Rainy days and thoughts of food

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This motel at the end of our driveway has a restaurant – we went there for dinner last week to celebrate our niece’s birthday.  Most Swiss restaurants serve traditional food that is simple and hearty.  You can almost always expect a variety of schnitzels – pork is especially good here and is something I don’t usually like in Australia.  There is often a sausage salad – sausages here are also really good and there are many varieties of them.  Zuercher geschnetzeltes is particularly good.  It is pieces of veal cooked in a mushroom cream sauce and usually served with rosti (grated potato cooked in a frypan) or noodles.  Yum!!

You can get fondue of course.  There are actually three types of fondue – cheese (which is served with bread cubes), bourguignonne (pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil), and chinoise (meat and vegetables are cooked in hot broth).

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Raclette is a favourite of mine.  The grill is put on the table and each person prepares their own.  Food can be grilled on top (eg. skewers or pieces of bacon) and then each person has their own tray to put in the underneath section.  The thick slices of cheese are bought ready-prepared in the supermarket and come in a variety of flavours (including paprika, pepper) and these are melted in the small trays.  It is often served with small pickled onions, boiled potatoes, a variety of cold meats, and small gherkins.

All that talk of food is making me hungry….  It has been raining most of the week and I have been feeling a little housebound so try to go out for a short walk every day to get some fresh air.  Best I go now before I find myself at the fridge :)))

Have a good weekend and a big happy birthday to Steph xxxxxxxxx

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Fun Facts about France! (by Claudia)

1. Where is it?     France is the large country to the left of Switzerland.  It has borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

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2. What language do they speak?     French.

3. What is their currency?     Euros.

4. What do they eat?     Snails, frog legs, crêpes and a nice treat macaroons!

5. What does their flag look like?

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6. One of the most well known places is?     The Eiffel Tower!

7. What is their capital city?     Paris.

8. What is the current population?     65.43 million.

9. How do they say hello?     Bonjour.

10. How do they say Goodbye?     Au revoir.

Spring Flea Market

DSC_0313Our town had a flea market on the weekend so we went for a look.  The rainy day was a blessing for buyers because some stall holders were dropping their prices as soon as you walked up to the stand.  No bargaining required!

DSC_0321We have tried to not buy a lot of things when we are here but for 1 euro these were too good to pass up on and will get a lot of use.

DSC_0326And this little brass mirror will be a good souvenir….

Pastis

DSC_0317We tried Pastis when we were in France.  It is an aperitif the French drink to stimulate the appetite before a meal.  It is clear when served and then you add water to it and it becomes cloudy and has a smooth aniseed flavour.  Delicious.

Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Lover’s Bridge & Bastille Market

DSC_0267On our last day in Paris we again braved the awful weather to see a few more things before we had to head home.  Notre Dame is an incredible piece of architecture.  It was hard to get good photos in the pouring rain but a lot of people were trying!

DSC_0282The famous Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge in Paris.

DSC_0285People have started attaching love-locks here as well.

DSC_0295We went to the Lover’s Bridge to add our piece of history to Paris.

DSC_0296There are millions of locks attached to the railing.  So we picked a spot in the middle of the bridge that we could hopefully remember if we ever get back here….

DSC_0291And squeezed our lock next to a couple of locks that were fairly easy to identify.

DSC_0293Then we all threw a key into the River Seine.  We dedicated our lock to lifelong love, happiness and good health.

DSC_0305With a very short amount of time left we quickly jumped on the Metro and headed to Bastille where a market was in progress.  It was love at first sight for me when I saw this brass bar/dessert cart.  It was in fantastic condition (although was missing a piece of glass) and we spent a few frantic minutes trying to work out if we could dismantle it to take it with us on the train.  Unfortunately I had to leave it for someone else… I am still lamenting the loss of my great find.  It was only 30 euros and I’m pretty sure we could have talked the price down.  Ok, sob sob, moving on……

DSC_0306As we left the Metro we discovered busking, Paris style.  A string section playing Pachelbel’s canon in D.  It was wonderful and echoed all through the many tunnels of the Metro.  A memorable finish to our stay in Paris.

 

Arc de Triomphe & Sacre Coeur

DSC_0225We headed to the Arc de Triomphe in the afternoon to see Paris from a different perspective.  If you have never been to Paris you might not know that it sits in the middle of an extremely busy roundabout.  It is mayhem.  I tell you this so you can really appreciate the madness of the next couple of photos.

DSC_0229-001These two decided to link arms and set off across the roundabout… that they made it alive is a miracle!  They almost got hit more than a few times.  (There is an underground tunnel that takes you to and from the Arc de Triomphe).

DSC_0233And the number of people who just waltzed out into the middle of the Champs-Elysees to take a photo was unbelievable.  They are literally standing in the middle of the road.  One nutcase even set up a tripod.

DSC_0185So, we climbed more steps to get to the top.  It is really worth it for the view.  Looking towards the Eiffel Tower…

DSC_0190And along the Champs-Elysees….

