Spoilt by Spring in Switzerland!

I love living in a country with four seasons, and of all the seasons Spring and Autumn are my favourites.  I even love winter with it’s beautiful snow covered silence and sceneries. It is for that reason (and time with family) that I often leave Vancouver every winter in search of snowier vistas in Ontario.  That said, this winter in Canada seems to have been a particularly long one.

As I packed for Europe a month and a half ago, I expected much the same.  Both the long johns and heavy winter coat were in the packing pile, at least they were until I saw a status update on facebook, that made me think, maybe I should actually check the weather in Poland and Switzerland.  My eyes nearly popped out of my head – it was in the double digits!!!  Sitting at around 13 degrees Celsius in Warsaw and 17 degrees Celsius in Zürich that first week of my trip in early March!  While still deciding to pack a scarf, toque and mitts, as they were costume pieces for one of my talks, the winter coat was substituted out in lieu of a raincoat and the long johns were moved into the no longer taking pile!  So very satisfying!

As I awoke that first morning to the sun shining in my window in Warsaw, I glanced outside to see GREEN GRASS!!!  Oh how I’d missed thee!

 

Enjoying the sun and green grass in Warsaw

I was not the only one soaking in the sun and enjoying the green grass in Warsaw!

 

People looked at me crazily that first European day, as I wandered around Warsaw, practicing my TEDxWarsaw talk in a short sleeve top.  I looked at them crazily, that they would still be bundled up in their winter wear.

Well, Poland had nothing on Switzerland.  While Spring was just trying to sprout up on my arrival in Poland, it was in full bloom in Switzerland!  Nothing better to cure the psyche, after a particularly long and blistery winter.

 

A warm spring day in Zurich

This could have been a summers day, relaxing by the lake in Zurich!

 

I like to think that by sharing the following images, I am not taunting those of you in Canada and the northern US, but giving you a sense of hope that the Spring is not that far off.  And if you just can’t handle the current post winter ‘blah’ any longer, last I checked, flights were quite reasonable to Geneva, and only a wee bit higher to Zürich from North America.

 

Late March scene in Geneva, Switzerland

The scene in late March in Geneva!

 

So!!! What you’ve all been waiting for!  Spring in Switzerland!!!

 

Spring in Switzerland

Blooming Zurich!

 

Zürich

My first destination was Zürich!  Here is my first look down upon this fair land:

 

Landing in Zurich, Switzerland

Just like I remember images of Switzerland from picture books in my childhood!

 

And before I even found my hotel, I found a sunny outdoor patio, thanks to Aurelia, and got my first taste of Switzerland!

 

First Taste of Switzerland on a Zurich patio.

My first tastes of Switzerland ~ local wine and a chocolate kiss!

 

The frustrating thing about Zürich was that there were just too many lovely outdoor patios waiting to be enjoyed, and not nearly enough time.

 

Markthalle Patio by the Viadukt in West Zurich

Wish I’d enjoyed a drink or a bite here by the Zurcih West Markthalle and the Viadukt.

 

Have to admit it was good seeing cherry blossoms too, as I was afraid I’d missed them in Vancouver.

They even had patios that turned into community growing spaces every Spring, like here in Frau Gerolds Garten in Zürich West!

 

Frau Gerolds Garten in Zurich West, Switzerland

This quirky community garden in Zurich West very much made me smile.

 

Even the Spring Bunnies were out in Zürich West, as the weather was so great!

 

Spring Bunnies in Zurich West, Switzerland

Definitely my kind of bunnies from St. Jakob Beck in Zurich West.

 

And who needs a patio, when this could be the view for your lakeside picnic in Zürich, our favourite lunch spot!

 

Beautiful Spring day, lakeside in Zurich, Switzerland

*sigh* Miss our lunches here!

 

Just look at how this spot made Emme and Dirk feel!

 

Emme Rogers and Dirk Neumann lakeside in Zurich

Emme and Dirk soaking in the sun, lakeside in Zurich!

