A Perfect Swiss Day

Hooray!   Isabella and Ferdinand have been here!    They had a wedding to attend in England and we were lucky that they came to Geneva to visit us beforehand.

Ferdinand had to work at the beginning, organizing a golf event.  Once work was done, on the weekend, the four of us set off on a Swiss adventure.

Our first stop was the Lavaux wine region.  Isabella can’t drink currently (she is expecting), but we wanted to show them this UNESCO gem nonetheless.  So, we took the Chexbres exit off of the A1 and descended down the village towns into Rivaz.   They were breathtaken with the gorgeous terraced vineyards as we are every time we visit.

Next stop…..Gruyères.

Ramparts of Gruyères

Walking around the château

Lovely little village

We skipped the cheese tour (we knew we were having raclette for dinner), but all did order Gruyère-cheese based dishes for lunch.

After Gruyères, we drove to Broc, home of Cailler chocolate factory.

Smelling the cocoa beans.

Branche candy bar machine

Ta da! The tasting room!

I just go straight to the good stuff at the end now. I am trained.

Discussing the merits of milk & white chocolate




After playing on the playground a bit, we headed back to Geneva.  We had a big night in store.

The Schwingen & Switzerland crew was hosting a raclette party before the big Fête de Genève fireworks.   Ferdinand and Isabella had raclette their last time in Switzerland, in Zurich, but they were impressed by S’s monstrous spread.

The spread at the S’s

Raclette in action


For dessert, S had “Creme de Gruyère” and “Creme Brulée” Movenpick ice cream.  She surprised her dad and me with a candle in each carton for a birthday surprise.  It was the loveliest ‘cake’ I have ever had.  If you have an opportunity, I urge you to try Movenpick ice cream.  Full of Swiss whole cream, its the real deal.

We left their house and were immersed in the madness that is Fête de Genève.  We say it is the absolute busiest, craziest time of year in Geneva.

We luckily found a spot for 12 of us, near the rides, and watched the magnificent hour long fireworks:

The beginning of the fireworks


Love this type!

Jet d’eau, in harmony with the show

What a perfect Swiss day!



Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Cheese Wars

The Swiss Watch Blog:   It’s Raining – I guess we have to go to the chocolate factory

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Cheese

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Chocolate

The Swiss Watch Blog: The land of chocolate and cheese

The Swiss Watch Blog: Thanks for a Joyeux Anniversaire, everyone

The Swiss Watch Blog:   The fête commences





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


Caves Ouvertes 2012

This past weekend was our favorite day of the year in Geneva:  Caves Ouvertes.   You may remember that we attended Caves Ouvertes our first Saturday in Geneva and it’s where we met A & A and D at the bus stop.  It’s crazy we’ve been hear a year and are having a second round of activities.

The reason its the best day in Geneva is that you pay 5 CHF for a wine glass and you can taste wine all day at any of the 90 open wineries in the canton.  This is hands-down Switzerland’s best deal.

A & A kicked off Caves Ouvertes 2012 with a scrumptious Canadienne Buffet at their house: American style.   We knew we’d need the hearty breakfast to fill our tummies before the big day.  They made eggs, bacon and biscuits & gravy.  L brought hash browns.   We brought Duncan Hines blueberry muffins (thanks Mama Mia for bringing us the mix from the US!).

The hosts with the delicious spread

My plate of yummy brunch

After brunch, we headed to Rive to catch the bus up to Vesenaz where the special Caves Ouvertes bus would pick us up.

Reminiscing our meeting one year ago.   D moved back to the US  in August and we have missed her.  Notice that A made a new “D on a stick” and she accompanied us this year in spirit.

As we waited for the bus, it started to rain.  Boo.  But it wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying a day of free wine.

Storms on the Swiss countryside

We tried to go to Cave de la Chena again as it was so cute and quaint.  However, they didn’t open until 1pm this year.   Luckily, it was at the location where the bus looped back around 5 minutes later.

We re-boarded the bus and headed to the next stop, Domaine Château-L’Evêque.   It is a organic winery and we really enjoyed a number of their wines.

Approaching Domaine Château-L’Evêque – home of bio wine.

Spirits were high at our first stop

We enjoyed a lot of their wines.  We noted we wanted to buy 7-8 bottles.  However, there were a delivery fee up until 24 bottles.  We decided to come back on another day to purchase as it wasn’t going to be fun to tote that many bottles on the bus.

After an hour, we decided it was time to move on.  We hopped on the bus and traveled to Jussy.

2nd stop: Château du Crest

Gorgeous castle turned winery

We really enjoyed this place last year.    New this year, Château du Crest had a game – you had to guess what type of wine was in each glass – blanc, rosé, or rouge.

The Wine Game

Gabe trying to guess

A got a few wrong.  Guess we’ll have to continue drinking to improve her wine skills. 