DSC_0219This is the memorial flame dedicated to the unknown French soldier who gave his life during World War I.  His tomb is here.

DSC_0235Next we headed to Montmarte and Sacre Coeur.  The hawkers here are a little more in your face than in other parts of Paris.

DSC_0237The carousels in this city are really beautiful.  They are everywhere.

DSC_0241Paris, the city of many many steps 🙂

DSC_0262This guy was showing off some pretty amazing ball skills while balancing on top of a post.

 

Musee de Louvre

Indulge me…. I can’t stop at just a few photos 🙂

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The Louvre is 14km of art gallery.  It is bigger than you can imagine.  You can’t see it all so you have to decide on a couple of exhibits and enjoy them.  We decided to see the Mona Lisa (of course), some of the Renaissance art, and the ancient Roman and Greek sculptures.

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I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the very modern glass pyramid that is the entrance to this very historic museum.  But I loved it.  I loved everything about this place.

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The inner courtyard….

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The glass pyramid – so so beautiful inside and out.

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Everyone wants to see this lady.

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She is protected behind bullet-proof glass.

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When I was at High School I loved art history.  I also had a fantastic Ancient History teacher who made the subject come alive and gave me a lifelong love of all things Greek and Roman.  Because of Mr Bishop and because Claudia loves the Percy Jackson books we spent a very long time marvelling at the ancient sculptures.  Not to mention the floors, the ceilings, the walls.  Urs was also pretty impressed.

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The Venus de Milo…..

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The Three Graces……

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I could have stayed in there all day.  The artwork was incredible.

DSC_0171-001When we could finally drag ourselves out of there we wandered around a market outside and then headed to a local bistro for a late lunch.

DSC_0175-001French bistro food is simple and delicious.  Savoury crepes, omelettes, Croque Monsieur…… yum.

Happy birthday Mum, love you xxxxxxxx

Paris in the Springtime

Warning:  long, waffling post 🙂

DSC_0003We took the fast train to Paris on the weekend.  Zurich to Paris in four hours.  Incredible.  This board on the train kept us up to date about how fast we were travelling.  320km/hr at one stage.  Again, incredible.  We were in 2nd class and it was really comfortable.  I am a fan.

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We arrived just after lunchtime, checked into our hotel, and headed straight to the Eiffel Tower.  I have to say the weather made hard work of it.  Rain, wind and cold.  And a lot of people….

DSC_0007But none of that can take away the beauty of the Eiffel Tower.  It is really breath-taking.  It is so much bigger than you imagine.  It makes your heart skip a beat.  I have seen it before but still felt the excitement of watching it come into view.  Claudia was beside herself.

DSC_0020We decided to climb the stairs to the second level (the lines were shorter than for the lift but still took us over an hour).  We climbed 300 steps to the first level.  And then 760 to the second level.  In the rain, wind and cold.  Despite the weather, most people were in a pretty good mood.  Except the women who wanted to look cute in their high heels….. Really.  Wear joggers.

DSC_0032This picture shows the old and the new.  The newer parts of the city are in the background and in person are a stark contrast to the beautiful old buildings.

DSC_0033Paris is massive.  From up high you start to get a sense of just how big it is.  Over nine million people.  Surprisingly it is really easy to get around and feels much smaller because of the super-efficient Metro.

DSC_0056We took the elevator from the second floor to the top.  There was over an hour wait to get in.  We were cold, exhausted and wind blown by the time we got out at the top.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

DSC_0065So beautiful.  Apparently there were a group of artists at the time this was built who wanted it torn down because they thought it was hideous.

DSC_0068It was about 8pm when we headed to the River Seine for a boat cruise.

DSC_0072This represents our boat ride perfectly.  Rain streaming down the windows.  It was still lovely.

DSC_0076The Louvre….

DSC_0083The Lover’s Bridge….

DSC_0090The Statue of Liberty…..

Fast train to Paris

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We travel light.  These are our small onboard suitcases and we take them everywhere.  Even if we are going away for a week and yes even in Winter when you need all that extra clothing.  They are great because they have no outside pockets (can’t be too careful these days), no zips to fiddle with, and have combination locks (so I can’t lose the key :)).  Gone are the days of us trying to drag big suitcases up the steps of trains or having to check them in for short flights.  Grab and go.

I am packing today for our long weekend in Paris and telling myself that the rain I can see outside will be gone by tomorrow.  We are taking a high-speed train early in the morning and will be there before lunch-time (and yes that still feels very surreal to me).

Have a lovely weekend x

Twisty craze

DSC_0770The big craze here at the moment is these little guys – Twistys.  I am not a fan of collectibles (and our bower bird does love to collect things) but these are actually pretty good fun.  They are all different and can be spun in a variety of ways – some have string pulls, others need a flicking motion to work, and the pink ones flip over when you spin them and dance around on their little stem.  The tweens are crazy for them.