Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Markets in Stuttgart!

Two weekends ago, our planned trip to Dusseldorf to visit friends and explore the famous German Christmas markets was cancelled due to bad weather throughout Europe. Since I LOVE everything Christmas and have been talking about the markets since we moved to Europe, I was definitely disappointed. So, this past weekend, we (Schlopy included, of course!) loaded up the Daewood and headed north through Bern to Stuttgart, Germany (it is so great being driving distance to so many interesting places). With more than 200 booths set on the edge of the expansive main square, the Stuttgart market is said to be one of the oldest (more than 500 years) and prettiest in Europe. While I was overwhelmed by all the handmade crafts, christmas ornaments, and other interesting trinkets, Jignesh's thoughts were consumed with the booths offering mulled wine, German sausage, and traditional desserts. The elaborately decorated booth rooftops, chilly weather, and crowds of friendly locals all helped to create a fun and festive atmosphere. We spent the entire weekend strolling, people-watching, booth browsing, and eating with thousands of others doing the exact same thing. While we did come home with a few small, inexpensive buys from the market booths, our biggest purchase was ironically from a huge department store that could be found in any American mall. Hey, at least our new Henkel knives are made in Germany! Since we are heading to Israel for Christmas, the market was a great way to get a taste (European style) of Christmas.

Au Revoir

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

This time last year, we were enjoying the Thanksgiving holidays with family back in the states. With no trip home this time around and few American friends in Geneva, we were going to bypass the holiday alltogether and carry on like any other, evening French class, etc. Well, on Thanksgiving morning I was feeling a bit blue and really missing being a part of all the festivities (thanks a lot Facebook!). So, at the last minute, I decided I would prepare a full (yet modified) Thanksgiving dinner. I pulled out my newly organized recipe binder and went to work on what would turn out to be a quite a feast. The menu included rosemary mashed sweet potatoes with shallots, homemade sausage and sourdough bread stuffing, citrus green beans with pine nuts, cranberry sauce, and parsley and parmesan rolls. The dessert was a purchased apple pie with vanilla ice cream (yeah, give me some credit...we would have been eating at midnight if I had a made a pie too). We even opened a nice bottle of wine that we had purchased in Lake Como, Italy. What about a turkey? While you can find turkey here, it is not common and very expensive. The one lone turkey in the two stores near our house was HUGE and way overpriced. So, I opted for a roasted chicken (it is stilfl a bird, right?). With one recruited dinner guest in the form of Jignesh's co-worker (thanks for putting your stomach at risk, Ioseb), we had a small but wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe next year I will plan ahead and even attempt to cook a real bird...or, if we are in States, I will leave that up to someone a bit more experienced.

Au Revoir

Friday, November 26, 2010

Prague, Czech Republic

Last weekend we knocked Prague off our "must see" list. The capital and largest city of the Czech Republic, Prague (or locallay known as Praha) can be described as beautiful, old, impressive, and vibrant. Despite the large number of tourists, it remains friendly and even feels like it could be home. Similar to many European cities, Prague is full of small, winding streets that always seem to spill onto a main square that is identified by its church or cathedral. We found the buildings in Prague,to be particulary intersting. They all had different but interesting facades with unmissable details that included things like doorknobs and house signs. Yes, there is lots of sights to see in Prague and we did not leave without visiting most of them. We crossed the Charles Bridge, meandered through the Prague Castle, had brunch in Old Town Square, and shopped in the modern Wenceslas Square. However, due to the somewhat chilly (but bearable) weather, we also found ourselves ducking into many fabulous cafes and pubs for a both a drink and warm-up. Since Prague is a relatively inexpensive city (especially compared to Geneva) and is increasingly being considered one of best culinary cities in Europe, we were able to enjoy some wonderful lunches and dinners. One vegetarian restaurant was so good that we went twice! We also enjoyed a traditional Czech meal and night out with one of Jignesh's EY Prague co-workers. Ok, I have talked about the food and the sights. What I have not mentioned is the shopping! It is impossible to walk more than a few blocks without stumbling across some adorable little shop filled with Bohemian glass, marionette puppets, or other handmade Czech products (ask Jignesh about the hand painted eggs!). Prauge is one of the cities that I could visit time and time again.

