• BLOG
  • Keep On Going

    In Northern Scandinavia it’s been pretty amazing skiing lately. Nordic and free skiing. Almost the midnight sun already, and the record amounts of snow.

    Haven’t been there myself, but I have heard about it and seen the pics.

    Many have also learned to bake a very tasty looking sourdough bread. Not me though. But I have seen the instastories.

    (What I have made is pretty good tiramisu though. With the help of Massimo Bottura’s Kitchen Quarantine. And bought exceptionally good spelt bread from my local bakery in Engelberg.)

    For some, it’s been their normal everyday activities in their extended backyards. For others, innovative ideas resulting from the corona times and lockdowns. And for me, it’s been something to keep me sane. Something to keep my hope alive.

    So keep those sourdough and Lyngen  pictures coming, please. You are allowed to enjoy your life and show it. Tell and publish stories about it. Especially now.

    Engelberg Wander

    Engelberg May 2020

     

    You don’t need my petitions nor advice. Yet, I wanna write about this. Because last weekend (again) I heard a comment saying one shouldn’t publish a lot of nice outdoor pictures now.

    Like the above mentioned. Or especially similar to mine. The pics and videos and stories from my awesome backyard in the Swiss Alps. In where I the past month walked, biked, ran as safely as possible, keeping min. 2m distance to other people, and avoiding groups of more than 5. As the rule in Switzerland still goes.

    Things like these shouldn’t be told about loud now, comments say. Because “those remind of people that those things exist” now.

    Now, when traveling to those isn’t allowed. Now, when everybody should stay home and safe. Now, when many (here I would also like to say everyone though)  struggle a lot.

    Sigh. For me, it’s been amazing to see how my friends – and the not even friends but just people I follow in (social) media –  cope with the current circumstances. All around the world.

    It’s been more than nice to just see people going on with their lives, everyone on their own way. Keeping going on. Like it was before Covid-19 and like it will be after Covid-19 (if that time ever comes).

    (Btw that Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket’s been the best purchase for outings in pouring rain, and the running in pouring rain is still one of the best things ever. Right after mountainbiking in sunny spring days, when all the fields and alpine pastures are full of wild flowers, which is also more than good for the bees . *no ad just honest opinion. )

    Tiina Kivelä Running Patagonia

    Engelberg MTB

    And especially now it’s nice to be able to do it with the good distance. No touching, no hugging, no standing closer than 2m. No spreading the virus even by accident. Just through social media, or similar, with the help of the technology and good ideas of past and present.

    Now, my family in Lapland is happily skiing in Lapland. Other one I know is working hard in home office under tight lockdown in Barcelona. Third is baking bread in Malaysia. Fourth is biking in the Swiss Alps, like me. Fifth is finding creative solutions for handling the own home office and homeschooling of kids.

    Sixth has just moved into new house with marvellous big kitchen and sauna. Seventh tells daily how her work and especially funny meetings in the home office go.

    Engelberg River

    Engelberg Wanderwege

    Engelberg Farm

    Eight, me. I am healthy and adventuring in the mountains, yes. But I am also unemployed, poor, living alone in a less than 20 square meter flat with no oven nor separate rooms. Sauna I can only dream of, as long as the public saunas in town keep closed for the restrictions.

    Yes, my pictures from the mountains might show a happy life in the mountains, which it kinda is. Tempting even. Tempting to travel, tempting to visit, tempting to get out yourself too.

    But you know? So does the freshly baked bread of the friend number 3. The beer after sauna of the friend number n. The work meeting which results in writing an ok amount bill, of a creative entrepreneur I follow in Instagram. The dinner shared with the family living in the same house of whom the one food blog tells about.

    I would like to have those things too. But I don’t. And that’s life. Not perfect, but pretty ok still.

    Therefore, please people. Take notice of the good things in your life and please tell me about them. (If you like to, don’t need to if you don’t like to. But if you do like to, please do it.) With insta posts and stories. With messages. With live streams and calls. Etc.

    And the same goes to businesses and organisations. Tell me what you can offer, how’s it going, are you there for me with your products and services, or are you not. Is there something I can help you with? Or if you just want to let me know it’s the goodbye for now and maybe we see later, maybe not…

     I wanna see your smile and smile back. Of course you may also tell if it’s not going so great. Maybe I can help. Or maybe I can just say that its good and bad here too.

    We are in this together. We really are. d

    And maybe some day I have the oven, in which to bake the good sourdough bread made with the help of your tips. Until then, I make another patch of tiramisu. And run these awesome backyard trails in rain and sunshine.

    Because it’s great and makes me giggle. And giggling is always good.

    Engelberg Achtung Kinder

    Swiss Alps May


     

    Where: Engelberg, 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 

  • Belgium
  • Good Sunday In Brussels Back In The Days

    Tiina Kivelä Brussels

    The other day, I came to think of my life in Brussels (yes, I have lived in there too) and what I would do did there almost every Sunday. Because it was kind of a lovely tradition for a slow Sunday, especially in spring and summer, on sunny warm days when you could wander in the sunshine and enjoy your Ethiopian coffee in the patio…

    (But first, lets take a note how on on Saturday I would have taken the train to Ghent/Gent – one of my favourite smaller towns in Europe. )

    Regularly, my Sunday in Brussels started running in some of the way too rare green areas in Brussels. Or sleeping in for the slight hangover from the day before (those strong Belgian beers, – careful over there).

    Then, it was time for Belgian fries for lunch. In Place Jourdan. After which – if it wasn’t too late already (might have been that this and the running substituted each other – I would wander to the Sunday market in Place du Jeu de Balle, and the second hand shops nearby (most of my current 2 handbags come from there). And most importantly, every Sunday I was after the Ethiopian coffee by Aksum Coffee House, which since then has moved into three locations (one in Grand Place, one Galerie du Loi and one in De Brouckère).

    Serving Ethiopian coffee– one one the best if not even the best coffee I have ever been drinking – and simple yet delicious sweets.

    Then, when it was time to wander home, I would keep an eye on the comics on the walls and maybe, if thirsty, enjoy one more small beer of the week.

    Tiina Kivelä Aksum Brussels

     

    Tiina Kivelä

     

    Tiina Kivelä

     

     

    I don’t know which Sunday markets in Brussels are the best now, if there even is any. Nevertheless, if you are around, go get the fries from Place du Jourdan and coffee from Aksum. They’re still up and running.

    You’ll not be disappointed.

    (And yes the featured pic has that ugly covering fence in purpose. Because it’s Brussels, always something going on and always a bit messed up, a bit unstructured, a bit chaotic. The kind of thing which makes you think was it bad already before EU or was it the EU. Looking at the Brexit mess, I would be quite sure it’s the former though.)


    Where: Brussels, Belgium (more of my Brussels tips in here)