Thursday, 24 April 2014

Geneva and Grindelwald, Switzerland, February 2013

Now I know that this was meant to be a blog about food. However, I happen to travel now and then, and what is better than trying different dishes in different countries? But it would be a pity to only write about the food and not about the country and city I tried it, right?

Travelling is absolutely amazing and I hope to get to travel a lot more in my life. Actually, in about three weeks I will be flying back home for my friend's wedding in Rotterdam and after that I will be roadtripping around Italy. I am so looking forward to that! To see the Italian countryside, but also to taste some of the best and most amazing regional food and wines. And not to forget to finally eat some Dutch food again. Kroketten, Bitterballen, Frikandel Speciaal and chips with loads of mayo. Cannot wait!!

In the meantime, I though I'd share some of my past travel stories, the first of which is about Switzerland, which we visited in February 2013.

I had never been to Switzerland before but I was particularly keen to try some amazing cheese fondue and traditional rosti! Rosti is a potato dish which we also used to eat back home. Not the homemade version unfortunately, but the version from the freezer. I have tried to make rosti myself (recipe to come), and it turned out OK, but it's not easy to make. First you need to get the right type of potato. You need to peel the potatoes, and grate them. Then you need to drain as much liquid out of them as possible, and once the grated potato is dry enough you can season it and add an egg, some flour, some chives and onion and some other ingredients if you like. I made little cakes and fried them in oil.

The rosti I had in Switzerland however was prepared in a large pan I believe and was delicious. Because it was served with a beautiful mushroom sauce and amazingly tender beef strips, it was too easy to finish the whole plate. I love the hearty, filling dishes they have in Europe. It's something I really miss now I live in Australia. 

I also miss winter. The atmosphere in winter. It's cold and dark outside and when you walk into a nice restaurant or pub with a fireplace and there is a nice table and candles, you immediately warm up. I have been to the Snowy Mountains here in Australia before but it doesn't even come close to European winter. No Christmas lights, no decorations. It seems like some of the wintersport areas in Europe always have some sort of lights and decorations. After 5 years in Australia, I really really long for winter every year. But winter in Australia is not winter. It's not a proper winter. Therefore I prefer to travel to Europe in winter. Not to ski or to snowboard but to eat warm food and enjoy the atmosphere. And sleep under a blanket! 

Geneva is very small compared to Sydney and is more like a village. It's so beautiful! And clean! However, we arrived on a Sunday and unfortunately pretty much everything was closed. The centre has little cobblestone streets and bars serving mulled wine. Geneva has a few large shops, but these were also closed of course. 

A lot of people living in Geneva are expats considering the UN is based there, and it is very expensive to rent an apartment or even to find one. I met up with my friend who I met while I was doing an internship in New York, and she told me Geneva is very expensive! 

The best part about Geneva is the lake. It's beautiful! It was freezing cold when we were there and there was a fair bit of wind which was stabbing cold. At the lake there is a 'baths' area where people can enjoy a sauna and then jump in the ice cold water to cool down. Some people were sitting on the pier in their bathing suits like it was summer. Crazy. It is a very nice walk around the lake and you can easily walk to the town centre. 

We stayed at Hotel Edelweiss which was a beautiful cheese smelling hotel near the Lake. The whole hotel was smelling like cheese because it has this amazing traditional restaurant which is very popular with the locals. We were so lucky to get a spot. A traditional jodel band was playing and customers could even try playing the Alphorn (I had a go and I wasn't very good at it). Some people may find this place a bit tacky but I absolutely loved it! The rooms were decorated traditionally and the location was great.

We had a cheesefondue and a meatfondue. The cheesefondue was served with bread. For the meatfondue you need to cook the meat in hot oil. The meat was served with different types of sauce and some pickles and vegies. It was so good! I was so full after eating it all. But there is always some space for dessert, which was a beautiful apfelstrudel. It was warm, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and just perfect! I could hardly stand up let alone move after eating enough food to last for a week, and rolled myself into my traditional Swiss bed.

Switzerland is not very big and we took the train to get from place to place. In the Swiss Alps we visited Grindelwald, a small village near the Jungfraujoch, the 'top of Europe'. To get to the Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald you get on a cute little mountain train with the most amazing views! Unfortunately it was cloudy and it is so expensive to go all the way to the top! So we decided to go halfway, which was pretty good too. Now I'm not very keen on skiing or snowboarding but I know MrBehomeforT would have loved to snowboard there....

Grindelwald itself is a tiny, cute little village but has everything you need. The hotel we booked was not very nice, although it was supposed to be a five star hotel. Our balcony was right above the bus station... classy. The staff was not very nice either. But the place had a bar, with an amazing DJ. We had a good laugh drinking schnapps with all the drunk locals trying to dance on old 70's and 80's music. 

There are not a lot of other things to do in Grindelwald. There are a few restaurants and some bars, including the 'Avocado Bar' which is run by an Ozzie. If you are not up for having a few beers or some schnapps, you can always go to a local cafe and have a nice mulled wine by the fireplace. Pretty good.

I would definitely go back! 


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