Au Revoir.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Soft Towels Never Felt So Good!

For the past year, we have gone Euro and dried all our laundry with good ole' natural air. With only one small drying rack to our name, some items got a first class seat on the rack while others were regulated to second-class and draped on furniture, layed on beds, and hung from the bathroom shower curtain rod. As you can imagine, these clothes literally took over the flat. Even worse, many items would take longer than imaginable to dry and remained scattered about for days. It has been so long since any our clothes have seen a drier that we almost became accustomed to crunchy towels, stiff t-shirts, and jeans that could stand on their own! All of this, of course, was not by choice. When we originally purchased a washer/dryer, we headed to Fust, a well-kwown electronics and home goods stores. After looking at several models of washers and dryers, we decided to save some money and select a combination washer/dryer (yes, one machine that does both)! Despite the length of time it took to do one load, our first batch of laundry came out clean and crisp with on apparent problems. After that, it was all downhill. After completing the wash cycle on the second load, the machine displayed what would become my worst nightmare after only a few minutes of starting the dry cycle....ER12. No worries, right?! The machine was under warranty so we promptly called the repairman. A nice French-only speaking technician was dispatched and "claimed" to fix the machine even though he had never seen the ER12 display before. Well, our fixed machine worked for all of one load. Again, on the second load we received the same ER12 display on the dry cycle. So, after another call to the company the repairman returned. And returned. And returned. After several months, multiple calls to the company, and countless visits from the same French-speaking repairman, we finally received a replacement machine. Story done and over with? If we could only be so lucky. AGAIN, after only one load, my worst nightmare returned on the new machine! So, the repairman returns. And returns. And returns. He is baffled. We are baffled. The company is baffled (and of not much help). So, finally, we decided to do away with this model and replace it with a new seperate washer and dryer. Our machine arrived last week and (I don't want to jinx it) but so far, so good. While a working dryer has been wonderful, the rack will not become obsolete. I will continue to go Euro and dry most things on the rack. However, there are certain items that are simply not the same without technology. Soft towels have never felt so good!

Au Revoir.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wonderfully Little To Do

An hour from the busy city of Milan, Lake Como is a popular getaway for both Italians and tourists. We headed there last weekend for my birthday weekend. Although the weather was not ideal (rainy and overcast), it really did not matter as we wanted to do nothing other than relax and take in the sights in a leisurely pace. To accomplish this goal, we decided to stay at a family run bed and breakfast (our first experience at a B&B). Located in a sleepy hill town (Trezzone) on Lake Como, Villa Tres Jolie is an absolutely stunning stone property that was painstakinly restored by the owners about 6 years ago. This was not just a bed and breakfast but a retreat as it has multiple terraces overlooking the lake, a hot tube, a turkish bath, an extensive library, a complete gym, and mountain bikes for guest use. Dani and Giulio were a wonderful resource on the area and were always willing supply information or ideas. Schlopy even made friends with their dogs Judy and Dido.

While it would have been very easy to not leave the B&B for the entire three days, we did manage to explore the area a bit. We travelled on the lake ferry to the small, quiet town of Varenna where we walked along the lake as well as the more posh town of Bellagio where we did some window shopping and had a great lunch. We also visited the medievel town of Chiavenna where we went for a short hike in the hills and enjoyed a wonderfully rich hot chocolate. On the last day, we drove the entire length of the lake through many small villages and finally saw the sun while bumming around the larger town of Como. The best part of the weekend was the fact that there was no big sight to see or artwork to stare at. We basically slept, relaxed, ate some (ok, lots!) great pizza, drank some wine, and enjoyed the scenery. Now I know why George Clooney loves this area so much!

