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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Recently, some friends and I took a winetasting expedition. Although it wasn’t quite the spontaneous and utterly random trip of last year, this trip was highly educational, about both wine and Swiss culture. Locating the winery was perhaps the most adventure-like component of the trip. Although there was an address on the website, it didn’t match the directions given on their map, or by my contact. So we hopped off the train at Epesses, a 15-minute train ride from Montreux, and walked, with the hope that we were going in the right direction. It turned out we were, and we found the winery, Testuz, without a problem, which was perhaps a disappointment in its own, as getting lost always adds to the excitement of being found.

Regardless, we entered the tasting room to be told to wait our guide, Katherine. Katherine arrived, looking distinctly harried, and hurried off again. After waiting 15, 20 minutes, she arrived and told us that she only had time for a 20 minute tour, which is quite a bummer after you’ve been waiting around for longer than that. The winemaker, Markus, however, came to our rescue and volunteered to show us around.  Although Markus was passionate about his profession and product, it soon became clear that he was not the person accustomed to giving tours. Most of the time, reps will give you a brief tour, talk about what is unique about the wine, and then you’ll taste. Not so with Monsieur Markus. We toured the entire winery, and were talked through everything from the different varietals of the lavaux and the rest of Switzerland, to how the grapes are harvested (sometimes they use helicopters!), to how they are pressed and fermented, how that differs from old methods, and how the cellars are ventilated and the stainless steel is kept chilled. We were shown the ancient oak barrels that are no longer used, the newer ceramic ones, and the current stainless steel. Despite the incredible technicalities and details, we found the tour fascinating (though I probably couldn’t pass a quiz on the finer points). After about an hour, we were led back to the tasting room, where we were treated to two chasselas (a Swiss varietal that drinks like a soft but very subtly bubbling sauvignon blanc), two roses (one, translated, is called “The eye of the partridge,” because the color matches perfectly, apparently), a chardonnay that was just a touch too oaked for my liking, another Swiss specialty, dezaley, a gamay, a beautiful pinot noir, and an entirely overoaked red blend.  Our tour over, we meandered back to our train stop, munching on crackers, salami and goat cheese. We wandered down to the beach when we realized that we had quite a long wait for the next train. Although it was overcast and muggy, it was still warm enough to dip our feet in the lake, and we enjoyed a few minutes in the lake before we realized that we weren’t alone on what we thought was an isolated beach. Slowly looking over, we saw that there was a man, in what appeared to be a circle of rocks. This wasn’t entirely surprising, considering that we were on a very rocky beach to begin with, but what was odd was that he looked like he was hiding. Suddenly, my friend’s words came back to me; she had told me that Epesses was a lovely beach, but to watch out, as it’s privacy tends to attract many nudists. Just as I turned around to warn my companions, our nudist friend stood up, confirming my suspicions. We turned and ran away, most likely giggling madly, and we spent the rest of our wait on the other side of the tiny dock, trying to avoid getting nibbled by ducks. Despite the easy trip and surprise nudist, we had a wonderful, and highly educational, winetasting. 

I bought some giant diamond earrings for me and my mom… we look like rappers.

 

I mean, if we’re on the wrong train, it’ll just be an adventure. Or, you know, we might get arrested. Either way, adventure.

 

Where do we catch the bus to Germany?

 

Reading the Hunger Games without a warning is like going into Sophie’s Choice thinking it’s a RomCom.

 

Europe is weird. Let’s leave.

 

We can handle bears or moose, but not bugs. That’s gross.

 

He is a delicious piece of Swiss white chocolate.

 

Joanne is walking diabetes.

The past week has been surprisingly action-packed. This week marked the midpoint of my travels (I have been out of the US for a little over six weeks, and have just about five left). While my journey seemed epically long when I began, I’m starting to realize how quickly it is passing. The first session interns will be leaving this week, as well as the first round of volunteers. Although I’m here for the full summer, the goodbye process always reminds me of my first summer, and how heartbreaking those goodbyes were. Just passing through the Montreux train station reminds me of those tearful hugs and kisses two years ago.

Sunday marked the close of the Caux Forum for Human Security, which meant saying goodbye to all the friends and coworkers from the Forum team. Saturday was the last night of the Montreux Jazz Festival, meaning that almost the entire Forum team, scholars, interns, and communications made the trip down the mountain. It was a beautiful, if slightly drizzly, night, and my friend Joanne and I ended up staying out later than anticipated due to unforeseen reunions. We also ended up losing each other in the madhouse that is the Montreux Jazz Festival, and spent hours circling each other. Thankfully, she ran into some of our intern friends, and I had stuck with the comms team, so we both made it back unscathed, if slightly panicked about the other.

Sunday, the last night of the Forum, was the most celebratory evening of the summer so far. In the name of cultural sensitivity, we do not drink in Mountain House, and so meet at the train station bar hotel (Buffet de la Gare) whenever we gather in large numbers. Wine, beer, peanuts, shisha and frites were passed around, guitars were played, and we had an epic evening of song and merriment. Monday night we finally succeeded in having the barbecue that we had planned for the Fourth of July. We grilled sausages, steak, zucchini and marshmallows over the open fire and celebrated the lovely weather into the small hours of the morning.

happy sausage!

Tuesday night was a much-needed night of rest, and we celebrated the lovely weather on Wednesday night as well, with a few hours of nightswimming and a bottle of wine. Some of the beaches on Lake Geneva come fully equipped with chaise lounges, and we settled into our favorite beach, which has steps into the water and is nicely sheltered from the promenade above. Some of our fellow beachers brought music and cocktails, and we were involuntarily treated to a fashion show and mini-dance performance.

The good weather continued, and we enjoyed another bonfire on Thursday night, as well. While there was no barbecue, we roasted marshmallows, told jokes, and played bongos, anticipating a much-needed day off on Friday.