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What do you suppose the Universe is trying to tell you when they stick you at the top of the world with a group of Brazilians? “Meagan, you need to live outside your element.” or “Meagan, you are too sheltered.” or “Meagan, it’s time to make you feel awkward with your Italian-Jew nose and flat ass, so here are some bronzed Brazilians for you to hang out with for the next four days.” Whatever message the Universe is sending I’m sure is for me to determine, but regardless, here I am in Crans-Montana, Switzerland with an all-Brazilian group of journalists, staring at postcard-like Alps out my window. You win, Universe. You win.
Last night I met my press group and we were taken about two hours outside Geneva to the famous Valais region in Switzerland, home to world-class skiing and equally impressive hotels. I’m staying at the Hotel Guarda Golf, a ski-, golf-, and spa-resort with Alpine vistas and other horrible things that I’ll just have to get used to. It’s an intimate hotel with just 25 rooms and another 25 residences. The property is pure luxury, from what I can tell, judging from the Bvlgari bath products, the high-tech touches and the amazing five-course meal with wine pairings we enjoyed last night.
Switzerland isn’t exactly known for its nightlife. There’s a casino in town but we learned that it’s more of a spot for the elderly to sit and spin away at the slots, rather than a place to rub elbows with high society like at the glamorous casinos of Monaco. I heard rumblings that a brothel is somewhere in the back streets, but I don’t know…I’m not really in the mood for hookers this trip. Perhaps later this week when I’m in Berlin. Other than that Crans-Montana is a quaint little ski town similar to Park City or Vail.
As for the company I am keeping, I think this will be good for me. Yes, Brazilians really are as beautiful as the myths say (great…), but I am thoroughly enjoying discovering the cultural nuances (and hopefully getting a little more bronzed and bubble-butted by association).
Doing what the ‘locals’ do is tricky in a city like Geneva, where everyone seems to be from somewhere else. Coming from a New Yorker this may sound silly, but in New York those that have transplanted themselves there do so at least semi permanently. Geneva is home to a large diplomatic culture and everyone tends to keep on moving.
But there is, in fact, a local population and while I could have very easily sat in my beautiful hotel room all day, my fellow trippers find activity much more interesting. (I do this for you people, I really do.)
After much research on sites like Lonely Planet and SpottedByLocals.com, I was led to Bains des Paquis, a public bathhouse/cafe that sits directly on the lake. According to several sources, this is quite the local hangout, and fortunately for me, it was directly across the street from my hotel.
In this less-than-impressive structure, local Genevans can have massages, take tai chi, relax in the saunas and hammams and even take a naked dip in the lake. The outdoor cafe serves light salads, sandwiches and (at night) fondue. Geneva is an expensive city, so do not be put off when a Greek salad and small cheese plate comes out to CHF16 (approximately $20). This is one of the cheaper meals you can get in Geneva, and the view of the mountains surrounding the lake make it worth it.
The clientele is…mixed. There were couples canoodling lakeside, elderly gentlemen reading the paper and then a whole contingent of the unwashed youth. Typically I’m not really into the granola/”I make my own clothes” scene, but it was nice to pretend for the day, and when you are by yourself in a foreign city, you really can’t afford to be choosey about whose company you keep.
I’m off to Crans Montana in the Swiss Alps this evening. Until tomorrow, my friends.
In the movies, when a girl goes off to Europe by herself she ends up exploring city cafes and shops and encountering local (handsome) ruffians who whisk her off on Vespas to have all kinds of ridiculous adventures, only to bring her safely back to her hotel. So naturally I assumed this was how my two days in Geneva would go…
Turns out that only happens if your name is Mary Kate Olsen or Mandy Moore. Reality, please meet Meagan. Meagan, reality.
After landing in Geneva at 9:30 yesterday morning (following a kick-ass flight in Business Class on SWISS, might I add), I hopped in a cab and headed off to the Beau Rivage, a hotel that is nothing short of Grande Dame status as far as European hotels go.
I could tell you about my suite with the expansive bed and windows that open up to views of Lake Geneva, or the steam room built into my bathroom, or the Jacuzzi with the LED lighting (which I couldn’t figure out how to turn off last night and it kept refilling and whirring periodically)…but instead I’ll just tell you that I am no movie heroine, unless of course, she is Janeane Garofalo.
On a quest for fondue, a Swiss specialty, I wandered the streets of Geneva’s Paquis district. It was a Sunday night so not much was available. After about 45 minutes I managed to stumble upon a quaint coffee shop with what looked like Europe’s equivalent of a hipster so I ventured in. To sit myself or to wait to be seated? That is the question. So I lingered in the doorway for a minute and attracted several odd grimaces. Eventually the barista, who didn’t speak a lick of English, sat me at a table with a rugged looking gentlemen reading the newspaper, cigarette lazily dangling from his lip. “Aha!,” I thought. My European adventure was about to begin..
…that is until he barely even glanced at me and sighed a very huffy sigh for having been interrupted by the American rube.
