6/6/09

Fondues, Raclettes...Swiss Food - Geneva, Switzerland

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If you're interested in trying typical Swiss food, there's a nice Swiss restaurant near our downtown hotel, on Rue Des Paquis 20. It was highly recommended by the concierge and it was not as pricey as one would think. The name of the place is The Auberge de Saviese and they serve typical Swiss dishes like "raclettes" (melted cheese with potatoes) and "fondues".

The night we went to this restaurant, it was still warm outside so we were able to sit outside in a small side patio/garden. While there, we had some wonderful food and drank some local beer.

Between three of us, we sampled a couple of raclettes (each, can be easily shared by two). We also ordered a half an order of snails (six - a 1/2 portion) plus a Beef Fondue for two ( which is raw sirloin in chunks, plus a fondue pot of boiling oil where one cooks each piece of meat with the aid of your individual long, thin forks to dip the meat in the pot, at leisure ). This portion was so large, we couldn't finish the meat. It could have easily been shared by three.

We also ordered a large tomato and mozzarella salad (they have 1/2 portions too) and we shared it between the three of us. Portions were large and the food was nice and fresh. The fondue came with the best fries I have eaten in a long time! All this food, 6 beers and a large bottle of water, came to about $50 dollars each - not too bad, considering it's Switzerland since we drank alcohol, and ate like little "couchons" (piggies)!

If interested, please get directions from the concierge. It's located across from the Patisserie La Vouivre in 20 Rue des Paquis.

As you walk there, take a look at all the other small ethnic restaurants in the area. The Paquis area is famous in Geneva for its quirky, ethnic cafes, shops and restaurants. It is a safe area to walk, even at night, so feel free to explore and to share with us what your discover.

There is one street in this area, about a block away from the Train Station, that is the "red light district" - kt's only about two blocks long - If you happen to find it, you won't miss "the gilrs". No problem, just turn back and you'll be back in the safe cafe neighborhood again.

Bon Appetite!

Remember to submit comments and recommendations of places you discover to our email - postcards@me.com. We'd love to hear from you!

6/5/09

Breakfast? Coffee? Pastries? - Geneva

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Coffee in our downtown Geneva layover hotel, even with our discount, is nine dollars a cup, ouch!

So, if you're like me, and you need a little fuel to wake up at 2-3 am (USA time) before you depart for the airport, here are a couple of cute and affordable places within walking distance of our hotel that serve "take out" breakfast for a more reasonable price.

Walk to Rue des Paquis to The Cafe Art's (opened for breakfast only on week ends) - my favorite.

Along the same side of the street, at 21 Rue Des Paquis, you will find the lovely Patisserie Voivre, open early, every day. Great pastries, breads and coffees.

Get a scrumptious pain du chocolate "pour emporter" - to take away- from either place plus a hot beverage of your choice in either place. Both are fast with service and friendly and I promise, much better priced than the hotel, A better way to get your morning start.

Bike for Free!!! Geneva, Switzerland

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Last week I spend a whole afternoon biking around the scenic main lake in Geneva, Switzerland. The best part, aside from the amazing water views and the impeccable weather? the bike was totally free!! Yep, in this city famous for its sky-high prices, this may be the only cheap (free) thing in the whole city!! so take note!

Rent (of borrow, as they call it) a city bike from Geneve Roule - It's free for the first four hours. Go to one of their five Geneve Roule bike rental Stations around the city. The location I chose was Bains de Paquis, located right across the Hotel Kempinski on the boulevard along the water, on the Quai du Mont-Blanc. (tip - get there early, they run out of bikes by afternoon and look for the white tent to find the bike booth along the waterfront boulevard).

When you finish with your bike, you can return it to any of the five Geneve Roule bike stations during operating hours - check the Geneve Roule website for more information.

To rent (or borrow) a bike, you'll need to bring your passport and 20 Francs in cash for a deposit. If you go over the four "free" hours, they will charge you an additional nominal fee per hour - about 1 more Franc per hour or something like that - check out their website for more details before you pedal away.


