Domaine de Villeneuve, France

On the second day of our trip to France, a meeting was organized by the host company in a manor at the Domaine de Villeneuve, a vineyard located in the town of Bar Sur Seine.

Manor at the Domaine de Villeneuve

After a breakfast buffet at our hotel in Pont Sainte Marie, which included delicious French Croissants, toast, fruit juice, coffee and cereal, we got into the bus that would take us to the manor. It was a 40 minutes’ drive.

Between the plains of Champagne (not the wine, but the wine-producing area) and the slopes of Burgundy lies the region of Cote des Bar, one of the largest Champagne (a sparkling white wine) -producing regions. There are a number of vineyards in this area and Domaine de Villeneuve is one of them.

The young care-taker of the manor welcomed us, served us coffee and croissants, explained our agenda for the day and showed us around the place. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the building, the garden and the river Seine flowing beside.

Around Domaine de Villeneuve

There was a showroom selling Champagnes, specifically Champagne Devaux, one of the best Champagnes in the region since 19th century.

All year long, this manor provides a tour of the Champagne-making process, history of the region and some important facts about Champagnes.

I learnt that Champagne is produced from 3 different grapes namely Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, and the Devaux  is made of Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

Apparently, enough sunlight, steep terrain and good drainage are the major characteristics of the vineyards selected to produce the Champagne Devaux. Every year, the wine-growers go through a rigorous process of soil work to grow the grapes; conduct weekly vineyard observations, systematic de-budding (removal of unnecessary buds), maturity tests (to determine harvest dates), selection of best grapes and final delivery of the grapes to the pressing center.

Pressing

Once the grapes are crushed and pressed (with pressing machines), they are sent for the first round of fermentation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats (at  controlled temperature) and partially in oak vats.

Fermentation

Then comes the Assemblage, where different wines are blended together to create the base- wine for Champagne. Oak casks (barrels) are used for this.

Assemblage

Next sugar, yeast and yeast nutrients are added, and the concoction is put in a thick-walled glass bottle and sealed with a cap for the second round of fermentation.

Second Fermentation and Aging

At some point, the yeast cells die and after several months, the fermentation is complete. This process is called Aging. Depending on the type of Champagne, aging takes place from 6 months to 5 years. The bottle is opened and the dead yeast is removed through a process called riddling. It is then corked quickly and wired down to secure the high internal pressure of carbon dioxide (which causes the Carbonation or the sparkling in Champagne).

There’s a small conference hall in the manor and our Sales- Engineering group meeting was held there. The first half of the meeting ended with a Champagne-tasting session, followed by lunch. Lunch included salad, bread, special yogurt with some kind of sauce and a Tiramisu cake.

Lunchtime

Our meeting ended at 5 pm. The tour of the Vineyard concluded with a second round of Champagne-tasting; We savored the tasty Champagne and bade hearty goodbye to our hostess and the Vineyard.

Pont Sainte Marie, France

Visiting France has been on my wishlist for a long time now. Paris, Burgundy, Nice are some of the places I would love to go see at least once in my life. Well, I’ve been bugging Mike to make travel plans; Hopefully it’ll happen soon!.

When my boss decided to have our Sales-Engineering group meeting at one of our sister companies in France, I was quite excited. I hoped my short visit would give me a better insight into the country, its people and culture.

The company we were visiting was in Pont Sainte Marie, a small town located North-East of France.

Our trip was booked for 3 days. The 15 of us, including our Boss, rented a couple of cars, while some of us drove our own vehicles. We started in the morning at around 9.30 am and reached there by 3.30 pm. Though the journey was long and tiresome, I enjoyed the conversations with my colleagues while watching the beautiful landscapes that we passed by.

Pont Sainte Marie 1

We got an introduction of the company and were taken on a tour around the workshop. Later we checked into the hotel booked for us. Hotel Logis des Sources is a 2 star hotel located just a couple of minutes away from the company. The rooms were small but tidy, suitable for business trips but not for family outings.

