Saturday, Sep 3 — Tanne
Cathy and Reto meet us at the airport and drive through the beautiful Swiss countryside, to their Tanne, their village on the outskirts of Zurich. All the houses have cute shutters that remind me of the Swiss Valet Lego set, which was my first Lego set as young boy. I am living the Lego dream! We have an aperitivo drink at the roof terrace, which becomes a daily tradition, and wonderful dinner.
Sunday, Sep 4 — Basel
We have a nice Breakfast in the crib, with bread and cappuccino. We drove to Basel-Stadt (BS) old town, saw Münster and Pier, and meet up with Dominique, Cathy’s niece, and her family. We then attempt to drive into Germany, to the Vitra museum, but I make a map mistake and we accidentally end up in France, which is Zara’s first time in France! (What other American can say they went to France their first time by accident?!) The tour is more a tour of the buildings that house production and shipping (all too built by famous architects), and I must admit, even though everything is unique and amazing, it is so far above my head, from a design and architecture perspective, and I realize I need to study up, return, and see it all again. And for some reason, a little jet lag kicks in, even though we’ve already been in Europe for some time, which isn’t helping things. We stop by the public museum on our way out, which is in a 5-story building and showcases a lot of current items for sale. I wish we had $50k to shop! We had home and have BBQ for dinner.
Monday, Sep 5 — Pontarlier
Road trip: First drove to Solothurn and walked around the old town, by the church and the buildings with the mini-towers on the side (like bay windows, aka: erker or Oriel windows) we also walked down to the river; then drove to Biel/Bienne (pronounced Beal), walked around the old town, found nothing open for lunch, so we drove to a nice spot on the lake, Restaurant Räblus and had fish with a salad with the best Swiss mustard vinaigrette dressing.
We continued to World Heritage La Chaux-de-Fond (La showed foe) and took the elevator up and also visited the house #6, Villa Jeanneret-Perret, aka Maison Blanche, by the architect Le Corbusier.
Then we drove Le Locle, walked around the Hôtel de Ville, bought ice cream at the market.
Then we drove on a nice road by cows and Charolais (shar-oh-lay) beef cattle, into France, to Pontarlier, stayed in room 206 of the Kyriad Hotel and had a lovely walk into town with a sunset over river Doubs. For dinner, the only place still open is Brasserie De La Poste. We park there and I order a rare steak frites (with basically raw beef) and we share a bottle of 2019 Le Moulingenêt St Nicolas de Bourgueil red wine by Joseph Mellot, which in plain English is Cabernet Franc. It reminds me of Chip and April.
Tuesday, Sep 6 — Montreaux
Woke up and had breakfast in the same spot, and drove to Lausanne (pronounced: low·zaan), toured the Lausanne Cathedral, which was totally large and impressive with a beautiful view outside over the vertical city.
Then we drove along the Lavaux Vineyard terraces world heritage site. We stop and take a picture near Essence, and had lunch at an Italian spot called .
Then we drove into Montreaux, which is a totally amazing town, and onto our accommodation for the night, an eccentric spot called the Crazy Lounge were we check into a yurt (of all things). We then drive back into Montreaux town, and I had a swim in Lake Geneva and an Aperol Spritz at the bar on the lake.
Then drove to Crazy Lounge, chill for a bit and have a nice Indian dinner of saag paneer, samosa, and chicken ginger, which is really tasty. After dinner I take a walk around, along the river, down to a local restaurant, and back again, to get my 10k steps. It is quite dark out, and a bit spooky, but I can hear cow bells as far as the ear can hear, and it’s quite calming.
