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29 September 2014

Pictures Part 4

Second of three albums for Switzerland…

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Pictures Part 3

I’ve decided to split the Switzerland pictures into 3 separate albums.

Here’s the first one, also the biggest!!!  It was SO HARD to whittle them down any more.

Click on the picture to see the album…

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Pictures Part 2

“Thanks” to the Air France pilot strike, we got a bonus day in Paris because our transatlantic flight was cancelled… TWICE!

We love Paris; it’s hard NOT to enjoy it and despite being sweaty, having no luggage, and not knowing when we’d be able to fly home, we still had a marvellous stay.

We wasted a lot of time looking for the hotel; I booked it from Basel with my IPhone, the map sucked and the address was abbreviated. I read “232 rue Faubourg steps away from the Gare du Nord”. How hard can that be?  HARD! Guess what, there are many rue Faubourg in Paris! We were searching on Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis instead of Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin!!  ARGH!

Rue du Faubourg Saint Denis ended at 230 so we started wondering if we got scammed as there was no 232!! We asked almost everyone for directions – shops and businesses and people on the street - and FINALY discovered our error…  boy did we feel like idiots! So much precious time wasted!!

Had I seen the map properly, I would have just taken the metro to save time as it turns out the stop was right across the street from our hotel! Of course. I really should have concluded that from the start since the hotel and the metro stop are both named Louis Blanc. Duh!

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So instead of just walking straight down Rue La Fayette, we did something more like this:

Map 2

 

Just click on the picture here to see the album:

05 Lunch at Terminus Nord - Simone's Dessert

I miss it already!

Pictures Part 1

I am starting with the easy stuff!

Here are the pictures from our pop-over into Germany to visit Konstanz.

Click on the picture to see the album.

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And so, we made it!

After 2 cancelled flights in a row, we are home. Thankfully it was not as bad as it could have been as there are (with the 3 airlines that fly the route combined) about 6 flights a day from Paris to Montreal if not more, so lots of chances to get home.

Now I have to jump through some hoops to get the hotel room reimbursed, but I have no mental energy to do that right now.

I am surprised I am up at 4AM, it's usually earlier than that on Day 1. I don't know how my husband can go in to work on Day 1 - I always need 2 days to unpack properly, do laundry, groceries, pay bills and decompress before going back to work....  hmmmmm, I think I just realised why it's easier for him!!

I started organizing the pictures a little last night, the official count is just under 1600 so I don’t think they will be ready today; lots to go through and cull.

In case you were curious, I put on exactly 5 pounds on vacation.  Not bad, I thought it would be more!!  Let's see know how fast is comes off! 

Man, seriously, this already feels like months ago:

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27 September 2014

Will we ever get home?

So, our flight on Saturday night was cancelled, and we were put onto a Wednesday flight.
 
That was not acceptable to us, so when we went to the airport in Basel, we got put on a Sunday morning flight- great!!! By the time we got to Paris, we learned the flight was cancelled. Crap.
 
We now have boarding passes on a flight for Sunday afternoon, I don't think it will be cancelled because we'd have received an email by now... but what they did was oversell the flight on purpose, knowing some people won't show up.
 
So, cross your fingers for us for tomorrow!
 
In the meantime, we're enjoying a bonus day in Paris. It's nice of course, how can you not enjoy Paris? But with no luggage and flight disruptions looming in our heads it's far from a care free vacation!!
 
Here are a few pics if you haven't seen them on Facebook:
 

 

26 September 2014

Swiss Field Report 15 – Day 15

CHEESE COUNT: fondue 7 / raclette 1. 

We did it!!! We tied the cheese record from 2011! That one was 4 and 4, but I did not have raclette more often this time because I could not find a place that served it the way I like it: “melt it yourself” with a little stove on the table.  Instead, it was prepared on the plate in the kitchen and served melted. I don’t like that because it cools (and therefore congeals) too quickly and you can’t eat it fast enough; so instead we opted for fondue.  Here was tonight’s – If I had to rate it, it would be near the bottom of the list; too thick, they must have added starch.

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We spent the day with our friend in Konstanz Germany, right on the Swiss border and easily reached from her place.  You can immediately tell you are not in Switzerland anymore because prices for everything drop drastically! No wonder so many Swiss people hop over the border to do their shopping, I would too!!! Switzerland is SO EXPENSIVE!!!

The town of Konstanz and the Bodensee are very nice, I love lake-side atmosphere so we went for drinks after lunch to a hotel terrace by the lake – so nice!! (well, I had drinks and she & my husband had cake!)

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We stayed until about 3:30 ish, then said goodbye to our friend and headed over to Basel for our last night as we fly out of here tomorrow…  IN THEORY!

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If you are friends with me on Facebook, you already know my flight from Paris to Montreal tomorrow was cancelled. NO CLUE what’s in store and frankly I am too exhausted to speculate. 

We’ll see tomorrow what kind of fun and games await us!!!

25 September 2014

Swiss Field Report 14 – Day 14

CHEESE COUNT: fondue 6 / raclette 1

Short and sweet for today; we met up with our friend in Chur for lunch, then back to her place to spend the night.

To get to Chur from Samedan, we took a regular train and guess what…  IT WAS DRAGGING GLACIER EXPRESS CARS!!!  Oh my God I feel like such a chooch for spending money on that thing!! Imagine: same train, same track, just bigger windows!!! Here’s a shot of it when we were turning – normal cars in front, tourist trap cars in back.