Don't forget to ask for a bike lock before you leave just in case you want to stop along the way. Helmets are also available, upon request and all bikes come with a basket where you can store a small backpack or place a bag of purchased goods.

For more information, go to www.geneveroule.ch. and have a blast! like I did!!

5/31/09

More Keunkenhof Photos...

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Photos by Kayra Martinez.

The Keukenhof Gardens - Holland

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I was recently in Keukenhof for a visit to the lovely Tulip gardens and although this was the second time, it was still as impressive as the first.

Keukenhof is situated between Amsterdam and The Hague in the Bulb region.

The best time to go is in the spring: Middle of March until the early or middle part of May when all the bulbs are in full bloom.

It is a large park with amazing different types of colorful flowers and fantastic flower shows. They have sculptures and boat trips available as well.

Keukenhof is the most photographed place on earth! You come out feeling like a professional photographer because each photo is that amazing!

I would recommend you book tickets online as there are lengthy queues to buy tickets. Admission costs are 14Euros.

Enjoy!
Kayra

Keukenhof
Stationsweg 166a
2161 AM LISSE
The Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0) 252 465 555

Parking at Keukenhof
The locations of both of the parking lots are clearly indicated on signs located around the park.
Keukenhof has their own parking facility for passenger vehicles. The price for the parking amounts to € 6,00.
For Busses there is a separate main parking place ( P-Hoofd ). No parking fees are charged for busses.
You can park your bicycle in the bicycle racks at both parking areas.

By car
From the Apeldoorn direction you follow the A1 to Amsterdam. Follow the ‘Schiphol’ signs; you will then reach the A4 heading for The Hague. Take exit 4 and follow the N207 towards Lisse. In Lisse, you follow the sign boards to Keukenhof.
From the Utrecht direction you take the A2 to Amsterdam and select the A4 heading for The Hague. On the A4 you take exit 4. See above for remainder.
From Rotterdam you follow the A4 to The Hague-Amsterdam and take exit 4. See above for remainder.
From The Hague you drive via the A44 and take exit 3 Noordwijkerhout/Lisse. You then take the N208 to Lisse and follow signs to Keukenhof.

Public transport
The most environmentally-friendly way to visit Keukenhof is by public transport. This is why Connexxion bus company has greatly improved its bus services to Keukenhof. From 19 March a direct bus will run to Keukenhof from Amsterdam, Schiphol, The Hague and Leiden.

All-in Bus + Keukenhof ticket
The easiest way to visit Keukenhof is Connexxion's all-in Combi-ticket. This is a return bus ticket to Keukenhof and an entrance ticket to Keukenhof. By showing your Combi-ticket you can enter Keukenhof directly. So you don't have to worry about traffic-jams, parking problems or ticket queues at the park.
From Amsterdam centre
As from the Leidseplein/Museumplein you can take the Interliner 370 or the red Sternet bus 197 to Schiphol Airport (totally 5-6 busses per hour). There you can switch to the Keukenhof shuttle bus (no. 58).

From Schiphol Airport
Bus 58 will run between Schiphol Airport and Keukenhof, every 15 minutes.
International trains from Paris, Berlin and Brussels also stop at Schiphol.

Direct bus from Leiden Central, every 15 minutes!
The current bus 54 from Leiden Central Station will continue to run every fifteen minutes and drop off passengers at the main entrance of Keukenhof.

A direct line from The Hague Central Station
Bus 89 runs only from Monday till Friday.

For a tailor made travel advice you can call 0900-9292 (€ 0,70 p.m. information in English, German and Dutch) or check the travel advice site.

Bicycle
You can park your bicycle in the bicycle racks at both parking areas. Would you like to make a bicycle trip from Keukenhof through the flowering fields of the Bulb region? And rent a bike? Then look on Bike rental for more information.

Photos and story, courtesy of Kayra Martinez.

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