Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zürich; Churches and clockwork

About two weeks after I went to Marseille I decided to take the train to Zürich, in Switzerland. I had been there before when I was sixteen (which is eight years ago) because one my aunts lived there with her husband and their son. This time I wanted to see it again but with my grown up eyes (and mostly my urban planner eyes).

It rained most of the time and I went out two nights, so the pictures I took (when I could) are kind of disorganized. This time I am going to go with themes, the first one being churches and clockwork. Now in Europe churches are just everywhere. But in Zürich (and most probably everywhere in Switzerland) they feature huge golden clocks. Now who's talking about stereotypes here?

Zürich is pretty much a small German speaking city. While Geneva is where all the politics and international relations take place, Zürich is the city of banks and wealth. There is no subway but there are a lot of trams. Anyway this city is so small you can easily walk around without getting your feet too tired (unless you're wearing terrible small boots like I did).


Most churches in the historic portion near the lake have public places. Some of them were unfortunately also used as parking lots which, I guess, is sort of convenient but I found would ruin everything.

This very cute building is a restaurant in the old city.

The view on das Grossmünster from das Fraumünster. They are only separated by a small bridge.

I was about to cross the bridge when I saw this. I totally fell in love with the balcony.

This church right here, das Fraumünster, is also called the Chagall church because it features stained glass artworks by Marc Chagall, the father of fauvism.

Replica of the Grossmünster.

Ran into this little guy right here, proudly protecting his water fountain.

A cow on the first floor of a traditional Swiss restaurant. Stereotypes much?

I kept walking further east, not really knowing where I was going but still snapping pictures nonetheless.

This building in particular looked totally different from everything I had seen so far in Europe.

Stairs to go from one side to the other of the train station. Cool huh?

It started raining but I saw this building and thought to myself I'd like to live in it.

Another church in another part of the city on a way too sunny day. Switzerland weather, guys!

And so that's it for today! I hope you guys enjoyed some of the churches of Zürich. Until next time!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lyon; Best Bagels

Hi guys! Today's post will be a short one about a bagel shop I discovered thanks to the boyfriend while I was in Lyon. Best Bagels is basically an American grocery store as well as a bagel shop. The bagels are so stuffed that, for the price you pay, you don't want to buy a baguette sandwich from the bakery for lunch anymore. Why? Because it's basically the same price, but twice better.

The first time I went I had a Decadent Bacon : double bacon, red onion, tomato, lettuce, peanut butter, cream cheese, and pickles.

The second time I came back with a friend and treated him out. I had the Alaska Fire : Magic chicken, red onion, jalapeño, tomato, cream cheese, and bbq sauce.

My bagels was spicy (Magic chicken is basically spicy chicken) but perhaps I should have asked for some extra jalapeño or some Tabasco sauce. But I can never tell in advance whether something is going to be spicy or not.

I'm sorry for the picture quality : we were sitting outside on the Saône's docks and the sun was blasting us with its killer rays.

My friend had trouble choosing because there were too many options to choose from, but he had a Bacon Bagel : bacon, lettuce, red onions, bbq sauce (he didn't want tomatoes because he can't stand them).

The bagels were not as good as St-Viateur's bagels (I mean seriously, they're the best in the world) but they were fine (much better than the ones you get from the grocery store). Depending on what's inside some are more filling than others (like mine was more filling than my friend's and he helped me finish it, but he's a big guy anyways).

Honestly if I have to choose between a regular sandwich and this, I'd go for this anytime. You can also get some American style dessert (cheesecake or doughnut), a side of nachos, you know, American stuffs! The place is also a restaurant so you can stay inside to eat, as well as a grocery store. We saw some stuffs we were sort of missing (like Reese's peanut butter cups) and realized how American culture hasn't done too much of a breakthrough in Europe ... it's a good thing I guess, right?

Do I recommend Best Bagels? I do! The staff is nice, the prices are fine (but honestly we bought a big bottle of juice at Casino because we're just smart), the selection is wide enough, and the place is actually nice. But mostly, the food is good (real bacon, not the thin crap French people eat).

For more information on Best Bagels :

Until next time!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Marseille; Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde and Palais Longchamp

Hi guys! This post is a little bit random since it's not about something we have done on the same day ... yeah, it's all thanks to the post on the Cité Radieuse. But it's okay! I mean, who really cares? Anyway. Before going to eat at that terrible restaurant in the Old Port, we spent the morning walking around, but our longest stop was the basilica Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

It was so hot and sunny that day, I couldn't believe the fact that I was walking around in a camisole in the middle of March!