Au Revoir.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lake Como, Italy Pics

View from our Bed and Breakfast

Hiking in Lake Como

Small town of Chiavenna

Another view from our B&B

Village of Bellagio

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Impulse Shopping and a Good Cup of Joe

I am neither an impulse shopper (some people even call me cheap!) nor a huge coffee drinker. So, this makes yesterday's events a bit unusual. While out and about with the intent of running a few mundane errands, Jignesh and I headed to Interdiscount with the hopes of finding an adapter to replace one that recently blew out. Well, we did not leave with an adapater but with a Nespresso coffee machine! Yes, we have been wanting one for quite some time. Yes, it was on sale and very reasonably priced. Yes, it is a small, basic model. And yes, it is the beginning of my birthday week. Despite these excuses, there is no denying that this was an impluse buy. When (if ever), I do make an impulse buy, I hold off on opening the package or tearing off the tags in case I want to return it (which I usually do). However, these was no chance this was going to happen this time around as Jignesh tore into the box as soon as stepping into the house. He also fixed a fuse that has been broken for weeks and rearranged our kitchen all to accomodate our new gadget. I have to admit that for the first time, I am not thinking twice about this impulse buy. I am looking forward to waking up every morning, popping a small capsule to the machine, and enjoying a tiny but delicious cup of joe!

Au Revoir.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Since moving to Switzerland, I have developed a huge love for cows. So, of course, we could not miss Desalpe! One of the most well-known moutain festivals, Desalpe celebrates the end of the grazing season for all the local cows. After spending four months in their moutain homes, flower decorated herds parade through the streets as they return to the lowlands for the winter. Adorned with thundering bells, huge groups of cows leave their mark (literally) on the village. St. Cergue, a small village at the base of the Jura and only a short drive from Geneva, is where we witnessed this Swiss tradition. We had sun filled morning watching the cows take over the streets, browsing the booths selling local specialities of chesse and meats, and listening to folklore music. Except for Schlopy getting kicked by a cow and finding it impossible to avoid the overwhelming cow dung (it is like sand from the find it everywhere for weeks!), it was a great way to spend a Saturday!

Au Revoir!

Desalpe Pics

Let the cow parade begin

A cow bell display...some of them are huge!

Moooo over, cows are coming through!

Do you like my hat?

The St. Bernard, a common dog in Switzerland

Using cow bells to make music!

The Alphorn, a traditional Swiss musical instrument

Monday, September 27, 2010

Till The Cows Come Home

On Saturay morning, we decided to escape rainy Geneva and head to the moutains. Unfortunately, the rain followed us to the mountains and even seemed to get worse at times. However, that did not stop us from exploring the Grindelwald, Interlaken, and Murren. Staying in a wonderful family owned hotel outside of Grindelwald, we experienced some fresh moutain as our window framed nothing but grassy hills, wooden houses, and cows! With cow bells seranading us all night, we had the best sleep in quite some time. It was perfect! On Saturday afternoon, we sloshed through the main streets of the Grindelwald and enjoyed a delicious lunch of pizza and the famous Onkel Tom's Hutte. After lunch we headed a short distance to Interlaken and decided to work off our lunch with a long, rainy walk along the river. The day ended with an absolutely fantastic dinner back at our warm, cozy hotel. Our original plans for Sunday were to take the cable car all the way to Schilthorn, one of the highest peaks in Euorope. However, due to tremendous fog and the first snowfall of the season the view would not have been worth our 100 bucks. We did, however, go up halfway to Murren. Despite the thick fog, we walked around a bit and imagined what the view would be like on a sunny, clear day! Our weekend ended with a late lunch in Lauterbrunnen before heading back to Geneva. Even though the trip was short and the weather was far from ideal, it could not have been a better weekend. We got to escape Geneva and spend some time together in the quite countryside.

Au Revoir.

