Monday, August 31, 2015

End of Summer ... Hiking again!

walking the woods

Sankt Verena chapel (interiors)




Lake of Zug

Sankt Verena chapel

Lake of Zug
We are having some really nice and hot end of summer days!! Really. What a summer. What a summer. I still can hardly believe it.
On Saturday a friend of mine and I decided that we wanted to go on a short hike on Lake of Zug. Both craved a break from the usual weekend routine :-)
We went by train to Zug, then took the bus to Unterägeri (a small village, above Zug) and we hiked back to Zug and it's lake. About 3 hours all in all. We walked on meadows (where we had a picnic!) and in the woods, we enjoyed nature and man-made beauty (see picture chapel above). We finished off our day on the boardwalk of Lake of Zug - drinking and eating (what else??).
A wonderful day and definitely not my usual routine (neither were my sore muscles the next day hahahahaha)


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

La Chaux-de-Fonds






I've spent a day in La Chaux-de-Fonds last week. 
I can hear you asking: La Chaux-de-Fonds? What's in La Chaux-de-Fonds? Where is La Chaux-de-Fonds anyway? All my French speaking friends went even so far as to say: La Chaux-de-Fonds? Mais c'est moche comme tout? (it's ugly as hell!).
The town is up at 1000 meters of altitude and the winters are long and harsh. It's known for its watch manufacturers. The glorious times are long gone though (even though still a 40% of the population works in the watch and clock industry - mostly subcontractors - the big industrie is elsewhere, like in Bienne or Genève). La Chaux-de-Fonds usually holds the (sad) last position in some surveys about the richest towns of Switzerland. 
France is just around the corner and apparently most of the clock manufacturers are French! Frontaliers...

Why spend a day there, you ask me again?
Easy. I had read about some guided tours that would show the Art Nouveau hightlights of the city. Art Nouveau? In a place like La Chaux-de-Fonds? I had to see by myself! (BTW it's the birth place of Le Corbusier, did you know? And it's Unesco World Heritage Site since 2009!). It couldn't be that "moche", could it?

The train ride up to the town was an adventure by itself. I changed connection in Bienne and up we went (single-track - can you believe it?). The train almost empty (I don't get that often where I live!) and not many houses around. Mostly trees. A place unreal (at least to a person like me). I got out of the train and ... it was cold! Sunny but cold. How could I have forgotten that I was now at 1000 meters of altitude?
Walking out of the train station, I was impressed by the many grand houses but all in all it was weird. Strange. Not many trees and not many people around either. Just these wonderful grand houses. Weird.

It's a relatively new town (built some 500 years ago which makes it new in Europe!). By mid 1800 the city started to grow (watches got to be more important). They needed new houses and workshops. Pronto. And they needed houses that pleased the needs of the watch manufacturers. Therefore, they built houses with many windows because watchmakers need as much daylight as possible. Shadows of the houses in front were not appreciated either and therefore they built broad streets and left space for gardens in between the houses. The large streets have another plus; the snoweling is much easier this way (keep in mind that they get up to 5/6 meters of snow each winter!!).

The tour guide explained all this and showed us some amazing entrances of these grand houses. What looked like Art Nouveau at a superficial glance turned out to be painted! Imagine!! They wanted classy entrances for their classy and rich clients but they didn't want to spend that much money in real marble etc. In addition, at that time, they needed the houses built rapidely. They couldn't wait for the material to be delivered from distant places like Italy!
Clever!

Walking the streets with the tour guide made me understand why there weren't any parks and not many trees or other attractions (beside the wonderful houses). This isn't a city built to please the eye of the inhabitants or the tourists. No sir. This is a city made for ... working on clocks and watches!
More Swiss than that? Tu meures...

Monday, August 24, 2015

My World - My Travels: region of Marche in Italy

When I travel, I absorb everything that I see around me. I take pictures because I want to remember what I have seen, what I have felt. I don't think about the sujets much though. I just take pictures and some of them are good and others not.
There are places where taking good pictures is quite easy (my trip to Mexico comes to mind). And then in other places I don't even think about taking pictures. Like that day when I took the one above. It was taken while I was visiting my cousin's house in the Marche region of Italy. She wanted to show me a special place (which turned out to be a rather strange place - at least in my opinion, but hey, that's my cousin! She is kind of weird ... in a nice way, mind you.).
But then on our way home, I stopped the car to take this picture. I just love it! It's all about shadows and light and it's blurred and somewhat not so. And as much as I love colors ... sometimes noncolors are just awesome.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Yoga

I have taken up my yoga lessons again. It felt good. It felt very good actually after more than 6 months! My new teacher is more into "flowing" yoga so it was kind of ... strenuous. But I don't mind. At all.
It felt good to ... move and to be silent. Just me and my body.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My World - My Travels: Insel Mainau, Germany


