Lately Zürich, though not especially cold, has been relentlessly grey. Some days the impenetrable, overcast sky seems to descend on your head, which makes it all the more unappealing to move yet all the more important to do so. However, thanks to Monika Saxer, and her book, BEER HIKING SWITZERLAND: The Most Refreshing Way To Discover Switzerland, there’s plenty of motivation to go outdoors. So weather notwithstanding, I decided to test it out over the last week or so. Full disclosure: the book was given to me by its publisher, Hadi Barkat of Helvetiq, but it had already caught my eye at Orell Füssli. Either way, I was inclined to like the title as it’s the kind of idea I wish I had conceived. The book is also attractively designed with superb typography and easy to use, allowing you to choose your journey based on the location or the beer. For my initial hike, I chose one where the end point is about a 20-minute walk from home at Rote Fabrik (the Red Factory). At some point I will have to devote an entire post to Rote Fabrik, a cultural institution which delivers a lot of value to the community it serves. But now to Leimbach Station and our walk …. All the walks/hikes seem to commence at a train station, or major public transit hub, which makes life simple. Though I didn’t employ any of the maps, I found the written descriptions pretty clear and easy to follow. This walk was pretty gentle at roughly an hour and a half. If you’re going to tackle some of the longer ones, you’ll definitely want waterproof, comfortable footwear and perhaps a companion, if you are not with someone who values solitude, or perhaps watched an excess of Twin Peaks recently. It was a uniformly grey day with regular smatterings of rain. The sun did not even make a cameo. It was, however, interesting to see how suddenly the landscape morphs between wood to suburban then agricultural space. After a walk up through the hills and the woods, suddenly you’re in the middle of a development and back in so-called civilisation. There were parts of this route which were not especially beautiful, but still interesting as I find the canton foreign enough still that I can enjoy the difference. It still astonishes me how orderly and tidy the Swiss are, and I particularly like deconstructing sign names and words to see if I can translate them. Yes, I am a word-nerd. Once back in Wollishofen, I crossed over into more familiar territory and resisted the pull of the Shamrock Pub, where I am usually able to find a good chat with either the landlord, Ian, or one of the regulars, and proceeded through the pastures and farmland on down the slope toward the graffiti soaked walls of lakeside Rote Fabrik. This hillside neighbourhood is a really charming area where city lifestyle and pastoral village living converge. So would I recommend the book? Absolutely. A brisk walk and the quest for a single craft beer beyond the convenience of the refrigerator seem like a pretty salubrious combination to me, especially when it gets me acquainted with the varied landscape of our new home. The Amboss Beer was one I hadn’t previously sampled and it lived up to its promise, as did the benefit of exceeding 10,000 daily steps. Cheers to Monika Saxer, for pairing two of life’s great pleasures in such an original fashion. Once I have a better pair of hiking boots, I’d like to embark on some of the longer expeditions outside of Zurich Canton. In January, however, with the weather unpredictable in many other parts of the country, including serious avalanche warnings, I’ll content myself with the smaller forays, where the city is still within easy sight. The only question I am left with is: which beer, I mean, trail, next? 4
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  • Books & Lit,  Places

    beer hiking switzerland: a test walk

    Lately Zürich, though not especially cold, has been relentlessly grey. Some days the impenetrable, overcast sky seems to descend on your head, which makes it all the more unappealing to move yet all the more important to do so. However, thanks to Monika Saxer, and her book, BEER HIKING SWITZERLAND: The Most Refreshing Way To Discover Switzerland, there’s plenty of motivation to go outdoors. So weather notwithstanding, I decided to test it out over the last week or so. Full disclosure: the book was given to me by its publisher, Hadi Barkat of Helvetiq, but it had already caught my eye at Orell Füssli. Either way, I was inclined to like the title as it’s the kind of idea I wish I had conceived. The book is also attractively designed with superb typography and easy to use, allowing you to choose your journey based on the location or the beer. For my initial hike, I chose one where the end point is about a 20-minute walk from home at Rote Fabrik (the Red Factory). At some point I will have to devote an entire post to Rote Fabrik, a cultural institution which delivers a lot of value to the community it serves. But now to Leimbach Station and our walk ….

    All the walks/hikes seem to commence at a train station, or major public transit hub, which makes life simple. Though I didn’t employ any of the maps, I found the written descriptions pretty clear and easy to follow. This walk was pretty gentle at roughly an hour and a half. If you’re going to tackle some of the longer ones, you’ll definitely want waterproof, comfortable footwear and perhaps a companion, if you are not with someone who values solitude, or perhaps watched an excess of Twin Peaks recently.

    It was a uniformly grey day with regular smatterings of rain. The sun did not even make a cameo. It was, however, interesting to see how suddenly the landscape morphs between wood to suburban then agricultural space. After a walk up through the hills and the woods, suddenly you’re in the middle of a development and back in so-called civilisation. There were parts of this route which were not especially beautiful, but still interesting as I find the canton foreign enough still that I can enjoy the difference. It still astonishes me how orderly and tidy the Swiss are, and I particularly like deconstructing sign names and words to see if I can translate them. Yes, I am a word-nerd.

