About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Hello Wales! Nice to see you again!

So then it was back to London, where I spent a few days recuperating. Yes. Recuperating. Between tourist life and running for trains, running for trains with the pink suitcase, heaving 19kg suitcase onto train platforms and up stairs (thank you London Victoria and Ealing Common for the free weight training sessions), I was happy to spend a few very anonymous days in my favourite city.

Being a loyal Hiltoner, I had some Hilton Honours points in the kitty and booked myself a 3-day stay at the newly refurbished Double Tree by Hilton in Ealing Common. Though a bit off the beaten path, the hotel itself was quite comfortable, terribly clean and just of the standard I have come to expect from the Hilton brand. Special mention goes out to the Nespresso machine in the room, which just made the stay that much sweeter. I had the best sleep of the entire trip here – with no maniacal tourist life activity keeping me in the tight clutches of exhaustion.

Hello, Nespresso!

I managed just to see a few people including the lovely Corey and the stay also included a lovely day trip to Bournemouth, to catch up with an old friend as he launched a new chapter in his life. But after a bliss-filled pitstop, I was off to Cardiff, Wales – a reunion with the city I first visited while still a poor post-grad. I love Cardiff though. While not as hectic as London, it has enough diversity, character and beauty to make it a great place to visit. My friends are also the warmest hosts ever, and there was to be no rest! Always eager to make sure her guests are properly entertained, our first adventure was to the Big Pit – and as the name suggests, it was a damn big pit.

The Big Pit National Coal Museum is an actual coal mine and the tour takes you 300 feet underground into the mine, where you get a vivid recounting of the life of the miner, including the evolution of mining, the risks, their domestic situations (wives had to put up with some smelly, dirty, gnat-infested men coming home from work) and the eventual loss of an entire way of life for the region, with the global emergence of natural gas and nuclear energy. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour, though not a fan of dark, confined spaces, and I managed to bump my head more than a few times in the low underground tunnels. But it was a highlight.

Dreary, windy Welsh day. Great day for an underground coal mine

The Big Pit in Wales

This guy is showing off some of the gear I wore on my tour

Of course after a morning in the mines, one simply has to go taste beer at the local brewery. But of course!

Nothing beats a cold beer after a few hours in the mine

I want to save the ghost walk for another entry so will end it here. That ghost walk…something special.

Caux and Montreux - Swiss Life continues

Amsterdam was always meant to be the more hectic part of the vacation, with my plans for Lausanne being really just to relax. It did not always feel like that though, but the next day, after a lot of wine, we headed towards Montreux, where we would take the funicular train up the mountain side to the small village of Caux. And it is small. But cute.

I guess a highlight of the village is the former Caux Palace Hotel, which is now a conference centre and a hotel school. But it is a beautiful building and though we were not allowed inside, I imagined the views from the grounds were stunning.

Still, we did not do too badly on the outskirts.

This funicular train experience was much better than a previous experience I had in Hastings, probably because the views were nicer, there were more people onboard (who wants to die alone?), and you could not see the incline from the base of the mountain.

With it being a warm and sunny day at last, we took the train back down and took an easy stroll along la Place du Marché in Montreux. Here, there were street vendors, boardwalk cafes and of course, the lake.

After a quick bite, we took the bus to Château de Chillon, where we would leave our friend to explore the castle on her own, but not before a few photos.

This was my last full day in Switzerland before heading back to my third favourite island after Trinidad and Tobago - Great Britain!

It's Wine O'Clock - Trip to Swiss Wine Country

After a great night out with adventures into Swiss fondue, we prepared ourselves for the next mission - to visit Lavaux - a region in the canton of Vaud, or as I like to call it, part of Swiss wine country. I was very excited for this and the weather seemed to cooperate ever so slightly as the rains abated, though the sun never really quite joined the party.

Lavaux is beautiful, framed by the gorgeous waters of the lake and with the Swiss alps nestled neatly in the background, though on this day we could barely see the peaks behind the grey of the now non-threatening clouds.

Beautiful views from the top of the vineyards

The wine villages below us 

We took the wine trail through the vineyards to the lovely town of St Saphorin, where we stopped for a bite and of course, had some wine. The trail itself takes you through the terraced vineyards which stretch for miles (and miles!), with the Chasselas grape being master (or mistress) of the vineyards.

