The Best View in Lucerne

I visited Lucerne a few times before I knew Alex, but since knowing him, have grown to really know it and love his hometown. If you go to Switzerland, you really can't miss it (bossy and true). It's so stunningly beautiful and there is so much to do in the mountains and surrounding area, too. 

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Switzerland is a country of ridiculous views and the best ones in Lucerne can be found at the Art Deco Hotel Montana. You take a little funicular to get up there, and it's a must-see even if you're not staying - in the summer, the Montana Beach Club (aka their bar on the terrace) is the place to be. And if you're very lucky - you stay in THIS ROOM with THIS TERRACE.

Mount Pilatus - symbol of Lucerne.

Mount Pilatus - symbol of Lucerne.

They also have live music most days of the week in the Louis bar (named for Louis Armstrong). It's such a warm, joyous place to be - and shows off everything I love about great hotels. 

The Louis Bar.

The Louis Bar.

Terrace, sunset.

Terrace, sunset.

Beautiful Wengen & the Bernese Oberland

View from the Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen. 

View from the Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen. 

We spent a picture-perfect summer week in Wengen in the Bernese Oberland this summer. It's a magical car-free town with views of the Jungfrau, one of the highest mountains in Europe. Little Wengen, with its cute main street, wonderful restaurants, and mountain town clothing shops, is also home to one of my favorite hotels in Switzerland - the family-owned Beausite Park Hotel Wengen. You wake up to views of the valley and the Jungfrau, enjoy the most delicious breakfast buffet and dinners, fantastic coffee in the cozy lounge, live piano music at night in the bar, and true Swiss hospitality. I loved seeing all the American, British, and Swiss families gather at the dinner tables on their vacations. It's so, so lovely. 

The must-do's in the Bernese Oberland: hiking, cheese, and wine. Here are some more of my highlights: 

  • A wonderful family-owned cheese shop, Chäs Gruebi in Wengen, that stocks lots of Alpenkäse (Alpine cheese) and Swiss wine. The essentials.
The Chäs Gruebi shop in Wengen (on the way back to the Beausite Park Hotel). 

The Chäs Gruebi shop in Wengen (on the way back to the Beausite Park Hotel). 

  • Dinner outside at Da Sina (behind the Hotel Schönegg) for pizza, pasta, and salad. It was such beautiful, cool weather and the light on the Jungfrau looked fiery and ablaze as the sun set. Eat on the patio if it's nice, but the inside is super cozy, too. 
Dinner outside at Da Sina. 

Dinner outside at Da Sina. 

The Jungfrau ablaze near Da Sina. 

The Jungfrau ablaze near Da Sina. 

  • An Aperol Spritz on the terrace at the Hotel Caprice - stunning views, perfect weather! 
On the terrace at Hotel Caprice. 

On the terrace at Hotel Caprice. 

  • Hiking from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg: a 1.5 hour walk, slow descent, doable for almost anyone. The fields of wildflowers (blooming in late June/July only), the rushing waterfalls cascading down from the glaciers, the views, THE AIR. You take the gondola from Wengen to Männlichen and then the trail is well-marked, like most trails in Switzerland. In Kleine Scheidegg, I loved eating at Restaurant Grindelwaldblick. You can either hike back to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg or take the train down.
En route from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. 

En route from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. 

  • A slice of homemade apricot cake at the restaurant at the Wengenalp train station - German/Austrian/Swiss baked goods are hands-down my favorite in the world. They're not as sweet (you won't find enormous cupcakes or brownies), there's a big focus on fruit (like the apricots), and they're often topped with a giant blob of lightly sweetened whipped cream. 
  • Lunch at Hotel Alpenruh in Mürren after hiking from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren (amazing views of the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch mountains). Take the quick tram from Lauterbrunnen (across from the train station) to Grütschalp and set off from there. It's mostly flat and really beautiful - you'll make friends with all the cows along the way. Best done on a day that isn't too hot - there isn't a lot of shade. 
Lunch at Hotel Alpenruh in Mürren.

Lunch at Hotel Alpenruh in Mürren.

  • A note on trains: Not all mountain railways are included with your Swiss Travel Pass, a must if you're taking a lot of trains in Switzerland. Seat61 has a great overview of train options in Switzerland, but know that you will probably be shelling out extra for gondolas and other regional trains in the Bernese Oberland. 

The first days of (city) summer

New York City in the summer can be challenging. The subways become sweltering saunas, the streets waft up a trashy stench. I got heat stroke a couple of weeks ago for the first time after hanging out in a Brooklyn beer garden for a few hours (I had one beer, more than my usual of zero, and tons of water). 

But I've been on some great NYC summer dates this year. The air has been breezy at night. I've spent time with people I love, really good friends. I saw a movie with my friend Dayna and then we decided to hit up Red Farm on the Upper West Side and walk the Brooklyn Bridge home. I walked up to William Greenberg on Madison for the best black and white cookies ever (it's something you have to eat in your life), then renewed my lapsed Met membership. I had dinner with my siblings at Beyoglu on the Upper East Side, with great outdoor seating, falafel, and hummus.  I went to a baby shower at Akwaaba B&B in historic Bed-Stuy and was blown away at how gorgeous the neighborhood was, an area I had never explored. 

Summer in the city will never be my favorite season (now, the Hudson Valley, Hamptons, Newport - that's a different story) - the buzzing air conditioner that makes my throat dry, the need to shower three times a day...

But somehow life feels all fleeting and short lately. And I love this city.

Stone Barns Agricultural Center

Blue Hill Farm is one of those places that New Yorkers love. People make pilgrimages from all over the world to visit and dine here. Dan Barber (featured on Chef's Table) opened this foodie wonderland in 2004, just as America's farm-to-table obsession was really kicking off. Located an hour's drive outside in the city in Pocantino Hills near Tarrytown, it's dinner that has been chronicled and covered a thousand times. You pay $258 per person, and have to jump on reserving a table 60 days ahead. 

I've had dinner here once, but what I didn't realize is that you can go up and spend the day at the Stone Barns Center, the same location as Blue Hill. I highly recommend this. On summer weekends, they charge you $20 admission, which includes a full day of activities. You won't be able or want to do everything (carrot weeding, anyone?) but there are some interesting and fun options - like egg collecting, duck herding, and a basic overview tour. You can also eat fantastic food at the casual cafe with outdoor seating - like the best baked goods and mini frittatas in the morning, and sandwiches and salads at lunch. 

If only June weekends could stretch out forever. 

annie-eggcollecting
Happy Chickens 

Happy Chickens