Swiss chocolate

We like chocolate, everyone likes chocolate but being from England we are rather biased and for us Cadbury’s chocolate is the best, more so for me than Phil. Having been brought up on the Cadbury estate in Bourneville, having a Nan who was an original Cadbury girl and having a great great Grandad who was foreman for George Cadbury, its hard to accept any other chocolate better than Cadbury’s. Well our visit to Geneva has shown us that Switzerland is pretty good at making chocolate and almost a match for Cadbury’s….. but not quite!! Sorry Geneva, Cadbury’s still tops the chocolate charts for me!!

Swiss chocolate shop

Fondue fondness

Oh, come on, this is ridiculous. The Swiss absolutely love fondue, so much so that every restaurant smells of boiling cheese. We did it once, in Paris, but seriously, what is this Fondue shit all about? If you got tasty meats, or peppers and courgettes, or herbs, we could maybe get it, but these people just cut bread into chunks to dip into the undoubtedly lovely cheese sauce. So these intelligent, discerning, selective, organised Swiss people, choose to go out and spend £25 per head to eat bread and cheese. What’s that all about? Are we missing something?

Geneva pocket history

John Calvin rocked up here in 1536, fleeing from the French Catholics who were hell bent on persecuting Protestants like him, and effectively founded the city which has become Geneva. Alongside three other founding fathers, Calvin created and built the antecedent to Rome, establishing the epicentre of the Protestant world and one of the focal points of the Reformation movement, with doctrines of non-aggression, fairness to, and freedom for, all people. Geneva remained an independent state right up until the late 19th century, retaining those laudable principles and altruistic beliefs.

Not too surprising then that we are here at the home of the United Nations, in a country where privacy is paramount (Swiss Bank Account Sir?), where tips are non-existent because wages are so high, but, moreover, where neutrality in the World Wars was achieved, and EU membership avoided. This is a nation which has worked hard to avoid upsetting anyone, anywhere.

In a country steeped in neutrality and fairness, this city in particular sits above conflict, and outside of attrition. Compared to some places we’ve been, that’s not a particularly colourful history!

The joy of city breaks

There’s something special about a quick city break, it’s a particular type of travel experience which brings its own style of satisfaction and stimulation, often enhanced by the very fact that you have limited time in which to cram the experiences. We are off to Geneva this weekend with the familiar format of a two-night, three-day stay, flying in early Saturday morning and back home Monday evening.

Precious few cities have failed to excite us, everywhere has something to offer, and for us there are definite highlights to aim for. Of course, you have to see each city’s major sights, but we try and throw in a few oddball ones too, if they’re there to be found; we will take in, perhaps, a bustling market, or a climb to a rooftop view; plus, always, try to seek out lively bars and restaurants where we can soak up the city culture. Familiarising ourselves with the transport systems is all part of it, as are seeking out neighbourhoods with a different feel, eating anything which is a local speciality, learning the city’s history. We love the feeling of strange surroundings becoming familiar in a short space of time: isn’t it funny how quickly that happens.

Switzerland will be our 30th country visited together; and for Phil, Geneva will be the 73rd great city of the World, and that doesn’t count any at home in the UK. All things being equal, we’ll be there in time for Saturday breakfast, and so the next adventure will begin.

Here’s some shots from some previous city breaks

St Petersburg, Russia
Riga, Latvia
Venice, Italy
Brussels, Belgium
Krakow, Poland

Kent coast 27/10/18

Less than a week after commenting on the warm October, autumn sweeps in with cold nights and a biting northerly wind blowing in off the sea. With guests for the weekend including our two young nieces aged 6 and 4, we take some bracing walks by the sea, along Herne Bay seafront and on to the pier, and then along the front around Minnis Bay, buffeted all day by the cold winds straight off the lively seas. The sea itself is much choppier than normal, crashing waves where the water normally does no more than lap gently on to the shore, and though it stays dry all day and there is some sun, the temperatures have dropped a long way from last weekend and the wind chill factor must be several degrees. We think the correct word is probably “bracing”.

It’s one of those days that blows the cobwebs away and makes you feel invigorated; it’s also one of those days which reminds you that our stretch of coastline faces due North.