The ten most amazing and mysterious places in the world







The ten most amazing and mysterious places in the world.

Thanks Yabbedoo for this.  But there are so many more.  What would be on your list of amazing or mysterious places in the world?

You might have take a cruise that’s gone someplace amazing.  Or been on a world tour.  Or just wish to see something amazing.  Where would it be?

One of mine would be the Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland.

Tell us what your special places are.


Outside the Gate

This is what it looks like outside your backyard gate.  We are about 20′ from the edge of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland.

How teenagers are restoring Faith In Humanity.

We’re in Germany with our kids and grandkids.

The other day our grandsons and their dad discovered a tree house not far from where they live.  It had rotted steps up the trunk of the tree and looked long-unused.  They decided they’d like to make it usable.  (It’s in the forest, public land.)  While they were there, a 19-year old kid came by and told them he and some friends had built it when he was about 15.  But the neighbors had complained and called the police and even though it was public land, they were told they were a nuisance and had to “cease and desist”.

So, given teenage ingenuity and defiance and determination, they went to another forest, found the perfect location/tree, went to the city and BOUGHT the tree (1500Euro / 6 kids).  Then they set about building another tree house.  This one is 5 stories, about 60′ high.   They fenced what they bought, but invite anyone to come and use it.  (For awhile a neighbor had put up a “get lost” sign to which the new owners tacked their city permit and put up an impolite response.  All that is now gone.) While this kid, Marcus, was with the boys, he invited them to this new place.  It turns out that my son in law is the oldest person (45) to ever have been up it and my grandson (8) is the youngest.  They hold the record!

In the meantime, Marcus, builder of both houses, bequeathed the 1st, now-abandoned house to the boys to do with what they want.

They took Fred and me to it not only to show it to us, but to leave a 6 pack of Coke for Marcus as a Thank You for being so gracious and allowing them to experience his work.  Our grandson wrote a note and left it with the Coke in the tree house.

We've been welcomed to come up anytime

Transporting the Coke, 2 bottles at a time

You can check them out @ because being teenage builders, they have to have their own website.

They made it all the way to the top.

Today they went back to “their” (the original) tree house to work on repairing the steps so they could climb up.  It was no easy feat as they didn’t have the proper, long enough, nails to do a really good job.  But they got enough boards afixed to the tree to climb up for their 1st look at their new possession.  When they got there, they found a note:  “Thank you for the drinks.  This is for you.”  And there lay a pile of (proper) nails!

How many adults would have reacted, from beginning to end, as these teenagers did?  The IS hope for humanity!

View from our balcony. Church in rainbow.

French and Wines

French wine consumption has dropped by three billion bottles to just four billion – the equivalent of one bottle per adult each week – in two generations.

In a study in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, the pair looked at successive generations and their approach to wine drinking, dividing the demographic into four groups Photo: Bloomberg

Researchers fear the culture of wine drinking is being lost in France, with younger generations less likely to savour a bottle over food and more prone to drink simply for pleasure.

They are also less aware of its cultural significance to France.

Just 16.5 per cent of the French population are now regular wine drinkers, according to research from the ESC Pau research centre and Toulouse 1 Capitole University/

Regular consumption over meals has been replaced by the French drinking wine occasionally rather than frequently, often on nights out.

This has occurred within the last two generations, according to researchers Pascal Poutet and Thierry Lorey.

In a study in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, the pair looked at successive generations and their approach to wine drinking, dividing the demographic into four groups.

The oldest was those over 65 years who had lived through the Second World War, followed by those between 40 and 65 who lived through a period of growth and worldwide development.

Those 30 to 40 – “Generation X”, who grew up through the French crisis of the 1990s, were next, followed by those under 30 – the internet generation.

“Each successive generation represents a general increase in libertarian attitudes and irreverence towards institutions”, says Dr Poutet.

While all agreed on the value and ’bon homie’ of drinking wine, it was the over 65s who most linked it with French heritage and were more likely to drink it daily and share the experience.

The middle groups are much more occasional drinkers and drink more socially with friends rather than family, and social status is a factor in their wine consumption.

But for the under-30s, wine consumption is very much the exception rather than the rule.

Dr Poutet said: “There is a dual gap between the three generations, older, middle-aged, younger – on the one hand, the consumption frequency gap (from a daily wine consumption t

o a festive one, and then exceptional), on the other, the pleasure gap (evolution from a genuine pleasure towards a more ostentatious pleasure, more difficult to perceive for the younger generation).”

The younger generations may still take pride in French wine but have little awareness of its cultural place in French history, he said.

He explained: “The generational analysis of the representations of wine in France does seem to be appropriate to explain the deep changes that wine has undergone in the last 60 years.

“It is precisely the progressive loss of the identity, sacred and imaginary representations of wine (nation, region, lesser importance of the transmission of the culture of wine by the father within the family, etc)

over three generations that explains France’s global consumption attitudes, and especially the steep decline in the volumes of wine consumed.”

French wines we like

We drink French wines

That’s what I heard


What to do in a day in Switzerland

Outside the Gate

This is the backyard gate, 20′ from the Lake of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

The Gate

What goes on outside the gate keeps us occupied for hours.  Life on the lake is non-stop.  We have swans,

Local Mama. Will watch for hatchlings.

ducks, boats, kite surfers,

Kite surfers (need a windy day)

wind surfers, swimmers, walkers, sunbathers, cuckoos (never actually heard one outside a clock before.  They sound EXACTLY like the clocks), a fox  and beavers.