 

Somewhere on the Road to Lucerne

Despite it being sad leaving Zürich, I could not think of a better way to have left than on a beautiful day for a road trip with two good friends from Zürich to Bern, taking the scenic route via Lucerne.  I mean, just check out this view!

 

Outside of Lucerne, Switzerland

How beautiful is this!

 

Couldn’t resist not stomping with our roamancing red boots through these beautiful waters!

 

A swiss dip in a lake near Lucerne.

Seems I wasn’t the only one that couldn’t resist the water, and there were some far braver soles than I!

 

May have driven Dirk nuts sharing my desire to find a barn like this one, only with cows near by.  Sadly he had a deadline … so I’d have to wait for Gruyère.

 

Barn outside of Lucerne, Switzerland

Wanted to do a Swiss Red Boot Stomp with such a barn and Swiss cows!

 

We did, however, take the time to wander around Lucerne.  Such a beautiful day!

 

Erica Hargreave in Lucerne

*Sigh!* Such a beautiful day! Emme even lent me her boots, after I waterlogged our Roamancing Red Boots.

 

Bern

After all that sun, I have to admit a few Spring showers while wandering through the Saturday markets in Bern, created a bit of comfy, cheshire cat feeling in me.

 

Spring Showers in Bern, Switzerland

Spring flowers, rain, and red wellies … all the comforts of home.

 

Fribourg & Gruyère

Sun, rain … Spring really could not be complete without a bit of snow … and Fribourg, and more specifically Gruyère gave me just that.

 

Fribourg, Switzerland

You can’t quite tell from this photo, but along with it came beautiful falling snow.

 

Beautiful Old Town Fribourg scenery, shot through a snowflake dotted lens.

 

Clock Tower in Fribourg, Switzerland

A snowy Spring day in Fribourg

 

And with the arrival of Spring, of course, so too comes the kids …

 

 

… and for me a few new Swiss friends of the variety that you meet on a Gruyère Dairy Farm.

 

Gruyere Dairy calf.

A very affectionate Swiss gal!

 

And with Spring in the air, Spring Fever did get the better of me, when it came to one Swiss chocolatey beauty!

 

Chocolatey Love in Switzerland

Certainly one of my tastier kisses.

 

Nothing like waking up to freshly falling snow in Gruyère.

 

 

Even better … flowers and freshly falling snow …

 

Snow Flowers in Old Town Gruyere, Switzerland

Beauty coating beauty in Gruyere’s Old Town

 

Nests built, awaiting a Spring brood!

 

Birds nest in Gruere Castle, Switzerland

Would love to know whose young will be starting out life in Gruyere Castle soon.

 

And with the warm sun shining down on us, the snow soon began to melt.

 

 

Hard to compare all the beauty that overwhelmed us in Switzerland, but this was certainly one of the more beautiful days!

 

Lavaux

Now the problem with Switzerland is that you just don’t want to leave any one place, but then when you get to the next place, you simply wished you had more time there, and if any place in Switzerland that that was most true for for me, this past trip, it was Lavaux.

I may have been arriving early in the grape growing season, but I still found it to be simply beautiful!

 

Vineyards on Lake Geneva, Switzerland

My first view of Lavaux and Lake Geneva from the train. Would love to see this view again in early Autumn.

 

Everywhere I looked in the Montreux Region, I was rewarded with sights of the beginnings of Spring!  Including from my home at the Grand Hôtel du Lac in Vevey!

 

Grand Hotel du Lac in Vevey, Switzerland

This was a very difficult room to leave! So comfortably luxurious!

 

And it wasn’t just my room that sported beautiful Spring views.  Here is the view from the other side of the Hotel du Lac:

 

Hotel du Lac in Vevey, Switzerland

I believe those are the French Alps in the background.

 

Really these were just a tease of what the region had to offer though, as look what awaited me in Chexbres and Rivaz, as we wandered in and out of the vineyards at the Lavaux UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Chemin de la Dame!

 

Rivaz, Switzerland

Such a beautiful day! I know I am saying that a lot, but that’s what I kept thinking.

