Day 3: Vanduz, LI and Vrin & Trun, CH

Our first clue…

SMS had wanted to visit Lichtenstein so I booked an overnight there on our drive from Germany to Italy.  We had a delicious breakfast buffet, which we added to our bill.  I am sort of in love with a breakfast of muesli, cheese and whole-grain bread.

I wanted to do more than just pass through Lichtenstein so we decided to do the Prince’s Way Hike.  We drove through Vanduz, with its pretty terraced streets.  We drove up to Gaflei where there was a small paved parking lot and little (clean!) bathroom hut at the start of the trail.

A little chossy…

The views were very beautiful but there was a lot of loose rock.  The trail was well-formed, but there was evidence of prior rock slides.  Some of the trail hugged the cliff with some pretty steep drops.  We were doing pretty well until we came to an area where the path had slid away.  People braver (more fool-hardy) than ourselves picked their way across but we decided to turn back.  SMS and I have done some stupid outdoor adventures in our time but neither one of us felt good about continuing the hike.  SMS didn’t want to die and I didn’t want to have a panic attack halfway across the gravel-strewn “path.”  I guess I didn’t want to die either.

SMS on the trail

So, that was that!  Next up was heading into the Romansch-area of Switzerland.  SMS had wanted to visit last Summer but we were unable to make it, mostly due to an episode called SMS and the Whole Wheel of Raw Cheese, where our valiant hero ate a lot of unpasteurized cheese at a grotto with unexpected (expected?) consequences.

The valley looking up towards Vrin
A Romansch Donkey
Vrin
A Romansch Chicken

Romansch is a language with several dialects across the region that largely developed due to the isolation of these valley towns.  We drove to Vrin, a town where over 85% of people speak Romansch according to SMS’ research.  We went to a coffee shop and had a delicious pastry roll with nut filling (yum!) along with our coffee.  We heard a little bit of Romansch and SMS was a happy man.  We walked around the village and then headed over to Trun, where we would spend the night and have an epic meal at Restaurant Todi.

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The Romansch Museum in Trun- limited hours!
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Casa Tödi, SMS and car

We checked into the Casa Todi, took a nap and then walked around town. Our dinner reservation was at 7:30.  We were one of two couples in the restaurant.  We had an excellent waiter who spoke English with us and German with the other couple.  Amazing.  We ordered wine pairings with our meal based on his recommendations.  It wasn’t a formal pairing but what he suggested by the glass based on what we ordered.

Flowers at the Restaurant
Beef tartare
Our side dish- Potatoes cooked in a salted sourdough bread bowl (the bowl is not meant to be eaten)

Before dinner, we each had a glass of local Riesling and a tiny chick pea chip for amuse bouche.  For an appetizer, SMS had a tradition tattas dish, which were chard wrapped sausage and potato meatballs, for lack of better descriptor.  The chef Manuel Reichenbach, who came out later in the dinner, explained that it was a traditional dish that was developed during wartime to stretch the food supply by adding the cheaper potato to create more of the filling. He said that you could tell a family’s wealth by the sausage to potato ratio. I had the steak tartare, which was absolutely amazing and intriguingly presented on a rectangle serving dish that resembled a shadow box so underneath the food, there were pine needles and small flowers.  Wine for that course was a local Pinot Noir.

Dessert

For dinner, we both got the trout paired with a white wine with a local grape and chardonnay. For dessert, we ordered a dish with a small creme brule, cake and scoop of sorbet.  I ordered some grappa, which was an excellent nightcap.

Grappa

Switzerland Travelogues!

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Hello, faithful reader!  It may seem to have been dead around here but I have been working very hard, I promise!  Over the past two weekends, I have been working on my Switzerland entries from our vacation in July 2016.  I like having my vacations in proper order so rather than having a bunch of #TBT-style entries, I backdated all of them to their proper date in July 2016.  So, you can either search by month over there in the right column or just click below to any day that interests you.  The vacation was amazing but I am fully aware that this may be as boring as a long slideshow so never fear, I’ll have some more current posts soon!

