Swiss Mountain Air (warning - a long entry!)

The second we crossed the border into Switzerland, I felt giddy. Ever since I was a little girl, Switzerland represented the place with endless possibilities. The fresh air and green glow of the super fertile land makes you feel hyper and sort of dreamlike. I feel like I can create my own little fairy tale with each visit. mmmm. Grindelwald. I couldn't wait to visit our house (with an exterior made with thousands of tiny wood shingles, a very old chalet) and walk up to our little forest where we grew up building tiny forts and little bridges and houses for newts by the stream. This small forest is my favorite place in the world.

Since our house is fully rented right now - we stayed at our good friend Salvi's hotel. Grindelwald has one small main road that is lined with restaurants, shops, and hotels. Very small and compact. Most of the locals know our family, and so it's fun to see how long it takes before everyone starts saying hello. No matter how long its been - they know when a Rubi is in town. Small town style.

It was drizzly a lot of the time, so instead of hiking and exploring we got into a rhythm of walks through town and up into the hills and down again. The 'Tarassenweg loop'. We hit up each family friend's restaurant and since it was Adrian's first time to Switzerland and sort of his induction, I had him get into the full range of traditions. I love fondue, but there is an old chalet in town that serves 4 different types, one being 'tomatoe fondue'. This one is incredible. Oh, and the Swiss breakfast ( zopf, yoghurt, emmenthal/appenzeller, ham, rolls, muesli ) is my most favorite breakfast in the world. Gondola rides up to various high points in the surrounding mountains and long hikes back into town with a picnic spot is pretty much the summer daily routine around here. There was one morning where it was a little bit sunny, so we raced to the Gondola and took it up to First (pronounced feerst), one of the smaller peaks. We started our hike down some pretty jagged slate trails and felt really proud of ourselves for finally getting up into the mountains (I heard my father's voice in my head telling me to get up into the mountains already!). THEN, out of nowhere it started to snow! In the middle of summer, we were on top of First with sneakers and sweaters and it was a full on blizzard with huge fluffy flakes. We found a little forest cave and had a picnic with mountain strawberries and sandwiches, joux joux chips and rügen brau. All was good. Kind of the best way to picnic if you ask me. Such a sanctuary. We were giddy once again.

We make our way in and out of the forest , through the blizzard with our umbrellas to shield the snow from our non-waterproof outfits. When we made it back into town, the strassefest was about to begin. Every Wednesday in the Summer, Grindelwald has a street festival with a raclette station , crepes, käseschnitte, hotdogs (weinerli) and live music. We ended up at the local disco, The Plaza, and enjoyed the cave style design of the club. It was sort of Planet of the Apes meets Logan's Run meets the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. sweet.

Salvi (who is the Godfather of Grindi) had us at his grappa bar every night for an aperitif and stories (and more Adrian induction). I feel so at home around Salvi. He looks after us Rubi kids.

When we went to my father's grave it was still quite cloudy. But when Adrian and I touched his grave stone together, the sky cleared and it became sunny very quickly. As soon as our hands left the stone, it became cloudy again. These things happen in Grindi. My father knows.

Our last night we switched over to my brother's good friend, Daniel Heller's hotel, Hotel Eiger (the Eiger mountain is Grindelwald's most famous peak). In exchange for the 'panoramic sweet', I shot photograph's for him. Mostly portraits of his team and candids in the lobby and kitchen of his employees. Lots of fun. He also had us dine in his restaurant that night - more fondue and grüner salad with swiss white dressing. oh. my. god. SO good. im a tiny bit addicted to swiss salad dressing. I even brought a bottle home. And lots of cheese from the cows that graze on our hills. Next best thing to eating Rubi cheese like my dad used to make.

The morning that we left it was starting to clear up. The hills were clear and the views were in full force. I was happy that Adrian got to experience the whole scene. Im sort of glad it was cloudy during the time we were there. It forced us to get into great conversations with people over grappa and hot food. The sun on the last day was a sneaky last minute reminder that when we come back we get to frolick in the hills. That reminder will bring us back to Grindi sooner than if it was sunny the whole time. That's the way I see it. Bye Grindi!

We trained it up to Basel to visit my friend Dan Solbach and spend the night at his lovely flat before flying back to London the next morning. It was Dan's first night at his new job. His job was at the "Friends Bar". As in the American t.v. show. Very euro-glitch style and sweet. He sort of made the bar popular in that good ol hang-out-at-the-late-night-random-spot-that-turns-hip sort of way. His hours are something like 11pm - 6am. Crazy. He had a few slip ups but soon poored the perfect beer. yay Dan! The coolest thing happened the next morning. Dan worked all night long at his new job and returned home with a fresh zopf (special swiss braided brioche like bread...absolutely scrumptious), and set up a super-cute swiss breakfast on the table for us before our flight out. What a friend.

