It’s pouring rain as I write this post, snugly at home on a Sunday evening. Nothing like the sticky hot 34 degree C (that’s 93 F!) Saturday afternoon in these pics. I nearly gave it a pass – the 2017 Confederate (Swiss) Jodelfest– that afternoon. I mean really, couldn’t I see jodeling any time here? I’m so glad I finally showed up. This festival comes around only every three years. Had I missed it, I could never have imagined the sheer joy and fun shared among musicians who gave 2,200 performances in a day and a half. Just the best-of-the-best: the top performers from across the country’s highly active jodel clubs competed in Brig for ratings. Alphorn players around every corner. And 150,000 visitors sweating it out in the virtual sauna, which seemed to call for the fervent clink of beers!
Here are my impressions, via a photo gallery in the order of myday — and scroll down for a few videos snippets below the gallery to give you a taste of how it sounded. (Mostly I tried to keep my phone in my pocket and my memory full, sharing in the pleasure of the day.)
A couple of weeks ago, I made a short trip to Torino (or Turin) in the Piemonte region of Italy. Although long on my list, it has become trendy lately for its industrial renewal and artsy culture.
I didn’t take many photos; it was a weekend just for me.
Notbackpacking gave me the excuse to explore the home of the slow food movement and originator of true Italian coffee at my complete leisure. Just stroll around in the sunshine during what would have been cold and rainy Zürich days.
I’ll just give a little call-out to a wine bar, Sughero, whose young owners – a couple – have been too busy to build a website since they opened in 2015. (They are on FB.) My three small dishes were their answers to what was most special on their menu that evening. All super. Between long, slow bites, I smiled as other guests pulled up on a motorcycle and greeted people walking along the sidewalk. And generally felt fortunate to be there soaking up Italian joy.
Below: beef tartar, with indescribably fresh olive oil. And yes dear nephews, the beef is raw and that is indeed an anchovy on top! :))
Finally. The season started! I could watch the Herznach stone throwing team — here L to R, Marco Leimgruber, Gian Waelchi, Simon Hunziker and Roger Leimgruber — in action.
Off I went on the first Sunday in May to my first-ever Schwingfest, this one in central Switzerland.
A strong showing it was: in the 20 kilogram (kg) competition, Herznach placed 1st (Simon), 2nd (Roger), 3rd (Gian) and 6th (Marco). Simon also won the 48kg toss (followed by Roger in 4th, Gian in 6th and Marco in 7th).
I am certainly happy to be one of the team’s fans, which makes it fun and a more full experience. I appreciate discovering this long-held tradition through people who love it, one step (er, throw!) at a time. There’s a professionalism that I genuinely admire in the Herznach team — for a sport that so many of my friends know “of,” yet not “about.”
I will get better images the next time, now that I know what to expect. It was surely an eight-hour outdoor day that separated true “Schwinger / Steinstossen” fans from the fair-weather types. This video shows my authentic introduction with the images I managed to capture — and those first simple moments can sometimes be the ones I remember best.
Okay. So my excuse for weeks between posts: March was a “peak” deliverables month in our business. While I did manage to take a weekend tap workshop with Ruben Sanchez (link) from Barcelona and started my German writing course (a story for when I have finally acquired the required German keyboard!), I closed out the full-on month by flying to London to give a speech on behalf of our business.
Back in 2004, I lived in London for six months and have visited many times. Yet, my last landing in London City Airport was before the 2012 Summer Olympics and the overland railway connection! Geez.
It occurred to me that – while the United Kingdom is beyond my 360 from here (link) gap year travel plan – it actually invented the gap year itself. I take that as my reason to list a few things that always make me smile there, all of which flooded happily back:
The feeling of having been dropped directly into a BBC series as everyone other than me sounds, well, British
The sheer hustle of getting from place-to-place just before 9 a.m. in London City
That nearly all people in suits stride to work carrying a to-go coffee
The love of cheese and ham sandwiches that are basically smashed between two hot irons and called toast
Indian food, my clear preference to toast. (This time, Mint Leaf Lounge restaurant, just around a hidden corner, from our equally nicely-hidden boutique hotel.)
Proper British breakfast that I actually ordered the first morning. “Porridge” like in a Grimms fairy tale, the next.
The simple fact that all beer from all nations tastes better in a pub
Of course, there’s also the Tate Modern and theater and hop-on-and-off-red-double-decker-buses and much more. This was a business trip with some hours for walking, which is what I would do anyway, anywhere. I simply enjoyed being around the people in their normal daily culture. Well worth bending that 360 km rule.
I had the sense that a few of you opened the last post – titled Do you remember my model? – thinking it was my personal question, not that of a 23-year-old cartoon girl! I thought it worth a note now that Amelia has made her third appearance: why is she here?
Who Amelia is not:
not a younger version of me or who I was at that age. Not at all. I had different priorities back then – I wanted a car and my own apartment. Never occurred to me to do branding for a living. Was for sure no fitness role model, as the jogging craze was just starting
not based on anyone, in fact. She’s created by our team of Millennials, plus some insight gained through workshops and research (click here for an excellent, fun GoldmanSachs example)
not even the backpacker I might have been, as it turns out
Amelia represents a response to my realization of how a 20+ year-old can perceive a 53-year-old: old! She provides a contrast in perspectives. Most importantly, and even fun, she gives me a reason to talk about these differences. I’ve learned a lot from the Amelia model choices that our team made. Even how they wanted her to look and dress.
In this last episode, Amelia sent me an email and asked for “inspiration.” How should I respond? I actually don’t know yet what I will say. Do you know any 23-year-olds well yourself? Feel free to offer ideas!
P.S. And for those of you who had children later in life, as many of my friends did. Imagine if you have to give this advice a decade from now. It’s a bit intimidating, no? The world and it’s options for people who may have to work the next 50-60 years has truly and fully changed…
A lot of you voted in the poll I posted last week – What dance do you think I’m doing? Thank you! So. As promised, here is a video of my dance experience so far. Recorded during lessons.
A big thank you goes to René Fuerstenfeld for hours of patience and encouragement just as you see him in these few minutes. He helps me feel true joy and humor in the attempt at step-by-step (pardon the pun!) progress.