Monthly Archives: May 2011

That’s what I heard

Beaver

http://www.hark.com/clips/zmjgtqssng-canadian-beaver-castor-canadensis

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

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.