Captain Gabe

When BuyClub came out with their motorboat vouchers, we scooped one up.  We thought it could be fun to take the parents out while they were here.   We knew it would be our only chance to take a boat out on Lake Geneva.   It’s apparently pretty hard to rent a boat / get a boat slip and any combination of having to do with driving a boat unless you are made of Swiss money.

So, the little four seater was about our speed. And price range.

We made a reservation for the latest spot of the evening, 6:30-8:30.   We planned for Gabe to join us after work.

However, he was having a hard time getting away.  We waited until about 7, but didn’t want to let any more time pass since we had a hard stop at 8:30.  My idea was that we could hang in the little harbor, pick him up, and swap drivers.    I surveyed the two passengers and asked if anyone was comfortable driving a boat.  After all, I never had.   And…..crickets.

So, I ended up behind the wheel.  Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.   I might have rammed it into the dock before we even took off.   The guy who was helping us cast off gave me a horrified look.  And we set off into the wild blue yonder of Lake Geneva.

My mother was audibly scared.  They can’t swim.  Solid checked to make sure there were life jackets on board.    We watched the cell phone. And waited.

Finally, we had saw via text that he’d parked and was on his way*.

We sailed back to the dock.  I may have forgotten to put the boat in neutral when we got him which may or may not have resulted in another scare by my mother and a new little skipper guy on the dock who was trying to help us.

Once Gabe became captain, it became much easier.  My mom chilled out.  We opened a bottle of wine.  And we cruised…


Twin, happy to see Gabe behind the wheel instead of me


She is laughing now. She was not laughing earlier.

The monks like to ride the boats too. This was a little bigger than ours.

Sun setting during our evening “cruise”

These people were real sailors.

Aye aye Captain Gabe

*We’d advise against driving & parking to do a lake front activity during rush hour.  Just take the bus.  It’s much easier.


The Little Train That Could….Drink Wine.

We love the Lavaux region.   The wine terraces are magical.   Twin had read my blog before their visit and had really wanted to stop in because of our rave reviews.

There are many options for seeing Lavaux.    If you have a car, you can drive through leisurely.   I do warn you that it is difficult.  S may have accidentally driven on a wine road not meant for cars.   Gabe found it challenging when we drove from Chexbres down to Rivaz with Couch Surfer.

You can also take a train.  I knew of two tasting spots accessible by train.  One is Vinorama nearby the Rivaz stop (bottom of the hill).  It has a lovely tasting room featuring hundreds of Lavaux wines and also a really well-done video which gives you more information about the UNESCO World Heritage Site.   The other is called Le Deck.  We haven’t been there but A & A raved about the magnificent terrace.   You can reach it by car, or by train via Vevey at the Chexbres-Village stop (top of the hill).

You can also hike the region.  The women’s club hosts a magnificent hike every fall during harvest.   I did it and enjoyed it, but it was 5 hours from St. Saphorin to Lutry, which is a little challenging for me.  You can design your own hikes by researching distance and picking a starting and stopping train station.

Lastly, I had recently heard about the Lavaux Express touristic train.   Before E-dawg came, I had listed it as an option since my feet were still recovering and I can’t drive our car, Frau Hilda.   However, we ran out of time.   I had honestly forgotten about it until I read Swiss Wife’s blog and saw her pictures.

So, Twin, Solid and I decided to try it out.   The little train schedule can be found online.   It only goes at certain times and actually on differing days it switches between Lutry and Cully.   Since we did it on a Wednesday, we left from Lutry, which was adorable in itself.

Port at little town of Lutry

Driving through Lutry’s cute streets on the Lavaux Express

Starting our ascent

The terraces are what Lavaux is known for

Rolling vineyards into Lake Geneva

The Swiss Wife had warned us that the daytime trains didn’t serve wine.  There is a 6:30pm weekend one that includes a taste, but we were going during the week.  So, we were prepared so that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

However, surprise, surprise….halfway through, the driver pulled off and their was a little hut with a lady offering tastes for 3 CHF.  So, we decided to partake.

