Il pleut, je pleure

So I’ve become one of those people who talk about the weather.  It doesn’t help that we’ve had blue sky glimpses only a few times inthe past few weeks.  There were a couple of hot days a couple of weeks ago but overall lots and lots of rain.

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Rain, rain, rain.

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School holidays are here & most of the activities have run their course and we have another week and a bit before we head away for a holiday.  Today was movies & Monopoly.  Yesterday was baking & playing with the neighbour’s kitten.

It makes it painful knowing there are beautiful mountains and scenery so close but unless you’re really dedicated to trudge through mud and brave the rain & without proper wet gear, it’s tricky.  OK, I do have a purple puffy Gore-tex lightweight jacket circa 1990 but I just can’t bring myself to wear it.  Vain, I know.  Makes me feel I’m a long lost extra out of some tragic 90’s super colourful music video.  Just can’t do it!

When it’s summer here, it feels like you’re being cheated of a sunny day when it rains mid summer day after day.  If it was warm, that would be kind of tolerable, but the temperature drops to 10-15 degrees most days, which feels more like a Sydney winter than an European summer.  I’m the mad lady shaking my fist at the stormy skies and trashing my last Ikea umbrella that’s gone “Twang!”

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I’ll stop whingeing now.

one of those pinch me moments

So, every now and then I have a conscious realisation that we’re living in Switzerland.  Obvious, I know, as it’s true and it’s coming up to ONE YEAR since we moved here (August 2), can you believe?!

Here I sit, sipping my peculiar weak Swiss wine, munching on some Swiss chocolate sitting in my Swiss apartment as the sun goes down over the pre-Alps and I can see the vineyards behind us, lining the hillslopes all the way to Lausanne, along the lake.   Ah, there’s a rainbow and some pink wafty clouds over the mountains across the lake to France and I can hear church bells ringing.  That’s just to set the scene.  Here’s a couple of pics of the real view, downtown Vevey apartments and all.

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So, today, my pinch me moment was when we visited some thermal baths down in the Valais at Val d’Illiez, about a 45 minute drive from here.  Nestled in a lush green valley is a beautiful classically Swiss resort.

This photo below (perhaps one of my favourites so far of Switzerland) is of the valley, a little higher up, towards Champery.

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A few wooden chalets, perhaps 4 storeys high surround an indoor pool and an outdoor pool of thermal baths.  The thermals come from local natural springs with fresh mineral water gushing from the mountain at 30 degrees.  Despite the slightly sulphurous smell, the thermal baths were lovely – a small winding canal wound around with a current that gently drifted you along and back again to where you started.

True, it’s the middle of summer here, but the weather seems to have a mind of its own and we’ve had a few weeks of consistent rain and some chilly days.  Today was temperate and it was 15 degrees outside at the thermal baths, which made the 30degree pool heavenly and nothing compared to the warmer pool, which had decadent steam rising off it to the outside air. A return in cooler months is a must as that would be an invigorating experience to dip in to the warm baths in the winter wonderland surrounds, come winter.

After exploring the hammam, a super hot, super humid sauna room and then dipping myself in an icy 8 degrees bath, I returned to the indoor heated thermal pool to sit at the edge of the pool which has bubbly spa chairs inbuilt and enjoyed the view through a 3 storey glass window to the lush green misty forested hills behind.  Wow, Switzerland!  Sometimes you take my breath away.  Granted the chilly dip may have added to the goosebumps, but still there are some moments where I do have to pinch myself.

These moments are sandwiched between ones where I desperately miss my family and friends and would love nothing more than a good natter with my Mum or Dad, a dip in the ocean or a local inner west wander or culture blast.  Meeting plenty of other expats as we do, it’s interesting as most of them fall head over heels with the lifestyle here and would do anything to stay and not return home (be that UK or USA or South America or fill in the blank…), where I feel while we’ll make the most of our time here while we can with trips around Europe, that I truly feel like bursting into song sometimes like Peter Allen as I still call Australia home.

 

 

being a chocolate tourist in Lausanne

Now we’re getting serious with the chocolate posts…There are a few fancy and delicious chocolatiers in Lausanne.

Two worth mentioning are
Durig http://www.durig.ch/
and
Blondel http://www.chocolatsblondel.ch/

Durig chocolates are organic and fair trade.

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There’s a chocolate sculpture on the wall.

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and a large selection of beautifully wrapped chockies

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including the usual truffles (and when you buy something, they give you one of your choice to taste – hello Haigh’s!).  Their truffles are completely delicious and beautifully crafted.

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and the less usual offerings

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Blondel is in the old town on one of the steep cobblestoned lanes, right beside Laduree macaroons from Paris for the sweet-tooth minded. I will have to return to take photos as there was a market on the day we visited & it was crowded and a bit dark inside. Excuses, excuses, I know, I’ll just have to go back…

Like the well known Swiss chocolatier, Läderach, http://www.laederach.com/chen
(which I will have to devote another post to), Blondel is famous for its slabs of chocolate. You read that right, SLABS! Or, as they call it on their website “chocolates hammer”. No mucking around there, pass the hammer!

In various flavours like vanilla and white chocolate, cranberry studded, hazelnuts (my old time fave), almonds, salted caramel and more, you can choose pieces from a big pile that the women with white gloves carefully break for you, weigh and wrap. There is a silver try on the counter with broken pieces to taste.  More on their selection when I return for photos, I promise.

La Barbare hot chocolate in Lausanne

Well, according to a few online sources, the hot chocolate at Le Barbare in Lausanne is the best in town.  More investigation was required, so Chris, Cathy & I took it upon ourselves to test this claim.

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Beautifully presented in a gorgeous clue ceramic cup.  Behind it you can see a birds nest of bread (served with lunch, not with the hot chocolate!)

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With a consistency like baby food, this was no ordinary hot chocolate.  Super thick and gloopy, it was also decadently rich.   They must use a delicious chocolate as a base that they melt and thicken with something (maybe cornflour?) plus full cream milk, perhaps cream too.

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Between 3 of us, (admittedly after lunch) we were unable to finish it.  But it certainly was memorable.  Luckily, Lausanne is full of hills and stairs so we were able to walk off a spoonful or 2 during the afternoon.

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