Interlaken, Grindelwald, and Murren

View from our window at Hotel Aspen

One of the many waterfalls coming down from the moutains

Murren and first snow of the season



Grazing on a lazy afternoon

Yes, just another cow going to the village for a pint at the local bar!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Madrid, Spain

For a major European country, Spain is rich in history and culture, affordable, beautiful, and vibrant. Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a huge city with tons to see and do. Known for late night dinners and clubs that don't close until 8am, we were delighted when we learned that our hotel was in the quiet area. Although Recoletas is known as an affluent area, the hotel was reasonably priced, modern, and well staffed. Since Recoletas is not a tourist destination, we were able to dine in some local is always more interesting and fun to be the only tourists in the restaurants! For once, Jignesh was happy with the our pick.

On day one of our trip we walked the area around our hotel and through the amazing Parque del Retiro. We ended up at the Prado, one of the world's most famous art musuems. Since neither Jignesh or I are huge art fans, we usually skip all the musuems. However, since this one was free after five, we decided to pop in for a short walkabout. Surprisingly, we both enjoyed the visit. For true art enthusiasts, the Prado would be a complete dream! The end of the day ended with the first of many meals of tapas and sangria!

On day two, we headed outside Madrid to Segovia. A beautiful little city, Segovia is highlighted by an ancient Roman aquaduct, a huge cathedral, and an adorable castle. We explored it all and enjoyed lunch in the main plaza where we witnessed a spanish wedding. It was a great side trip...easy to get to and lots to see.

Sunday morning we headed straight to the famous street market, El Rastro. This colorful street market is simply crazy. One of the largest in Europe, El Rastro is street after street of stalls selling everything from antiques to underwear! Locals and tourists come here in the thousands to both take in the scene and do some serious shopping. The best part of the market was the stallholders shouting at the top of their lungs to promote their wares. You can easily spend an entire day winding the streets and browsing the stalls...just be careful of the pickpockets! After the bustling market, we slowly wandered through the Madrid streets towards Plaza Mayor. Capable of holding 50,000 people, Plaza Mayor is impressive. It is the perfect place to get a drink and watch the world go by. It is also worth checking out some of the stores and bars that line the plaza. One of the most interesting was La Torre del Oro, a tapas bar decorated with mounted bull heads and gory pictures of bullfights!

Our fourth and final day in Madrid started with a visit to Palacio Real. Madrid's Royal Palace, Palacio Real is still hosts many state functions on a weekly basis (the King and Queen live outside the city). We took the obligatory tour and were not disappointed with grand rooms lavishly decorated with tapestries, antique furniture, and painted ceilings. After the Palace we spent the remaining hours of our trip shopping and enjoying the city! What a perfect trip.

Au Revoir.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Madrid Pics

Palacio Real

Plaza Mayor

El Rastro

Segovia's Roman Aqueduct

Parque del Retiro

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Megeve, France

A few weekends ago we were invited by Jignesh's boss to spend the weekend at his amazing mountain chalet in Megeve, France (Yes, this is the same boss who has a house in Corsica!). A massive 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms complete with a ski room bigger than our living room, the chalet is located a short drive from the main village with amazing views of the upscale ski area. The chilly, rainy weather gave us all an excuse to curl up by the fire playing games, reading, and enjoying both the scenery and company (the entire Corsica gang was reunited!). In the evenings we were spoiled by our hosts with amazing meals of grilled meats, fresh salads, and mouth watering cheeses! Oh, I cannot forget to mention the endless supply of wines from the huge wine cellar. The weekend was filled with two main events. The craziest was Friday night's dance party USA in the living room while the most epic was our Sunday afternoon "walk." Somehow, the short "walk" turned into a trek down the mountain on one very suspicous looking trail. With rain coming down by the bucket loads and not quite fitted with proper hiking gear, we found ourselves crossing large rivers and climbing steep banks. Three hours and one extremely cold, wet dog later, we finally made it back to the parking lot where a dry, warm car awaited our arrival. The moutain, however, did take one victim in Jignesh's brand new sunglasses. All I can say is that we had another memorable weekend that we will certaintly have to repeat!

