Ham & Cheese Sandwich | Paris, France

Our weekend in Paris, France begins ideally as we emerge from the underground subway station…popping up into the hustle and bustle of the city we turn one slight corner and are watching the sun set, right through the glass pyramid of the Louvre.

Having only stood here for roughly 20 years, this clear structure has quickly become an iconic landmark for the City of Lights. Though its striking appearance is an obvious lure, the commissioning of this piece was of a practical nature: The museum’s main entrance could not handle the immense amount of patrons it welcomed each day. Now, the pyramid design allows for visitors to descend into the spacious lobby and then re-ascend into the main buildings – distributing the crowds efficiently throughout the museum. Reading about the Louvre on the train this morning, I learned that the pyramids designer, I. M. Pei, is also credited with having designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio! Oooh-la-la! Sophisticated Midwest, taking notes from France!

Though we are exhausted from a day of navigating buses, trains and subways, (all in foreign languages, of course) we pull our suitcases along as we grab a seat just before the former royal palace and enjoy our first French sunset.

We don’t have the energy to rove about the city tonight but I am dead set on finding a shop with my favorite sandwich before I will retire. The Croque Madame. I dream of this savory delight. Literally. I wake up salivating, starving for this authentic, French, ham egg and cheese sandwich.

We snag a seat at a quiet café on the walk to our hotel and have our sandwiches delivered in mere moments. Not too shabby for our first day here… 

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Wine & Dine | Adelboden, Switzerland

Busted. Our 6pm request for dinner reservations has surely given away the fact that we are Americans.

As we sit down for dinner we have the entire restaurant all to ourselves! Not until we are served dessert does anyone else join the room to begin their evening. In the mean time, we enjoy the peace and quiet at an unassuming table with an unprecedented view of the snow capped Alps.

This dinner is our big splurge, a gift from my husband’s lovely, wonderful grandparents. Over pasta and wine at their favorite little Italian spot a week before our wedding, they told us the tale of how, at their wedding in 1959, a friend handed them a $50 bill - requesting that they spend it, specifically, on their honeymoon. They told us it made all the difference on their modest trip to Washington DC. Passing on this thoughtful gesture (and then some), they asked us to spend their gift on something special. We promised to pay it forward someday, when we are able to, as well!

We believe they’d appreciate that we have decided to spend it on the experience of a decadent dinner…Swiss cheese, Swiss wine, and any other delightful tastes this town has to offer!

The menu proclaims an array of dishes classified as “New Alpine” cuisine and each beautiful plate is designed around ingredients sourced from within a few miles of the restaurant.

Eying the extensive wine list, it is difficult to choose - we decide to take advantage of the sommelier’s vast knowledge; she’ll pair them with our meal choices - which, of course, we cannot decide on either! Too many wonderful options. So, eight different courses for the table it is then. We’ll take a bit of it all!

Wilhelm begins with hors d’oeuvres of duck liver, accented with an apple coriander gel. Meanwhile, I delve into my first, and favorite, dish of the evening; an elegant cauliflower mousse paired with olive oil drizzled, chive covered bread chips. The following two courses include delight in the forms of savory white wine risotto (made with Adelboden Hobel cheese) and light, puff pastry encased vegetables (resting on mushrooms and potato sauce).

Though the accommodating and attentive staff keep the table spotless, and ever-ready for the endless parade of courses, our table still rapidly fills with glasses of pinot noir and chasselas based wines as we move on to our entrees. A rosemary accented veal shoulder and a juicy Irish filet find their way to us and we savor every morsel. Our night concludes with our overindulging (read: ‘stuffing ourselves’) on currant sorbet, berries and a king’s size selection of local cheeses.

Planning out this night we could never have anticipated how this simple restaurant would prove to be the most rewarding culinary experience we have had to date – it has been an absolute highlight of our honeymoon! 

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Arriving | Adelboden, Switzerland

The train comes to a halt in Spiez, Switzerland and we haven’t the slightest idea what is in store for us…

Not only does the crisp air shock our lungs but the sights surrounding the train station are, quite literally, breath taking. Down the hill we see the mismatched rooftops and perfectly kept back yard gardens of the cottages overlooking the icy blue, sparkling lake below.

I’m fearful the location of our hotel may be a letdown considering the immense beauty that has met us here in Spiez. As the bus rests, releasing a long hot breath as it draws open its heavy door, it expels us onto the street.

We are instantaneously in love with this town.

At an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet, the streets are pristine and charming. We’re surrounded by shops and restaurants, abundant with locally grown goods and produce. The cool air bites at us as we walk; a welcome guest on this leg of our journey!

Entering the Cambrian Hotel we are greeted by an eclectic but warm atmosphere. With rich grey walls and exposed slate, the place gives off a chic vibe…but the cow skin rugs and crackling fireplaces lend a country feel. The people here are just the same - fashionable yet delightfully down to earth.

The view from our room, though northward facing, does not disappoint – When in Switzerland, there is not a bad seat in the house! The sights, though alluring, still can’t keep my mind off of a long, cozy nap and I plunge into the pure white, divine and oh-so-fluffy duvet, snuggle beneath the sumptuous linens of the freshly dressed bed I’m out, like a light.

Refreshed from our long mid-day snooze, my husband drags the modern-yet-comfy love seat up to the open French doors. We watch the sky drizzle lightly on the lush mountains before us. The distinct Swiss flag flips gently back and forth as we discuss our dinner plans in the cool, thin, afternoon air...

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Sunset Gondola, Quintessential Venice

Having saved the best for last, we embark up on our final Venetian adventure this evening. Though it will undoubtedly be thrice the cost of a day time ride – we have been instructed (by my ever-wise mother and father) that the only way to experience all that a moored gondola has to offer, we must start our trip at sunset.

Also a tip from my mom: We packed our own bottle of wine and even snuck a few wine glasses from our cozy B&B. I mean, nothing says romance like a Solo cup…but we’re opting for the real deal tonight!

The waterways are tranquil and still as we glide past stunning buildings unreachable but by boat. Now and again a window is open and we can hear the chatter of a family cooking supper or the notes of a song which we do not know.

As the water slips quickly from minty green into a truly colorless black, I rest my head against my husband’s shoulder, snuggling up, enjoying our final night in Italy.

After our peaceful gondola ride has ended, we still aren’t ready to call it a night…

As a light breeze sneaks through the windy streets, we are invited to drift closer and closer to the main body of water. What was a parking spot for a gargantuan private yacht just hours before is now all ours. A dock, stretched out into the darkness of the Veneto Lagoon and a seat just two feet above the water calls our names.

Uncorking our second bottle of white wine (we may have over-prepared for the gondola trip..) we drain the last bit of battery from my archaic phone to play a few of our favorite songs...dangling our feet and bobbing our heads, we sing allowed the words from the song that played during our first dance as husband and wife.

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