Irish Spring

After some time back home, I've mustered up the energy to continue the re-cap of the latest d/a journey. SO - the reason why we headed out to europaland recently was to photograph dear Deirdre's wedding in the countryside of Ireland. Adrian hadn't been back to Ireland since he lived there back in 2000, so it was sort of two 'trips' rolled into one with the Ireland segment.

We stayed in Dublin our first night and wandered the streets that Adrian still knew quite well. Hit up the 'Foggy Dew' pub and also Cafe Irie where he used to work. It was fun to absorb Dublin via a memory map of old haunts.

The wedding was beautiful. It took place in near Killarney, in the chapel her parents got married in. One the same day too. Lots of formal stylish dresses with hats and a ton of quick conversations chalk full of antidotes and sayings including bouts of laughter. This Irish gang have a great sense of humor. Or is that the way of the Irish? To find humor in all things sour or sweet?

After the ceremony, all the guests walked down a road that ended at a pub that belonged to Deirdre's cousin. Deirdre and Dabhi walked on their own after the guests. They arrived to a big cheering crowd with oysters and champagne in hand. The wedding continued on to Bantry, where we had dinner and danced to two excellent bands. Lots of soul music and lots of guinness. I was on my way to my hotel room upstairs at 130am or so - when I was stopped by Siobhan with " you can't go to bed now! You will miss the sing song!". I then learned that Irish weddings come with a 'sing song' sesh until sunrise. The groom started at the piano with a traditional irish song, then his brother jumped in. An hour later there was some locked arm dancing with more guinness in hand and everyone singing song after song around the piano. RADICAL.

The day after the wedding, Adrian and I had a nice drive up to Shannon where we were to catch a plane to Milan the following morning. The countryside around Bantry was so peaceful yet dramatic. We couldn't help but pull over and run up the green hillside jumping from knoll to knoll and rock to rock. It was SO windy and exhilirating. Lots of wild fox gloves and small towns. We ended our quick Irish hang with sleeping in our car, as we couldnt find a hotel room near the airport. Our flight was leaving in the early morn - so at least we were out of the rain and in a car fort in a safe little tree cove parking lot steps from the little airport (that looked oddly like the Olso airport). Flew to Milan, had an espresso at the station. then found the next train to Interlaken left in 5 minutes. RAN to the packed Italian train with standing room only. Had to wait until we crossed the border before our first class swiss passes kicked in. Finally got to sit down. ahhh. We were exhausted but in full adventure mode. Feels good to reach the limit sometimes.

Well Ported

Here's a fun mix of images for you. We have our port tasting sesh, an anise sugar crystal drink, Thomas challenging a snake found during our off-road golf cart escapade along with food and other imagery. Considering we have more than a year before our wedding, we sort of thought that it would be ok to indulge a bit on this trip. oh, and did we. We ate a lot of fancy lunches that involved fancy meats. A salad with duck and steak with potatoes and other frenchy salad ingredients (the best salad Adrian has ever had says he), and veal with mushroom sauce and noodles. Sort of something you see in different varieties all over Europe (like geschnetzletes in Grindelwald, CH). Speaking of spare tires, we spotted a lot of mini's around Paris that had a boat bumper tied up to it for parallel parking safetly. Such a good idea! San Francisco should catch on to that one big time.
The Mantle photo. This photo was taken at Karim/Claire's flat. I love this still life. Here you can see a portrait taken by Karim's father (or was it Grandfather?) of Simone de Beauvoir along with another photograph of a landscape (was this in Egypt?) and objects that speak of Karim and Claire.
Lastly, there is Adrian sitting next to a huge photograph taken by one of Karim's sister's clients. This was shot for a Valentino ad I believe. Claire was assisting on this (and helped put together the massive chandelier) as was thus given a copy of the print for her laborous efforts.

Rosé Marais

Adrian has now a new shop. Muji. He found his perfect mac coat and two new suits. After the shopping bliss we kicked it at the Cafe we always go to after falafels on Rue des Rosiers. Here we had a bottle of rose and people watched for hours. The paris vibe. During our time in Paris we were able to visit Erwan at his design studio, see Karim (and meet his lovely lady Claire) for dinner at his new flat, and visit many a window display. One of the diplays were of paper cut-out scenes from old fashion toilets to little houses. Incredible! to add to the highlight-all-the-time energy of this visit, we ended up feeding birds out of our hands a la Ms. Poppins at the Jardin Luxembourg. wow. so yeah, Paris: Lunches. Dinners (mmmm.. steac Frites @ Cafe du Musee..thanks erwan!). Parisian macarons. Russe nesting dolls. Le Chambre Claire. This bookstore is my favorite photography bookstore in the world. If you are in Paris, you have to go there. You will peruse photo books small and tiny that you have never seen before and wish you had stacked on your shelves. All this = treats for the eyes and for the inspiration file cabinet in the brain. oh wait, did I mention the apricot desert with saffron rice pudding? um. yeah.