Our lunch break was at a small, unpretentious village pub-like establishment (you know how I "love" pub-like establishments), but this was Switzerland and the dish of the day, comprised of perfectly cooked lamb, spinach and roast potatoes was fantastic.

Assiette du Jour!

With our bellies full, we took a less scenic stroll to the town of Rivas, the central town of the region and the location of the Lavaux Vinorama, where we would sample some of the best wines the region had to offer. Exciting!

After a short film about the life of the wine grower or le vigneron (during which time I unashamedly stole a few winks), we were led back upstairs to the main event - the tasting. We were actually supposed to taste 3 wines, but our dedicated host was a real gem, and between us girls, we managed to taste quite a few reds and whites - each exquisite (though there was one red which really did not make love to my palate at all!). Paired with bread and sticks of puff pastry, our afternoon wine tasting was decadent and is a must for anyone visiting this beautiful area of Lausanne.

Wines everywhere, at every turn...

Lovely whites from the Lavaux region in Switzerland

Our reds -all for us!

How we defeated the rain in Lausanne, Switzerland

Amsterdam had lived up to all my expectations but soon it was time to set off once more. This time I took myself and my pink suitcase to Amsterdam Schipol airport en route to Geneva International in Switzerland. There I met my girlfriends, one Swiss and the other who had arrived about 10mins before from Madrid and much to my fatigued traveller horror, we made a mad dash for the train which would take us to our final destination, Lausanne.

In the dark of night, Lausanne did not get me that excited and when the heavens opened up the next morning, shrouding the city in grey, I was a bit hesitant to fall in love with it. But even with the lake and mountains cloaked in bleakness, the hilly city still managed to show its charm. With the rain not letting up, we were content to have some drinks and then later dinner with friends, leaving more adventurous pursuits for less watery days.

Well...this seemed almost impossible, but we still managed to do a bit of sightseeing, including seeking physical shelter and maybe spiritual refuge as well in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne, where I did indeed whsiper a prayer for my loved ones, and also leave a prayer request on the request board. You will just have to ask me what I asked for.

View of rainy Lausanne from the hill on which the cathedral is located

Hilly Lausanne - one can get quite the workout here

The interior of the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne

The rain just would not quit but this would not stop us from enjoying first a couple fabulous coffee creations at the Nespresso boutique. For those who love coffee as I do, this was heaven on earth. You got a full explanation of the various Nespresso products, along with customised sampling of the coffee itself. Then, if you were so inclined, you can sit in the Nespresso bar and order from their vast menu of simply divine hot or cold beverages. After a lot of walking up and down the streets of Lausanne, this was my everything.

The Nespresso Boutique in Lausanne - products and coffee galore

All the little coloured pods are Nespresso pods. So much choice!

I tried first Un Doux Defile de Mocca Latte which was a wonderful twist on the mocha latte, with the kicker being the hazelnut base.

These were the specialty drinks of the month. I had the last two as shown here.

My special Swiss mocha latte

The real star was the Mojito a la mode Coco - a layered mojito comprised of a regular mojito at the bottom, cold, shaken coffee in the middle and coconut cream. This was epic and the flavours all worked so well together.

My coffee mojito. Epic!

But it was our date with Swiss cheese fondue later that evening that made all our rainy day blues go away. We had reservations at the Café du Grütli, which is located on the ground floor of one of the oldest buildings in Lausanne (over 150 years old), with the current owners working their magic with fondue for the past 30 years.

I was a bit apprehensive about fondue as my stomach cannot always handle such richness, especially being lactose intolerant. But how can one come to Switzerland and not try cheese fondue? With our Swiss guide (my friend, Laure) we ordered the cheese fondue and the tomato cheese fondue. The former is eaten by dipping bits of bread into the pot of melted cheeses infused with white wine, while you eat the latter by pouring some of it over potatoes. Both fondues are served straight off the stovetop and are kept warm and more importantly, in their melted state by placing them on spirit burners on the table. The bread is simple, as are the potatoes as it is really a simple, yet traditional dish.

Our pots of cheese fondue. 

My tomato and cheese fondue served over boiled potatoes
and bits of bread to be dipped in the plain cheesefondue, using my dipping fork

Can I just say all apprehension over my frail stomach went out the door after the first bite? When the girl brought out both pots, I was convinced there was no way we would be able to eat it all. An hour later, both pots were empty and the wine was done as well. It was incredible and possibly the highlight of my entire Lausanne experience.

And that's how we defeated the rain that day!

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