Au Revoir!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Whirlwind Trip to the States and Fete De Geneve

I have been offline and out of touch due a long trip to the States. The whirlwind vacation started with a long plane ride from Europe to Denver where I got to spend the night my sister, brother- in-law, adorable niece Sam before meeting up with Jignesh (who had been in D.C. for work). The next four days were spent in the Colorado mountains hanging out with Jignesh's family at Rivendell. With seven adults and six kids (our nieces and nephews are growing up so fast!), it was quite the crew. Despite sharing two small bathrooms, it was great to all be together at the same time. We hit the outlet malls, played lots of games, and enjoyed the mountains. The next leg of trip took Jignesh and I to Boston to see my Grandparents. At 92 years old, my grandparents continue to amaze me. My Grandfather still putters around the house fixing things, tending his garden, and socializing with the neighbors. My Grandmother still makes three meals a day and gets dressed up for simple meal out. After three nights in Boston, Jignesh and I parted ways for the rest of the trip. Jignesh headed to Chicago to spend some more time with his family and to see some old friends while I made my way to my parent's house outside of Knoxville. As always, the lake was pure heaven. With my whole family there, we simply relaxed and enjoyed long hours on the water skiing, swimming, playing some Dorosz family tubeball.

Returning to Geneva last Friday was a bit of shock. I am not sure if it was the jetlag or the fact that I was back in a french speaking city but I was a bit confused and completely exhausted. I am surprised immigration control let me through as I looked like a complete zombie passing through the airport! The timing of my return, however, allowed us to experience the last few days of the Fete De Geneve. A huge 10 day annual festival, the Fete de Geneve brings out more people that I have ever seen in Geneva. The entire lakefront was lined with games, rides, and food booths. Stages throughout the city provided various concerts and other entertainement. The highlight of the Fete, however, is the amazing fireworks display on the last Saturday. Almost an hour and half in length, it was the the best display I have ever seen. The best part? We got to enjoy it with one of my long lost college friends and her husband who were visiting Geneva while on a European vacation!

AHHHH...the our trip to States over and the weekend done, it is now time to catch up on some much needed sleep and slowly return to everyday life in Switzerland.

Au Revoir.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Another weekend, another trip! This one was last minute and unexpected. Somehow a 5 day business trip for Jignesh turned into a Corsican getaway when Jignesh's boss invited us (along with a few others) to his beautiful holiday home. Situated west of Italy and southeast of the French mainland, Corsica is full of unpaved (and very bumpy) roads, hidden houses, and remote beaches. As one of my friends said, "it is a whole bunch of nothing and simply fabulous." With Jignesh's boss as our host, we found some quiet beaches and did nothing except for build sand castles, swim in the sea, find shade under beach umbrellas, and picnic on local specialities (Corsican ham and cheese served with an amazing fig spread). During the evenings we either grilled on the terrace or dined on fresh fish (head and all) from beachside restaurants. Except for groceries, we did not step inside a store the entire weekend nor did we bump into a single tourist. While I am usually someone who gets bored easily and would rather explore villages rather than sit on the beach, I have to admit that it was completly relaxing and peaceful (ok, it did not hurt that Jigneh's blackberry was broken and out of service) and now understand why so many people escape to seaside resorts for their annual holidays. The scenery, company, food and accomodations were all fantastic. It does not get any better than that.

Au Revoir.

Corsica Pictures

The scene from a beachside restaurant that we tried

One of the quiet beaches we visited

A Corsican sunset

The incredible terrace overlooking the sea

Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekend in Zermatt

Since our last few trips were outside of Switzerland, we decided to explore some more of our host country. This weekend's destination of choice was Zermatt. Nestled at the foot of the Matterhorn (one of Europe's most recognizable peakes with its steep point) and surrounded by moutains over 13,000 ft, Zermatt is a ski paradise in the winter and a center for hiking and mountaineering in the summer. Since Zermatt is completely closed to motorized traffic, we did not see a single car for 2 days!

Located about 2.5 hours from Geneva, the drive to Zermatt is almost an event all on its own. The first half covers the entire length of Lac Leman while the second half winds through the back roads of the Swiss countryside and foothills. What amazing scenery! The town itself did not disappoint either. A main street provides all the restaurants, bars and shopping that you need while the side streets are full of typical wooden chalets complete with A-frame roofs and perfectly manicured flower boxes on every balcony. There is also a beautiful town church and cemetary honoring those killed while climbing the Matterhorn.