Our dinner was organized at a restaurant called la mignardise, about 15 minutes’ drive from our hotel. It was a Monday and on Mondays most of the restaurants are closed, but this one was specifically booked for us and so we had the whole place for ourselves!

As an aperitif we were served Orange juice, wines and special kind of Buns made of eggs. They were too good. Food was mostly fish- and meat-based, but luckily, there was good vegetarian food with aromatic sauces to satisfy my appetite.

Pont Sainte Marie 2

The whole town had that French vibe to it (obviously!) It was just as I’d always imagined how it would be- Narrow, brightly-lit roads; Cobble-stoned alleys; tiny coffee shops and and beautiful churches…. I was having a good time; If only Mike could’ve joined me on this trip…

(Continued…. A visit to a French vineyard in my next post.)

Cheers,

Madhurya

Day trip to Lake Caumasee

After a long and tiring week, an idea popped into my head to plan a day-trip to Lake Caumasee. I’d visited this lake with my friends Manisha and Stefan last year, and had a really good time, but Mike never had, so he found this idea quite appealing. When we told our good friends Marcel and Farnaz about our little outing, they immediately agreed to join us.

Caumasee Lake

Switzerland has a number of lakes, of which, Caumasee is one. This tiny, beautiful lake is tucked in Flims, a town in the canton of Graubünden.

It is about 175 km from our home. We left early in the morning, picked our friends in Winterthur, and began our 2 hr journey. Marcel and Farnaz are a few of the closest friends we have here in Switzerland. We always enjoy hanging out with them, discussing topics like work, politics, family and travelling.

The entire journey to the lake was composed of luscious green fields, gigantic mountains, steep valleys and small lakes here and there. They were really beautiful! I kept clicking pictures all the way, as I wanted to capture nature at its best!!

It was about 10 am by the time we reached Caumasee; We decided to walk around the town before heading to the forest that leads to the Lake. After a short walk and a cup of coffee at a café, we took our bags (which had our swim clothes, towels, fruits, chips, my homemade cupcakes and some drinks) and started our short descent into the lake.

Around Flims

There are two ways to reach the lake, one is by walking down to a certain point and then taking the funicular to the entrance, and the other is walking all the way down through a Forest Trail. We chose the latter. It was a short 15 minute walk, that gave us stunning views of this beautiful freshwater mountain lake. It looked like a painting with shades of green and blue.

Lake Caumasee 2

During the summer (June to September), there is an entrance fee of CHF 9.50 and the rest of the year, it is free. You’ll find people swimming in the lake or playing beach volleyball, or sunbathing or simply lying on the shore, reading. One can even rent a rowing board or a pedalo to go around the lake. For dining, there is a restaurant, serving typical Swiss food, drinks and ice cream.

While the men swam around the lake, Farnaz and I stayed on the shore chatting and reading. Lying on the grass while soaking the sun was so relaxing.

I also practiced a few swimming strokes which Mike has been teaching me lately.  We had the fruits, chips and cupcakes that we’d packed for the trip and left the lake around 3 in the afternoon, when the sky began turning grey.

As we ended our day, I promised myself to visit all the beautiful places, big and small, in Switzerland with my family and good friends.

Cheers,

Madhurya.

Swiss National Day Fireworks

On the 1st of August in the year 1291, three men from three of the 26 cantons (member states of the Swiss Confederation) in Switzerland, namely Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, came together and swore eternal allegiance to one another, promising mutual help and assistance. This oath ceremony, which denoted the birth of Switzerland, took place in a small meadow called Ruetli. To mark this occasion, Switzerland has celebrated its birthday with a National holiday on the 1st of August, since 1891. Every year, on this special Day, Swiss President and other members of the council visit Ruetli and give speeches. (Ruetli is accessible only by boat or on foot; there is no way one can drive to this place).