Wednesday, Sep 7 — Tanne
We checked out early and drive along Highway 11 through Regional Park Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut near Château-d’Œx. As some point, we stop for Gruyère cheese sampling and buying. We stop in gorgeous Interlaken, walk around a bit. We drive along turquoise-colored Lake Brienz and stop in Brienz town and walk along the lake shore for a bit. The water is deep turquoise blue and there are several swans swimming about. I want to jump in too, but it’s a bit too cold. We stumble upon Restaurant Löwen for lunch. It is so beautiful that I cannot concentrate on the menu, which is mostly fried foods, and I cannot decide what to order. I settle for a salad, which is never a bad choice in Switzerland, and a vegetable cream soup. We then drive home, along Route 4, stopping by at the view point over Lungern. This day has been the most scenic day. We arrive home to Tanne, and Zara and I have a nice walk around the countryside with green hills and close encounters with cows and call bells. What a day!
Thursday, Sep 8 — Lucerne
Drove to Lucerne Parked and walked over the wooden bridge and through the old town for a bit.
Visited the glass factory in canton. Lunch at Seehotel Sternen Horw (Getrakekarte) on the lake.
Checked into Hotel Beau Séjour, room 24, with a great view over the lake and a side view too. Wonderful room with old, herringbone wood floors. Chilax and took a bike ride, dinner at Villa Schweizerhof.
Friday, Sep 9 — Tanne
We had a lovely hotel breakfast which included regional cheeses, such as Bergkäse mild (cow), Tilsiter (cow), Swiss Gruyère AOP (cow), and Bergkäse Rezent (also cow). Gosh, just typing this up makes me want to eat cheese so badly. When then checked out and our lovely Swiss friends picked us up and we returned to Tanne, lunch at road-side cafe (Schlüssel is in the notes but I cannot verify), drove to Bern; saw the bears; walked around the old town; relaxed in the Münsterplas overlooking the river; saw the clock turn 4 o'clock and the moving complications; went back to the Münster and climbed the towers; walked around a bit more and drove back to Tanne, via Interlaken; with the overlook at
Raclette and hot potato dinner with Swiss Wildbrunner brand Williams-Crist pear schnapps and Distillerie Willisau brand cherry Kirsch, from Jug canton. Jug is famous for cherries. Yum.
Saturday, Sep 10 — Tanne
Breakfast at home of cheese. Drove to Einsiedeln and visit the Einsiedeln Abbey; Cathy bought bread; drove to Schwyz (Shweets), bought Bircher muesli for 2.50; walked around; headed South and drove by Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) on the right side, (lots of tunnels and even a bike tunnel); entered Uri canton and stopped by Altdorf. By chance, at that exact moment, we see a group of folks herding the cows who are coming down from the mountain for the winter. Their bells are loud. We follow the procession for some time, and this becomes a vivid, peak moment of the entire trip. We then drove up to Klausen Pass at an elevation of 1,948 meters or 6,391 feet; and down the other side. We have a wonderful and scenic lunch at Naturi Urnerboden. I order a Möhlsaft Klarer Apfelwein and we share a charcuterie plate of salami, cured ham, cheese, pickles, We then drove through Glarus (shutter culture); drove to Bilten and visited House of Läderach chocolate factory; drove home to Tanne; went on evening walk and saw sheep, views of Lake Zurich.
Sunday, Sep 11 — Tanne
Breakfast; train ride up Mount Pilatus.
Sunday, Sep 12 — Tanne
Breakfast at home; we visit Appenzell and see the small doors; then stop in Altstätten for an amazing lunch of rabbit with cream sauce over couscous at Restaurant Bar Rathaus; I hit up the ATM for 100 Fr.; Liechtenstein Castle and downtown Vaduz. I drove home and we walked around Tanne for a bit. The green hills are beautiful, but they have plowed some fields for the winter. We have an aperitivo on the terrace with a 2018 Carmelin Petite Arvine white wine and some cured ham. Reto makes a great dinner of what I think is Wurstweggen, or meet wrapped in bread.
Monday, Sep 13 — Tanne
Breakfast at home; Drive to Reto’s workshop and his amazing car collection! Train to Zurich. Lunch at Sternen grill. Le Corbusier House for dinner of their amazing chicken.