Day 1: Arrival

Day 2: Luzern and Melchsee-Frutt

Day 3: Luzern

Day 4: Bern to Vevey

Day 5: L’Etivaz and Gruyere

Day 6: Vevey to Zermatt

Day 7: Blüemlisalphütte

Day 8: Bundalp – Griesalp – Interlaken- Mürren

Day 9: Via Ferrata (Murren – Gimmelwald)

Day 9 (cont): Gimmelwald – Grindelwald

Day 10: Grindelwald – Luzern – Lucarno

Day 11: Valle Verzasca- Orselina

Day 12: Ascona- Bellinzona- Lugano

Day 13: Lugano

Day 14: Lugano – Zurich

Day 15: Zurich

Day 16: Zurich – Home

Have You Mooo-ved On?

“I was so upset!  I thought you were gone forever!”
I am still here!  It’s been awhile, yes!  Now that I am back, we have so much to talk about.  Since I last wrote, I finished fellowship, traveled to Switzerland, hung out in the Bay Area, drove cross-country and, now, I’m hanging out at my parents’ house in my old bedroom from high school.  In case you’re wondering, it’s redecorated.  No intact shrine to my awkward years, thank goodness.
“I’ve never been awkward.”
When SMS and I traveled to Switzerland, I wanted to be off-line as much as possible so no blogging for me.  But never fear!  I took along a paper journal so I’ll be writing a fair number of July recaps.  I’m really excited to get back to blogging since it’s proven to be a really nice way to use for future reference, whether recalling a favorite restaurant or thinking about a fun past trip.
Switzerland was crazy beautiful.  I would advise not filling up water bottles downstream of grazing cows.
No personal horror stories but really, it just makes sense.

Switzerland, Day 16: Zurich – Home

We woke up and squeezed (sqouze?) in a quick breakfast at Milchbar before heading to the airport.  The flight home was fine and when we got home, our buddies were waiting for us no worse for wear.

It was a great vacation and amazing to explore such a small but incredibly diverse country in regards to language, culture and things to do.  We feel very lucky to have had such an extended trip and we’re looking forward to more travel in the future.

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Switzerland, Day 15: Zurich

SMS was starting to improve.  I felt so badly that he was sick on the vacation.  There were a few silver linings like at least it didn’t happen in the mountains and that he felt better by the time we flew out but, overall, it was a bummer.  I am fairly certain he has sworn off raw cheese for the next several years.

We walked around in the morning, following tips from the “Tastemakers” featured in the Zurich city guide app.  We went to Milchbar for coffee and pastries.

Then we checked out the two famous churches: Grossmünster and Fraumünster, with its famous Chagall stained glass windows.  We stopped in Schwarzenbach Kolonialwaren (specialty store), which had delicious-looking items but none that we purchased.  For lunch, we stood in line at Sternen Grill and ordered a very delicious hot dog.

Then we went to West Zurich where I showed SMS the cool sights I had discovered the day prior.  Then we went back to the hotel where SMS rested up while I went down to the lake to check out the Manifesto!

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There was a huge floating wooden dock/structure with outdoor movies playing and multiple places for jumping into the water.  I went swimming in the lake and it felt absolutely amazing.

After my swim, I met up with SMS and we went to Noon for dinner.  It was pretty good. Most importantly, it sounded good to SMS after a few days of being sick.  We walked around afterwards- it was a beautiful evening.  Overall, it was a pretty good last full day in Switzerland and SMS was definitely on the mend.

Switzerland, Day 14: Lugano – Zurich

SMS still felt badly so I went to breakfast by myself, followed by a walk around the lake.  I bought myself a Busker’s Fair tee-shirt, which was bright yellow with a seagull on it.  When I showed it to SMS later, he questioned this purchase (and by implication, my sanity) knowing that I really don’t like seagulls.  Although this reads very boringly, it was a sign that he was coming back to life.  Hooray!

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Lambs say “Muuh” in Swiss-German!
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Google Translate is so helpful in translating graffiti!

