Travel Guide: Switzerland


Switzerland is an absolute dream! The lush mountains, the beautiful lakes, the refined food... I would go back in a heartbeat.

Last summer, Sander and I went on the ultimate road trip starting at his parents' house in the Netherlands and through Germany to visit friends, and then making our way to the south of Switzerland. On the way back we drove through Italy for a hot second and then popped out of a mountain pass back into Switzerland to visit my cousins. I can't help but pour over the photos to relive those sunny days driving through the mountains with the windows down.

I thought I would share some of the spots we landed upon because my gosh was it ever stunning.


STAY

Park Hotel Delta Wellbeing Resort • Ascona, Switzerland

Before we left, Sander and I spent days going back and forth about whether we should splurge for this part of our trip and book this ritzy hotel for our stay in Switzerland. Considering the rest of our trip was spent staying with family for free, we went for it and it was the BEST decision.

We definitely felt like we were living in a fairytale while we sipped cappuccinos poolside or a cool glass of white wine in one of the property's many saunas. It was crazy luxurious and so fun to live that life for a few days.

Located just outside of the city centre of Ascona, the hotel was the perfect oasis for lounging around the pool in a lush robe, or adventuring off into the surrounding Ticino area.

EXPLORE
Ticino has the ideal combination of mountains and lakes. It's also just North of Italy so you can imagine the plates of pasta and cones of gelato we devoured. We brought bikes with us to take advantage of the flat lakeside paths and then hiked high into the mountains to admire the vast landscapes of the lakes below.

Cardada - Cimetta Hike • Depart from Locarno, Switzerland
This hike tops my list of all the hikes I've ever done! The views are spectacular because you get to see the lowest point of Switzerland, Lago Maggiore, at the same time as the highest point, Dufour peak in Monte Rosa... mind blown! You can either hike all the way up or take various cable cars and chair lifts to explore the peak of the mountain. One of my favourite parts about Switzerland is how even in the most remote areas, i.e. halfway up a mountain, you run into the cutest cafes. At the top of our hike we enjoyed a drink and took in the view of those crazy enough to para glide down.




Valle Verzasca Swimming • Lavertezzo, Switzerland
There's something so special about swimming in the freshest mountain water on a hot summer day. We explored the area around Ponte dei salti in Lavertezzo which had an amazing swimming hole. After watching all the little swiss boys jump off a huge cliff with no fear, I couldn't resist and joined in jumping into the crystal clear water. We then drove North and chilled in the streaming river for a bit, soaking it all in.


Tibetan Bridge of Curzútt • Depart from Monte Carasso, Switzerland
After spending a day deep in the valley, we decided to venture out once again to the the lush mountains, this time to the Tibetan suspension bridge. We took (a rather old and scary) cable car from Monte Carasso part way up the mountain and then hiked past an 11th century church, wineries, and beautiful old stone houses nestled in the forest to ultimately cross one of the longest suspension bridges in Switzerland. Don't let the smile in the photo below fool you, we were scared out of our minds. I just kept reminding myself that the Swiss are amazing engineers right?



Lago Maggiore (and all the other wonderful lakes) • Locarno & Ascona, Switzerland
We borrowed bikes from Sander's parents, but there are plenty to rent in the area to explore the beautiful paths around the southern Swiss lakes. Just around the corner from more well-known Italian lake Como, Switzerland is home to some fabulous bike paths with plenty of spots to stop and grab gelato along the way. I hopped into my bather many a time for an on route swim, whether just off the side of bike path or in the many lidos (public outdoor swimming areas - pools or beaches).

The photo below is when we stopped for a little walk in Lucerne. Another gorgeous spot for a swim!


Breathtaking Mountainside Villages • Levron, Switzerland
Towards the end of of our trip we were lucky enough to spend time with my family in the Valais area. It was so fun to be staying with them all the way up a mountain with only a sprinkling of houses in their little village. It's easy to discover and explore little gems like this because even though they are remote, you'll always find your way with their great hiking trail signage.



We stopped at a little restaurant for a little stretch and snack on our drive and I snapped this photo!! I can't wait to explore other regions of this magical country.






