The Matterhorn Says Good Morning

When you stay the night at Fluhalp, you can wake up to a view like this. Pretty darn spectacular!

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The Matterhorn above the morning clouds.

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Violin Virtuoso

My soul is musical. Going to orchestra concerts is such a joy, especially when there is an amazing talent featured in the program, like a concert we went to recently in our village.

Alexandre Dubach is a Paganini genius. I was floored as soon as he started the Violin Concerto No. 1. The more he played (from memory), the more in awe I was at his brilliance (and at Paganini’s). Frequent double-stop thirds (lots of chromatic and harmonic ones, no less!!) made my jaw drop, not to mention his bow work, flying fingers, and vigor.

As an encore, he played a version of Happy Birthday (similar to this one) for a friend in the orchestra:

And of course, he just happened to be playing his Strad the night we went. Sigh. Way to melt my heart in an instant!

Gianadda Statue Garden

Before the A-Z Challenge, I had posted about a temporary exhibit at Gianadda and promised a follow-up about their outdoor statue garden! 🙂

What is unique about the Gianadda Foundation is that they welcome all forms of art for temporary exhibits. This is evident in their statue garden as well, which is an eclectic mix of… well, look and see:

Definitely worth a visit!

Marisa V Photography

If you want a photographer in the Neuchâtel area, look no further! Marisa V is your girl. We took a family photo session with her recently and had a great time. Marisa is creative, easy to work with, and such a gem!

Plus, she finished the photos quickly and provided us with multiple copies of jacketed DVDs and prints! A great service provided by a great lady!

Sticking Out My Thumb

There’s a first time for everything! Yesterday, for example, was my first time hitchhiking.

I was on my way to work. My mode of transportation was my (usually very reliable) scooter. All of a sudden, said scooter didn’t want to be going 50 km/hr to go through town. Instead, it gradually got slower and slower… until it stopped altogether.

Awesome.

I tried to restart it. Nope.

My first thought was to call my boss. No answer. Boss’ spouse. No answer. Boss again. No answer.

Ok, so I needed a new plan. “Maybe I can take the bus,” I thought to myself… as the hourly bus whizzed by. So that was a no-go.

I needed a new plan again. “My husband has some family in the neighboring village, maybe they can drive me!” I called them. No answer. And still no answer from my boss.

At this point, I reevaluated my options:

  • Take the scooter. 
  • Have my boss pick me up.
  • Take the bus.
  • Have D’s family drive me.
  • Call TCS (Swiss version of AAA). I didn’t want to wait for them to come. So: Call TCS.
  • Walk. This would have made me about 2 hours late to work, and my boss still had no idea I was running late. So: Walk.
  • Stick out my thumb.

This really had become my only choice. FORTUNATELY, hitchhiking is common in Switzerland and is still considered safe (more on Swiss honesty in a future post). The person who picked me up was very friendly, and I made it to work, almost on time!

A good experience, but I’ll try not to make it a habit. 🙂

La Caverne Aromatique

My neighbor Janine owns her own business called  La Caverne Aromatique. On Saturday, she opened at a new location: rue du Chateau 15, in Colombier.

She sells massage oils, lotions, shampoos, and so much more. What’s great is that she makes all her products from natural ingredients. Plus, they smell wonderful!

If you’re interested, she also hosts workshops on making soaps and other beauty products.

I am always a fan of local businesses, and this is one not to miss!

‘Ze’ siZe

Congratulations to everyone who completed the A-Z Challenge! Today is the final day. 🙂

For Z, we’re talking about the siZe of Switzerland, which is small. It has a surface area of 41, 285 sq. km.

If numbers aren’t your thing, let’s consider two comparisons.

If you think of Portugal as small, well, I have news for you. With Portugal’s area at 91,985 sq km, Switzerland is less than half the size of Portugal.

For those of you in the US, here’s another way to see it. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have a combined area of 45,694 sq km… their powers combined are larger than Switzerland!

So, I think you’ll agree with me that Switzerland is small. But, as we have seen throughout my A-Z Challenge, its small size doesn’t diminish its awe and wonder! And because it’s so small, it is easy to experience a majority of the country during a single visit.

Another advantage of Switzerland’s small size is that if you’re planning a trip to Europe, you can easily combine Switzerland with another country. Switzerland borders France, Germany, Liechtenstein (technically a principality of Switzerland), Austria, and Italy. Have fun exploring!

As an aside, the Swiss perspective of distance is completely different from my American one. For example, some people in David’s immediate family don’t come to see us very often because we live “too far away”. AHEM. We live 30 minutes away, at most… The *face palm* has been my go-to reaction to this mentality.

Well, there you have it! To an outsider, Switzerland may be a small step; but to most Swiss, this small step is more like a giant leap!

Yearn for Yum

In my post on Emblematic Exports, I mentioned some yummies that Switzerland produces. But really, Switzerland has more than just Emmental cheese and Toblerone, Lindt, and Nestle (Cailler) chocolates. That’s just what it frequently exports.

Since I’m more a fan of sweet, you get a post solely about Swiss chocolate!

So you know Toblerone, Lindt, and Nestle already! Let’s look at other brands that the Swiss know and love.

Camille Bloch. Their factory and shop can be found in Courtelary in the Jura. Perhaps their most popular chocolates are Torino (my favorite) and Ragusa (my husband’s favorite).

Favarger. Geneva-based. The Aveline is their “undisputed specialty”.

Frey. Owned by the Migros grocery store chain and sold only in their stores. I learned that Frey is the leading Swiss chocolate manufacturer!

Suchard. Originally from Neuchatel. The name still lives on at Wodey Suchard, the oldest confectionery in Switzerland.

Villars. Known for their good chocolate but especially for their collectible gift boxes.

Wuilloud’s Winery

Today we’re talking alcohol; Switzerland produces its own selection of wine, beer, and liqueur. The Swiss Germans are more in to beer and Swiss French more in to wine. These preferences have their roots in the culture differences of these two groups. As I have a preference for wine over beer, I guess I’m in the right part. My apartment, in Francophone Switzerland, even looks out over a vineyard.

But instead of looking at Swiss alcohol in general, I’d like to talk about a specific place I appreciate: La Cave des Bouquetins (website in French or German only).

This family-owned winery was founded by the late Dr. Henry Wuilloud. After his fatal mountaineering accident, his two children decided to continue the family business. Dr. Wuilloud’s son Romain (one of my hubby’s army buddies) tends the vineyards and the doctor’s daughter Isaline makes the wine with competence and passion.

They have, hands down, my favorite whites. Especially their sweeter Arvine and their special Plant Wine (dessert wine, currently sold out).

You can go in and taste their wines every Saturday morning from 10am to noon. I’d recommend it if you’re ever in Sion.