Twin tasting Lavaux Pinot Noir

Solid exploring the vineyards with his glass of wine

The train was 13 CHF for adults.  We considered it a great value in order to get to see the vineyards without a car (and if you aren’t up for hiking super steep terrain).

Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Lavaux Wine Tasting

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Gratitude Friday: My French teacher.

Swiss Wife Style:  All Aboard The Lavaux Express

Schwingen In Switzerland:  Stopping at Lavaux

Schwingen In Switzerland:  St. Saphorin

Schwingen In Switzerland:  Lavaux

Gratitude Friday: Musique Gratuites

This Friday, I want to express my gratitude for all the free summer concerts that take place in Switzerland.    The summer is filled with awesome music.

While Twin & Solid were here, they got to experience three neat musical experiences:

FETE DE LA MUSIQUE – Geneva – late June – takes place over Friday, Saturday & Sunday in Old Town and stages throughout the city

We grabbed a table in the park across from the Art & History museum and enjoyed our own bottle of wine listening to International music.  We heard two acts and then S & S met up with us.  From there, we walked around taking in drums, Indian melodies, and settling at a stage overlooking Parc des Bastions where we met up with A & L.

Listening to Music from all over the world at the Fete de la Musique in Geneva

I really enjoy Fete de la Musique.  I don’t know if I would plan to stay in town for it, but if you are around, I’d encourage you to go a day or two.

CULLY CLASSIQUE – week long festival on the banks of Lake Geneva in the adorable town of Cully

This one was a surprise.  We picked up a brochure earlier in the day and once we saw an act started at 6:30pm, we impulsively hopped on a train to check it out.  A band called “Old Shit” from Switzerland was playing tropical music.  Since the band was francophone, it was pretty neat to see the talent the singer had singing in his second language.   It was so good that we changed our evening plans and stayed right in our cozy lawn chairs.

A great spot at Cully Classique

What a view at Cully Classique

Dusk falls on the band and Twin & Solid (to the left of the stage)

MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL – first two weeks in July, encompassing three weekends.

The Montreux Jazz Fest is Europe’s biggest jazz festival, and attracts a lot of mainstream acts.  Alanis Morrisette, Van Morrison, Tony Bennett, Pitbull and Bob Dylan included a few of the shows.   However, they have a continual line-up of free music.  We checked it out Monday, the day before  their flight back to the US.   It was raining, but didn’t stop the shows.

Before the storm

Prepared for the weather

We found some cover….

Umbrellas galore.  I was thinking of my poor USA friends with 100 degree temps as we shivered in the rain.

And, it’s not over!  Montreux Jazz Fest is on for another two more weekends.
Also, in July & August, there is more music during the Musiques en été (Music in the Summer) festival.  You can find the line-up here.  Our favorite is the Ella Fitzgerald Stage – its free and a short walk or bike ride from our flat.

Bon weekend, everyone!!


Related Links:

The Adventures of Miss Widget and her people:  Jouez Je suis a vows  (more about the pianos)

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Montreux Jazz Festival

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Fete de la Musique

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Gratitude Friday: The Great Outdoors

Clouds Don’t Ruin The Golden Pass

When E-dawg was here, it rained a lot.   I tried to brainstorm ideas for activities in the clouds and rain and one we considered was a scenic train.    However, I wasn’t sure how this would be.    On one hand, you don’t have to get wet at all in order to see the magnificent Swiss countryside.    On the other hand, would the rain ruin the view & visibility?

I Googled it, but didn’t get much information.  Luckily, when we took the Golden Pass, the sun came out for E-dawg and I.   Unfortunately, I never found out the answer.

Twin & Solid knew they wanted to take a scenic train, so I recommended we take The Golden Pass back from Lauterbrunnen, since Gabe had to return earlier to Geneva to get back to work.   That way, we could take our time going back and stop in towns that looked intriguing.   However, the forecast was dreary.   Rain was predicted in every town we were to pass through.   The scenic trains aren’t cheap, so  I posed it as an option to them that we could all ride back with Gabe if they preferred.  The downside would be a 5am departure to go back in the car with him vs. a relaxing and leisurely wake-up.

