Geneva International Motor Show

Gabe went to the International Motor Show when it was in Geneva a few weeks ago.  There is nothing that seemed worse to me than being handicapped amongst massive swarms of people either in a wheelchair or on crutches.   Thus, he went solo after work one day.  Maybe next year for me.

Ever since he went, he’s been asking me what color Tesla we are going to get.

Most recently, he has starting thinking about how we can build a new garage on our house in Charlotte so it can fit this Tesla.   If you have been to our house in Dilworth, you know our little shed won’t do and there really isn’t space for garage access with our teeny lot.   He has even been pondering about the alley way behind our property.

I thought I would share some of the eye candy from his camera with you:

This is the Tesla booth - Gabe's favorite. If you aren't familiar: it is an expensive electric sports car.


More futuristic cars!


A highlight on some of the non - Tesla electric cars


Where the Wild Things Are

Post by Lauren

Carnival is a big thing in Switzerland. Many of the teeny tiny communities have celebrations starting the Thursday prior and leading up to Ash Wednesday.

I’ll be honest…what I knew of Carnival prior to this weekend was this and this:


It always looked fun and we decided since it was Carnival weekend in many towns, we should head out into the Swiss countryside with S & S to check it out.

When we arrived we found this:


These strange creatures are the Tschäggätä. The tradition of the town men marching through the streets at Carnival in wearing animal skins, wood masks and ringing cow bells has been passed down through the generations in many mountain villages of Switzerland. This particular one we witnessed was in Wiler.


If you attend, I’d recommend not bringing little children. Some of the kiddies were not amused by the scary beasts clad in animal fur.

And, watch out….they are known to take women hostage*:


*Okay, so they didn’t really take S hostage for good. But they got me soon after her and it isn’t exactly comforting to be grabbed by one of these things. Our husbands didn’t quite know if they should save us or not.

For more history on this bizarre custom, check out S’s blog. She also has a great one on the remoteness of the valley as well.

For video footage, you can view a clip at :

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Post by Lauren

Last weekend, we went to St. Moritz for the horse races. Since it was my first horse race, I didn’t know what to expect. Also, we had read that the town was a bit fancy. It is known to be the oldest winter resort in the world. In fact, it is said that alpine tourism was invented in 1846 when Johannes Badrutt built his first hotel here.

Prior to Badrutt’s era, St. Moritz was also known for its therapeutic spas in the Middle Ages, dating back to 1466 BC.

It has also been the home to two winter Olympics.

We stopped for a drink in Badrutt’s Palace but the average cocktail selling at 25 CHF, we only enjoyed one round of hob-nobbing with St. Moritz’s finest. We were a little out of our league, but nonetheless, enjoyed the fashion trends that this glitzy winter town offered:


All white & black is a good choice. When in doubt, dress the entire family in aviators.



You must get points for wearing fur. My best guest is that one fur item equals one point. If you include the tail of the animals, you get bonus points.


For that matter, don’t let your dog be caught in anything less than Louis Vuitton or Burberry. How cruel would that be!!!


Just remember, no matter how well someone dresses, some things just never change.

The White Turf: Horse Races on a Frozen Lake

Post by Lauren

This summer, I read an article in a travel magazine about St. Moritz and their annual horse races on the frozen lake. I tore it out thinking it was something Gabe would like to do sometime while we were living here. However, we had our friends The Captain and Swiss Miss visiting during February, right at the time in which the race was held. Thus, we all decided to make it an epic Swiss weekend.

We took the Glaicer Express from Geneva, a nine hour winding train that took us all the way to St. Moritz. We ended up staying in a nearby town, Celerina, because affordable rooms are rare in glitzy St. Moritz. The average hotel in St. Moritz is around 1000 CHF a night. Not kidding.

Races included normal (jockeys on horseback), ski races (jockeys on skis) and sleigh (jockeys on sleigh).


Here are a few videos of the horses!


Festival International des Balloons à Air Chaud

Post by Lauren

I bet the suspense was killing you to know if we went back to the Hot Air Balloon Festival!! Well, I happen to have the best husband in the world and am delighted to inform you that my dreams came true of seeing the balloons!

