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Weekend in Champéry, Switzerland

19 Feb

Wow! Has it really been more than one month since I posted a Cheese & Vegemite tale? There is so much to catch up on so I’m going to go ahead and get started by telling you about our ski-turned-hiking trip to Champéry in January.

My husband and I are still in the beginners phase of our respective skiing journeys and wanted to get a few good sessions in this winter so before we shipped off back to Australia for the Christmas holidays we booked a hotel and some ski lessons in Champéry in January. Little did we know that the snow season would start off slowly and leave us with brown patchy pistes for our weekend.  We concluded that our first ski of the season would be rather unpleasant in such conditions so we opted to chill out for the weekend and enjoy a few local hikes instead.

We had not been to Champéry before and chose it primarily because of its close proximity to Geneva and direct access to Les Portes du Soleil – the world’s largest internationally ski domain with 194 ski lifts. There is certainly a wide range of winter activities to be enjoyed in the region – when there is snow of course – including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding. Fortunately for us there is over 800km of trails to wander although with our decision to take it a bit easier we didn’t walk very far from the center of town. We followed a few hiking/snowshoe trails but there was definitely no need for snowshoes. Here’s a few snaps from our little walks.

The village itself features beautifully kept wood chalets with cute storefronts and numerous restaurants and bars all within walking distance. Overlooking Champéry are the 7 spectacular peaks of Les Dents du Midi (at a height of 3257 metres or 10,686 feet). You can catch a glimpse of these towering beauties from just about every street/hotel/restaurant in Champéry and Val d’Illiez meaning we got plenty of photo opportunities. See for yourself

We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful country! We still have not been skiing yet but as soon as we do I will share my experience with you 🙂

Who has been enjoying the snow season this year? I’d love to hear your stories.

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My Interview with Expat Blog Published Online

9 Jan

Hi guys, check out my interview on Expat Blog!

http://www.expat-blog.com/en/interview/137_sarah-in-geneva.html

This is a great community of expat bloggers from around the world with so many interesting stories of daily life abroad and I just love being apart of it.

If you’re an expat and you’re a blogger, why not become part of the Expat Blog community.

Foulées Automnales de Meyrin 10KM Race

2 Jan

Autumn was packed full of activities. We started off with the Berlin Marathon, followed by a weekend of hiking in and around Kandersteg, then there was the Lausanne Marathon where I ran the 10KM, followed by another weekend of hiking in Emmental and another 10KM race at the end of November.

The Foulées Automnales de Meyrin is a little local fun run around Meyrin – Meyrin is our neighbouring commune and a short hop, skip and jump from our apartment. Just over 100 women participated in the race while almost 300 men dominated the course. It was a beautifully clear day and we were due to set off at 13h30. I wasn’t feeling up to running though, after a girl’s night out the night before, and knowing all the hills that were part of the course did not help to ease my thoughts of wanting to hitch a tram ride back to the apartment. I didn’t really prepare for this race either; I did maybe 3 or 4 short runs in the 4 weeks leading up to this race… so yeah, not ideal.

It was a nice course (apart from all the hills), touring around Meyrin and finishing at the stadium (official name but by no means a “stadium”). My legs held up their part of the bargain but I had a stitch for the most part of the race so again not ideal conditions. Must have been the wraps I had for lunch just before the race.. normally I don’t eat before a midday run. I finished in 51m13s and could not have been happier to have finished!

Note to self : It pays to have a good sleep and proper practiced nutrition before a race 🙂

Coming up next.. The final run for 2013 and Christmas in Australia

Weekend Hiking in Emmental

22 Nov

Emmental, a dairy region in central Switzerland, famous for its Emmental cheese (or the Swiss cheese with holes in it) and Kambly biscuits.

A beautiful area of rolling hills and green pastures and views of the Swiss Alps. My husband had planned a two-day hike for us to do last weekend and the weather was looking to be good – chilly and overcast but no chance of rain equals perfect hiking conditions.

We packed our bags and headed to Burgdorf on Friday night after work, about 2 hours by train from Geneva. We stayed the night in Burgdorf before starting our hike from Langnau on Saturday.

*You will notice a theme throughout the weekend… can you guess what it is*

Burgdorf

On Saturday morning before starting our hike we took a quick turn around Burgdorf. A typical Swiss town; super cute and totally quiet in the early morning.

Day 1 Hike : Langnau to Eggiwil

The map below is from the national hiking trails website and the route we had planned to follow – 10km of easy hiking.