They decided to roll the dice on the weather.   And, remarkably, we had a great day.   So, for those traveling on Golden Pass, worried about the weather, I’d recommend you just go for it.

Here is a recap of our journey, starting from Lauterbrunnen–>Interlacken Ost–>Spiez–>Zweissimen–>Montreux–>Geneva:

Lauterbrunnen valley. Not promising.

Thunersee….still ominous

Solid admiring the view after Zweisimen

Twin checking out the view before our stop in Château D’Oex

Clouds over Lake Geneva, but still pretty

Wow.  The cloud cover showcases varying blues in Lake Geneva.   Maybe the clouds were a good thing after all?

The overcast Golden Pass train ended up being one of our guest’s favorite days.


Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Alpine Views in Zweissimen & Chateau D’Oex

The Swiss Watch Blog:   The Golden Pass

The Swiss Watch Blog:  A Springtime ride on the Glacier Express

The Swiss Watch Blog:   All Aboard the Glacier Express

Schwingen In Switzerland:  A Gorge-ous Panoramic Train Ride

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


Natural Beauty in the Bernese Oberland

Bernese Oberland is a region surrounding Switzerland’s capital, Bern.   It is a large region, and in my personal opinion, contains some of Switzerland’s most beautiful landscapes.   Although, I’ll admit, its hard to find parts of Switzerland that aren’t breathtaking.

As we were driving, we pulled over to find this valley.

Approaching Interlacken on the way from Luzern

One of my new favorite Swiss photos.

Loving the beauty of Bernese Oberland

It was a great warm-up view for us as we continued on through Interlacken, and into the Lauterbrunnen Valley to park our car.   From there, we took a little train up to Wengen, where we planned to spend the night at 1400m.

Lauterbrunnen Valley and its waterfall

Wengen, like other car-free towns we stayed in…. Saas-Fee, Zermatt, and Murren, was peaceful without the roar of motors.   A ten minute walk had us at Hotel Edelweiss.   The little chalet was family run and we couldn’t have felt more welcome.  A very pleasant gentleman personally walked us to our rooms to make sure all was okay.

Hotel Edelweiss in Wengen – we’d highly recommend it

After checking in, Mom ran into a lady whose job it was to prepare fresh bouquets for the hotel.   She had gathered Edelweiss as well as some florals from her personal garden to prepare the tables for the evening dinner service and the next day’s breakfast.   It’s all about the personal touch, isn’t it?

View from our balcony at Hotel Edelweiss

While relaxing on our terrace, Gabe & I did some quick research into what to do in Wengen.   We found a few spots that were well recommended and then headed to meet Twin & Solid.

Checking out the view

Our second trip to Bernese Oberland. Last time was in the distant mountain, in Murren.

Twin and Solid on their first Bernese adventure

The first recommendation, Hotel Caprice, didn’t disappoint.  We enjoyed beers and wine with this view in the background:

Drinks on the terrace at Hotel Caprice

After a few rounds, we headed to Hotel Bernerhof for some traditional Bernese fare.  Gabe and I ordered raclette so that they could get a taste.   Twin ordered veal sausage & rosti, another famous mountain dish.  Solid went with spaghetti.   The waiter was super hard working guy, running the entire place single-handedly.   We really enjoyed our meal there.

We are convinced that the folks in Wengen are some of the nicest we’ve met.

Who couldn’t enjoy life with a view like this?

Dusk falls on Jungfrau

Related Posts:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Gratitude Friday:  Travel  (our adventures in Murren with T)

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Rostigraben

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Cheese

Luzern: Switzerland’s Loveliest City

We hadn’t been to Luzern yet, but have had it on our list the entire time we’ve lived in Switzerland.   I almost got to go for Carnival with my girlfriends but when my surgery got moved to an earlier date, it fell through.

However, I knew I’d get a chance to reschedule a visit when Twin was to visit.   Because my mom loves flowers, I knew she’d goo-goo- gaga over the lovely flower bridge in Luzern. I was right.