As I mentioned, the drive was a little crazy getting to this little Alps town. But, it was a little less hair-raising to do it in the daylight. Here are a few shots of the drive in through the mountains:

I am pretty much content for the entire year after getting to do this. It was absolutely beautiful.

Night Glow at Château d’Oex

Post by Lauren

I had read on another blog that the International Balloon Festival was a Swiss event not to be missed. When I found out when we were available for it this year, I was pumped. When Gabe requested that we ski for his birthday (coming up in a few days) in a ski town, Verbier, not far from the balloon festival, I was super excited. I found out that there was even a Night Glow Balloon event that evening prior to our ski day. Now, how could I convince him to go spend the night and to see this?


Night Glow photo from festival website, (c) Fabrice Wagner

Luckily he is a great hubby and agreed. We booked a hotel in nearby Gstaad in anticipation. We left Geneva on time so that we could see the balloon kick off. We drove an hour on the windiest road you will ever imagine…covered in snow!

After parking, with hot chocolate and vin chaud in hand, we climbed a big hill up to the church along with the entire town. The announcements in French commenced and the lights on the hillside started…


Wait….does that spell ABBA? Why, yes, it does. The next hour was filled with a light, fire, fireworks, and paraglider show to ABBA music. I made a little video to share:

Then came out the ski team with torches in coordination to the music.

Ski team

However, I could hardly watch, in hurried anticipation of the night balloons. I couldn’t wait for the bit to end.

However, after the finale, the crowd started to leave.

But wait, where are the balloons? !! ??? !!!

As it turns out, the weather was too bad – we didn’t catch that on the French announcements. I was so bummed and pouted on the way to the car. Gabe joked with me and reminded me how awesome the cliff side light show was. “There were even torched skiers, babe!” he added.

But I was sad. We went to Zermatt last week and didn’t see the Matterhorn and now this week, we went to the balloon festival and no balloons.

We happened to get photos in the cute little town of Château d’Oex as we were leaving. Glad I got to see some chocolate balloons in the window of the patisserie!


Oh well, there’s always next year……or can I convince Gabe to come back after skiing Sunday? You’ll just have to wait and see……


Montreux Christmas Market

Post by Lauren

Yesterday, we had a girls outing to one of the many Christmas markets in the region. We’d picked Montreux because it was supposed to be either sunny or snowy. Well, was wrong and we had chilly rain, but the company and hot beverages kept our spirits warm. Here are a few photos:

The market was broken up into little stalls selling things. Their little chalets were festive in themselves.Goods ranged from handcrafted items, to teas, and food. Also there were some Christmas items like nativity scenes – creches.

Vin chaud, hot cider, and Christmas tea were sold in various forms of cauldrons.
It kept us warm and toasty as we navigated the market.

This little fire chalet was also a hit.

Not to mention the French Onion soup. Even little HB, our newest Girls Club member, wanted a piece of the action.

Joyeux Noël, everyone!


Swiss Holidays: L’Escalade

Post by Lauren

This weekend was the annual L’Escalade celebration. In French, “escalade” means climb. In 1602, the Savoys (now France) wanted Geneva badly. It was its own republic and not to mention, a free town. The Duke of Savoy wanted to push out Protestantism and make it his capital. So, his army secretly gathered and tried to climb into the city gate with ladders. They were thwarted and Geneva kept its independence. Thus, the holiday’s name.


Geneva, back in the day. Courtesy of wikipedia - escalade-battle-2.jpg


I was originally told that there was a lady was up late at night cooking soup who heard the climbers and dumped her boiling pot of vegetable soup on their heads and their screams woke up the Genevois so they could defend their city. Apparently, this recount is false that she was the initial defender, but she did dump soup on one soldier’s head and killed him. And his screams woke up more people. She also was the mother of 16 children.

And to commemorate the brave Madame Royaume (the soup thrower lady) they have a marmites (chocolate cauldrons) into which they dip marzapan vegetables to symbolize her vegetable soup. How this correlation was made, I am not sure, but I do know that the confectioner’s on Rue de Marché are very grateful.