Tuesday, Sep 14 — Locarno, Ticino
Breakfast at home; pack and say bye to Tanne 😢. We take the train to Locarno. On the way we stopped at the Castles of Bellinzona and have lunch at Manora. In Locarno we check into room 507 at the Hotel la Palma au Lac, on the 6th floor, with a lovely view of the lake.
We head downstairs to the lovely hotel terrace and each have a glass of 2021 ANTP Antichi Poderi Bianco di Merlot. The wine is local from the Ticino Denominazione di Origine Controllata, and tastes wonderful after the long day traveling on trains and touring castles.
In the evening, we stroll over to the Gault&Millau-recommended Osteria del Centenario and sit on the front terrace, enjoying a view of the lake. Our experience begins with a glass of red malbec (11.00₣) and a Antichi Poderi (8.50₣). We also shared a refreshing bottle of fizzy San Pellegrino (9.00₣).
The meal begins with a generous amuse-bouche of vegetable foam and spoonfuls of fresh ratatouille. We continue with a delightful Insalata Mista (mixed salad, 10.50₣) and a mouth-watering Battuto di Manzo (beef tartare, 29.00₣), topped with spinach. As we savor the flavors, I can’t help but feel that the cows were raised not too far from our table. Our next course is a perfectly cooked Filetto di Salmerino (49.00₣) or fillet of Arctic char, which is similar to salmon or trout. It is topped with Romanesco broccoli, whose chartreuse fractile patterns give a psychedelic vibe.
We go for another round of wine, this time a Scaia Rosato (8.00₣/ea.), and a local favorite, Cantastorie (8.00₣). We are then served the house lasagna, called “Lasaon-A-sino” (28.00₣), which is actually deep fried bite-size bits. It is guiltily phenomenal. We end the evening with a rich Cremoso al Cioccolato (17.00₣), yum.
After a memorable day full of scenic spots, our dinner here was the perfect ending. With a cost of 193.75₣, it wasn’t the cheapest, but hey, we are not often given the chance to dine lakeside in Locarno, so we embraced the moment and made the best of it!
Wednesday, Sep 15 — Locarno, Ticino
Breakfast in the hotel. We then walk to the dock and grab the 12:15 boat 303 and take a nice cruise along the lake stopping at Vira, San Nazzaro and Ascona. We arrive to Isole di Brissago at 1:15 and debark to the leafy island. We walk around and I take a swim. At 2:30, we board boat 306, and cruise for 15 minutes back to Ascona. We have a nice tuna sandwich for lunch at DiMa. We then head to a lake-side bar and have an Aperol Spritz and a salad at Alpiazza. We walk a bit, and catch the bus back to Locarno and take an Ice cream. We chillax at the hotel. What a nice balcony and view.
We have dinner at Trattoria del Lago di Manuela Buetti, a cozy place located at Viale Verbano 35 in Muralto. We sit on the front terrace, overlooking the road, green grass promenade, and shimmering lake beyond, and start our meal with a glass of Merlot Bianco (€3.20) and Merlot Rosso (€3.20), setting the tone for a delightful evening. Next, we indulge in a classic Lasagna alla Bolognese (€18.00) that delivers rich, layered flavors, just as you'd expect from this beloved dish.
The Polenta Concia (€16.00) is another highlight, and is paired beautifully with a refreshing Insalata Mista (€9.00) that balances the meal with its crisp and vibrant elements. We don’t have room for dessert, so we pay the small bill of €49.40 and off we go!
After dinner we join merrymakers at Bar La Vela next door, who are literally dancing in the street!
Thursday, Sep 16 — Train to Lake Como
We have a nice breakfast at the hotel, one last sit on the balcony overlooking the gorgeous lake. We check out and walk to the train station, buy our tickets, board the train, and rail out of Locarno, along Lago Maggiore and then along and across Lago di Lugano. We exit Switzerland and enter Italy.