Fireworks Display 1

Celebrations take place in most of the cities in Switzerland. However, a special kind of celebration takes place at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. Since mid-nineteenth century, the waterfall has been illuminated on special occasions. But in the year 1966 and thereafter, it has been lit exclusively on Swiss National Day. A magnificent fireworks display attracts throngs of visitors to this place.

Fireworks Display 2

Unfortunately I missed the National Day celebrations in my first year. So I was too happy to be witnessing the fireworks this time at the Rhine falls. The best part was it was happening very close to home (We live close to the Falls).

Fireworks Display 3

Before leaving home, I made sure Mike was carrying his Canon EOS 70D camera to capture the fireworks display. Mike’s college-mate Mirjam, who is a great photographer, and her boyfriend Marco agreed to join us for the occasion. When we arrived, I was very surprised to see the crowd. It was totally packed! Mike and Mirjam began setting up and positioning their cameras on the tripod, while discussing the different techniques to be used to capture the pictures.

Fireworks Display 4

We learnt so much from her..

Fireworks Display 5

Watching the display, I felt too dazzled, like a child.

Rhine Falls

Thanks to Mirjam, Mike not only captured the spectacular display of fireworks, but also the sparkling Rhine falls and the brightly-lit castle, Schloss Laufen, located over the Rhine falls, to share with you all…

Schloss Laufen Castle

(To learn more about the history of Switzerland and its National Day, you can visit this website or read this book.)

(Pictures Courtesy- Mike)

Cheers,

Madhurya.

Department Outing, Thommis Alm

Every year, each department in our company organizes a team event. These events comprise games, drinks, food and fun. Last year (the year I joined), there was a Barbecue party at a restaurant called Zum Reitplatz. This year, our department hosted an outing at the Thommis alm.

Welcome to Thommis Alm

Thommis Alm (or Alp) is a rambling Farm as well as a Restaurant, located in a village called Mesikon-Illnau. It is surrounded by other Farms, Farmhouses and lush green fields.

Thommis Alm

Here, one has to make reservations at least a year before an event because, apparently,  it is always booked.

We were served Àpero (Beverages) on our arrival at 4 pm. Women in traditional Swiss dresses served us drinks (beer, orange juice, water) and some snacks (biscuits, chips and nuts).

We went around talking to everyone, discussing jobs and families. After an hour or so of chit-chat, our secretary distributed a sheet of paper to everyone. This sheet had a list of games we were going to play that evening. Everyone was obliged to take part in all the games. After playing each, one had to note down the points in the second column. Three participants with the highest points were to be awarded prizes.

We had to note down our points here

The following were the games:

  • Stiefel-Werfen (Boot throwing): One had to throw boots, one by one, backwards into a bin. We were given 4 tries and 10 points for each strike.

Stiefel Werfen (Boot throwing)

  • Bierglas-Schieben (Beer-glass sliding): One had to slide a beer-glass towards a marked line without pushing it down into the attached basket. If it reached the nearest line, 5 points were awarded  and if it went up to the farthest line, 50 points were awarded.

Bierglas-Schieben (Beer-glass sliding)

  • Bierhumpen-Stemmen (Beer-glass lifting): Of the 2 participants, one who held the heavy beer-glass longer got 50 points.

Bierhumpen-Stemmen (Beer-glass lifting)

  • Wett-Nageln (Nail hammering): Hammering the nail on a wood-stump. 5 points were deducted for every try. i.e, more the number of tries, lesser the points. (This is where I lost most of my points!)

Wett-Nageln (Nail hammering)

  • Hufeisen Werfen (Horse-shoe throwing): Horseshoe had to be thrown into a Tyre lying on the ground. There were 8 tries and 10 points were awarded for each strike.

Hufeisen Werfen (Horse-shoe throwing)

  • Pantoffeln Tschutten (Slipper throwing): Throwing slipper into a basket. There were 4 tries and 10 points were awarded for each strike.

Pantoffeln tschutten (Slipper throwing)

I ended up with a total of Minus 5 points. Yup! -5! Mike won 80 points. He was REALLY good!

