Raunaq and I have been living in Zurich for over a year. Given that we hike a fair bit (in Switzerland and elsewhere), I thought to put together a “Swiss Hiking 101” guide for anyone interested in exploring this lovely country on foot. Generally, we hike moderately challenging to challenging trails, but if you are not an avid hiker, don’t despair. Every single mountain included in my hiking lists have trails for all abilities and interests, and no matter what you chose, it’s absolutely worth trying at least one hike while in Switzerland. It’s really a hiking paradise.
Zagreb is beautiful, but slightly rough around the edges. Just the way I like my cities. Eastern European-style architecture mixed with communist-era structures with graffiti and intricate street art. There’s a creative, artsy energy that is palpable, and meshes perfectly with all of the galleries, theaters, and strong cafe culture. Smoking, drinking, strolling, chatting seems to be the way of everyday life. Zagreb is one of those places that is both stuck in time and ultra-modern.
Now, I knew the Germans were serious about their beer. In order for it to be even called beer in Germany, it must be brewed according to the Reinheitsegot (literally, the “Bavarian Beer Purity Law”), which only allows for the three ingredients of water, hops and malt. It’s been brewed this way for centuries. Breweries started in German monasteries, back when drinking beer was safer than drinking water. The monks knew their stuff (and how to start a lucrative international business). I knew German beer was a point of pride. I just didn’t know why.
As you may have guessed, this post is all about waterfalls. Or more specifically, where to find them in Croatia. Plitvice National Park may get all the fame and glory (the nickname for this park is the poetic “Land of the Falling Lakes,” after all), but it’s not the only national park in Croatia with numerous cascades and clear turquoise pools. Krka National Park is beautiful in its own right.
As we are approaching our one-year anniversary in July (“expatversary,” if you will), I started thinking about all of the things that really surprised me when we first moved to Switzerland. It’s actually a bit funny writing these out now, because as we have adapted to the Swiss lifestyle, we’ve simply gotten used to most of these things as a way of life. I’ve written about my unexpected favorites, things Switzerland does well, and things they could work on, so this list is a new mix of all three. Some affect my daily life, some don’t, some things I love and some still leave me a bit bewildered, but they all contradicted a previously held notion in some way.
I’m not sure if Istria is one of the “best-kept secrets” in the country, but I had certainly never heard about this region before planning our trip. And even then, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Previously, when I thought of Croatia, a couple standard things came to mind: Dubrovnik, the blue blue blue water of the Adriatic, and Plitvice National Park with all it’s waterfalls. Northern Croatia never really even crossed my mind. But I am so, so happy we made it there.
For this season of book reviews, I mixed things up a little bit: There was a compelling nonfiction, a memoir of personal challenge and triumph, a fiction book written like a documentary, a break-your-heart-wide-open book (there needed to be at least one), a though-provoking slow burn novel, a book from an old favorite author, and a book from a new favorite author. They weren’t all great, but this list is certainly the most varied. A book here for everyone!