 

How does one tear themselves away from all of this?!?

 

Rivaz, Switzerland

Could have spent hours wandering here. (Well … actually I did spend hours wandering, just not as many hours as I would have liked.)

 

It was hard, let me tell you, but Spring in Geneva was beckoning and an old friend was waiting for me, so depart I did.

 

Geneva

The weather and fresh blooms in Geneva certainly did not disappoint!

 

Spring in Switzerland

Just what the doctor ordered to cure the psyche from a long hard winter.

 

It seems that the rest of Geneva had been waiting for this weather too, as the Geneva waterfront struck me as one giant living room!

 

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Was very tempted to sit down behind this pair and listen to what they were playing.

 

Was flabbergasted by how hopping les Bains des Paquis was!

 

Les Bain des Paquis in Geneva, Switzerland

There were actually people swimming around the corner from here!

 

Yet, the locals still knew where to find some solitude, a short stones throw away, if so desired.

 

Spring in Switzerland

This pair seemed to know where to go for a bit of peace and quiet.

 

And as Emme gloated, it was even warm enough to frolic in your bra and underwear (which she demonstrated, to my great embarrassment, in front of CERN)!

 

A bare swim along les Bains des Paquis in Geneva, Switzerland

I’d say Emme was shown up by these British gals though! Much more daring!

 

So after all of that, you can image the trauma that hit me, when this was my first view on Canada again …

 

March in Montreal

Hello Montreal! Hello Winter!

 

After my initial shrieks of disbelieving terror, I am now looking at this as an opportunity to enjoy the beginnings of Spring all over again this year, and am readjusting my wardrobe accordingly and patiently. At least that’s what I keep trying to tell myself.

 

Our Switzerland Inspired Travel Happy Dance!

For those of you that follow along on my personal site, you may be aware that I have been on the mend for the past few months, which has meant a number of months of me being unable to do some of the things that make me the happiest – dancing and travel.

And if there was one thing I learned during that time of abstinence, it was how much I missed dancing and travel, and in returning to them, how great they both make me feel.  In fact they were both exactly what I needed to push my healing forward.  And really, when you think of healing in terms of travel, it is hard to find a better destination to heal in than Switzerland.  Just look at how it made Erica and I feel!

 

 

While Switzerland, as a whole was incredibly healing for me, with the fresh air and tasty food, helping to get me stronger, there are a few places I’d like to highlight, as having been extra restorative to me: B2 Boutique Hotel in Zurich with their therapeutic Thermalbad & Spa, the farm fresh air at La Ferme du Bourgoz in Gruyere, and the indulgence of Grand Hotel du Lac in Vevey with the pampering of their Spa Bellefontaine. Thank you all so much!

 

I heart Chexbres!

This cobblestone mosaic in Chexbres pretty much sums up how I feel about Switzerland!

 

In fact all of this made me realise that our Roamancing Red Boot Stomp was in fact our Travel Happy Dance!  This also got us thinking that there are likely other travellers out their with their own #TravelHappyDances.  We showed you ours!  Now show us yours!  Share your dance with the #TravelHappyDance hashtag and we will be sure to give it some social media love!

Kisses,

Emme  xoxo

Dining: As Seen On TV at The Brats Brothers in San Fernando Valley

I am someone who enjoys salivating over food related television shows, occasionally getting inspired to try and up the level of my own cooking.  Some of the more spirited shows have even encouraged a few friendly competitive challenges between Emme Rogers and myself. ( I totally beat her in an onion peeling contest inspired by Bob Blumer’s Gluten For Punishment!) I also quite often find myself pining away for travel when I watch shows that showcase different establishments around the world.  Knowing this, you can imagine my excitement when one day while watching Diners Drive-ins and Dives, they featured a little restaurant called The Brats Brothers only 5 minutes away from my house!  The crazy thing is … I had never even heard of this place.

 

German Bratwurst restaurant Brats Brothers

The Brats Brothers Entrance

 

My cousin was in town visiting, which was perfect because we grew up eating a lot of Hungarian and German food, and this place promised amazing bratwurst, sauerkraut, and beer! She was the perfect person to accompany me on my ‘as seen on TV’ dining experience.