Other than these games, there was an indoor play area where one could play Fussball and Ping-pong. It was fun to watch our colleagues unwind and have a good time.

After all the games, it was time for dinner. Food was served buffet-style. Wooden chairs and tables were decorated with blue- and red-paper settings. There were salads, fries, meat and more meat. Luckily, our secretary had already informed the restaurant that I’m a vegetarian (So nice of her!) and so I was served an amazing Veg Barbecue stick which consisted of mushrooms, peppers and zucchini marinated in a Barbecue sauce along with a couple of veggie patties. They were so delicious!!!

Dinner Buffet

After the dinner, we all gathered outside where our Vice-President thanked us for coming and making it a fun event!!  The winners were announced and awarded prizes.

The game I lost all my points to!

I was given this hammer as a prize.

Nope! Just kidding!

Mike and I left the place with some very fond memories of time spent with our colleagues.

Cheers,

Madhurya.

Munot Ball

The Munot is a 16th century Roundel (circular fortification) at the center of the Swiss city of Schaffhausen. It is an undisputed landmark of the city. No other city in Switzerland has constructed a building of comparable beauty and magnanimity.

History goes like this- After Schaffhausen became a part of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1501, the council decided to strengthen the city’s fortifications. After years of planning, in 1589 the Munot was finally built. Soon after completion, doubts surfaced whether the Munot could withstand the ever-more powerful artillery. Luckily, only once, the Munot was militarily occupied: in 1799, during the French Revolution.

Now, it is a tourist attraction and hosts a number of events.

To enter the fortress, one has to climb quite a number of stairs (I don’t know how many exactly). The Interior of the fortress has a huge arch, which has a thick ceiling of about 4 meter, made of gravel and supported by nine pillars. Through 4 circular chambers, light falls into the casemates (a small room in the wall of a fortress, with openings from which guns or missiles could be fired, according to Google). The fortress is surrounded by Rose gardens and vineyards.

On top of the Fortress is a bell, which was mounted in September 1589. The Bell has a diameter of 90.5 cm; a height of 70 cm and a weight of 420 kg. It is rung every evening at 9 pm for 5 minutes by hand by the guardian of Munot. This guardian is responsible for the maintenance and order around the Munot, and also helping around during the events and taking care of the visitors.

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There is an open area at the top of the fortress, from where you can view the entire beautiful city of Schaffhausen and the river Rhine.

Breathtaking views of the city.

There are seating arrangements where visitors can relax and buy refreshments in the summer. This open area is where most of the cultural programs take place and one of them is the Munot ball.

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Between June and the end of August the traditional balls take place on the Munot.
The Quadrille, also called Française, is a ballroom dancing, which began in the 17th century in France and England for the first time. This traditional square dance is being celebrated in the Munot balls for over a 100 years. The Munot Club was formed several years ago; Members of the club can learn the Quadrille and take part in cultural programs. They also help the state in taking care of the Munot.

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This year in June, my mother-in-law and I decided to see the Munot ball; It was my first time. Casuals are a big no-no. So we both got dressed up for the occasion. But by the time we climbed the stairs and reached the top of the Munot, we were exhausted and soaking- wet. We had to pay 10 CHF (10.17 US Dollars) to enter the Ball. It was only 7 pm and hardly 10 people were around. The musicians were getting ready. The restaurant was doing its final preparations. We ordered some cold drinks and fries to eat. As we waited, we started checking out the dresses worn by the other ladies, remarking `Oh she looks good!` or `look what she has worn!`. As the people began gathering, I noticed that 70 to 80% of them were older than 60 years. It was fun to discover that there’s no age-limit to enjoy a bit of dancing!.