Trans Swiss Trail - Langnau to Eggiwil

Trans Swiss Trail – Langnau to Eggiwil

This what we ended up doing – 17km of moderate intensity hiking

My Garmin - Langnau to Eggiwil

My Garmin – Langnau to Eggiwil

All through Switzerland, hiking trails are marked by small yellow signs, some with place names and arrows, some just a marker. Right at the start we missed on of the signs and started walking in the wrong direction. We found ourselves in Emmenmatt after 2.5km, not a place we were suppose to be walking through on our way to Eggiwil. My husband had said that the first few kilometers were all uphill and so when we had been walking on fairly flat ground for 2.5km we did start to wonder what was going on. After a quick read of our map (thank goodness we printed them out!) we backtracked the 2.5km and started “up” the right path. Here’s what we saw along the way…

We passed by one local dairy farmer who provides milk to the Emmentaler cheese dairy. Over 150 farmers provide more than 28,000 litres of fresh cows milk every day for the production of just 20 wheels of cheese each day. I’m sure this place would be more lively in the summer months so we may just have to come back.

We also made a slight detour via Blapbach for a pit stop at the Restaurant Blapbach. This restaurant is famous for its meringues, yum 🙂

We stayed at Gasthof Baren (a popular name for Guesthouses in the Bern canton) in Eggiwil – the only guests I think – which was quite cosy and enjoyable.

Day 2 Hike : Eggiwil to Trubschachen

For this part of our weekend hike we joined two hikes together. Unfortunately I can’t show you on the Swiss hiking website but here is what my Garmin showed – 15km of moderate intensity hiking

My Garmin - Eggiwil to Trubschachen

My Garmin – Eggiwil to Trubschachen

We didn’t take any wrong turns this time! We started off just after 9am and this is what we saw along the way to Trubschachen…

With such a rapid increase in elevation, it wasn’t long before we hit snow. Green pastures and autumn coloured leaves soon turned to white. It was a fairly steep climb but we took it slowly and stopped every now and again to take some photos and greet some alpacas. The sun almost broke through the clouds at Pfyffer but we were sadly unlucky.

Upon arriving in Trubschachen, I could smell freshly baked bread, like a bakery smell. To my surprise, the Kambly factory was located in Trubschachen! Kambly has been making biscuits in Switzerland for more than 100 years. There is no tour of the factory, no tourist video to watch, only a small cafe and shop selling the biscuits.

Did I mention free tasting of ALL the biscuits? Yep, that’s right, free tasting! The absolute best way to end a weekend of hiking.

So, did any of you guess the theme of our weekend? Anyone? How about the fog? Did any one notice the fog? I’ve seen photos of what scenery we should have been able to see on this hike but unfortunately for us we were enveloped in a thick hazy of cloud all weekend long. *sigh*

Stay tuned for more hiking tales from Switzerland xx

Autumn in Geneva + An Autumn Recipe

11 Nov

Has it really been 11 days since I last posted something on this blog of mine? Really??

The weeks are just flying by and before we know it December will be upon us and that means Christmas, winter and snow and cold and before I get carried away I should probably get on with the fact that we’re loving Autumn! So what have we been up to?

We went to our little farm down the road to pick up some pumpkins and chestnuts…

We went for a little stroll in Meyrin…

Then we had a few little dinner parties at our place and thus begins the cooking tales of the past few weeks.

Even before I started planning the menu for this particular dinner party I knew I wanted to have an “Autumn” sort of theme.

Switzerland is so very unlike Australia when it comes to food shopping. Australia is such a large country with space and varying climates to grow just about anything all year round and you can therefore buy most fruits and vegetable from the supermarket all year round. Switzerland on the other hand is a tiny country which imports a lot of its fruit and vegetables and as a result only stocks those that are currently in season.

My husband and I have discussed this often and agree that eating according to the seasons is much more exciting. It’s Autumn now and we’re excited about the new Apple varieties coming in, pears, pumpkins, root vegetables… Oh what fun!

Anyway, back to my little autumn dinner. The menu I finally settled on consisted of a Polenta toast starter with Olive Tapenade and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, followed by a Mustard and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts wrapped in Proscuitto and a Pear and Almond Tart for dessert. I have made this tart three times now and it never fails to impress and never fails to taste 100% delicious!! So I’m going to share this recipe with you.

Pear and Almond Tart

Courtesy of Donna Hay
  • 90g butter, softened
  • ½ cup (90g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (120g) almond meal
  • ¼ cup (40g) plain flour (or gluten-free flour for a gluten-free dessert)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder (or gluten-free powder for a gluten-free dessert)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • ½ cup (90g) brown sugar, extra
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling
  • double (thick) cream, to serve

Weekend Hiking in the Bernese Oberland

16 Oct

Hiking in Kandersteg in the canton of Bern

Now that the marathon training has finished and we have both recovered (physically) from the event we are taking the opportunity to do some other forms of physical activity, like hiking! The weather throughout most of Europe was predicted to be less an accommodating to our outdoor adventure plans but my wonderfully resourceful husband found a small pocket of landscape in the Bernese Oberland that looked promising. Thanks babe!

After packing a few essentials we caught the train on Saturday morning from Geneva to Kandersteg via Brig.

Day 1: Kandersteg to Selden

11km, 500m incline, 3h20m (suggested timing).