Beavers work.

I can see this tree from the house and had to go to investigate.  I’ve never seen beaver’s (beavers’?) work up close. I went back the next day, without the camera, and the other side of the trunk was chewed and the tree was leaning the other direction, almost prostrate.  It hasn’t fallen yet so I hope I get back there before it does.  (Does anyone know if beavers make noises and if so what they sound like?  We have the weirdest “chatter” that goes on all night–sounds like a cross between a sea lion and a gull–that I can’t identify since I’ve never heard it before.  I was wondering if it is the beavers.)

The views from the house are fantastic.  On haze-free days, about 1/2 the time, we can see a whole range of the Alps.  Not only do they look close, but they are close.

View of Eiger North Wall and Jungfrau across Lake Neuchatel

However, without a car they are not easily accessible.  We decided we’d “go native” this month and not spend $100/day on renting a car (and gas is $7.60/gal at today’s exchange rate).  Public transportation in Switzerland covers about every single block of the country.  Unfortunately, it’s not only tedious and time-consuming, it isn’t so cheap either.  The bus stops right outside our driveway, but is a flat fee for 1/2 hour, whether you’re going 200 meters or across town, of $3.55 per person.  So a round trip to the store, with time for perusing all the goodies and wandering in and out, costs $7.10 each or $14.20 for both of us!  Adds to the price of groceries.

The trip into Neuchatel is much more worthwhile.  The store in the center of town is 2-story and they have a device I’ve never seen in a store.

Those of you who have been to airports in Switzerland have seen similar escalators that take baggage carts, but I’ve never seen a separate one just for carts.  Ingeniously, they have the people escalator timed to move faster than the cart escalator so you are waiting for it when it arrives.

Fred worked in Neuchatel very early in his career and finding the shop was a goal of his. He did with no problem (old towns don’t change much over the centuries) and not only that, but found the son of the then-owner with whom he worked.  Some things, and people, change very slowly in this country.

Fred at Carchuterie Margot, Neuchatel


Market Square Neuchatel

View from the Neuchaatel Castle

The highlight so far has been the ride up the Funicular to the top of the mountain (well, hill compared to the Alps) range behind our house.  The day was perfect and the view of 3 lakes and the Alps was breathtaking, literally.  Fred and I had our 1st date at Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne and I thought that was a spectacular view with 7 lakes in front and a quintessential Swiss valley with cows ringing cowbells, on the other side.  I still do think it is spectacular and terribly romantic.  But this was far better–at least view-wise.

Lake Neuchatel and Alps

We’re here for another 10 days then we’re heading for France.  So when we run across new and interesting places there, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, please feel free to post comments, discussions, questions.  Thanks!

Not all baggage fees are created equal.

Check out what your trans-Atlantic carrier is charging.  (Ever been to Iceland?  Now might be the time to try a stopover there.)

First try at a blog—arriving in Switzerland

In lieu of a newsletter, I’m trying a blog.  If I can master this, we’ll post what we’re experiencing on our trip to Switzerland, France and Germany, the experiences, the sights, the food and the wines, for you to enjoy or ignore as you wish.

Please, please, feel free to comment on anything and especially add your own experiences and comments about your thoughts or travel and/or wine experiences.

We have been in Switzerland a couple of days and the weather has been absolutely PERFECT – meaning we can sit in the sun in shorts but not feel hot. Got caught in a thunder shower eating outdoors one night–it came on as fast as in the movies. A first for us.

Went to the outdoor market right across the boarder in France on Sunday. This is the same market that a few years ago we were walking around and Fred passed a woman with a red Trader Joe’s shopping bag. Wonder how many other West Coasters are wandering around that local farmers market. This town is in the suburbs of Geneva so there are more foreigners than natives and many, many of them are Americans working in Geneva. So, not that amazing, but still……Trader Joe’s?  (For those of you not living on the west coast of America, Trader Joe’s is a small, employee-owned grocer chain that has such a devoted following that I’ve met people who actually wouldn’t move somewhere where they didn’t have access to it.)  Fred was dying to have oysters and Champagne at a stall there, but we opted to bring some home for an appetizer instead.

The wines have been amazing and at the market we discovered a Beaujolais Blanc that I wish we’d bought a case of. We’re going to try and get to their place and stock up if/when we go through Burgundy next month.

For those of you who don’t know, we are in Switzerland for a month in a town next to Neuchatel, in the French region. We’re staying in a house right on the Lake of Neuchatel. We’ll be exploring the food and wine of the region. We’ve already started by going to a one-man-run Italian restaurant, La Forchetta, in the tiny town of La Neuveville. We were thinking, “Yeah, Right”. Well….the food in this 10-seat place was DEVINE. Some of the best Italian food I’ve had. The owner, who is the greeter, the chef and the server, was an architect who decided to follow his passion. Wonder if he was a good as designing buildings as he is at designing meals. There was a menu, but he’ll create anything you want using any of the ingredients on the menu. This is a place we’ll remember a long, long time.