Baselworld, 2019

The biggest watch and jewelry trade fair in the world, dating back to the year 1917. That is more than a 100 years of tradition. I was taken aback by the magnitude. I knew that it would be big since most of the luxury watch and jewelry brands of the world were participating but I did not expect it to be so grand! Especially in a country like Switzerland where everything is generally on a much smaller scale. But I guess when you think of watches, you think of Switzerland. It feels almost like a celebration of the watch industry and as the name suggests, it really is a world of its own.

You cannot miss the main entrance. You look up in the sky and the open roof looks like a huge watch bezel. The scale really depicts the opulence of it all. Once you enter the hall, get your tickets (CHF 60 for a day) and finally walk inside the gates, you are free to explore any of the numerous booths on display. For a minute it really made me feel like I was at an airport with a lot of time on my hands. Except that there is no duty free shopping. Actually there is no shopping. You are not there to buy the watches or the jewelry.  Baselworld is really an exhibition. The biggest watch and jewelry brands are here to showcase their latest creations. It is kind of like the Paris fashion week for watches and jewelry. Rolex, Tag Heuer, Hublot, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Gucci, you name the brand and its there. The one brand that was missing this year was Omega. There is a huge selection of products from a wide range of price. The biggest brands of the world choose this platform to launch their new products and you are one of the first few to see them. It really is a watch lover’s paradise. If you are looking to buy a watch, here is an opportunity to get greater insights into the brands of your choice. We spent quite a bit of time at the Rolex exhibition and I can say that I now have a fairly good idea of the options available within my price range.

One of the best exhibitions this year was by Citizen. The beautiful gold watch parts dropping down from the sky like rays of light. It was very well done. We spent a fair amount of time at the booth taking pictures of the beautiful installation and exploring the new collections.

The fair is not just about the brands showcasing their products. It is a lot more than that. We were really interested in watching the fashion show but we couldn’t make it in time for the last show. Imagine the irony…we reached late for a watch show! That’s the price you pay when you travel with kids. If you check out the events calendar on their website, there are a lot of activities chalked out for the day. The best thing is to download their free Baselworld official app from the apple store. It lets you know all about the events scheduled for the day and the various brands showcasing their collections. If you would really like to experience Baselworld you must spend a day there and make sure you download the app one day before, plan your day and start early the next day!

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!

Gstaad, Switzerland

Switzerland is full of untouched natural beauty. However, once in a while when I get an overdose of the simplicity and the nature, I rush to Gstaad for my quarterly dose of glitz and glamour. It is undoubtedly my favourite town in this lovely country.

Every time I visit Gstaad I feel like I’ve been transported to another time period. It has this old world charm which stays with me the whole day, even when I’m back home. I am a very dreamy person so this place is the perfect place for me to romanticize about. It is typical Switzerland in terms of its beautiful chalets, a lovely little train station and the gorgeous mountain range. However, unlike the rest of Switzerland, which is so simple and natural, Gstaad is really very chic and glamorous. It is like a timeless piece that never goes out of fashion. Name a fashion brand and you will find a store hidden in one of the lovely little chalets. I was particularly struck by the Dolce and Gabbana window display. It was really so dramatic and glittery that I felt everything that shines in Switzerland was all in here! But the store was housed in a typical Swiss chalet. Nothing fancy about the exterior of the store. Here’s what I love about this place. It is so refreshingly modern and fashionable but still in touch with its roots and tradition. It is still so Swiss!

The tourists on the streets certainly outnumber the locals living there. However, it is never overcrowded. Maybe because not a lot of people know about it. It is still in a way a hidden gem.

Where to eat

As I have mentioned in my earlier blog, with children, food is a key part of our every travel. In Gstaad we have this one bakery that we always visit. It’s called the Early Beck café and it has a good selection of chocolates, pastries, sandwiches and cakes. It even has a little play corner inside. It’s the ideal place for us to take a break with the kids. I love my desserts so I mention the bakery first. However, there are two lovely options for the main course. You have the choice of authentic Swiss cheese fondue and other Swiss delicacies at the Posthotel Russli café or delicious Indian food at the Mango restaurant. There are of course many other restaurants in the town but we always tend to go to one of the fore mentioned. Personally, I love the ambience inside the Posthotel Rossli café. It is a very charming little restaurant and oh so Swiss! Mango restaurant, on the other hand, has the option of vegetarian, vegan, gluten and lactose free food. My husband being a vegetarian particularly enjoys his food here. My market research on restaurants of Gstaad cannot be complete without mentioning the Gstaad Palace hotel. The 5 star luxury hotel frequented by celebrities from all around the world. Be it movie stars or sports stars, they have all at some point visited or stayed in the Gstaad palace. So if you are in a mood to splurge, you head to the Le Grand restaurant for a cup of tea and some nibbles. The restaurant’s terrace is really so picturesque. You do not need to be formally dressed for the afternoons but evenings (7pm onwards) the men need to be in a jacket. In case you need some pampering, you must visit!