We stayed in the hotel until check-out so SMS could rest up.  We had been planning on seeing a town in the Romansch area but that was nixed due to SMS’ malaise.  We took the bus, then the train to Zurich.  We arrived around 4, locked up the suitcase and headed over to the Bellevue section where we met our AirBnB host at Cafe Odeon.

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Once we got to the apartment, SMS laid down and I went over to W. Zurich to walk around.  I got off at the Hardbrücke station and checked out Frau Gerolds Garten, the Freitag store, the Hive with its outside art and an old viaduct with boutique shops and a larger Market Hall.  I walked back to central Zurich through Gewerbeschule, which was a very cool neighborhood.  As I got closer to the apartment, I came upon the dress rehearsal for a kids’ dance school show.  I saw cute little kids in funny animal costumes so it was a great end to the day!

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The penguin and fish “walks” were very funny.

Switzerland, Day 13: Lugano

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View from the second floor of the hotel

Another day, another delicious breakfast.  Now that we were at a hotel, it was a pretty fantastic spread. Unfortunately, my travel partner was starting to look worse for wear.  Although we had the same lunch the day before, SMS had been very Piggly-Wiggly with the raw cheese we ordered and he felt sick.  This got worse as the day went on although he tried to be a trooper until I almost killed him with a bus misadventure.

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BUT!  Let me not jump too far ahead!  After breakfast, SMS went back to bed (I should have realized this was a very bad sign) while I explored the downtown.  I walked along the lake and it was very beautiful.  A Busker’s Fair was going on and there were lots of street performers and art displays being set up.  I went back to the hotel and wanted to go on my own Grotto adventure.  There had been excellent write-ups for a Grotto in the hills above Lugano and their fantastic polenta.  So, SMS rallied and we hopped on the #8 bus.

Unfortunately, the bus route was very confusing with a sort of 3-leaf clover-shaped route over several miles.  We got on and headed in the wrong direction.  When I decided we should get off, the bus driver looked at us questioningly but away we went.  We crossed the street to wait for the bus in the other direction.  While waiting, SMS laid down because he was feeling unwell, which resulted in the cops driving by 5 minutes later checking us out.  It was fairly clear someone had called us in since really, we were in the middle of nowhere and SMS was lying in the street.  Fortunately, the bus came back at that moment so the cops figured out what was going on without needing to talk to us. Embarrassingly, it was the same driver who, this time, just asked us where we wanted to go.  We pointed at the map and he had us sit down and he would tell us where to get off.  We passed our initial boarding stop and then went up the hill to be deposited at the bus stop directly across the street from the restaurant, which had just closed.  Boo hoo!

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Grotto Morchino, closed 😥

Internally, I think SMS was having serious doubts about his (and my) decision-making ability, but he said he was feeling ok (this was later admitted to be a lie) so we walked to Osteria Pazzallo, which was an amazing find!   There was delicious bread, the best salad and tasty limone and parmesan spaghetti. The waitress was very concerned as to why SMS was not eating but I mimicked that he was hungover, which made her very relieved and we laughed about how SMS was “stanco.”  Then he died.

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He looks pretty good for being sick!

Ok, not really, but I was starting to realize that in an effort to be a good sport, he was really wearing himself out and he was pretty sick.  So, we took the bus back to the hotel where he slept for the rest of the afternoon.

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Official Drink of the Trip

I went to the pool, which was delightful.  I read, wrote and drank an Aperol Spritz!  I checked on SMS who was still out for the count, so I walked into Lugano and watched some of the Busker shows.  One acrobat troupe in particular was amazing!

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I went back to the hotel again and then went out for dinner, solo.  I was sad that SMS was so sick and definitely missed him!

 

I took the 431 bus up the hill to the now-open Grotto Morchino!  As a solo diner, there was space outside at a picnic table although it looks like a place where reservations are recommended.  I had the polenta y ossobucco, which was excellent.  The house merlot paired perfectly and I was pretty happy that my grotto sagashimasu had worked out.