I downed my coffee faster than you can say Toblerone and got the hell out of there. Still starving, hopped up on caffeine, I attempted to make my way back to the hotel, but, you see, the streets of Geneva are more Medieval than you might think and suddenly I found myself face-to-face with hookers.
Yes, Geneva has a red light district. Six or seven whores stood out in front of the sex shops, thigh-high boots about the most conservative articles they were wearing. When I passed a voyeuristic-looking shop with ladies in the window wearing just bras I decided it was time to get out of dodge.
ENOUGH! Back to the hotel I went. Cranky, hungry and jet-lagged I put on a robe, ordered a Croque Monsieur and some wine from room service and scanned the television channels looking for one of those movies I was speaking about before so I could live vicariously through these women and tell people I did it myself.
Tomorrow is another day.
Welcome to 2012, friends! Happy to see you here. Did you get all of those deliciously sin-filled activities done by midnight on December 31? Are you feeling baptized and reborn in the promising glow of a new start (which will fade by February, I’m sure)? I certainly hope so.
We are going to start off 2012 with a very vague post. I like to keep it vague because that just leaves room for a world of possibility. (Or I just don’t have anything specific to write about.) Anyway, Lonely Planet, once again, shared this awesome post about the top 10 things to do in 2012. Take a look! It’s early enough in the year that we can make grand statements about all the exotic places we are going to travel. Shh….just go with it.
Get ready for tomorrow when we will host the first Name that Skyline! contest of the year.
Twitter really is a beautiful thing. I fought it for so long because it seemed, well, stupid. But after tailoring who I “follow,” my “feed” is always fascinating. So here’s something I discovered on Twitter yesterday, and while it is not originally mine (I’m on a week-long vacation from work and have left my couch very little), I think you foodies out there will find it pretty sweet (no pun). Check out Lonely Planet‘s top gourmet sights around the globe. (They are all in Europe or Asia…shocker.)
Okay, so Christmas is over. Did you manage to resist the tables of temptation? If you’re anything like me you put that calorie counter away and said “hell yes” to all things cheese-filled and meat-topped. Good for the lips, not so good for the hips. Thankfully, Lonely Planet is to the rescue once again. Well, if you have the time and money, that is. Take a look at Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 best treks in the world – a fun (and adventurous) way to get back into shape for 2012.
We tell you a lot about drinking over here at trippin: a travelogue, and perhaps that is a bit cruel of us because we have yet to provide you with the perfect hangover cure. I’m sure you have adopted your own elixirs over time and practice, but in case you have yet to master the art, Lonely Planet has rounded up a list of some international pick-me-ups for post-drinking relief.
Note: Japan suggests sushi, so I’m pretty sure that is where I belong.
I’ve done my fair share of barhopping but now it’s time to see which ones made the cut in Lonely Planet‘s top 100 bars of the world. You can cast your vote and see the rankings change, but personally I like seeing how many of these I have been to. The grand total? Just one, but it frankly I thought I would have visited none. (Apotheke Bar, NYC)
Okay, now it’s your turn! Take a look at the list and share how many you have been to!
Happy Thanksgiving! Hope it is booze-filled and gluttonous!
It’s tough when you peak at 19. Five years ago I spent the summer living in Ireland and I have yet to experience anything quite like it since. From tall pints of Guinness in cozy, dimly lit bars to hiking in a downpour on sheep sh*t-soaked hillsides, I really can’t pick my favorite moment (and yes, the latter is absolutely in the running).
I knew little about Ireland at the time, but I was so greatly captivated by the town of Dingle in the southwestern county of Kerry. It was a quiet seaside community and the spot on which I witnessed the final game of the 2006 World Cup. That night was epic (picture verbal sparring matches with 12-year-old France fans, taking my victory lap around the town square, and an all-night saga of debauchery, drinking and merriment).
Little did I know that Dingle has also captured the hearts of some of the world’s most renowned musicians, and every year the town hosts the “Other Voices” music series, filmed each winter at the 200-year-old St. James’ Church. Some of the top names have included James Blount, Amy Winehouse, Florence and the Machines, Glen Hansard, Coldplay and more. In fact, many of these great artists take time to remain in Dingle to write and compose because the city fills them with such powerful inspiration.
Last week ‘Other Voices’ brought a blend of culture and soul to NYC and we celebrated at a private luncheon at New York’s 3 West Club. Take a look at The Lost Brothers, who gave us a very exclusive performance and be sure to make a trip to Dingle, where you can hear live Irish music 365 days a year. To me, nothing sounds more like heaven.
Okay, okay, you got me. It’s another post about Vienna. What can I say? When a city speaks to you, it speaks to you. A friend of mine from the Austria Tourist Board posted this article on Facebook yesterday and I thought it was a pretty good read.
Are you a fan of the alternative? (Brooklynites, I’m talking to you.) Last month Edible Brooklyn posted an article about Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district, aka the “Brooklyn” of Vienna. This neighborhood seems to have it all, from the drastically more affordable apartments to the organic, bohemian, farm-to-table farmers markets that both hipsters and posh elite can’t seem to get enough of.
Want to learn more? Read the article here.