 

Sausage Fan

My first reaction upon walking in was ‘Oh my gosh, they have pretzels hanging from the ceiling!’ Then I noticed the fan was sausage!

 

The ambiance was just right for the occasion.  We sat at picnic style tables surrounded by rustic decor, all providing a bit of a Bavarian drinking hall type of vibe.  Speaking of drinking … they have authentic German beer on tap here, and they even have their own home brew!  If you have never enjoyed a true German beer, you must know there is something so fresh and pure about the taste.

 

German Beer

I went with their home brew!

 

Now, knowing me and my inability to make decisions when faced with so many great ones, you can imagine how it took me a whole beer to choose from the extensive list of brats they have.  I knew it was going to be good no matter what I chose, because of the interesting ensemble of ketchups and mustards they had.

 

They had curried Ketchup, Smoked Ketchup, Spiced Mustard and more!

They had curried Ketchup, Smoked Ketchup, Spiced Mustard and more!

 

My cousin and I finally discovered and settled on their sampler plate so we could experience at least 4 of their different brats.  We of course included sauerkraut and their little house dumplings called spaetzle. This ended up being a grand idea!

 

Perfect Choice!

Perfect Choice!

 

Our favorite brat turned out to be the spicy Hungarian one.  Having a grandmother who made sauerkraut and dumplings all the time, I have to say that this place is pretty authentic!  I classify it as one of those places that only the locals would know about (despite having been featured on TV), which I think always have the best food and the best patrons.  Let this stand as my tip for you then, should you ever be in the San Fernando Valley: look up The Brats Brothers and then stroll around the main street of Ventura Blvd for some great little independent store shopping!

 

Roamancing the Prose

Roamancing Hurghada

A loving moment in Hurghada!

 

We (Janis Stammler) and myself created some romantic prose for all of you from our Roamancing crew. Here they are:

 

By sea or by air
To travel is always a grand affair
The adventures await
So pick your date

 

Roamancing Wadi el Gemal

A romantic moment in Wadi el Gemal!

 

Paris, Brazil, Jamaica or Rome
No matter where you’re led to from home
It will be nothing but great fascination
To reach your destination

 

New cultures and history;
True love’s mystery
Awaits your eager mind

 

New memories unfold
Through adventures most bold
See what you will find

 

Roamancing Paynes Prairie

A child’s love on Paynes Prairie!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

With love,

From me (Lori), Janis and the rest of the Roamancing Crew!

 

Falling in Love with Hostels, Thanks to Freehand Miami!

After one terrible hostel experience in Banff during the Banff Television Festival, I made a judgement call on hostels … thinking they were all thin walled, with less than comfortable beds, intended for immature party obsessed late teen and early 20-somethings (I think I was a late 20-something at the time).  Now don’t shoot me for this judgement … in my first night at the hostel in question, my roommate and I did not sleep a wink, as we had people start partying outside our room at 2 am, got to listen to teen relationship drama outside our door half the night, followed by the police showing up due to breakins and stolen goods. All this, while the front desk staff at the hostel did nothing about the complaints. If you have ever been to the Banff Television Festival, you’ll know that whatever sleep you are able to get is vital to surviving and to your success, so we moved out at 8 am the next morning.

Thanks to Filmgate Miami, that was not my last hostel experience after all. Instead they made me fall in love with hostels, by booking me in to stay at the Freehand Hostel in Miami, over the course of their Festival.

 

Tikki Bar in Freehand Miami Courtyard

Fountains & Tikki Bars, Oh My!

 

What I was greeted with, upon arriving in Miami and at the Freehand Miami, was with a warm and friendly style of place, with a bohemian feel, and a mixture of travellers of all ages.  Yep!  This was definitely my style of space.

 

Hanging out in the Freehand Miami Lobby

“I don’t want to work! I want to beat on my drum all day!”

