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Monthly Archives: December 2016

We spent a weekend in Verbier during the summer this year and luckily it coincided with the annual Alps en Fête where we saw the Bataille des Reines, see the post here.

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The event was held at the Alpage des Grand-Plans, Les Planards, an alpine pasture above Verbier that was reached by public bus and a minibus operating for the day. The scenery is very much like “The Sound of Music” which is really Austrian.

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A road led us up from the bus stop to the pasture where the event was held. The road continues, sloping gently upwards. Along the way, there were two restaurants/lodge. They appear to rent out rooms.

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One of the restaurants is called La Marmotte. It was nearly full with people sitting on the outside taking in the sun, breeze and view.

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We were lucky to be offered a table with a view under a sun umbrella. After we ordered, we were served a free simple starter – olive paste on crispy bread.

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We had a generous portion of tomato soup …

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… and assorted mushrooms (mostly girolles and possibly some other kinds) in creamy sauce and a puff pastry. The Swiss likes to gather wild mushrooms.

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We also had a beef tartare and fries.

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All were excellent. The service was friendly and we had great seats facing the wide open space. Looking up, the nets set up to prevent avalanche and/or falling rocks were clearly visible (not in the photo), as are paths that lead up to the top.

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The view here is stunning, blue sky with a few clouds – the entire community of Verbier below –  the pastures on the other side of the valley, fresh air …

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Climbing wall for the energetic.

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The inside of the restaurant was open but no one wanted to be indoors.

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But we can imagine this wooden lodge, now in December with snow falling outside, it must be very cosy. A classic alpine mountain experience (if it is open).

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We said we would come back summer or winter.

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Highly recommended.

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We spent a weekend in Verbier towards the end of July this year. Kind of a last minute thing. Verbier is about a little more than an hour’s drive away.

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Verbier is a primarily a ski resort but during the summer, it actively promotes itself as a haven for outdoor sports. Not just hiking and biking though, it also put together a classical music festival.

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The music festival is best known for an intimate atmosphere (since it lacks any big venue) and a didactic tradition (masterclasses, student performances).

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We were lucky because the weekend we went coincided with the annual village fair. One of the main event took place in the Alpage des Grand-Plans, Les Planards, an open pasture above Verbier.

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Apart from a street market in the village, they also held the annual Bataille des Reines (“Battle of the Queens”) – an institution in the local community.

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The highlight of the full day event was the Battle – a cow fight. There are no matadors, no enraged bulls and and no stabbing. Humans are not involved here.

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This is a tradition that has grown out of letting the cows establish a pecking order.

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The cows are sorted according to age and weight before being led into a ring.

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The animals were nonchalant around people and standing calmly as a group until provoked.

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They appear to ignore each other and eat grass until they decide to get into a bit of a head butting contest.

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They were all wearing their cow bells so there were a lot of clanking noise.

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We did not see the end because it took them a while to get the cows started and then to separate them. But it was fun.

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It was a nice day and we got sunburned because it was not hot or sweaty at that altitude and we did not wear any sunblock.

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It is odd to write this post about summer pastures while it is probably snowing up there and knowing that the same place is now all white and rather cold.

While in Madrid, we hopped inside the Realmadrid official store on Calle del Carmen, just off Puerta del Sol.

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We are fans but not dedicated Real Madrid fans.

realmadrid-6Only Perfect Counts.

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This is the place to buy the official kit and gear.

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I liked the various designs of the official ball.

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Souvenirs galore.

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Champions League cup. We took pictures holding it in one of the final match. Click here to see it.

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Our open top bus tour took us past their home stadium – Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

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Yes, this is sports tourism.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #276 – books – Köln

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random photo #277 – escheresque – Miami

 

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random photo #278 – characters – Milano

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random photo #279 – weeds – London

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random photo #280 – remembrance – Colle del Gran San Bernardo
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random photo #281 – roses 2 – Milano

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random photo #282 – chakrams – Sao Paulo

 

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random photo #283 – lamp – Cologny

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random photo #284 – self-portrait – Asti

 

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random photo #285 – chop – Chenonceau

 

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 If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
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