our glimpse into Cannes, we continued driving onto Nice.  This time, we took a longer stop, strolling & rolling along the Promenade d’Anglais for about an hour.  The sky had grown considerably darker since our 30 min drive from Cannes.  However, people were out enjoying the breeze and beginning to start the nightlife on its stone beaches.

Both towns were interesting to see.   We weren’t blown away by either but have had several people who have lived in both say that we didn’t give them much of a chance.  I’d agree that a quick stop probably isn’t enough to form a judgement.

However, we can conclusively say that we adored the little sea village of Villefranche where we spent the night.  More on that later…