 

The sun filled lobby hosted an eclectic array of furniture and instruments, designed to make people feel at home and want to linger and chat.

 

Playing the piano in the Freehand Miami lobby.

Loved following the sound of music to find someone playing the piano in the lobby.

 

Painted map on the wall at Freehand Miami.

Gotta love a place thats not too afraid to paint their own map.

 

I studied the homemade map of the area, trying to get my bearings, and figure out where everything was, and where I’d be spending the next few days, over the course of the festival. While I waited my turn to checkin, I eyed up the activities board, mulling the Festival schedule in my head. Would I able to make the Sunday Beach Yoga or Backyard Barbecue?  I had heard from my Filmgate Miami hosts that the weekly Sunday night Barbecues were always a good time.

 

 

The Week, Freehand Miami style.

Hmm … what do I have the time to do???

 

So far so good! And then they showed me my room …

 

Freehand Miami Standard King

Home Sweet Home!

 

Wow!  This was a room in a hostel!?!  With the interior design by Roman & Williams, this was nicer than many 5 star hotels I’d stay in.

The room included a walk-in closet … my own bathroom with some rather divine toiletries

 

Dr. Broanner's Magic at Freehand Miami

My first experience with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, and hopefully not my last, as they were rather divine!

 

… artwork by local Miami artists … a safe that fit both my laptops and camera gear …

 

Freehand Miami Laptop Size Safe

Brilliant! Surprised 5-star hotels are not in the habit of equipping rooms with laptop size safes.

 

… everything I needed to work (including complimentary wifi) and more (iPod docking station) …

 

Retro Freehand Miami ipod dock

Rather fancied this touch!

 

… and then there was the bed …

 

Roamancing Red Boots right at home at Freehand Miami

Yes, our Roamancing Red Boots were right at home!

 

… I still dream about that king size bed … so comfy!  The red boots were right at home here!

And to give you the full picture, here is what the shared rooms look like with their beds with their 10-inch mattresses!

 

Super 8 Room at Freehand Miami

The Super 8 Room

 

Sleep, however, would have to wait!  There was after all a backyard pool to check out!

 

Freehand Miami Backyard beckoning!

With an entrance like this, how could the backyard not beckon!

 

I certainly was not disappointed by the pool …

 

Freehand Miami Pool LOVE

‘LOVE’ is about right!

 

… the courtyard, where conversation with interesting travellers would spark up …

 

Cascading flowers over Freehand Miami Courtyard!

Love that flowers cascaded over this courtyard bordered with herbs!

 

… the backyard games area …

 

Backyard Games at Freehand Miami

Ping Pong, anyone?

 

A bit of bocci at Freehand Miami

Care for a game of bocci?

 

… the tiki bar …

 

Coconut Man at the Freehand Miami Tikki Bar

Not a bad fellow to make acquaintances with!

 

… and even bicycles …

 

Freehand Miami Bicycles

Ideal Miami transportation!

 

Forget the room, this would be my office for the next few days … as well it should be … under the Miami sun!

 

Our office at Freehand Miami

Must say, the office is looking rather delightful today!

 

And as soon as the sun went to sleep, that tiki bar – The Broken Shaker, came alive, giving this courtyard a rocking nightlife of it’s own, perfect for a nightcap … or in Emme‘s case, to experiment with filming her first ‘Art Film’!

 

Broken Shaker Cocktail at Freehand Miami

My first time trying a cocktail containing egg white. Was rather delicious!

 

But even with the buzzing backyard nightlife (and dare I say, cocktails – tasty things, that packed quite a punch), the design of the space, meant that by the time I’d found my way to bed, there was no noise to stop me from peacefully drifting off to sleep.

After all there was a beach beckoning before the Festival begun again the next day … both in wind …

 

Paragliders in Miami

Could easily have watched these paragliders sail all afternoon!

 

… and shine!

 

Miami sun and colour!

Got to love a blast of sand, sun, and colour in the dead of winter!

 

Can’t wait to return!

 

Freehand Miami Stone Alligator

I wonder if this fellow will be awaiting my return?