Doesn’t time just fly when you’re having fun? Carolyn Martin of course loves to travel, always packing her itinerary with new places to see, out of the ordinary things to experience, old and new friends to meet, exciting wines and food to taste … and then some. Here she reports on the Martin family’s recent holiday in Switzerland and Norway and next week we’ll be recounting her adventures in Burgundy.
Switzerland: 7 August – 10 August 2019
As is our custom, we started our annual holiday in Nidau, Switzerland on the banks of Lake Bienne where my parents-in-law live and where a very special welcome treat awaited. Imagine the freshest of freshwater perch caught by JC’s dad, Hansruedi, and beautifully and lovingly prepared by his mom Rita. Pure bliss!
Another highlight was a spontaneous surprise: lunch at Aux Trois Amis overlooking Lake Bienne and St. Peter’s Island, where JC and I were married. Chef Marc Engel and his partner Sommelier Cynthia Lauper are a class act hard to follow and if you’re ever in Schernelz, don’t miss out on this amazing culinary and scenic experience.
Our son Glenn who studies Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University enjoyed these views last month while working in the biodynamic vineyards of our friends the Steiners and Krebs. Although the work was tough, especially in a heatwave, Glenn thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to connect with his Swiss roots – quite literally!
Our travels tend to be rather intense and that very afternoon we drove to Vevey for a truly magnificent experience: the Fête des Vignerons. With more than 5 500 locals of all ages participating, the festival is watched by a million viewers over three weeks. It tells the story of a year in the life of a vineyard, starting and ending with the harvest. The celebration was first held in 1797 and takes place every 20 years. It is not only a huge attraction but also a great community project and a unique immersive cultural experience.
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We stayed in Montreux, famous for many things and especially its jazz festival. On our way to boarding the boat for Vevey, we had the pleasure of passing Freddie Mercury’s statue on the banks of Lake of Geneva, beautifully flanked by the Alps and the famous vineyards of the Vaud. What exciting contrasts!
Attending the festival in the company of our friends, the Steiners and Krebs from Schernelz, the Hermans from Grison and the Schwatrzenbachs from Lake Zurich was like a happy reunion of a close-knit winemaking fraternity. And then we met even more winemaking families, sharing and celebrating our mutual passion.
After a long, fun evening and a big party which lasted into the early hours – like Swiss parties tend to do – we visited our friends the Mursets and the Laupers the next morning. Their hospitality is legendary and never short of great food and wine experiences or learning for instance about great cuts of meat and the art of preparing delectable charcuterie.
Norway: 11 August – 14 August 2019
The Hardangerfjord region in Norway was our next destination. We were collected from Bergen, gateway to the fjords of Norway, and shown the most stunning fish market and the German trading stations/warehouses from medieval times. Having enjoyed a traditional lunch with our host Conrad Hansen we journeyed to Hardanger House in Jondal on the banks of Hardanger Fjord. What a state-of-the-art property in a pristine, naturally beautiful setting! It is part of Conrad’s family history and certainly an incredible legacy.
He invited his close friends and neighbours from the Fjord to enjoy a seven course Creation paired wine dinner with us. Among the guests were the wine and food writers Geir Salvesen and Gunnhild Bjornsti and our wonderful agent Janne Brekke from Winning Brands. On the menu were fresh ceps mushrooms, lobsters, scallops and fish from the lake, fresh plums, tender lamb and glorious cheeses, to mention but a few delights. Local is so extra-ordinarily lekker when it comes to food: especially when the chef and assistants pick or source the fresh produce themselves and when neighbours contribute home-grown gifts (such as the plums)!
The good news is that there will now be seven wines to order from the Creation range in Norway. Simply click here email@example.com to order with Janne Brekke from Winning Brands.
We also visited the glaciers, built our own lucky rock tower and had a trip on the fjord checking out other villages and islands from the boat. The next day we drove with Geir and Gunnhild on a 6-hour journey across ferries and fjords from Hardanger to Kristiansand encountering marvelous waterfalls such as the Skare. As an aside, we had the treat of experiencing the 4th industrial revolution in transport: a Tesla car where every detail of our journey was mapped and recorded by a computer in California in order to develop the self-driving cars of the future!
We also had the pleasure of listening to Geir’s fab collection of soothingly beautiful music and then enjoying his and Gunnhild’s hospitality. Geir is the author of five books on how to pair wine and umami and why umami makes wine shine 😊. Gunnhild is a sommelier who writes about wine and perfume, travel and food. We had the most brilliant dinner of salmon and lamb charcuterie, well paired with some excellent wines.
It was during dinner that I received a message from Baptiste Quinard, our great friend from Burgundy who worked with us for three months during the summer of last year and shared the origins of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the history of Burgundy with our team. He invited JC and me to Burgundy as he had a gap of three days and wanted to show us the cultural backstory to the wines of Burgundy.
Well, instead of getting on a plane back to South Africa, I jumped at this opportunity and between my travel agent Christo Hauptfleisch from Wild Travel and our friends the Prieurs everything was organised in a couple of hours! So off I flew to Oslo the next day and from there to Paris where I had a delightful dinner with Mathilde Prieur and stayed over in her apartment before travelling to Burgundy to meet Martin Prieur and Baptiste Quinard.
But that’s yet another adventure to be shared next week.