After a promising start to our second stint in Switzerland the sun simply disappeared making limited guest appearances as it saw fit. As you all know this is not a common occurrence in my world. Despite the trying conditions the fun times have continued to roll.
On Monday we took a drive to Engelberg which is in the canton of Obwalden. The town is surrounded by Alps and has on it’s border Mt Titlis which stands at 3,238 metres high and is famous as the site of the world’s first revolving cable car. I had been up there on my first ever trip to Switzerland in 1997. We had lunch in Engelberg in this cafe where they also make cheese by hand with the milk from the surrounding farms.
We weren’t here for the mountains though, we were here to check out the golf course. Engelburg Golf Club is set up the valley and is surrounded by mountains – it is a very picturesque course. We took a walk along the river and we could see some of the holes – Steve was salivating at the sight. So close but oh so far. We may return next week to have a round.
On our walk up the valley we also came across zip lining along with a confidence course set up in the trees. The zip lining is self guided – they show you the ropes, excuse the pun, and then let you go and conquer on your own. You make your way from platform to platform by climbing up these wooden steps set into the trees. I must say it looked very cool and it only cost 40 Swiss Francs or about NZD51 and you could do all 6 sets of zip lines. Another thing on the list for next week.
On Wednesday Karin’s brother Michael and his wife Aileen and seven year old son Lucas came for lunch. We had met them at Karin & Elvis’s wedding back in 2009 so it was nice to see them again. They live in Singapore so are back for their summer holidays. Lucas goes to a Swiss school in Singapore and speaks fluent German and English – Aileen is from Singapore so he also has Chinese lessons once a week which he is not too fussed on. He loves his sport and good food – a boy after my own heart : ) I think he devoured more salad than anyone else at the table.
Lunch turned into early evening and the game Dog came out – we had never played it before so it was good fun. Steve was the first to have all his marbles home safe so one can only imagine the crowing! Elvis our Master chef then worked his magic in the kitchen once again to prepare a delicious meal of Spaghetti Bolognese and Fettuccine – all the sauces made from scratch of course.
On Thursday night we had tickets to a concert in Locarno which is in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland – about 2 hours south of here. We decided to go down for the day as the weather forecast was better down there. We had a nice Italian lunch of pasta followed by Gelato. A spot of shopping then followed and a boat trip on the lake.
Locarno is the capital of the Locarno district, located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) in the Swiss canton of Ticino, close to Ascona at the foot of the Alps. It has a population of about 15,000 (60,000 for the urban area including Ascona). The official language of Locarno is Italian.
The concert we came to see was that of Laura Pausini. The support act was a Swiss singer called Bastian Baker. The concert was being held in the Piazza and we managed to get a table for dinner in one of the restaurants inside the Piazza. It was Italian Pizza all round – yum! We then joined the rest of the concert goers in the middle of the Piazza. Migros which is a large supermarket chain over here sponsor the Moon & Stars Festival which is held every year in the Piazza. Also featuring this year are Dolly Parton, James Blunt, Backstreet Boys and Jack Johnson. The orange hats you see in the photo are courtesy of Migros.
Bastian Baker was born Bastien Kaltenbacher in Lausanne, Switzerland – he is 23 years old and is a singer, songwriter, and performer. He was coach in the third season of The Voice Belgique (The Voice of Belgium). He sings in English generally but is fluent in German, French and Italian.
Born to a professional hockey player father, Bastian wanted to become a professional hockey player in the footsteps of his father and played on Swiss National League’s Juniors Elite A side “Lausanne 4 Clubs” under the name Bastien Kaltenbacher but his interest in music won out. He was really good and certainly warmed the crowd up for the main act.
Laura Pausini, born 16 May 1974, is an Italian pop singer-songwriter and record producer. She debuted in 1993, winning the newcomer artists’ section of the 43rd Sanremo Music Festival with the song “La solitudine”, which became an Italian standard and an international hit, reaching the top spot on the Italian Musica e Dischi singles chart, as well as on the Dutch Top 40 and on the Flemish Ultratop 50. Her eponymous debut album was released in Italy on 23 April 1993 and later became an international success, selling two million copies worldwide.
Pausini describes herself as a Roman Catholic woman, but expressed doubts about Roman Church’s position on various themes, including contraception, abortion and premarital sex. In September 2000 she explained her position during an interview to the Italian newspaper la Repubblica:
I really believe in God, and the Pope is the man that I most want to meet again in the world. I already met him in 1996. I just have a few doubts about the Catholic Church, such as the discrimination against homosexuals. I don’t understand how they condemn racism, but at the same time take issue with gay people.
She made reference to homosexuality when she spoke saying that love is love and can be between a man and a woman or a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Her parting words when she left the stage was “everyone make love tonight”. This of course was all translated by Elvis for us.
I would have to say that she would be the best artist I have ever seen in concert and I couldn’t understand a word she said! She spoke and sang with such passion and enthusiasm – as well as she had this cheeky sense of humour. Her facial expressions and body language also contributed to the performance. She spoke in between some of the songs and told stories about the songs or who she was dedicating them to – Elvis our interpreter extraordinaire translated the gist for us so our imagination could sweep us along during the song.
The setting in the Piazza was also awesome – surrounded by these lovely old buildings that had been lit up in different colours. There were people out on the balconies soaking up the atmosphere and dancing away. It was a great night. We drove back to Buochs after the concert so got to bed about 2am.
The pasta theme continued tonight as Karin and I made ravioli filled with ricotta and fresh herbs from the garden. Karin also introduced me to battered sage leaves – her sage plant is on steroids and has produced these large leaves so instead of them being sage mice we called them sage rats. They were very delicious. The Swiss are great gardeners so we are certainly learning a lot of new recipes using all sorts of things in the vege garden. They also don’t eat a lot of meat so are quite creative with their meals. Everything is always delicious and much appreciated by us!