Oh my goodness, everything was white already!! I was not prepared for this. I’m struggling to come to grips with the cooler weather as it is let alone preparing for proper winter and snow and below freezing temperatures. It was a sight that I was not prepared for and promptly told my husband so all the while being astounded at his excitement for all things white and wonderful! Who is this person I married? I must admit though that I was really excited to be out and about, doing something physical other than running and exploring these beautiful parts of Switzerland.

The weather looked promising although after the snowfalls on Thursday and Friday night we donned our gators as we thought the trail could get a bit slushy. We started off after a quick bite to eat at the Kandersteg train station cafe (a piece of salami between two pieces of bread for chf 6, hmm) and sure enough the trails turned snowy very quickly. There were even some parts of the trail that had not been walked on in a few days (as evidenced by the unadulterated snow cover) so we made sure to create lots of fresh new footprints.. hehe.. a bit childish but so much fun! Puddles had iced over and I managed to pick up a huge piece of ice from one puddle – how cool is that!!

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Running in Geneva

13 Sep

Just a few pics from my run along the lake last night. Love running in my “current” hometown.

Summer in Geneva

29 Aug

This week could definitely be classified as Autumn weather. Cold nights and frosty mornings leading to mildly sunny days. But before I let the pining for summer begin, here’s the best of Geneva in Summer and what we’ve been up to (other than running, shock!).

Fêtes de Genève

Every July/August, Geneva comes to life for 10 days. With over 150 free concerts, a Miss Geneva contest, 5 kilometers of fair rides, water sport competitions, and more than 150 food and drink stands, the festival draws to a close with an hour long Grand Fireworks display. The Holy Cow burgers and fries were my best food experience at the festival this year. I kid you not, these fireworks are the most incredible I have ever seen and I don’t plan on missing one while we’re here.

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A Short Tour of Western Switzerland

16 Jul

I know this post is a little late in the making but here we are! Last month we had the grand privilege of hosting and entertaining my sister and her family for a few days during their jaunt around Europe.

I had been planning their visit for months; where to go, what to see, how to entertain the kids, etc, but unfortunately the weather was less than accommodating to our plans. Nevertheless, with the hubby playing tour guide and the double pram in hand, we were seen at the following spots:

1. Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

The Lake of Geneva is the largest inland lake in Europe and Geneva is at the very end of it. It is an absolutely beautiful location for an afternoon stroll in the sunshine with crystal clear water, the Alps and the Jura towering in the background and a million sail boats lining the shore. Oh, and not to forget the Jet d’Eau – the most famous landmark of Geneva (stats here for those interested)! In the Summer months, the shores of the lake are filled with people soaking up with sun and swimming in the lake. The most popular spot for swimming and sun lounging is the Bains des Paquis. Historically, the Bains des Paquis was the towns public baths however now you can not only enjoy swimming in an enclosed area but also a massage, hammam and super cheap, super yummy food at the “buvette” (plate of the day is around chf16!). From mid-July onwards there are music festivals (La Fête de la Musique and  Musiques en été) and outdoor movie theatres (CinéTransat and Orange Cinema), and of course the biggest event of the Geneva calendar the Fêtes de Genève (I will post about this one later in August). So if  you are visiting Geneva in the summertime then you will certainly not be lacking in things to see and do.

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l’Escalade – Part Two – Historical Parade

6 Jan

The Story

RoyaumeOn the night of December 11, 1602, Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy attacked Geneva by surprise after walking from La Roche and Haute-Savoie. There were more than two thousand men on foot and horseback and they arrived in Plainpalais, just outside the old city walls. Awoken from their slumber, the citizens of Geneva, the militia and the city guards seized their weapons to fight the enemy. No doubt there was a fierce battle that followed, but the story ends with the Frenchmen running back to their camp before sunrise.

The most famous symbol remembered from this invasion, and indeed the only part of the story we heard until attending this years celebrations,  was the pot of soup (“Marmite”) which Madame Cheynel, also known as the Mother Kingdom, tossed over the old city wall onto the head of an assailant below. Common folklore says that this was the reason for the victory over the French.

The Celebrations

DSC03819DSC03809This year was the 410th anniversary of the Escalade and celebrations commenced on Friday 7th December and ending on Sunday 9th December. The Escalade hisorical society (The Compagnie de 1602), along with over a thousand volunteers, recreates life as it was at the end of the 17th century in the old town of Geneva and around the cathedral. Festival activities to be enjoyed and explored included tours of the Old Town Hall, street defence manoeuvres and battle presentations, exhibitions of body armour and arsenal, access to secret walkways in the old town wall fortifications, and of course food stalls selling mulled wine and soup.

This was a totally new and exciting experience for us. Australia is such a young country (comparatively) that we have no wars or battles fought in the 17th century to commemorate or grand victories to celebrate, and so to join in the revelry of our adopted home town was really special.

DSC03888DSC03874The celebrations were brought to a close on Sunday evening, with a historical procession through the streets of Geneva. At five different locations along the route, the procession stops and a herald invites Genevans and visitors to recall that memorable night during which the city’s population won a lasting peace and to join in the singing of the traditional victory song.

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