A typical chocolate display for L’Escalade. I can’t imagine what the big pot cost. Also below are marzipan vegetables.

Nevertheless, the Escalade celebrates Geneva’s victory and all weekend, people are gathered in Old Town, dressed in period attire. We went Saturday to explore.

Every half hour, there were demonstrations on musket firing, cannons, and battle scenes.

Just for L’escalade weekend, they open the Passage de Monetier, a secret passageway that was used during enemy attacks. It was very tight!! They served vin chaud, a hot spice wine that was very handy to keep warm. I don’t recommend having four cups if you want to have a productive Sunday.

Sunday, we went to the grande cortege, or parade. It was really cool and done in the dark so it is by candlelight, to mimic the time of evening of L’Escalade. There was lots of fire involved and thousands of Genevois in costume.


At the end, they do a huge bonfire in St. Peter’s Cathedral.

We enjoyed our first L’Escalade and are glad to live in this city so proud of their heritage!


Maybe we got Halloween all wrong

Post by Lauren

This weekend is a big weekend in Geneva history, L’Escalade. I knew there would be historical celebrations in store. What I didn’t count on was hundreds of teenagers, in costume, throwing eggs and flour at each other in downtown Geneva. In fact, I was almost caught in the cross fire coming home from Globo Gym Friday.

No one seemed alarmed at all. See all the passerbyers just checking their blackberries, smoking their cigarettes, in all black, of course. I consulted wikipedia, and yes, it quotes, “Teenagers tend to throw eggs and flour at each other as part of the celebration”.

Good that we cleared that up. Here are a few photos from this mornings wait for the bus:

Glad I made it safely home instead of being made into a cake.

Umbria: Assisi, Tili Vini and Orvieto

Post by Lauren

Just a bit lower than Tuscany, Umbria also has a remarkable landscape. It’s slightly drier and more rustic than its Northern neighbor, but still quite capable of amazing things.

One of the towns we visited was Assisi which is the famous birthplace of St. Francis. I adored the town and its classic and simple pink stone. The pink is a naturally sourced stone from Umbria and used to decorate the basilicas simply without too much adornment, as was restricted in St. Francis’s day.

The reason for the simplicity is that St. Francis believed in peace and the renouncement of material things. The basilica contains simple frescos instead of ornate stones and gold.

In fact, Kay had encouraged us all to say a prayer and to do one act as St. Francis would do in this experience, rather than be a typical tourist. She encouraged us to slip some coins to the poor and forgoing the traditional souvenir. It was a beautiful mindset in which to enter this holy place. Adding to this experience, we witnessed a peace rally marching 20km from Perugia to the basilica. This peace celebration only happens every 3 years and it was a coincidence that we were able to be a part of it.

On our ride home that evening, we witnessed a little peace as well when we saw this rainbow on the Umbrian landscape. What a nice souvenir.

Also in Assisi, we had the opportunity to visit a few Umbrian locals at Tivi Vini, a winery near Assisi. The same pride we’d seen from Elena at La Stoppa and Filipo of Fattoria della Cinta, also poured out in the mother daughter combo Tili and Maria.

We tasted their Assisi biance (chardonnay and pinot), the Grechetto (95% grechetto, 5% pinot), Pinto Nero (90% noir and 10% sangrantino — Rosie’s favorite), a Young (blend of 3 reds — Gabe’s favorite, a Rosso (Lauren’s favorite) and a 100% Sagrantino aged for 8 years.

We returned to Florence that night, but the next day, we had the pleasure of dining in Orvieto. The meal at Restaurant Maurizo, just off the main square, was hands-down my favorite meal of the trip. We started with a great antipasti, then a truffle and cheek umberchelini, then pasta with lamb ragu, a secondi of pork with herb rub and roasted potatoes and then a selection of local cakes for dolce. I am a sucker for any type of mushroom but the truffles put me over the edge. What a meal!

Umbria might be my new favorite over Tuscany.