Things to do

There is just so much to do in Gstaad that I am sure I cannot possibly cover it all. In the winters, it looks stunning with the snow all over and the chalets beautifully lit up in the dusk of evening. A lot of people go to Gstaad for the skiing and the snow sports. And in the summers there is loads to look forward to. I remember watching the Swiss tennis open last summer and it was the first time my kids watched live tennis. It was quite an experience. Then there are the beach volleyball and polo matches. You must check the Gstaad website before you visit because there is always something happening in the summers.

How to reach

Before I forget I must mention how to reach Gstaad. We don’t live very far from the place so we always take our car. I find taking the car most convenient when it comes to travelling with kids. Also, the route to Gstaad is so breathtaking that I want the freedom of stopping and taking pictures. However, if you don’t want to drive, there is the option of taking the beautiful Golden Pass panoramic train, which starts in Lucerne. It is indeed a very scenic trip.

Hope I have given you enough reasons to travel to this beautiful town. I promise it won’t disappoint you.

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage

Swiss Coffee Festival, 2019, Zurich

Living in Switzerland over the last few years has given me a deeper perspective of this beautiful country. If it were a person, Switzerland would definitely come across as introverted, but then that is what makes it so attractive. It is so breathtakingly gorgeous that it doesn’t need to sing its own praise.

While Switzerland is a relatively small country in terms of size, it still has a lot of diversity and can broadly be divided into three parts-the German, the French and the Italian- each adjoining the respective namesake country. Now, this is something I didn’t know before I moved here. In my naivety I always felt that the people there would probably just speak one language (Swiss!). And I certainly did not expect them to speak French! As you would have guessed, I live in the French part of Switzerland (also known as the Swiss Riviera – but lets save that for another story). The other languages spoken by the Swiss include German, Italian as well as Romansh, which is a form of Latin.

Most tourists generally visit the Swiss German part and pass by Zurich, which is the largest city in Switzerland. I’ve been to Zurich 3 or 4 times since I started living here –often just to visit some of the touristy sites. This time, however, I was there for the first ever Swiss coffee festival. While my husband has been to a few of them including the last year’s World of Coffee festival, 2018 in Amsterdam, it was my first time at a coffee festival!

So if you’ve never been to a coffee festival this piece would be a good introduction to the world of coffee and if you have been to one, I’m sure you would be able to relate to it and perhaps compare how the Swiss chapter is similar or different. 

Imagine being in a train station but except that no one seems to be in a hurry to leave. Big banners hanging from the ceilings with names you have never heard of-at least I hadn’t heard of.. So just like a train station has different platforms, the festival had a number of kiosks showcasing various elements of coffee. The main platform was the coffee championship where they were currently competing for the best latte art in a cup.  My children especially enjoyed this part. There were a number of kiosks showcasing and selling various coffee equipment targeting the ‘home barista’ such as the Italian made Single Group coffee machines, state of the art coffee grinders and even café style cups and saucers to complete your experience at home! Then there was the coffee cupping stall where you could go and try different coffees. To make things more interesting, you could test your coffee palette to guess the origin of the coffee and even win a prize! Throughout the day there were also guest lectures addressing different topics on coffee from green coffee to roasting and even running your own store. The whole place smelled of freshly brewed coffee with little steam engines working on tiny magic beans spewing refreshing hot drinks! That’s exactly how it looked like to me. The steam engines were the coffee machines and the magic beans are of course the coffee beans collected from different parts of the world if you hadn’t guessed it already. My reaction to all this was a bit like Harry Potter when he first discovered the platform nine and three quarters!

If you are a coffee enthusiast you must visit a coffee festival to get a deeper insight into coffee from all the experts. Also, if you are not yet a coffee fan you should still just go to get a feel of the place because it is indeed a whole new world. The next world of coffee event for the year 2019 is happening in Berlin this June!

After spending three whole hours at the coffee festival we realized that we had spent the majority of the day at the festival and it was nearly time to head home. However, we managed to squeeze in a café on our way back home. This was the Monocle café in Zurich. Many of you might be familiar with the Monocle magazine – it’s my lifeline for English language publications here in Switzerland – and every month I wait for my subscription to turn up in the post! For those who aren’t – I highly recommend it for the unique perspectives on host of topics from political affairs to fashion and design and even culture. The cafes are a manifestation of the Monocle experience – each tastefully designed and decorated, and only in 6 locations around the world (including London and Hong Kong). So back to the one in Zurich. With options for both outdoor and indoor seating and an eclectic mix of magazines and newspapers on display, the Monocle café is a great place to spend some quality down time. And they have the shopaholics covered too with a curated selection of men’s clothing, some stylish stationery, very well designed bags and of course their own books on different topics. Even I couldn’t help splurging and among my purchases was the ‘The Monocle Guide to better Living’- a book that gives you an insider’s perspective on where to live around the world based on the business opportunities, quality of life, culture etc. And as with all Monocle publications, the paper and print quality coupled with their attention to design, makes reading an absolute joy. But I digress…. The café serves tasty coffee from a local roaster. It even got my husband’s approval as he was quick (and eager) to point out that the baristas were pulling espresso shots from a La Marzocco machine (the ‘one’ in his opinion). The afternoon quickly turned to evening and I felt like trying one of the signature cocktails on the menu before we hit the road – while our designated driver has to content himself with another shot of espresso. Overall a very ‘chic’ experience. Well done Monocle!

I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!