First glimpse of the wooden flower bridge

Checking out the bridge

Historical stories than pan the entire bridge

Exploring the waterfront of Luzern

After walking around awhile, we settled at Rathaus Brauerei

Rathaus Brauerei

Solid & Gabe had local beers and Twin & I had some local red wine.   We got seats right on the water so ended up staying for awhile and ordering traditional Swiss German dishes – bratwursts, pretzels, frites, and some filet de perche since we were on the water. After dinner, we took a stroll through old town.

Lovely waterfront

Clock tower

Old town – beautiful squares and buildings

Loved the detail on some of the buildings….quintessential Swiss

My map showed a cool view if we ascended so we kept going.

The old city ramparts

Panoramic view of Luzern from the ramparts

After walking the ramparts, we descended to the other old bridge.

The old bridge

The water flow in the river was so powerful.  The poor swans had to work hard not to be swept away!

We learned that Luzern has to control the water flow to keep nearby lakefront towns from flooding.  In the Spring, as alpine melt rushes the lake, they must really take heed of the flow.  As summer progresses, the control can be tweaked to keep lake levels up.

Checking out the river / dam system that Luzern uses to control Alpine water flow

The next day we set a meet-up time of 1pm, so everyone could have free time.    Twin & Solid visited The Lion Monument dedicated to the Swiss mercenaries protecting the French king.

Luzern Lion Monument – Image courtesy of

Gabe & I opted for a old-fashioned Lake Lucerne cruise to fill our morning.

Boat ride around Luzern’s lakes

Boats on Luzern’s beautiful lakes

Sailboats on the lake

We left for Interlacken very content from our awesome experience in this lovely Swiss city.

Lake Geneva Nautical Adventures

On Twin & Solid’s second day in town, we took a boat trip around Lake Geneva.   There are multiple options for boat trips.   Since Twin is a flower lover, we selected the medieval village of Yvoire.

Image courtesy of

Geneva boats are operated by the CGN.   On their website, you can see the possibilities.   Our particular boat left Mt. Blanc at 10:15, stopping in Versoix, Coppet, and Nyon before crossing the lake to the French side and anchoring in Yvoire at noon.  Full fare ride to Yvoire costs about 40 CHF, but you can use your half-fare card to get a reduction.

Lake Geneva CGN boat – a few are classical steamboats like this one

Pulling away from Geneva

Approaching Nyon, Switzerland

Docking in Yvoire, France

Enjoying the flowers

Pretty window box

We had authentic French lake cuisine: filets de perche

We caught the 4:20pm boat back to Geneva.  It is the only option in the Springtime, and our visit was the last day of the Spring schedule. During the summer, there are more options for coming and going as the tourist traffic picks up.

On the way home, we had stunning views of Mt. Blanc.   It is only visible a small percentage of time, so we were lucky to get the view we did:

Mt. Blanc looks surreal in the summer….it never loses its snow

It was a lovely day with the CGN!


Related posts:

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Monday Funday in Lausanne and Evian

The Swiss Watch Blog:    Route Blanche and the Mt Blanc Tunnel

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Yvoire, France

Colorful Copenhagen

This weekend, we met up with Kung Foolish and Rhubarbara Streisand in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is in Denmark.   We like cities on the water, and Copenhagen fell into this category.

Image courtesy of Nation Master

I think the coolest thing about the city is how the water was integrated into day-to-day life.   Copenhagen just isn’t on the water, life there is all about the water.

Our canal tour leaving from colorful Nyhavn harbor

Pulling out of Nyhavn, all the locals were enjoying a beautiful summer day, sitting on the sides of the harbor drinking beers (mostly BYOB or out of vending machines)

A few of the naval museums.  Including a ship (left) and a submarine (right).  Being on the water, the Danish navy presence had to be big.

Armory / naval building

Ship pulling out of the harbor

This guy isn’t afraid of the frigid water

There were many boat bars and waterfront bars. We enjoyed a round at Badlejing.

Also what was neat is to see the blending of architecture, old and new.  The Danish are very progressive and very green.    Their modern buildings were balanced quite well with their historical sites.