I love art. I love flowers. But I had to travel to Insel Mainau on Lake Constance to see the two combined. Isn't this wonderful? The gardeners who did that are real artists!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Voyage

I am ready to go on another trip. Well, not this minute - more at end of September / October. But ... and yes, there is a but, I can't seem to make up my mind. No idea why. Or more, I had not idea why but now I get it.
It's due to the wonderful summer weather we are having over here.
WONDERFUL SUMMER WEATHER.
I have rarely experienced such a wonderful summer. At least not in our latitudes! It's hot hot hot and hot. Every day. The suns shines and shines and shines down on us and if it rains one day ... the sun comes out the next. It's incredible. Almost too good to be true.
So, I have been enjoying wonderful summer days, spent working (obviously, but working from home is not the same as commuting every day to the office!!), being lazy, seeing friends, enjoying fine books while sitting on my balcony (looking at my wonderful flowers - can't believe how nice my balcony looks this year!). Well, to cut a long story short. I am.
I know that I should organize some stuff - like finding new yoga lessons, finding a new Spanish teacher (Gustavo unfortunately won't be able to continue the private lessons) and ... thinking and planning my autumn trip.
Should being the word of the day.
I just can't. Or at least not yet. I want to enjoy this summer. Every day's life (and with it all the "shoulds" of the world) will knock on my door soon enough :-)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

My World - My Travels: Train Trip from Chicago to LA (USA)


These days my head is full of ideas ... for a new trip to the US of A. And while I can't seem to make up my mind, I keep thinking about trips I've already done, places I've already seen. And then, obviously, my mind goes to the train trip I took ... from Chicago to LA ... in 72 hours.
That was something. Something really special. Something I had never done but will do again, that's for sure! I remember taking up my "room" (if you can call the cabin an actual room but it was cosy and during the night it became a comfortable bed). I remember sitting there, and looking out of the window, wondering how beautiful the landscape was. And so different every couple of hours. Illinois: flat, flat and flat. Wonderfully so. Traveling over the Mighty Mississippi (during dinner time - I will never ever forget when I realized what I was just seeing!!). Then Missouri (not seen much - it was evening). Kansas (again, not seen much, it was night). Colorado, New Mexico and finally urban California (felt strange to see houses again!).
The above picture was taken somewhere in New Mexico.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day Trip to Freiburg / Germany

I love going on day trips during summer time. You know that I love traveling by train or just simply be on the move and therefore day trips are wonderful for my soul.

So, Saturday was Freiburg/Germany's turn
I walked the city, enjoying myself. And realizing that the cities in this region (Freiburg or Colmar or Strasbourg) almost look the same (if it weren't for the language SMILE). Gothic cathedrals everywhere! (Note to myself: do day trip to another region the next time SMILE).

So, I was walking around and feeling a bit disappointed because it was so similar to something I already knew (and you know how I love to discover NEW things, cities, etc.). Oh well, I decided not to be my own spoilsport and to give the museums a shot. I am glad I did!
http://www.museumspass.com/Museen/Freiburg-i.-Br/Museum-Natur-und-Mensch/Un-sichtbar

I came upon this exhibition in the Museum Natur und Mensch called "UnSichtbar" which showed pictures of women and girls who survived an acid attack! The photographer Ann-Christine Woehrl took their pictures and wrote down their words.
Let me just say that I had to fight back my tears. It was so moving and so sad! Heartbreaking.

I am glad that my disappointment led me to this exhibit!

Day Trip to Freiburg/Breisgau




Monday, August 3, 2015

Words

Do you know the feeling? You are in a conversation with someone, telling something, and suddenly ... THE word doesn't come to you like it should (or then in another language, but that's for another post!).
I am pretty good with words but that happens to me all the time. I am cool about it. No dementia no nothing. I think that there are simply too many words in my brain and that sometimes one or the other struggles to find its way from my brain to my mouth SMILE.

It gets funny when another word comes to my mind (that often has nothing to do with what I wanted to tell!!!). Like last Friday for instance, while I had guests over for dinner. I was "listing" the menu when suddenly the word for the first course got stuck in my brain.
All I could think of was "gazebo" (but that it's not really a first course, isn't it?? hahahahaha) but didn't say it out loud.
My friends were looking at me, waiting for my menu, when I said: Oh my, can't think of the right word right now. What's the name again of the cold soup they serve in Spain?
You mean Gazpacho? they went.
Oh yes, Gazpacho!!! Obviously Gazpacho :-) I had "gazebo" in my brain but that's not the same thing, is it?

And there we went, laughing madly (my friends know me pretty well!!).

I served Gazpacho and not gazebo, obviously. Even though, you have to admit, the word was not THAT different, right? First three letters and last one were the same, right?
hahahahaha