Best Dutch Food You Must Try


You may remember this post from when I first visited the Netherlands four years ago, where I gushed about how much I love the country. I listed the top reasons why I must return, with "Beautiful Men" holding the number one spot......... Four years later I found myself eating stroopwafel in the Netherlands with the same enthusiasm but the shocking twist is that this time around I was accompanied by my tall handsome dutch boyfriend. I know ladies, miracles happen.

Number four on my list was the food, or more specifically the great restaurants. I have compiled a selection of the best snacks I had while in the land of bikes, tulips, and clogs. Have a look if you would like.

Poffertjes - Also referred to by the girl next to me in my Dutch class as: pancakes for Barbies. They are tiny little pockets of joy that are most often enjoyed topped with powder sugar and a huge heap of butter. You can get a plate of them at Dutch outdoor markets and pancake restaurants.

Kibbeling - Basically a better, lighter bite-size version of fish and chips with a little spice. Best enjoyed with copious amounts of tartar sauce. The whole country has amazing fresh fish due to the proximity to the ocean, so be sure to visit the fish shops.

Ice Cream - Dutch ice cream is almost custardy and extremely smooth. You know you've landed on a gem of a spot when there's only one flavour and a line up out the door. This was the single best thing that helped us survive the euro heatwave of 2018...

Fries - The snack culture in the Netherlands just gets me. They have little snack bars set up everywhere for after long days of biking when you just need a little something to hold you over till dinner, or at the beach, or after a night at the bar. I had mine with mayo, but to spot the real dutchies just look for those that have topped their fries with peanut sauce and raw onions. 

Appel Taart - A deep dish apple pie with a thick, almost cookie-like crust. Dutch pastries and desserts are so carefully crafted and you can find amazing bakeries even in the smallest villages. Most of the time when we stopped for a little dessert, I had mine with a mug of widely available fresh mint tea. Just hot water and fresh mint, simply perfect!

Stroopwafel - The first time I traveled to the Netherlands I used half of my precious packing space to bring home packages and packages of stroopwafel... they are THAT good. Two crispy thin waffles sandwiched with a thin layer of syrup. If you aren't eating a fresh one from the market, balance it on a mug of steaming hot tea for a hot, melt in your mouth treat.

I can't wait to be going back over the Christmas holidays to try a whole over slew of seasonal goodies. Know that I'm just counting down the days!

An Ode to Running


For some reason I know that running will never not be a part of my life. It helps that I’ve grown up around so many runners. Heck, my mom first threatened to not date my dad unless he ran a marathon with her! Some of my earliest memories are of my mom coming home from long Sunday morning runs (you know the ones) and lifting me up on her feet in “airplane” while stretching out her hamstrings. Over the years, I went from being pushed around in a running stroller as an early riser baby, to cheering on my cousins in races, and eventually crossing the finish lines of my own half marathons. Looking back, running has just been there. It has been my way of coping, celebrating, thinking through, or just plain enjoying life. 

When I started at my current job at Export Development Canada, I was so happy when I realized I was surrounded by like-minded runners who thrive on getting together to work up a sweat and pound some pavement. With running groups heading out on the coldest winter days, and coworkers making their way to Parliament Hill for yoga during the scorching summer months, I knew I found my people.

In early March, a group of 11 of us are spreading our infectious love of exercise and heading down Guatemala with Impact Marathon. The organization aims to unite runners in areas of the world that need a little love. In partnership with local organizations, we will set out to support two United Nations Global Goals – Quality Education and Reduced Inequality. 

Here’s where I need your help. 

As much as our enthusiasm and will to help is crucial, what we really need is money. Even though our 21k run up a volcano (high altitude! uneven ground! hot temps!) is going to be one of the hardest things I'll ever overcome, it doesn't even come close to the struggle that some of the locals face every day. Every single dollar will go straight to the community, so please please donate what you can right here on our team page.

I can't wait to tell you about how it goes! We are going to be sleeping on an avocado farm with views of this volcano that's currently erupting (!!) and helping families with a bunch of different projects (like this neat initiative revamping local kitchens with safer, more sustainable, and efficient stoves).