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When the music began, the couples took their positions around the periphery of the area and started ballroom-dancing. It was so beautiful! This was the ‘unofficial dance’ as the bell was not yet rung. At 9 pm sharp, after the bell was rung for 5 minutes, the Quadrille began. Quadrille is performed by 4 couples in a rectangular formation. Couples dance together in a figure or “set”, each dancer dancing to his or her partner and each couple dancing to the other couples in the set. You might have seen such dances in movies like Pride and Prejudice or Becoming Jane. The dance ended after 15 minutes with all the couples running around the periphery. Yes! Literally! Everything happened so fast, I could not capture it on my camera.. It was fun to watch though!

I had never seen such a beautifully-coordinated dance, with so many participants, in my life before. Though my mother-in-law and I did not take part in the dance, we had a great time watching it.

Love,

Madhurya

( I got all the information on the Munot and the Ball from this Website. I have translated it from German.)

Crochet Project- Granny Square Table Cloth

Crocheting is a simple art. My mother inspired me to try it. I remember her holding a ball of yarn in one hand and a needle in the other, walking around the house, crocheting. Till date, she has produced a number of table cloths and they are all still in good condition.

She taught me how to do a slip knot (basic knot) with her threads, which were mostly white, size 3 or 10, with a hook/ needle size of 1 mm; And from that to make a chain. This is the easiest way to learn crocheting. I practiced everyday by making long chains which helped me to get a good grip over the needle. Once you get that grip, it is easy to make any kind of stitches. Then I learnt single crochet and double crochet stitches.

Using these basic stitches, I made simple table-cloth patterns copying my mom`s old patterns. I bought a few Crochet books and learnt the tougher and trickier patterns like triple, treble, cluster, double treble crochet etc. I also checked online for good patterns. I don’t follow any particular website but “Red Heart” has free patterns with instructions which can be easily understood by beginners.

One of the things I have made so far and which (in my opinion) is one of my best works is a Granny-Square patterned table-cloth.

Granny-square table-cloth

A granny square is a piece of square fabric produced in crochet by working in rounds from the center outward. Although there is no theoretical limit to the maximum size of a granny square, crocheters usually create multiple small squares (called “motifs”) and assemble the pieces to make clothing, purses, Afghan blankets, and other household textiles. (Source: Wikipedia)

While browsing for different patterns, I came across this blog, which gave me an idea to make a table cloth by creating small granny-square motifs and stitching them together. However, instead of making the same square patterns, I decided to make different kinds with an assortment of colors to bring a twist to the design. I found a lot of ideas here.

I used balls of yarn from a brand called Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny, which I had purchased in the US from a shop called Michaels. To make the table-cloth more vibrant, I used colors like landscape, Blue lagoon, circus and jewels. I also used a 2.5mm crochet hook for this project.

yarn

You can use any type of yarn with colors of your choice to make this wonderful table cloth.  This can be used as a table cloth or a mat or to add a pop of color to a chair or a couch by laying it on the headrest.

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My passion for crocheting increased with the birth of my niece, Medha. I started making sweaters, booties, and scarves for her. So far I have made things like tops, shrugs, skirts and many more. My upcoming projects are a table cloth for my mother, curtain tops for our home and more dresses for my nieces and sweaters for my nephew. I will continue to update you all with my progress.

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Love,

Madhurya.

Biking in Switzerland

Switzerland is also known as Veloland; Velo means ‘cycle’ in Swiss-German. Cycles/Bikes are one of the best and cheapest means of transport here. You’ll find that every adult and a child, capable of walking, owns at least one bike.

When I moved to Switzerland, I bought a second-hand bike from a friend. It had been 10 years since I last rode one. I cycled everyday from my home to office and back. I began enjoying this National pastime more and more. Having noticed this, Mike (then, a good friend) and a few colleagues and friends of mine gifted me a beautiful bike on my birthday. It was one of the sweetest gestures ever extended to someone new to a country!

Birthday gift

In Spring and Summer, people take out their bikes and go on trips. These trips last a day, a weekend or sometimes more. There are local, regional (from one canton to another) and National routes (connecting Switzerland to other countries like Austria, France etc). Check out this cool website for more information on that.