    Once back in Wollishofen, I crossed over into more familiar territory and resisted the pull of the Shamrock Pub, where I am usually able to find a good chat with either the landlord, Ian, or one of the regulars, and proceeded through the pastures and farmland on down the slope toward the graffiti soaked walls of lakeside Rote Fabrik. This hillside neighbourhood is a really charming area where city lifestyle and pastoral village living converge.

    So would I recommend the book? Absolutely. A brisk walk and the quest for a single craft beer beyond the convenience of the refrigerator seem like a pretty salubrious combination to me, especially when it gets me acquainted with the varied landscape of our new home. The Amboss Beer was one I hadn’t previously sampled and it lived up to its promise, as did the benefit of exceeding 10,000 daily steps. Cheers to Monika Saxer, for pairing two of life’s great pleasures in such an original fashion.

    Once I have a better pair of hiking boots, I’d like to embark on some of the longer expeditions outside of Zurich Canton. In January, however, with the weather unpredictable in many other parts of the country, including serious avalanche warnings, I’ll content myself with the smaller forays, where the city is still within easy sight.

    The only question I am left with is: which beer, I mean, trail, next?

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    what’s ahead 2018?

    The last couple of years have been strange for just about every soul I know in this world. All the things we face: the pressures of time, the rapidity of change, the demands of work and looming above it with an oppressive shadow the threat to our very existence, which, thanks to some bizarre decisions made by electorates around the world, can sometimes seem greater than ever.

    Yet strangely, I’m still optimistic, even grateful. Why? Because you’re reading this right now. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your time. Just know that it’s a lot. Which is why I will do my best to update this page weekly, so that you can count on some fresh content. Please share your thoughts with me, on the stories you like and why you like them. Also feel free to send me some ideas. I’ve had a busy couple of years. Buying and selling a restaurant, moving from Istanbul and starting a new life in Zürich.  I plan to continue telling stories as long as I walk this Earth. And despite what some people might try and tell you, this is a beautiful planet full of amazing and inspiring people and places. So if there’s someone, or some place, out there with a story that deserves to be told, please tell me. I’m looking and listening.

    Also I have a new photography portfolio which is a beta site, so please head on over and take a look. I’d welcome a critical look with your thoughts, impressions anything that you like or dislike. I look forward to hearing from you and hope we can make 2018 a much brighter year than those that have recently preceded it. I also hope that if you like what you see here, you’ll share this page. Your help is appreciated.

  • Places

    goldnau nature park

    Until we find a way to restore this planet to its former glory, the ethics of animals in confinement will remain contentious. However, an appreciation of nature in all its many forms is something I’m completely behind. As a species inhabiting so many artificial environments which seem to cater to our needs we humans seem to forget that we are not separate from this Earth but of it. Contact with living, breathing animals other than ourselves might help us to appreciate all that we could gain by caring for our world rather than simply exploiting it as a stockpile of resources. At Goldnau, amid the rubble of he 1806 landslide tragedy, has risen a wildlife centre where you can take an up-close look at a variety of wildlife, from fierce and formidable predators including bears, wolves and lynxes and much more docile and approachable fauna such as deer and mountain sheep. Breathing in the fresh filtered air from the tree-clad slopes on a crisp winter day alone is a gift one should not miss.

  • Places

    wintery wonder in poschiavo

    Southeast of St. Moritz is a remarkable little town called Poschiavo in the Graubünden canton. Accessible on the Bernina Express, which begins in Chur and terminates in Tirano, Italy is well worth the effort, especially if you kick your legs out on the train and watch the incredible landscape wash by your window. Craving a little change after the festivities of Christmas and New Year, we took a little journey to this Italian-speaking locale and soon saw ourselves in the grip of a snow heavy spell while Zürich became quite balmy as of New Year’s Eve.

    Surrounded by mountains, intersected by the Poschiavino River, there seems to be a disproportionate number of excellent eateries and organic labels – 87% of the Valposchiavo farmland products are certified by Bio-Suisse. During the heavy snowfall we were content to hunker down and be catered to by the staff of the Hotel Albrici, a palace dating back to 1682, and its neighbouring bodega, Hostaria del Borgo both in terms of local charm and delectables. The previous four photographs above were all taken at their unfussy but magnificently stocked delicatessen and cellar.

    My only complaint: we didn’t stay quite long enough. A few more days snowed in and forced to work our way through the cellars and storerooms of the local shops and take some more photographs, would have been most welcome. So for now, arrivederci, Poschiavo. I look forward to our next meeting, perhaps when your pastel coloured buildings and ornate doors are encroached upon by the vibrant green of spring and I can wander a little farther and work off more of the digestible insulation padding my belly.