Absinthe comes from the French region of Switzerland, in an area called Val-de-Travers, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. It was produced here from the 18th century until 1910, when it was vilified, banned and bootlegged for nearly a century. Absinthe was re-legalized in Switzerland in 2005, and has slowly been making it’s revival. Today, around twenty microdistilleries produce absinthe throughout Val-de-Travers, and export many different types of the spirit all over Europe.
But every so often, there is a hike that is special (shh, don’t tell the other trails). And this one, the Brisen Peak and Haldigrat ridge, was special enough to merit its own blog post. There are a couple of reasons why. First, I had never even heard of this canton before, so the whole area felt a little bit undiscovered. Second, the whole experience felt “classically Swiss,” from start to finish. And third, this was a hike that challenged me in a new way. Physically demanding, yes. Tough, absolutely. But I wasn’t expecting it to be so mentally taxing.
Moving to a new country is equally thrilling and terrifying. It’s an opportunity to call another country home, learn a new language, and foster your own independence. It also means you’ll be far away from friends and family, will be surrounded by a completely unfamiliar culture, and will need to build a whole new community from scratch. It’s exhilarating and exhausting and frustrating and adventurous and lonely and heart-burstingly full all at the same time.
And with this summer transformation comes Zurich’s bathing culture: the multiple badis that line the lake and river. Badis are essentially public “baths” or swimming areas, where you can come swim, cool off on grass beaches or wooden decks over the water, sunbathe, socialize, eat, drink, and simply enjoy being outside in the warm weather.
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.