Sunday, December 23, 2012

St Moritz: That's how we roll

Surrounded by 90 mountain lakes, the famous "champagne climate", and sophisticated clientele. Host to the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948, and numerous Ski World Championships and their famous guests. It is a place of world famous cosmopolitan ambience. Its high profile and prestige value endures all.

The name St Moritz is synonymous throughout the world with chic, elegance and class. St. Moritz keeps the promises made by its name, with frequented guests such as, Alfred Hitchcock, Brigitte Bardot and Gunter Sachs, Charlie Chaplin, Henry Ford, Greta Garbo, the Royal Family, the Kennedy family and the Shah of Persia. It is an embodiment of style, tradition and quality.

And then we came to town............

Our Stay
I had a work event in St Moritz, while my parents were visiting from Trinidad. So we decided to stay the weekend and see what the fuss is all about.

Jen waiting outside the hotel. We had to sneak in one by one so that we could pay for the single person room rate instead of the double. Class, class, class.

We found a restaurant named "Hauser", that offered an all you can eat meat buffet, where you cook your own meat on a hot swiss stone (see link Hauser - Pioeda Hot Stone). All you can eat Sirloin, Lamb, Shrimp, Pork, Bacon, Venison, Horse, Ostrich, Alligator, and Chicken. Great stuff, but a huge mistake by them to allow us into their establishment. Not sure how many times they had to re-fill the shrimp and lamb bowls on account of us. In fact, we came back two nights in a row! With Dobbie and Maureen in tow, you know we took this place to the cleaners.

Hot stone cooking

Local Swiss wine with dinner
St. Moritz boasts a unique concentration of fashion boutiques along Via Serlas. Via Serlas is to St. Moritz as the Bahnhofstrasse is to Zurich. Or Rodeo Drive to Los Angeles. From Chanel and Gucci to Louis Vuitton. All the prestigious names on the international fashion scene are lined up together. The latest brands vanish like butter on the tongue of every fashion freak: Roberto Cavalli, Ermenegildo Zegna and Polo Ralph Lauren. 

We took Mya for a walk along Via Serlas. 
"Wait a minute, is that fur coats they are selling?? Those bastards, I am going to take a dump right in front of their store, lets see what they think of that!" - Mya, letting it drop at the Roberto Cavalli fashion store. Class, Class, Class
Between sneaking around the hotel, putting the Hauser hot stone meat buffet to the brink of bankruptcy, and Mya giving Roberto Cavalli a piece of her mind, we left our mark on St Moritz.

Here are a bunch of pictures of hanging out around town and going up to the top of the Alp peaks surrounding St Moritz.

St Moritz
Rolls Royce driving through town

Rolls Royce driving through town

View of St Moritz, riding up the mountain on train
Cigar anyone?

Alphorn band
Our Hotel
On the roof of our hotel

On the roof of our hotel

Best hotel bed ever
Funicular train and Gondola ride to the top of the Alps
Funicular train up

Like Narnia

On the Gondola to the top(cable car)

On the Gondola to the top

Gondola cable wires

Gondola cable wires (it is crazy)

Gondola cable wires

Ski slopes in the Alps

How did that Audi make it up here?
Scarfing up for the cold

The view up in the Alps

At the top (-21 degrees Celsius)

Sunset on the way back down
At the bottom (at Lake St Moritz)
By January, the whole lake freezes over and gets covered in snow. They have horse racing, chariot racing, and winter polo matches on the frozen lake. Really hoping to make it back to see that.

Epic picture with lake reflection

Easily one of the most amazing places we have been.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hausfrau Victories

It has been my not so secret dream to take an early retirement from nursing and become a housewife.  This move has afforded me the opportunity to do just that, but being a Hausfrau doesn't come without its own battles...

Hausfrau vs. Produce
As a fellow expat said, you don't need to know German to know you're being bitched out in German.  I learned this all too well during a lunchtime trip to my local grocery store, Migros. I arrived filled with excitement to purchase the ingredients for my first home-cooked meal, and leisurely strolled around the market Google translating items along the way.  All was good, until I reached the check out counter.  The cashier held up my bag of tomatoes, gave me the stink eye, and started yelling at me in German.  Timidly I responded, "Um, Ich verstehe nicht. Sprechen Sie Englisch?"  She rolled her eyes and proceeded to complain about me, in German, to the next guy in line.  After a huff she left her station, all the while the line was growing, and came back with a printed out sticker which she then slapped on my bag of produce.  Oh, I have to weigh and price my own produce here.  My bad.  Lesson learned.

My next few visits to the grocery involved spying on fellow shoppers in an effort to figure out how to use the scales.  The light finally dawned and I cracked the code.  I'll pass my wisdom on to you, so that in your travels you can avoid future scuffles with cranky check out ladies.

Step 1: Bag produce & note code #

Step 2: Place bag on scale and press code #

Step 3: Place printed sticker on bag, and voilĂ , no more cranky check out ladies

Hausfrau vs. Washer/Dryer
Remember the wandering washer?  Well here's a little refresher.  During the spin cycle our washer/dryer would freak out, bang violently against the kitchen cabinets, make a set a noise as if it was about to explode, and caused the apartment floor to vibrate earthquake style.  Needless to say laundry was quite a frightening experience.  I became like one of Pavlov's dogs.  Yet instead of eliciting salivation, the sound of the spin cycle starting caused palpitations.

I am happy to report that one month and 4 repairmen later we finally have a functioning washer/dryer. No longer do we cower in fear at the start of the spin cycle.  No longer does a full hamper bring on an anxiety attack.  This is a huge win for the Hausfrau.  Life changing.  Dare I say I even now love the once hated washer/dryer?  A little tip if you ever encounter a temperamental Swiss washer/dryer that refuses to stay still...make sure the transport bolts are removed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Love Lugano!

This past weekend Kevin, Mya, and I went on a two night getaway to the lovely city of Lugano located in the Italian region of Switzerland (Ticino).  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city and made some discoveries along the way...

Discovery #1: Mother Nature can't even put a stop to Swiss efficiency.
One day before our trip a landslide resulted in a 300-ton boulder blocking the train tracks, and thus interrupted our 2.5 hour direct train ride to Lugano.  Although it was disappointing to go from a 1 train trip to a 4 train/1 bus journey, it surprisingly ran very smoothly and only took 1 hour longer than normal.

Discovery #2: In Lugano "Trani" doesn't mean what you think it means.
The night we arrived, Kevin took me to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Trani.  At first I was like, "Wait, where are you taking me?", but as soon as we stepped inside I knew that once again Kevin had found a gem. With a warm and romantic atmosphere and food & wine to match, Trani definately scored big.  Here is the link Trani Osteria & Wine Bar

Discovery #3: Mya's still a tourist attraction.
Just like in Lucerne, Mya is always getting some Japanese tourist love.

Discovery #4: We love chillin' with the cotton heads.
After a long day of what I call hiking and maybe what others would just refer to as walking, we settled ourselves into Grotto Castagneto.  A grotto is a traditional tavern of Ticino offering local wine and food, and more importantly locals.  While enjoying some local Merlot by the cozy fire, we watched some local oldies play an intense 3 hour card game. 

The guy in blue stood up on more than one occasion to animatedly yell in Italian to his fellow players.
Local Merlot

Discovery #5: Mya is so over the funicular.
She may have been lovin' the ride in Stoos, but in Lugano I think the novelty has worn off. I, however, am still lovin it.  

Discovery #6: We will never tire of spending an afternoon enjoying some great food, drinks, and amazing views.
Pictures from our walk around town.