Say Cheese, Again!

Mom and I took the train from Zurich to Lucerne, one of my favorite cities of Switzerland. It is situated right on Lake Lucerne and surrounded by Mount Pilatis and part of the Swiss Alps, making it a breathtakingly beautiful city. The main part of town is built right along the edge of the water and there are multiple bridges crossing back and forth including the most iconic bridge of Switzerland, the Kapellbrücke or the Chapel Bridge. When Mom and I did a tour of the city with a cute and smiling blonde lady, we learned that this famous bridge and tower used to be a form of fortification, torchure chamber and place to store treasuer for the city in the 14th century. It burnt down when a careless tourist dropped a cigar into a boat tied beneath it and you can see where they rebuilt it because the wood is still different colors.IMG_6111

I highly suggest taking walking tours of the city you visit, because there is so much history hidden behind the shops and chocolaterias. For example, we learned that most of Lucerne was changed or constructed specifically for tourism. The Chapel Bridge used to lead straight into a Chapel on one side of the river, but they cut it shorter and added a whole sidewalk to the other side of the riverbank so that tourists could enjoy a nice stroll and beautiful view, and use the bridge even if they weren’t going to the chapel. We learned that there are over 225 fountains sprinkled throughout Lucerne that serve as decoration but also places where people can fill up their water bottles with water directly from mountain springs. We also learned about the many animated paintings across the town on buildings and signs that served to help the people of Lucerne when the majority of them could not read.

After trying to soak up so much information that my brain hurt, it was time for dinner. Mom and I went to a restaurant on the river that someone suggested to us. We were seated at a small table carved right into the wall of the restaurant with a window looking out into the street. I loved the environment of the place right away with large wood walls and purple seat cushions. There were flags of each Canton of Switzerland hanging from the walls and a large group of women at a table next to us. They must have been having a girls night, and I was happy because when you end up at a restaurant with locals, you know that you have found a good place. We ordered a traditional dish of Switzerland, the Raclette, without knowing what it really was. We were expecting a fondue type dish with meat (which there is a raclette with meat, but not the one we ordered), but instead, the waiter came out with a little tray with a burner underneath it, a basket of potatoes, pickles and onions, and a huge plate of cheese. The plate must have had at least forty slices on it. Our waiter showed us that you take a slice of cheese and put it on the metal burner, let it melt, and then scrape it off onto your plate to eat with everything. The ladies next to us laughed at how bug the plate of cheese was and watched as we tried to learn to use the burner. It was really quite delicious, but we ate so much cheese AGAIN.

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I ate more cheese in the time we had in Switzerland than I had in my last two years of college… or at least that is what it felt like! Say Cheese, Again, mom!
And that’s an un-wrap.

Confiserie Sprüngli

This mini-post will be dedicated to Confiserie Sprüngli, an extravagant chocolate shop in Zurich. It was founded in 1836 and is known for it’s handmade macaroons that parade in pyramids in the window.

Mom and I walked into the first Sprüngli shop we ran into (there are some scattered about in Zurich and even one at the train station so you can’t miss it as you leave the city), and walked in circles around the store staring into each and every one of the glass windows displaying sweet after sweet. There were tons of colorful macaroons, shelf after shelf of cakes, pastries and small sandwiches, and then a long display dedicated to small hand-crafted truffles.IMG_6008

After much deliberation, Mom and I decided on a small traingular cake with a chocolate layer on the outside and hazelnut filling on the inside. Needless to say, it was one of the best slices of cake I had ever tasted. The hard chocolate on the outside contrasted perfectly with the fluffy mousse on the inside, while the tast of dark chocolate and sweet hazelnut combined to create the ideal level of sweetness on the taste buds.

Sprüngli, just like the idea Swiss Chocolate, has a good reputation and a lot of hype, but it does not disappoint.

And that’s an un-wrap.

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Chocolate with A View

Leaving Vienna was hard because our friend Caro was such a great host, but Kalina and I were excited to start a new adventure in Croatia, a country I knew nothing about. We woke up early and flew from Vienna to Zagreb and Zagreb to to Dubrovnik where we caught an airport bus into Old Town, Dubrovnik where we were staying. As the bus drove in along the green coasts, I looked out the window and saw the sun setting into the bright blue water. It was overwhelmingly beautiful I couldn’t help but smile to myself as Kalina studied the map by my side.

While in Croatia, there were two main things we wanted to do. First, we wanted to hike up a path below a cable car leading to a great high point to look over the city and the coast. When we asked the lady in the information booth about the hike, she warned us that it was not easy and would take us over two hours to complete. In fact, I think she was shocked we wanted to hike it instead of just taking the cable car up. She also warned us to stay on the path because there may still be un-exploded bomb mines in the fields and mountains from the war in 1991. Kalina and I decided to take on the challenging hike and woke up at 7am to begin. However, the hike only took us an hour to get to the top even with a short pit-stop to eat breakfast. It was ironic, because the hardest part of the climb was walking up over one hundred narrow steps to get  out of the city and to the trail head.

We climbed these steps and then stopped for yogurt and chocolate muesli on a landing where a bunch of motor bikes were situated. The sun was rising over the calm blue water and we could see all of the red roofs of Dubrovnik– it was almost a better view at this little landing than at the top of the hike. After we ate, we walked up to the main road which was how the lady in the information booth told us to get to the hike’s beginning and we walked along the edge for a little while before finding the trail and heading up. It was a zig-zag or “serpentine” up the mountain with stones lining the edge and large stone carvings of the different phases of Jesus’ crucifixion on the turns.

The trail ended in a very strange place. Instead of leading to the front of the cable car, it stopped at the side of a broken down building and we had to walk behind it to find the cable car and museum. The views at the top were gorgeous, but what I found most interesting was when you looked the other direction. Looking forward, you see a beautiful coastline with red roofs. Looking behind you, you see dry and deserted rolling hills. The two views could not be more different. It was strange to see all of the buildings settled against the water in Old City and then nothing on the other side of the first mountain. The people definitely settled on the water.

The second thing we wanted to do during our stay was walk the stone wall surrounding the Old City. This is where they filmed Kings Landing for the Game of Thrones TV series. On the walls, Kalina and I were high above the city you could see everything within the walls and everything without. We stopped for a while on one of the edges looking across at a huge fort, a cove with splashing blue water and some of the town too. It was a dream: the red roofs, the ancient stone and the glassy water. While we were standing there and staring out, I kept thinking about what it would have been like to live when the walls actually protected the city against war. Can you imagine standing at the look out and seeing an enemy boat approaching? IMG_5075

Of course, we looked for chocolate to keep us energized on these adventures. We ended up finding some bars to try in the local supermarket. One of them was a delicious milk chocolate speckled with crunchy wafers. The other was an airy dark chocolate. It might have been my favorite chocolate of the journey so far– It was like a chocolate mousse all wrapped up in a chocolate bar.IMG_4931

Thank you for the views, Croatia! And that’s an un-wrap.