After trying out the game, we went for the wine tasting room.   We were encouraged to try their new wine, Surprise.

Gabe and A intrigued by the sales pitch

Château du Crest had almost 20 wines to try.  We think this would also be a nice place to come with guests.  Their website says they are open 5-7 on weekdays and 10-12 Saturdays.

My rating sheet

After we left, we took time to pause in the same field as last year, with D on a stick.

Missing D

We hopped back on the bus and headed to stop #3:  Domaine de la Tour.  It was a cute little winery and they gave us a free platter of cheese and meat.  So kind!  We each bought a bottle there in gratitude.

It was 1:30 so we decided it was time to head to a town that had multiple wineries before Caves Ouvertes ended at 4pm.

Only in Switzerland can you interact with local farm animals while waiting for the bus

L gave up her newly purchased bottle to the cause since we had a long wait.  This may or may not have been a mistake.

Only in Switzerland can you drink on the bus.

We rode twenty minutes to Anières.   Our first stop was lively, with a live band and a huge crowd.

Stop #4

At this place, they were serving raclette.    It smelled delish.  All five of us got our own plate.

Specialty of Switzerland: raclette

After a few tastes there, we stopped next door.

Enjoying Anières with its three wineries within steps of each other

Stop #5

At 4:45, we headed across the street to La Cote D’Or.   I only had one taste before I decided my feet couldn’t make it anymore.  They’d been standing maybe 2-3 hours on and off.

Stop #6

We trudged through the rain to the bus stop but missed the one we had intended to catch.  We huddled under the shelter and tried to keep warm waiting for the next.

When we arrived back in Geneva, I headed home to rest, elevate and ice the feet.  They’d had a big day.   Gabe headed out with the rest of the group to Old Town for a few drinks to continue the fun.

Another great Caves Ouvertes!

A traditional Chinese treat!

Post by Lauren

Sunday night, we had a culinary treat when R & L invited us to their home for a traditional Chinese dinner. We had tried their fabulous spring rolls before at an earlier Canadienne Buffet party, so with the anticipation, we lightly picnicked for lunch on the way back from Lyon so that we would have plenty of room for the delights.

And we were so glad we saved room! They cooked a magnificent feast for us and we got to try ten different Chinese dishes. They were all A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! It was so hard to pick what to go back for second bowls of as everything was so unique and tasty. I think we both ended up trying everything twice.

While we love Chinese food in general, our prior experience had only been limited to USA-style. So, this traditional family-style meal was a first for Gabe and I. It far exceeded the Chinese we had ever had before, so now we are spoiled 🙂

All the girls decided we need to teach each other how to cook different dishes that were our “specialties”, so I certainly look forward to my Chinese lesson someday soon. I think Gabe looks forward to me getting this lesson too!

Thanks for hosting such a lovely evening, L & R !!!

Say Hello. Wave Goodbye.

Post by Lauren

Canadienne Buffets will simply never be the same. Yes, one of the original fab-five, D, is leaving Geneva to return back to the US after her summer internship with the Lutheran World Federation.

It is definitely a bummer for us as she was one of the first three friends we made in Geneva. However, we knew that goodbyes like this would happen during our time here, as Geneva is a transient city by definition. With 40% foreign residents, people often come and go because assignments usually aren’t permanent. So this week, we sadly learn it firsthand!!

L hosted a goodbye party in honor of D this weekend, with the theme “sticks” since the joke was that she is returning to the sticks (to continue studies at UK, in Kentucky). A, D and L came up with this idea that everything had to be served on sticks and I’d have to give them major kudos – it was delicious and memorable.

So, it was a really fun way to bid adieu to D and wish her a bon voyage back to the US. We’ll miss her a lot.

The silver lining of this coming and going thing about Geneva is good friends from Charlotte, S and S, moved here this week. We were really glad they are getting settled well and look forward to great times Swiss style with them.

Gratitude Friday: The Great Outdoors

Post by Lauren

One of the things I am so grateful for in Geneva is the beautiful parks and green spaces. I wrote about this on a previous post when we first arrived.

However, I am just continually impressed by how the community uses these spaces, especially in the summer when the fountains are on for the kids swimming pleasure. Even better, the ville de Genève hosts tons of extraordinary events outside. These don’t just happen every week, or once a month. There is something literally every day and usually two happening in the same evening. Sadly, we haven’t been able to experience it much this week because of the monsoons, but here are just two ways we have enjoyed it in the last 2 weeks:

# 1 – Free concerts in Parc a la Grange – these are twice a week – Wednesdays and Fridays for the entire summer. There is seating, or you can choose to bring a picnic. Large groups of people meet and picnic together, listening to the music. Gabe and I biked there and enjoyed a little picnic for two.

