We hosted our wedding at the spectacular Park Hotel Vitznau. I didn’t realize how important it would be for me/us to get up there and say things in front of family and friends. Lifetime memories. Magic. Not seeing everyone enough because there’s no time and we planned the whole thing ourselves. A brief moment in time where everyone was in the same place, and it will never happen again. My heart just bursts thinking about everyone who took time, found childcare or brought their kids, spent money, and made the trek to this beautiful tiny village in Switzerland to celebrate us…and our baby girl, too.
I can't escape Donald Trump anywhere I go. He's everywhere, including the Lucerne Carnival in Switzerland, flailing around, looking orange. He's on that stage in the picture below, hiding behind Kermit the Frog.
We happened to be in Lucerne this year during Carnival for (very sad) family reasons, but I am happy I got to experience something that meant a lot to Alex - and most locals in Lucerne - growing up. There is a long history, and today families spend months getting ready, making their costumes, planning their Carnival look. Think Halloween, but calmer and nicer, on the whole. Think dad and kid as matching giraffes.
For all the costumes and merriment, my favorite discovery was Fasnachtschüechli, which is the typical Swiss carnival snack - bites of lightly fried dough topped with crunchy bits of sugar.
But us non-Swiss, non-German speaking folk can't really say it.
Here, Alex tells you how to say it.
So there you go. Practice a few times, and you'll be ready to pick up a few little boxes at the local Migros or Coop grocery stores.
Next year's carnival is Feb 28-March 5, 2019.
What joy it brings to look back on a year in (iPhone) photos. This clump of a zillion photos is basically just for me, to look back on the truly awesome and unforgettable, from Cairo and the great Pyramids on New Year's Day 2017 to spending Christmas in Scottsdale with my family before ringing in 2018. It makes it look like nothing bad, sad, or challenging happened the entire year, which of course, is complete hogwash (but wouldn't that be wonderful). I think this is going to be a big year of change. Taking one, two, three deep breaths...
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- An Aperol Spritz on the terrace at the Hotel Caprice - stunning views, perfect weather!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.