Serious cyclists bike over beautiful mountains, valleys and even cross the Alps. Also, many events occur all over Switzerland that revolve around Biking. One such event is the SlowUp. SlowUp is all about celebrating the joy of movement. It takes place in many parts of the country in the month of June. For this purpose, around 30 km of roads are blocked for an entire day to the other traffic. Along the route, from Schaffhausen to Hegau, there are ongoing festivities with food, music and shops.

This year, Mike and I, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and her family, my husband`s best friend, Guido, who is as dear to my husband as a brother, took part in it.

SlowUp 1

Around 20,000 other people from every age-group participated too.

SlowUp 2

One Saturday morning, Mike and I decided to ride our bikes to Mammern harbor, where our boat, MyOne is docked. It is  approximately 30 km from our home and takes us about 2 hours to reach there by bike. For my convenience, Mike found the easiest route to get there.

Directions

From Dachsen, we rode to Feuerthalen, crossing Flurlingen and the ancient city of Schaffhausen. After that, we rode across hilly roads to Diessenhofen and passed through the picturesque villages of Rheinklingen and Wagenhausen. From there we rode along the touristy town of Stein am Rhein to Eschenz. The ride from Eschenz to our harbor was a bit taxing as we had to ascend a small plantation to finally reach our destination. We had carried some bottles of water and snacks for the ride, which really helped.

Bike ride

The ride took us through some of the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen in my life. Beautiful houses, the sparkling Lake Constance, lush greenery everywhere completely boggled my mind. We’ve been doing this more often ever since…

My first batch of Cupcakes

I’m a big fan of Cupcakes. Have always been one. Back in Dubai, I frequented shops like Mister Baker, Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks to try their cupcakes. My best friend Israt had once bought some yummy cupcakes for me from a shop called Sugaholic. I loved it!

When I moved to Switzerland, I had a hard time finding a nice cupcake shop, until my friend, Aniko, suggested a place called `The Little Shabby`. It’s a tiny  cafe that specializes in cupcakes and coffee. They used to have 2 branches in Switzerland, one in Winterthur and the other in Schaffhausen. Unfortunately, the branch in Winterthur, got closed recently.

Little Shabby is owned by 2 sisters who bake their own cupcakes. You’ll find different flavors every day. If one day they bake Mango, Chocolate and Lemon flavors, the next day it is Blueberry, Red-velvet and Vanilla. They are super-delicious and super-pricey (5 US Dollars / cupcake), but they’re well worth it.

Along with the cupcakes, they also sell baking tools like paper cups, baking pans, cupcake decorating items, piping bags etc. Once every week my husband, Mike, and I treat ourselves to a cupcake and a hot cup of coffee or cappuccino after a long walk around the city. He likes to try different flavors while I usually stick to my favorites, red-velvet or chocolate. As a special surprise, Mike ordered their 4-tier cupcakes arranged with a beautiful fruit-cake with lemon for our wedding in Switzerland.  I was in seventh heaven!

I decided I had to bake my own cupcakes. I wanted to be that mom and aunt who bakes the best cupcakes! With this urge and a full-fledged support from my husband, I planned my first bake.

I found this recipe for  a simple vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing. I modified the measurements to suit my requirement.

I shopped for some baking equipment like a piping bag set containing nozzles of different sizes, cupcake papers (these papers can be used directly in the oven), sprinkles for decorating, vanilla essence, coloring agents (blue, red and yellow) and plastic spatulas from a supermarket called Migros.

Cupcake ingredients

To bake about 10 cupcakes, I used the following:

200 gm All purpose Flour

100 gm icing sugar (You can add more if you want it sweeter)

2 eggs

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1-1/4 tsp baking powder

100 gm butter

2 drops of vanilla essence

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 175°C. In a bowl, sift the flour; to this add salt, baking soda and baking powder and keep aside.

step 1

Step 2: In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Try to keep the speed as low as possible.

Step 2

Step 3: Once it starts to become smooth, add the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla essence. Whisk it thoroughly until the batter gets smoother.

