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Posts tagged ‘Romance’

The Wow in Wengen

Wengen

Wengen

This is my final posting of my favorite small villages in Switzerland. Interlaken, between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, is touristy with lots of diverse restaurants and hotels.  Mürren sits high on a ledge and overlooks the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  Traffic-free, it is quaint and picturesque with shops, eateries and hotels.  Gimmelwald is traffic-free,  the smallest of the villages and one of a kind. There are great walks and hikes from Gimmelwald, which makes it very popular with the hiking crowd. But, my favorite of all the villages is Wengen.  Wengen, population 1,300, swells to 5,000 in the summer months and 10,000 in the winter. It too is traffic-free and to get there from Interlaken you take the train to Lauterbrunnen, and switch trains to go further to Wengen. Arriving on the train we see women getting off and unloading large trolleys of groceries and staples to pull up to the chalets and hotels.

The Walk into Wengen

The Walk into Wengen

There is a small grocery shop in Wengen, but for supplies it must be easier to cart them from Interlaken.  I took a tour of the Victoria-Lauberhorn Hotel and Spa.

The Victoria-Lauberhorn Hotel and Spa

The Victoria-Lauberhorn Hotel and Spa

The rooms at the Victoria-Lauberhorn are on the small side, but have a fantastic view of the mountains and the spa facilities were relaxing and calming. There is a one street shopping area, with fine specialty shops for the nicer souvenirs.

Main Shopping Area of Wengen

Main Shopping Area of Wengen

One shop features, crafted in Switzerland gifts only, and I bought a handmade coo-coo clock here and had it shipped home. There is also a very nice jewelry shop.

The Chess Pieces

The Chess Pieces

Walking through town there are large parks and huge chess sets. Benches are placed along side the sets so you watch how the match is going. There are also tennis courts and a pool in the upper park area past St Bernards English Church. The priest is available only in the summer months, since it is a rotating ministry.  He was on sabbatical from the UK, but said the church was supported by the parish and held services most of the year, but sometimes without the priest.  It was the same for the local Catholic Church as well. My highlight was the conversation I carried on with a German speaking woman, who invited me into her beautiful abundant flower garden. We got along just fine, mostly pointing and smiling.

Wengen Flowers

Wengen Flowers

The loop walk through Wengen is just long enough to stretch your legs, mingle with the locals and enjoy every minute of your stay. My choice for a vacation in Switzerland would be Wengen.  It is perfect!  Be sure to watch the video to get an idea how beautiful it truly is!

For more information on the Victoria Lauberhorn Hotel and Spa see: http://www.hotel-victoria-lauberhorn.ch

Romancing the Stone Part II, Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio

What a wonderful first night we had! Our apartemento, Le Eriche, is perfect.  With the bedroom shutters and the salon shutters open, a lovely perfumed breeze fills the air.  What a way to wake up to the beautiful sunshine! Today we are headed down to Menaggio, via the local bus. It will pick us up early right outside our retreat or if we want to go later in the day we will walk down the road to the big curve. See (La Bella Lingua post for more info on that) Menaggio is picturesque and quaint with buildings of soft colored patinas of ocher, watermelon, cantaloupe and sage that seem to float in the sunlight. Menaggio is also the place to stay to avoid the hot, hot, hot afternoon sun rays.  Of our three favorite villages, Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna, it is the only village draped in shade late in the afternoon. We enjoyed walking the promenade and eating at the outdoor restaurants along the beach. There is also a boat rental shop here, in case you want to rent your own boat to  motor to the other villages and sights, without taking the ferry. Here are some of my favorite pictures of Menaggio!

Menaggio

Menaggio

My Favorite!

My Favorite!

Heaven!

Heaven!

The Shore Square

The Shore Square

Shore Square

Shore Square

Fun Along the Shoreline

Fun Along the Shoreline

Fun for Everyone!

Fun for Everyone!

The Promenade

The Promenade

The Restaurant

The Restaurant

Here is what we came home to every night!  I can not say enough wonderful words to describe the stay we experienced at the Apartment Le Eriche ! Thank you Piero and Fiametta!

Il Salotto

Il Salotto

La Camera da Letto

La Camera da Letto

La Cucina

La Cucina

Il Bagno

Il Bagno

Apartment Le Eriche, Via Per Barna, Plesio, Italy or see TripAdvisor under their B&B of the same name.

Romancing the Pizza Stone III: The Cooking Class

The Wharf at Varenna

The Wharf at Varenna

I have a pasta maker/roller/flatener (my made-up word) that has been stashed under one of my cabinets and as yet, has never been used.  Making pasta looked so easy when I saw it demonstrated at the local Saturday market in my hometown!  I thought if I took an Italian cooking class that I would finally get the hang of pasta making. On this beautiful Italian day we (SB is manly enough for this) are headed to Varenna, (population 800) to a cooking class with Chef Moreno at Ristorante Il Caminetto in Perledo. He teaches the basics of Italian cooking including pasta and regional specialties. The ferry has become our friend.  Every morning we are up and out the door to the bus, chatting with the Italian nannies as we all head down to Menaggio.  Then at the dock we sip more latte, espresso or Coke (for SB) and watch the world go by as we wait for the ferry to arrive.  I could really get used to this lifestyle!