Thank you for helping my team with this xoxoxo


Gaby


My Favourite Christmas Cookies


Christmas baking season is upon us!!! I love making massive batches of cookies and freezing them around the holidays and then whipping them out in the nick of time right before a work dinner/a brunch with friends/a cocktail party. Pop them into a fancy little treat bag and your loved ones will be beyond impressed and grateful for the gesture.

My two favourite recipes are Raspberry Linzer cookies and Ginger Molasses cookies. Although I'm the first to admit that I can get carried away with my food adventures, when it comes to Christmas baking, I'm all about easy, quick recipes. Turn up the tunes or put on a movie, and invite a friend over and you'll be surprised at how fast you end up with dozens of little buttery miracles just in time for the holidays.

Raspberry Linzer Cookies 


Ingredients

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 egg yolk 
¾ tsp vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
rapsberry jam


Preparation


  1. Cream together the butter, sugar, and salt in a mixer until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Next, add the egg yolk, mix a little and then add in the other whole egg. Mix in the vanilla.
  3. Add the sifted flour and mix until well-combined.
  4. Now the next step is really important!! Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour. I often do it the night before and then make the cookies the next morning to break up the baking process (cause I'm an old lady and sometimes I get tired baking). Or if you're in a big rush just pop the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  5. When you're ready to bake the cookies let the dough come to room temperature for at least 10 minutes, then knead it to make it smooth.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Sprinkle some flour on your rolling surface and roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness.
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out your desired holiday shapes! Then place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. This next step is also really important, place the cookies on the sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will make sure that the cookies keep their shape.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on the size and shape of your cookies, but keep checking to make sure they haven't started to brown around the edges.
  10. Let them cool for a while before filling the bottoms with a dollop of raspberry jam and sealing the cookie with the top!!


Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon



Preparation


  1. Mix all ingredients together and form 1" balls.
  2. Roll in a small bowl of white sugar (not included in ingredients), and press lightly with a fork in a criss-cross.
  3. Bake at 350℉ for 8 minutes or until they crack. Don't over bake!!
  4. Using oven mitts, bang the pan on a counter so that the cookies flatten. This makes them really flat and chewy.

Happy baking! 

New York City Running Routes



Over Labour Day weekend I went on the most perfect trip to New York City. The thing is when I arrive in a new city, I only have one rule: No bad food shall be eaten. So over the years I have compiled lists and lists of restaurants, and coffee shops, and little hole in the wall ice cream places in cities all over the world.

At this point you may be fearing that I needed to roll home from said vacation but not to fear. The second reason I love travelling so much is the abundance of new running routes to indulge in. So while my eyes get to feast on new neighbourhoods, parks, and riverside trails, my body also gets a break from all the eating. Win win.

I've compiled a list of my must run routes I ran in New York along with a few photos I took en route if you would like to see...


1. Brooklyn Bridge & Dumbo

Take in the beauty of the Manhattan skyline by hitting up the network of breezy riverside paths along the Brooklyn side of the Hudson. Pass by Jane's Carousel and then head straight over the Brooklyn bridge into the city. You won't know whether it's your fast pace or the view that's taking your breath away!


2. Central Park

Arguably my favourite park in the world, Central Park has endless treelined paths winding past ponds, fountains, and monuments. Don't worry about taking a less travelled path and getting lost, there are maps everywhere. Hot tip: go early in the morning to avoid the hoards of tourists and ensure you see the park in all of its beauty.


3. West Village

West village is the neighbourhood of my dreams. You'll feel like you're going to run into Rachel and Ross as you sail by some of the city's most beautiful ivy clad brownstones and walk up apartments. The streets are narrow and criss cross throughout this area so don't expect to be going very fast, but well worth it for those hoping to get lost in day dreams of bumping into Carrie Bradshaw.


4. High Line and Hudson River Boardwalk

This is where you'll find the majority of runners in New York City and with reason! These paths are wide and breezy with a ton to look at, making them optimal for those long thought provoking sunrise jogs.

