• BLOG
  • One Key Is Enough – At Home In Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    One home is enough.

    It was the response early this spring. Response to my confusion when I realised that after a while I had in my possession only one key. Only one home.

    I had then signed off my latest flat in Finland and moved back to Switzerland. Finding myself standing there with just a key in my pocket. A key into a home.

    And it truly was enough. Even more, a good rest to the tired vagabond I had become over the years.

    Though soon enough, I found myself back with two keys. Got myself a job in Engelberg and moved into the angel mountains, in the heart of Switzerland. With the key to the one home in my pocket and few more in other. (Since finding a permanent good enough home in resort town with short notice isn’t the world’s easiest task.)

    Yesterday then it was time to say bye to the one key, and realise that my home is in here now. For real. Here I have many keys again and not the one home key there was for a while. But from here I have found a community, people and quality of life which makes me feel more than home. And I am ready to root.

    Here are the mountains, glaciers, racing rapids and crystal clear rivers and waterfalls. Excellent trails for hiking and running (unfortunately tough for twisting ankles as well – but luckily then local doctors speak good english and the care is excellent), bike paths, skiing in the winter, and via ferratas and cafés and bakeries and local food. And the nicest of people, who work hard and play hard and care for the same stuff as I do.

    This is Engelberg, town in the end of a railway line (like my original hometown in Lapland, funnily enough) and place I am gonna stay and root in. For a good while at least.

    Because if something I have learned over the years is that if some place feels this good and you have the chance, stay a while.

    For me the while must be at least long enough to learn the names of all the local mountain tops and make my personal records to the top of Mount Titlis (3020m) from the village, and for the Berglauf Engelberg.

    I should also learn to bike. For real.

    So here’s enough for few summers at least. And the winters.

    With just a one key.

    Engelberg Mount Titlis

    Swiss Wine 2019

    Tiina Kivelä Switzerland


    Where: Engelberg, Switzerland

     

  • BLOG
  • Eat More Than Well in Tibits When Traveling in Switzerland

    Tiina Kivelä Switzerland

    This spring, I traveled a lot in Switzerland with many train changes in beautiful Luzern especially.

    This spring, like always really, I also liked to eat well whenever I traveled. Because well, dragging heavy bags make hangry (me not travel light).  And even though it’s more than once I say to my graving for coffee and croissant with the window seat and panorama views to the lovely Switzerland, or the falafel pita or burger and fries from the station area stands, I have found Tibits the best place to eat, take coffee and cake or takeaway in and near the Swiss train stations. When traveling or when just wanting to have good food in any of the Tibits towns.

    Tibits is vegetarian (about 80% vegan) yet offering more than great food for any eater, with a middle eastern flair mixed with swiss specialities thought innovatively. It’s open from morning to late evening, and offers buffet style serving so you can eat as much as you like (or can afford) – from cold salads to warm plates and delicious desserts (I mean, dessert buffet… <3)

    Tibits Tiina Kivelä

    And if you are like me and a bit awkward with the not so familiar restaurant settings, the whole thing works like this:

    1. Walk in (in Baseln, Bern, Darmstadt, Lausanne, Luzern, St. Gallen, Winterthur, Zürich, London) and see if there’s is seat/table available (if planning to eat in) and reserve it with your jacket or hope it stays free until you have hauled your food. 
    2. Take a plate, normal or take away, from the stand nearby the door. Proceed to the buffet line and pick up your breakfast, lunch, apéro, dinner, dessert or late evening snack. I recommend especially the mousses and seasonal specialities. Piece of bread is on Tibits.
    3. Proceed to the cashier, which weights your plate, gives you the price and takes your drink and additional orders, if you have any. Tap water is on Tibits. 
    4. Take a seat and enjoy. In the restaurant, terrace, in the train or wherever you like. 

    Btw, it’s also possible to take 2 plates and my friend just told me she has managed to get 1kilo on one serving. In other words, Tibits is also more than fine place for the really hungry lovers of good food. It’s not cheap, but really good quality and sustainable practices never are.

    Remember that, please.

    Tibits Café Luzern Tiina Kivelä

    Tibits Tiina Kivelä

    Tibits Tiina Kivelä

    In Luzern (Lucerne) in central Switzerland you find Tibits in the train station and both in Bern and St. Gallen just few steps further from the station (these are the places I have tested so far). Therefore, Tibit’s more than excellent place to cure your hangry whenever traveling through these stations. It also offers some excellent seats for some remote working and studying with power outlets and did I already say the good healthy food and excellent coffee?

    And as a kind of the little brother of the world’s first vegetarian restaurant Hiltl (in Zürich), Tibit’s whole way of doing follows same innovative, sustainable and responsible ideals as Hiltl. Which are great. In example, the latest addition to the more sustainable solutions Tibits offers for takeaway eaters is their bento bowl.

    And the food, it’s just so awesome. More than conveniently located too.


    Where: Tibits Luzern & St. Gallen, Switzerland 

  • Engelberg
  • Engelberg – Food & Drink Edit.

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Long time no stories. Sorry for that, it’s been a bit too much lately. But now, since my very nice sunny free days last weeks resulted in many nice hikes and – unfortunately – injured ankle, I have time to get on to the first top tips for Engelberg.