Varenna is even more laid back then Menaggio. I love the grand yellow hotel at this dock location too.  It seems very large, but when you look at it from the side, how narrow it is!  Check out the video I made! There are several groups of people mulling about the dock and soon we see a man in a chef’s apron, who has come to reign us all in. His son’s have arrived in various vehicles from the mountain village to retrieve us and take us to the restaurant. I can see why on the trip up.  I thought the drive to Menaggio was twists and turns, but this road comes in first place.

At the Restaurant Caminetto we are greeted with wine and home made cookies as we wait for everyone to make it up the mountain. Chef Moreno washes up (his hands and arms) and washes down the wooden table ( a good 20 minute scrub) while chatting along the entire time about his life in the village and life as a chef here. Then he begins to prepare the dough: flour, scant water, eggs, flour, knead, eggs, flour, knead, roooooooooll! Repeat! And repeat! Rooooooooooooll every which way with the longest, skiniest rolling pin I have ever seen! What no pasta maker?  He would never consider it!  We started at 10 am in the morning. We laughed, we roooooolled, we pinched, we patted, we made sauce with tomatoes from his garden, and we ate several servings of our makings and drank a lot of wine in between! We had the best time and then finished up with a stroll through the petite mountain village.  It was 4pm! Taxis have been dispatched to return us to Varenna. We have a woman cab driver. She  looks like a housewife who got the call to come fetch us. I can’t believe they have cab service here!

Back in Varenna, we stroll to the left of the dock, into the neighborhoods, to find the local train station.  How about that tree? Then we back track and go to the right of the dock into the village shopping and main restaurant areas. Eventually on another day in Varenna we would go to the tippy top of town and visit the local church and eat pizza under giant smooth barked trees. This is HEAVEN!

For information about Chef Moreno and Ristorante il Caminetto visit: http://www.ilcaminettoonline.com  Price includes transportation to and from the Varenna dock landing, the lesson, and lunch including wine, cookies and coffee. A must do!

Romancing the Water and Stone

The Angel in the Train Depot

The Angel in the Train Depot

For a Valentine’s posting I was thinking of the most romantic spot I have journeyed to.  For me it would be Lake Como, Italy. The romance begins on the journey to get there. This vacation offered everything I consider romantic, a lake and the mountains. The Zurich train depot set the tone for our vacation.  It was one of the most artistically pleasing train stations I have ever been in. The compact green Italian train departed from a lively open warehouse-looking building filled with shops and restaurants and a large flower stall.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

The Shops in the Warehouse at Zurich Train Station

The Shops in the Warehouse at Zurich Train Station

The train ride through tiny mountain villages and lakes in the Alps from Zurich to Como went by very quickly because the scenery was breathtaking. We arrived in Como just in time for an afternoon glass of wine before embarking a Rapido-Hydrofoil to go from the bottom left leg of Lake Como up to the split in the lake, to one of the triangular points of the lake, Menaggio.

The Walk from Como Giovanni Train Station to the Dock in Como

The Walk from Como Giovanni Train Station to the Dock in Como

The Hydrofoil Dock in Como

The Hydrofoil Dock in Como

Como Lakeside

Como Lakeside

During our stay on Lake Como we would be exploring Bellagio and Varenna also. The hydrofoil stopped at several small villages along the lake and it was exciting to see what the other villages looked like from the waters edge.  Villas, surrounded with immaculate gardens and landscaping, were most impressive!  After each stop, to let passengers off, I would tick the villages off in my head. Well we didn’t pick that one. Next…..

When we got to the dock at Menaggio, I knew I had picked the right place. Near the shore and the landing area for the hydrofoil and the ferries, was a hip coffee/pizza/breakfast restaurant with outdoor seating.  This spot would be our favorite spot for morning cappuccino, espresso or latte while we waited for the ferry to take us on various excursions. We would just sit and watch the seagulls and the early strollers.  Nearby was a beautiful yellow villa, Hotel du Lac, and across from that the grocery store.  Perfect! (For more insight into grocery shopping in Menaggio see the post, Il Negozio di Alimentari)

Soon after arriving at the dock in Menaggio, about 4 hours behind schedule, but right on time following Italian time, we were met at the wharf by our host, Piero. Six months previous, I had asked to rent one of his rooms in his B&B, but it was full.  He had suggested an apartment, that he and his wife also rented out, since were staying over a week, and we agreed. We were not exactly sure what we would be getting. Piero had a tiny hatchback car, so we piled the luggage in as best as we could, but SB still had to scrunch up and fold himself over the luggage (and we travel light) that had to be squeezed in the back hatch seat. With Piero and I buckled in the front seats, we set off up the hill.  We went up and up, curve, up, up, curve, tight curve, back up and take a second go at the curve-turn combo. Up, Up, past San Marco, past Ligomena, another tight curve.  Stop. Here we are and the rest is history!

For a week we lived in an outstanding apartment on the mountainside of Menaggio with a heavenly pool and a dream view of Lake Como.  Our neighbors, who stayed in other apartments, came from all over the world.  We had the best time getting together in the evenings by the pool and trying to figure out what everybody was saying! It was fantastic! Enjoy the view!

PS. We traveled from Zurich, Switzerland to Como, Italy because after leaving Lake Como we would be spending a week in Interlaken, Switzerland.  You could fly into Milan and take a train from there to Como to get a hydrofoil to the other villages along Lake Como.

For information about the apartment see: Apartment le Eriche, Via per Barna, Plesio, Italy.

For the B&B see: B&B Eriche, Villa alla Grona, Menaggio, Italy or view on TripAdvisor

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