And a photo of me and my favourite travel buddy :) Thanks for eating an abnormal amount of avocado toast with me Sander. xox

Ice Cream Bucket List


It was my friend Pascale's birthday a little while ago and for her special day I gave her a little card with a sweet surprise on the inside. It's no secret that we both love ice cream so I dreamed up a map of the ultimate Ottawa ice cream bucket list! I figured I could turn her birthday into a lifestyle for all of summer 17 and treat her to 10 of the city's best ice cream spots.

I thought I would share the list if you would like to have a peak...

1. Pascale's Ice CreamStroll through Lansdowne Farmer's Market on a sunshiny day and enjoy some of Pascale's homemade ice cream. She has a stall set up with the loveliest flavours like Honey Ginger Rhubarb, Malted Milk Chocolate, and my favourite, Lavender.

2. Carp Custom CreameryTake a mini road trip to the nearby town of Carp to this classic ice cream counter. They have huge cones at a good price and tons of flavours. Plus they have a cute patio with picnic tables (also, did I mention the ICE CREAM TACOS!?!).

3. Merry DairyTweet the ice truck for a totally 21st century frozen custard experience, if you're lucky they'll come right to your door in the summertime! I also just found out they're opening a permanent location in Hintonburg.

4. McDonald'sPascale and I can attest that the best combo for a summer night is dancing at Babylon's 90s night and then post clubbing ice cream at McDonald's... for this one I'll have to put all my #shoplocal values aside! (side note: the new skor mcflurry is everything)

5. La CigaleTake a summer hike in Gatineau Park or go for an afternoon swim in Wakefield. On the way back to the Capital be sure to pop by La Cigale in Chelsea for mouthwatering homemade ice cream and waffle cones.

6. Strawberry BlondeGot a vegan in your life? Love animals? You're in luck! Strawberry Blonde has the smoothest vegan soft serve ice cream and all the baked goods you could ever dream of.

7. MooshuStop by this super sweet shop for a taste of Asian inspired ice cream with flavours like Hong Kong Milk Tea and Black Sesame. Mooshu has been named one of the trendiest/hipest/most instagrammable little eateries in town with its cute logo and ice cream wallpaper. They're homemade cones are also vegan + gluten free.

8. Piccolo GrandeOttawa has countless gelato places but Piccolo Grande has a special place in my heart because we used to walk here from my high school on warm early summer/late fall days. They also load on the gelato unlike most places which means it's likely the best bang for your buck.

9. Holland Cake & ShakeAfter picking up some fresh fruit and veg from the Parkdale Market, or strolling through Hintonburg, get some of Chef Holland's famous from-scratch soft serve. Devour it in a cone, sundae, shake, or paired with their beautiful cakes.

10. Beach ShackI love me a good picnic on the beach! Head to Mooney's Bay Beach and soak in some rays while snacking on some of Beach Shack's mouthwatering ice cream cones. With toppings like caramel corn and oreo you really can't go wrong.

Pascale and I re:how much we love ice cream  ↴



Although I listed 10 fun ice cream adventures above, I'd also like to give a special shoutout to Oat & Mill vegan ice cream that can be found in some local Metros, The Beachoners microcreamery near Britannia Beach, and the new Stella Luna location in Hintonburg. You can be sure to find me at these sweet spots on this summer's hot summer nights.

I'm Moving...


Guess what? I'm moving! I'm packing up my bags and making the big 4 kilometre move to an apartment downtown. The place is perfect with high ceilings, wood floors and big windows. Did I mention my bedroom looks out onto a castle?! Well kind of. It's also a 15 minute walk from my office and a 30 second walk away from my friends Matt and Sarah, and Isabelle. Yoga studios, parks, cute cafes, bike paths, oh my. I'm really excited to move in.

I'm even more pumped that I'm going to be living with my longtime best friend Maggie. We've survived living together abroad and suffered through many awkward high school phases together so I'm pretty sure we've passed the ultimate tests of friendship.

As I take on this classic #adulting milestone and move into my first apartment in Ottawa, I'm excited to share with you my many discoveries and musings.

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