    And because I mainly hike (and run and ski and bike) to eat ( a lot and well), I thought it would be good to start with the best end points for nice tours in the sunny side of the Engelberg valley. Also known as the Brünni and Fürenalp side, with the south faces and sunny terraces, with great mountain views and trails for many kind of activities.

    As an extra, I’ll also tell where you get the best coffee in town. Good deal, right?

    Brunni – The Sunny Side of Engelberg

    First of all, there’s Brunnihütte at 1860m, SAC mountain hut & restaurant, which can be reached by foot, bike, skis in winter. For the not so fresh legged ones its also reachable by Brunnibahn and one additional lift from the Engelberg town. Up near the hütte, you also find easy category Via Ferrata and good hiking and other activities for the whole family. And from Brunnihütte itself you may get a bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer or just cake and coffee.

    Also note it’s accessible by lift (normal ticket CHF29 one way, CHF44 return) so especially on sunny days the place and especially terrace may get crowded (for which I have a better restaurant tips below).

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Below Brunnihütte and a bit above the village there’s Flühmatt restaurant, my current favourite one. Accessible by foot, bike or skis in winter it offers great food and drinks and excellent terrace with great views to Titlis & co.

    Flühmatt is also fairly close to the Ristis station of Brunnibahn, yet I do recommend earning the food and drinks by hiking, biking or skiing.  From here, you may find the best Älplermagronen of the Engelberg area (haven’t tested them all but well I have tested many all over Switzerland and this was definitely the best one of one of the most iconic Swiss foods you can get) enjoyed alone as a single portion or as a shared bowl for the number of the party.

    Flühmatt Engelberg Tiina Kivelä

     

    Fürenalp – Difficult Via Ferrata & Amazing Panorama

    Moving from Brünni further on the valley to Fürenalp (1850m), yet staying in the sunny side, you can hike up past Alpenrösli and Stäfeli (offering also restaurants and cheese) in the Surenpass direction, or take the difficult category Via Ferrata all the way to the Fürenalp bahn top station and restaurant with the same name.

    From here, you may also get the Älplermagroni but also Chässchnitte aka Käseschnitte aka lots of cheese on a bread with ham and wine and egg. And of cours many kind of drinks, coffee and cake and Kaiserschmarrn, the traditional fluffy pancake dessert of the alpine region (the Kaiser- name comes from the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph 1).

    Even though also accessible directly by cable car, I really recommend first doing the hike, via ferrata or bike, and only then the food stop (to gather enough appetite for these heavy yet yummy specialities). After the well deserved break, you may then save the knees and very well fed belly taking the Fürenalpbahn down to the valley floor (payment in the valley station, CHF14 one way, CHF19,50 return, ski/hiking season pass is valid in here) or stay the night in the mountain hut.

    Engelberg Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Apéro ! The Best Swiss Food Related Tradition

    The Italian Apero is known almost everywhere, but very few know that Switzerland has the similar aperitivo tradition, which I have taken to like a lot. In apéro, there’s traditionally local finger food like bread, cheese and various meats, pickled cucumbers, wine or other apéro drinks and good company gathering for the afterwork, pre dinner or just to have some snacks together. And while the traditional time is after office hours before dinner, around 5-7pm, you may also get quite similar for lunch or afternoon snack, with the names like Regionale Trockenfleischspezialitäten mit Bergkäse.

    Normally swiss apéro is best when shared, but after injuring my ankle I have also taken it as my solo event, on side of keeping my foot up and enjoying the good weather in my balcony. Unfortunately ,I have no pic of the excellent ones you find in the Swiss restaurants (in Engelberg try the one from Zum Schweizerhaus restaurant a bit outside the village centre) so you have to deal with this one from my “don’t know how long I stay in this place so no point decorating this” balcony.

    The wine and almost local mozzarella from the nearby Entlebuch biosphere were excellent though.

    Swiss Apéro

    But First & Last & In Between – Coffee

    Engelberg’s in Switzerland, but it’s also one of the most Swedish places on earth. And while Verbier is the higher class Stureplan Swedish place in Switzerland (pardon my raw characterisations), Engelberg is the hipster cousin.

    With cute Swedish boutique hotels, real skandinavian ski bums (more than one Finnish too) and Swedish owned excellent coffee roastery with cool graphics aka Roastery Engelberg.

    You may get the coffee (drinks) or beans or coffee makers (no nespresso here) from their own shop in Dorfstrasse, or spot the coffee served in local hotels and restaurants and  too homes. The latter only if you’ve been invited or have your own here though.

    Comes with climbing and skiing and other outdoors chat, like every good mountain coffee stand. Oh and Nitro Cold Brew. The best trendy thing happening to coffee right now (my own honest opinion).

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

     

    Ps. Don’t Forget The Local Bakeries

    You may have your own favourite trail snack but yet I would recommend you always check in every village your (hike/bike/run/ski/whatever) tour starts, passes or ends the local bakery (or bakeries) in addition to the restaurants and coffee stands.

    For the best bread and croissants (mandelgipfeli for me in zentralschweiz). This way everyone wins – you get a delicious local snack and the local bakery gets enough business to thrive, hopefully year round. Which kinda goes to any local product and service there is, in your hometown or favourite resort and activity destination.

    The local the better.


    Where: Engelberg (map) : Brunnihütte / Flühmatt / Fürenalp / Roastery Engelberg / Bäckerei Stöckli for the bakery