Step 4: Pour the mixture into paper cups. Fill only halfway to avoid spilling over the sides

Step 5: Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, I used the following:

200 gm butter (Softened i.e, kept at room temperature and not frozen)

200 gm icing sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

2 drops of coloring agent

Decorating sprinkles

Step 1: With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar till it gets fluffy. Add vanilla extract and color. If the frosting is too thin, add extra sugar and if it is too thick mix in a bit of milk.

Frosting

Step 2: Once the frosting is done, pour it into the piping bags* and decorate the cupcakes. Top them with your favorite sprinkles.

After decoration copy

*I used simple round nozzle to get this design.

The cupcakes were delicious. The cake had the right texture and taste and the frosting was yummy; only it wasn’t as fluffy as I wanted it to be.

Vanilla Cupcake with vanilla frosting

My friend suggested I add fresh cream in the frosting to make it more fluffy and creamy, instead of using only butter (that is half portion cream and half portion butter). I am going to try that for my next batch. I’ll let you guys know if it works. (Please do tell me if you have any suggestion…)

I have to got to nail this…

(‘Cause I will be baking cupcakes for the guests at my sister-in-law’s birthday party next month. Don’t tell her this… :))

Finding an apartment in Switzerland

After I settled down a bit, I began looking for rental apartments. I couldn’t go on staying forever at the Hotel Hessengueetli, obviously. I searched websites like www.homegate.ch, www.immoscout.ch and www.immostreet.ch, where you can find apartments, houses etc to rent or to buy. These websites provide all the information that one needs to know about an apartment like its location, size (in square meter), number of rooms, how far it is from the city or a grocery store etc. along with pictures and details of the person (generally the current tenants or sometimes agents) you need to contact. If you wish to view an apartment, you will need to call the contact person and make an appointment to check it out. If you like the apartment, then you will have to apply for it by taking an application form from the contact person, filling it with all the details and sending it by post to the address given in the form. Other documents like a copy of passport, permit, letter from the company etc might be needed along with the application form.

You are lucky if your application gets accepted. I wasn’t, at first.

Everyday, I would make a list of all the apartments I’d found on the net the night before. I would call ahead to have appointments fixed to view them in the evening. After work, With the help of google maps I’d go looking for them from one end of the town to the other. I found a few that I liked and applied for them. And I waited to hear back from the owners or the agencies that took care of those apartments. More waiting later, I lost all hope of ever finding a place for myself. I’d applied for more than 10 apartments but none of them had accepted my application.

A month was up and I had nowhere to go. I had no choice but to extend my stay at the hotel. As there was no kitchen in my room, I had to endure frozen foods for another month. Yuck! I was miserable, but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. I continued searching, until one day I got a call from an agent saying that I could have an apartment if I wanted, in Schlossackerstrasse. It was small, with one big hall that had a tiny kitchen counter in a corner, a bathroom and a store room. There was a stove and a refrigerator too. There were inbuilt wardrobes big enough to keep all my stuff. It was enough for a single person. And I was on my own. Yay!! I was happy I’d finally found an apartment!!

Since I didn’t know anyone, I had to do the moving all by myself. I decided to take 2 days to move all my stuff to the new apartment, carrying just a few items at a time. I did not want to stress myself by carrying all the luggage in one go. By then I had bought a couple of chairs and a small table from Ikea at very low prices. I bought a bed-cum-sofa and fixed it on my own , thanks to  my dad from whom I learnt to fix things.

I began cooking too. My mom had insisted upon my carrying everything I needed to cook Indian food, so that I didn’t have to go hunting for an Indian store immediately upon my arrival. I was glad she did, even though I had complained about having to carry a ton of luggage! And every time I cooked, I was reminded of home, of her.

The Rent (687 CHF, i.e. about 721 US Dollars) included Water and Heater charges but not the Electricity and Internet. I had to pay for them separately.

You can read about my big move and the first month in Switzerland here and here.