A fitting close

I’m writing from a coffee shop in a village where I arrived early morning for my annual New Year’s Day walk with the mountains. My not-backpacking year officially ended hours earlier. Here I sit, using two mobile devices and a Moleskin journal between sips of cappuccino, ready to post: for the first time since August.

I actually kept on track with the activities, stone throwing tournaments, dance, German writing course, nearby excursions. Just learned that I’m pretty deeply private, which is perhaps well-suited for keeping client strategies confidential and building trust, but not so useful for a blog! Plus I was too busy doing it all with my day job.

Sip of cappuccino, nibble of brioche. “What’s an appropriate and symbolic last comment on 16 months in which I allowed myself to simply do what attracted me while living my life?” And learned and grew a lot.

Then life, as one can often count on, answered.

The man to my left politely asked if I’m a writer — having noticed my journal on which I was so focused that I didn’t notice him. Typical me. “Not professionally, yet I write every morning.” “Ah. Well I’ve just written a book. I went around the world with my Alphorn and accordion. You can buy it in the Coop next door.”

I immediately explored. May I please introduce you to Mr. Kurt Hofstettler and his book titled A Year and a Day? At age 66, having retired, he allowed himself his dream.

May I – and you also – always remain so inspired. For maybe it is our common ability to dream and do that connects us.

How’s this for a modern jodel?

Being “notabackpacker” has brought to light cool things about people around me that I surely would never have guessed. Take here: a quite modern young woman and leader with one of our clients goes  to Swiss wrestling Schwingfests and knew of the Herznach stone-throwing team prowess (more on them soon, btw!). She sent me this musical teaser ad for the National Jodelfest I attended in June. Modern take on a DJ hit. Love the sheep. Hope it makes you smile, too.

360 from here – revisited, +1

When I first thought of the “360 from here (link)” concept, I meant to visit five new places, each within 360 kilometers of Zurich. To see if a “boundary” would inspire creativity. So far, it has, although in unexpected directions:  I’ve visited two new places, hosted a four-course dinner party to prepare for a third (to be announced) and revisted the first place twice!

The third revisit served a good purpose — to share a place I find enchanting with someone who I thought would enjoy it too…


Approved by Mom nabp_final-smile-1x1cm_03web

(Thanks to Patricia for creating the slide show!)

The joy of the jodel

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 my day — 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.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

360 from here #2: Torino

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! :))

What a way to begin…

Herznach Steinstossen Team

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.


A visit to the home of the gap year

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.

London river walk, 26 March 2017. Excellent spring weather – no rain!
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.) British_Breakfast_27Mar17
  • 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.