Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Category

Beer cruises in the Western hemisphere is nothing new, there are a number of options in various climate zones. Stephen Beaumont offers an alternative, a European beer cruise.

It’s on the Rhine, from Amsterdam to Basel. The preliminary programme ranges from a visit to Amsterdam’s  Brouwerij ‘t Ij to tastings at Belgian, German, French, Luxembourg and Swiss breweries, a pub crawl through Cologne, and even floating tutored beer tastings.

It starts in Amsterdam on October 11.

It’s beyond the capacity of my wallet, but I applaud any efforts to expand quality beer tourism.

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Sometimes the conveyor belt at the airport seems to be filled with suitcases just like yours. And, admit it, despite the new glasses you are unable to spot the nuances ten meters away.

There are solutions. Retro style stickers that declare your interest in faraway places. Multi-colored string attached to the handle. Buying a suitcase in a day-glow color.

Or you can get your luggage ID handle wrap, showing your preference for your favourite tipple. If we buy enough of those, maybe they will feature various types of beer, too.

On the other hand, this will probably not be the thing to make your bag stand out from the crowd if you are flying to or from Munich during the autumn. But they have other designs.

A Swiss flag showing you’re neutral, a Norwegian flag showing you’re rich or an Icelandic flag to show you’re bankrupt. Or maybe a skull and crossbones?


I found the wraps via the Another passport stamp blog.

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I travel a fair bit across Europe, and I generally find that I manage to reach my destination more or leess on schedule. I mostly use the major airlines, but the discount companies get me there on time, too.

Last week was an exception. Winter had made a brief return – while the rain was pouring down in central Oslo, it was snowing at the airport. I was busy earlier in the day, and was relieved to pass through security without any waiting time to speak of, and I walked towards the gate. Boarding for the Zurich flight was more or less on time, and I found seat 12 C, with extra leg room and sat down to read my newspaper.

Boarding completed. And then the delays started. First came a message about de-icing. Then we appearently lost our slot fime for take off. The final excuse was heavy traffic over Denmark.

We took off two hours after schedule, and were somewhere over Germany when my connection flight to Athens started boarding. The cabin crew checked, and told me to make arrangements with the arrival service at Zurich airport – I would b rebooked.

Besides the extra leg room, a seat at the front means you are first in the line for the rebooking queue, too. I was given a boarding pass for the next moring, a voucher for hotel, bus transfer and an evening meal. I even had time to pick up a few beers at a convenience shop before the hotel bus arrived.

The hotel was like airport hotels are everywhere. Locatied between car dealerships and warehouses along the motorway. These hotels are slik and shiny, has more room than their downtown competitors, and try to create something resembling an atmosphere. This one had lots of rainforest wood, downlights, goldfish and trickling water.

Swiss service means them saying We know you’d rather be in Athens tonight, but we’ll try to make your stay comfortable. The hotel is located between car dealerships and office high rises – no cozy inns serving traditional brews in sight, so I had to settle for the hotel bar.

It was not bad as hotel bars go, with a fair range of Swiss and Italian wines and grappas and a menu that want a bit beyond burgers pizzas. Four beers on tap, two domestic plus Paulaner and Heineken.

I ordered a Rösti with bacon and cheese, going for something with a local twist, as well as a glass of their amber beer. The beer was a Ittinger Vienna, refreshing with a fine bitter edge. Malt, a little smokiness and a crisp herbal finish. Fine at the right cellar temperature, but I imagine a stronger version would have been even better.

 The food arrived after ten minutes.

Caution, it’s hot, said the waitress, but it was both burned on the bottom and cold, so I did what I rarely do – I sent it out again. It came back sizzling hot, and made a nice evening snack.

I had a glass of their pilsener, too, a Halden gut, which did not leave any deep impression, either, and even took up the offer of a shot of grappa to finish the meal.

The verdict? The macro beers in Switzerland are just the same as anywhere – brewed to avoid offending anyone. Clean and without faults, they are decent enough, but there is no reason to plan for such a stopover. I’ve been told that there are much better beers available downtown, just 20 minutes away by train, but that was not an option that evening.


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