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Chur was new for me, nice little town to putter around in for 2 hours…

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24 September 2014

Swiss Field Report 13 – Day 13

CHEESE COUNT: fondue 6 / raclette 1

Saint Moritz is very quaint, but there is not a whole heck of a lot to do if you are not skiing or hiking (or shopping!!!). A full day is more than enough if you’re just “walking around”.

We got off to a late start because it was -3°C when we got up! It made us reluctant to get an early start to the day.

We started off by going to Piz Nair, and we were a little annoyed that we didn’t get a discount with our Swiss Pass; normally these excursions up to famous mountain peaks are not included with the pass, but you do get a discount (half price). In this case, we had to pay full price which was 144 CHF for 2 adult return tickets! not cheap!!

At that price I said we’d stay up there as long as it took for the fog to lift, and it wasn’t bad at all – we were above the clouds and fog so we got a nice view. 

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We stayed for a drink, I had a Schümli Pflümli, if you are not familiar with it, it’s the ultimate boozy coffee – a well loved Swiss concoction.

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…then back down to explore the town(s) a little more: St Moritz Bad and St Moritz Dorf.  Not a lot to see overall, we just walked around the lake then went for lunch.

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Ironically, we found a place that serves fondue right by the place we were searching around last evening! Figures.  I have to admit I am slowly reaching my limit for cheesy meals, but I will at least try and have ONE more to tie the record from 2011.

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After lunch, we walked around the lake a second time then headed back to the hotel so my husband could rest and have a nap; his cold is so far very minor but better safe than sorry! Around 6PM I woke him up and we went for a walk around Samedan (the town where we are staying) and aside from the lake, I like it even better than St Moritz!

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In the mother of all ironies, since I was not very hungry for supper, we decide to have a “lite bite” in the hotel restaurant…  and wouldn’t you know they have fondue AND raclette!!!!  If only we would have known that yesterday!

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The Air France strike has been concerning me. We got an email today giving us a head’s up that all is being done to minimize flight disruptions and “reassuring” us that so far they have managed to run half their flights…  How is this reassuring exactly????  Ah well – there is really nothing we can do about it, just have to cross our fingers and toes that all runs smoothly on Saturday!!

23 September 2014

Swiss Field Report 12 – Day 12

CHEESE COUNT: fondue 5 / raclette 1

BIG lesson learned today: save your money and forget about the Glacier Express!!

It was not bad, but not worth the extra money and more time to get to our final destination. We travelled from Andermatt to Samedan, which is 10 minutes before Saint Moritz. Trust me: take a normal train, it’s just as good….  if not better! Why? well, another lesson I learned today was to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!

For months I was praying for blue skies, and I got them! Not a single cloud!!! therefore, the train is like a greenhouse!!!!!!!!!!!!!  OMG it was so hotttttttttt!  There was air-conditioning, but it did not help.

I also think the killer-views are at the other end of the Glacier Express route, near Zermatt.  (And I have travelled that route FOUR times on a normal train and never ever felt like I was missing out).

Conclusion: Glacier Express = fail. It’s a tourist trap.

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p.s.: That meat plate + cheese plate was 44 CHF! AND the cheese was melting on the plate because the sun was beating down on it so strongly! I am half tempted to count it as a raclette in my cheese count!

We knew we’d arrive in St Moritz late in the afternoon after dropping our bags off at the hotel (which by the way is the BEST one so far) so we had little other plans than finding a place to have fondue.

WHO KNEW that St Moritz is full of Italian restaurants??? We could not find ANY Swiss places! My guidebook is a little outdated (2006) but did recommend a good fondue place. Not knowing if it still existed, we searched and searched for it – no luck. I went into a hotel near the area it should have been to ask about it and it turns out it moved to another location “across the street” from the train station. Off we went to search and search and search around there. Nothing!

I finally asked at the train station ticket window and it turns out the guy knew the place. It was behind the train station!! so, after about an hour, we finally got our fondue fix!

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The weather is freezing cold, under 10°C – not that I would mind ordinarily but we were not dressed appropriately.  I just hope it doesn’t lead to more colds; my husband has been fighting off the sniffles all week!

22 September 2014

Swiss Field Report 11 – Day 11

CHEESE COUNT: fondue 4 / raclette 1

Don’t get me wrong, I am having a great vacation, but in retrospect I regret the Ticcino part of our itinerary.

I wanted a SWISS vacation, not a vacation on the ITALIAN RIVIERA. It’s too different (by that I mean un-Swiss) and it took me completely out of my Swiss frame of mind. My husband kept forgetting he was even in Switzerland!

It makes perfect sense that the Swiss themselves would come here for a get -away, it’s a perfect vacation spot…  I just did not want to take a vacation from my vacation! I am happy that we are heading back into the land of chalets and cheese and cows and walking trails and alpine vistas tomorrow.

I think we remembered Lugano so fondly from out visit in 2006 because we had not yet been to Italy that much back then. Since then, we’ve been to Italy quite a few times and in all honestly Lugano is expensive (because it’s in Switzerland) so if I want an Italian Riviera Fix… I’ll just go to the Italian Riviera!!

So today we went to Locarno and Ascona on Lago Maggiore, beautiful but h-h-h-h-h-hot!!

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We even decided to go for an ice cream, but it was so hot it melted before I got it!!

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We’re all packed up again and ready to move on tomorrow: It’s Glacier Express Day and the skies will be clear! YEAH!!!  I think I will appreciate even more given my experiences over the last few days.