The Opera House

View into the centre of town at the old architecture of Amalienborg Palace

Beautiful modern buildings juxtaposed with classic Danish buildings

Classic architecture in the centre town

Looking down Straegrade street at the pastel buildings

I am a sucker for colorful buildings.

Enjoying the beauty of the architecture in Nyhavn harbor

Beyond the water and the architecture, we really enjoyed the food & nightlife.  But we’ll save that for tomorrow.

Related links:

Schwingen in Switzerland: Danish Bike Culture & My Fanboys Experience

Schwingen in Switzerland: Something was rotten in the state of Denmark…It was Us

Gratitude Friday: Sunburns in Dublin

We just returned from a fabulous long weekend in Ireland.  In preparation for our trip, we knew to expect rain.  My friend K told me her grandma says, “You don’t go to Ireland for the weather”.  We had heard stories of friends who never saw blue sky the entire time.

When the weather forecast included a sun, I refused to accept it.  After all, you know Murphy’s law.   So, I prepared my warmest sweaters and scarves to take.  A raincoat.  And an umbrella.

We were greeted with sun.   And it stayed.  We know this was unusual based on the research we did.  It was also accentuated by the Irish.  Every time we saw locals greet each other, they quipped about the unbelievable weather.   It was all the radio stations talked about.

We dripped with sweat in our jeans and long sleeves.  We were burned slightly.  We couldn’t be happier.

The city was so alive with people appreciating the turn of good luck.

Crowds filling the streets for happy hour

Loving the sun

Some sought the shadows

It was warm enough for street dancing in the evening

Even forgetting about the sunshine it donned on us, we loved the city of Dublin.   It was evident that it didn’t need the sun to have warmth….in the colors, the personality of the people, the liveliness of the local joints.

This guy might have had a little too much gratitude for the sun

And I am not just saying it.  The people were some of the nicest we have come by so far in our travels.  Sure, the English not being a barrier helps.  Two examples to further illustrate:

#1 – Gabe and I were debating where to go for lunch.  We had the map out and we knew where we were, just more bantering about when and where.  A businessman walked up to us and inquired, “Can I help you find your way?”.  Out of the blue he wanted to help us.

#2 – I had a little bit of a red eye the second morning (no, not the Guinness!) and we inquired about the nearest pharmacy so I could get some Visine.  As soon as we asked, the receptionist at the hotel came over, worried, and said, “now what’s wrong, what can I do?”  We told her the simple answer and she embraced me and gave my shoulders a rub, empathizing with me.  Even though my little malady wasn’t a big deal, it was really nice of her.

We knew the Irish people were great as we have a friend in Geneva who has set a first example.  We love her bubbling personality and art for conversation.  We really appreciated seeing the city in which she lived, colorful and fun, along with more friendly folks, just like her!

Luckily, she and her partner had given us lots of good tips for what to do and see…and most importantly, where to eat and have a Guinness.   So, we did just that.  I thought I’d share the list for those traveling to Dublin soon:

Elephant & Castle, recommended by T, this was a delicious lunch spot in Temple Bar.  They have great burgers, salads, and wings.  Loved the duck salad.

Stag’s Head – we went there for an early drink one night and for music the other night. Great Guinness and service.

Gabe enjoying Stag’s Head music

Me enjoying a glass of Guinness at Stag’s Head. Just my size.

Temple Bar – we walked by this when exploring the historical area and it was also a fun place for a drink with live Irish music

O’Neill’s. They have a hearty Irish buffet served all day. Also great Guinness and a very traditional atmosphere.

We stayed in the Mercantile Hotel. It was an awesome location with friendly staff. They also had a sweet bar below.

In addition, we really enjoyed outdoor lunch at Kitchen, and our pre-theatre dinner at La Stampa.  Sorry no pictures there.

We did one of the Hop On, Hop Off Buses.  I’d like to say we only did it to save my feet, but we really like these sometimes to scope out the area and it provides cheaper and direct transportation.  It did additionally help with the feet though.  We loved seeing Trinity College, St Stephens Green, Christchurch, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and our stops at Guinness Storehouse and Jameson.

So, Dublin gets an A+ in our books.  Very grateful for our sunny experience.

Bon weekend, everyone!