With only two days and one night in Zermatt, we did our best to do and see a bit of everything. On Saturday, we walked the streets and ducked our heads into some family run shops. We enjoyed the views of the Matterhorn and people watched as the very mixed crowed did their own thing. We ended the day with dinner at Le Mazot and drinks at a local pub while watching the World Cup.

On Sunday, we (Schlopy included!) took the Gronergrat railway to Switzerland highest open air railway station. At the top, we spent some time taking in the views and enjoying a declicious lunch. Instead of opting for the return trip back to Zermatt via train, we decided to take in some nature and hike down! With Schlopy in tow and happy as a clam to be off leash with an entire moutain to explore, we took our time making our way back to town. About 4.5 hours and two sore butts later, we arrived in Zermatt after a perfect day of hiking complete with sightings of sheep, deer, and badgers! Before heading home we were able to catch the last few games of the Wimbledon final while enjoying a cold drink on main street.

Au Revoir.

Zermatt Pictures

The Matterhorn

Snow in July!

At the top of Grongergrat

Our little mountain dog

A cloud covered Matterhorn

One of the many scenic rivers in the area

A rest stop on our hike

Schlopy making friends with a cow!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Last weeked, we headed to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Although it sounds like an exotic location, it is actually located just west of Italy on the Adriatic Sea and is a short 1hr 40 minute flight from Geneva! With impressive infrastructure (despite being heavily damaged just 20 years ago due to war), unmatched scenery, and friendly locals, Dubrovnik is a popular stop for tourists and cruise ships. And, if you stay away from the old town, the city is remains relatively cheap due to the Kuna (Croatia's currency).

We arrived on Friday late morning, checked into our seaside resort, and started our trip by sampling the local speciality, cevapcici. A dish of grilled minced meat (often pork and beef), cevapcici consists of 5-10 small pieces and is paired with a homemade sauce of red pepper, garlic and olive oil! Let's just say that Jignesh ate way too much cevapcici over the weekend! After lunch we ventured to old town to explore on of Dubrovnik's highlights. Although the old town is small, it is filled with beautifl, narrow alleys that house numerous restauarants and shops. The best part of old town, however, is the wall walk. Orignially used as method to protect the city against invaders, the old town's wall now provides visitors with amazing views of both old town's traditional architecture and the Adriatic Sea.

Day two of our trip called for some simple relaxation. We explored the area around our hotel with a long walk and then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel. I swam in the Adriatic Sea and Jignesh practiced his floating in the pool!

On day three, we became a bit more active and joined a daylong sea kayaking tour. After a short boat ride to a small island near Dubrovnik and a quick lesson in basic kayaking from our trusty guide (Thomislav), we loaded our kayaks and hit the seas. As Jignesh and I were in a double, it took us a few minutes to find our rhythm but we were soon crusing the beautiful sea! About an hour and 45 minutes later and with very full bladders, we landed on the small island (only a few hundred inhabitants) of Sipan where we hiked to an old, beautiful chuch that provided a home for bats! After a long lunch of yet more cevapcici, we traded the kayaks for some bikes and pedaled across the island where I swam across the bay and Jignesh again practiced his newly found floating skills (the high salt content sure does help!). The day ended with more kayaking and a sunset boat ride back to Dubrovnik. What a great day!

Even though we woke up to rain on Monday, it did not make it any easier to leave this amazing place. However, we had a flight to catch and reality to return to. Lucikly, we did get have some time to enjoy a late breakfast overlooking the sea and quick browse through some shops where we picked up a few things to help us remember a great weekend.
Au Revoir.

Dubrovnik, Croatia Pictures

Old Town's Wall Walk

Old Town

A scenic shot of the Adriatic Sea

Old Town Harbor

Some more of Old Town Harbor

One of the many small alleys in Old Town