# 2 – Free movies in Parc Perle du Lac – this happens four times a week. Gabe really wanted to see Top Gun, so we spread the word and had a really nice evening with A & A, D, and C & M last Saturday night.

We loved the spirit of the movie-goers. Someone dressed up as an air-traffic controller, and others brought sparklers. However, the funniest part were the Swiss spoofs on Top Gun they did before hand. You can see the spoof videos as well as more detail on the evening here on A’s post about the evening.

We look forward to trying out the other things but in the meantime, we are just so thankful that Geneva offers these programs and we get to enjoy them in the beautiful open air, gratuits!!!

Bon weekend, everyone!

Our first Geneva dinner party

Post by Lauren

When packing for our big move, it was hard to know what to take and what not to take. Some things got packed we don’t need, and there are other things that we totally wished we had thrown in to our shipment since they are either hard to find in Switzerland or 4x the price. Anyhow, it is not an exact science, so we figure its okay.

I remember specifically standing in our Charlotte dining room figuring out what serving dishes and table we should take (Gabe and i were combining households at the same time). In the end, we under-packed in this area as Gabe and I assumed that we wouldn’t know enough people to have more than 6 over for dinner!

We feel so blessed that in Geneva, this has actually not been the case. We have met lots of great people and had our first dinner party as a married couple. However, I’d like to point out what happens when you don’t bring the leaf pieces to your dining room table…..yup, we are “bringing back” the concept of kids table by using our entry table as an extension.

I think many of our new friends are in the same boat with improvisation though, so luckily I don’t think anyone minded!

Fun fact : Most of us are Swiss newbies. The combined time in Geneva at this table = 23 total months counting Gabe behind the camera. A & A are the experts, being here 4 months. They are throwing off the “curve” with their tenure 🙂

Canadienne Buffet: USA Style

Post by Lauren

This week, we had a patriotic Canadienne Buffet. Not to celebrate Canada Day which was Friday I think, but a potluck picnic to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you are just catching up with our blog, my French teacher taught me that the best way to say potluck in French is “Canadienne Buffet”. We love the phrase and I plan to use it until you are tired of hearing about it. Sorry in advance.

And here is the birth story of the CB: In Switzerland, we read in our Swiss Rulebook that if you make plans for dinner with people in a restaurant, the tradition is that you should always pay — the concept of “dutch” on anything simply doesn’t exist. This wouldn’t be a big deal back in the US. To treat friends to dinner at our favorite restaurants – Alexander Michaels, The Penguin, Big Daddy’s, etc. – would be no big deal and could cost us 50, 75 bucks – maybe $100.

However, when the average decent meal out with friends in Geneva could be 250-350 CHF (300-400 USD), we found that the “potluck” allows for the social aspect of a dinner out with friends but without having to refinance the house to enjoy a night out. Plus, we think the food our friends make is better than 95% of the restaurants in Geneva.

This weekend, in honor of the holiday, we decided to grill out in the park beside the lake. We are pretty sure we aren’t supposed to grill out, but we figured it was 4th of July and that could be our excuse if we were apprehended – in our country, it is actually ILLEGAL not to grill out on 4th of July. Also, we had our friend Henry Birmingham visiting from the US, so if all else failed, we planned to blame on him and act as innocent Swiss bystanders to these crazy American ways of lighting fire to food.

It was a pretty lovely evening spent with fun folks. Happy Birthday, America!! And thanks to Henry for the fabulous photography!

A splendid Canadienne Buffet

After a vicious weekend of assembling IKEA furniture and hanging pictures, we were very excited to have Sunday dinner plans at A & A’s place.

In my French lessons, my teacher (who doesn’t speak a word of English to me), has me talk about daily life in Geneva. I talk about the house, Gabe’s job, and things I do during the day.

Last week, I was attempting to tell her in French that “we met some nice people on the bus, and we went over to their house for potluck,” describing our delicious American BBQ at their place.

“Comment dites-vous ‘potluck’ en français?” I asked.

She replied, “ahhh….Canadienne buffet”.

Really? That’s awesome.

The funny part of a Canadienne buffet is taking your items on the public transit. Below, Gabe captured a shot of me toting the caprese salad while waiting for the bus. Apparently, it is not normal to carry a platter of food on the bus in Switzerland. Oh well, I am not a stranger to odd looks from the Swiss.

This Sunday, the theme was Mini Pizzas. A had whipped up an amazing selection of toppings. From everything to homemade sauce, to all the workings of a BBQ chicken pizza, it was incredible. Gabe and I think this is best pizza we have ever had!

In addition to the delicious Italian fare, it was just a very enjoyable evening spent with great people.

Gabe and I are excited that we are finally almost done settling so we can host next time at our new place. I am thinking ours will be a Mexican themed Canadienne Buffet….we’ll see…you’ll have to keep reading for all the updates! Also, share any of your best potluck ideas for us – we’d love to hear some suggestions!