And so we started going up ...

It was a good enough workout, mostly from walking under the sun. But if you're lazy enough, a shuttle from the Old Port takes you all the way up.

I know why they called the church at the Old Port the pajama church ... but this could be the pajama basilica! I mean, look at the black and white stripes.

Obviously we had amazing views on Marseille from there.

After visiting the inside of the church and being mesmerized by the views, we went down via some random streets and ended up eating at La cuisine au beurre in the Old Port, which I talked about in a previous post.

Two hours of terrible lunch later, we took a walk towards the museums. They're located near the pajama church (Sainte-Marie-Majeure) on an artificial beach designed to give access to the water. Just like in many other cities, water hasn't always been accessible because of port activities.

We sat down near the sea and saw some people fishing sardines on our right. The man who was sitting right there was a boss. He would easily catch something every three minutes or so while the others pretty got nothing. You could tell he had the right technique.

Can you see Notre-Dame-Dame-de-la-Garde up there? And the star shaped fort we visited the other day on the right?

Oh, and that's how I learned the glare on the sea can hurt your eyes like a bitch.

That evening we went to Aix-en-Provence, where our friends study, to grab a few drinks and have fun. We discovered it's the city with the most fountains because there used to be thermal sources. Obviously they're not there anymore, but it's kind of a way to remind people. Speaking of fountain ...

On the last day of our stay, in the morning (basically before we went to the Cité Radieuse) we decided to visit the Palais Longchamp because it was open and because our friend lives almost right next door.

The thing is just huge.

Not all water jets seemed to be working, but I'm pretty sure that must be one epic fountain when they're working at full blast.

And the water down there? Very clean and clear.

See how the streets are designed to go towards the Palais? The street straight ahead is actually a pedestrian/tram street, so it really is a beautiful view for people taking the tram.

Oh and this was on one of the ceilings. Medusa did not turn me into stone this time.

So that's it for today and this is what concludes my series of posts about my trip to Marseille. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did!

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Marseille; La cuisine au beurre

Hi guys! While in Marseille I felt like eating seafood because, heck it, we're next to the sea and apparently when you're Marseille it's something you have to try (that and bouillabaisse). Unfortunately bouillabaisse is kind of expensive in the Old Port and it's more of a winter dish (though it was, technically, still winter). Anyways, we had spent the morning at the basilica Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (which I will talk about in my next post) and were quite hungry. I wanted to eat sea urchins and had spotted a restaurant which had quite a wide selection of fresh seafood, baked mussels, and other seafood and fish meals at interesting prices so we decided to give it a try.

We went during lunch time and it was quite crowded. We sat down and a waiter came and took our order. First we ordered some beer. White for me, blond for Marie-Eve. Then I asked for a plateau marseillais (fresh shellfish tray) while Marie-Eve ordered a moules frites à la provençale (mussels with Provence herbs and French fries).

Our jug of water was so nice looking we wanted to take it home.

As we waited we talked, observed people, saw some guys performing on the street ... it was a bit windy but the weather was quite nice.

The plateau marseillais is basically six oysters, six shrimps, six clams, six cooked whelks and six mussels. It came with butter and fresh lemon. I did not like the fact that the butter was cold (how the heck am I supposed to enjoy cold butter on cold shellfish?) and I had to ask for some Tabasco sauce. Shellfish can be enjoyed on its own with just a squeeze of lemon but I like it better when I have some kind of sauce to liven things up. We used the butter for the bread instead. The seafood was generally fresh except for one or two little guys in there. Also, I don't know how the heck they shucked the oysters but they were still attached to the shell (meaning I couldn't gulp them down just like that) and most of their juice had fled somewhere (probably into the ice and seaweed on the tray).

After a while Marie-Eve's moules frites came. The French fries were good but the mussels were not warm enough so she had to return them to the kitchen. They came back really hot but most of them had fallen off the shells (which is normal when you cook them too much). She said it was good enough but the ones from l'Académie are much better.

Overall how was our experience? Terrible. I thought I had seen terrible service at Poutineville but this seriously beats everything. Ever. Seriously. I am not joking. I swear any "bad" customer service I've had so far and will ever have will probably look a thousand times better than that.

Everything started going bad once I got my shellfish platter. Marie-Eve's moules frites hadn't come in yet so we waited. In the meantime, we saw two customers that were already waiting for their meals when we sat down simply get up and leave. Another table also got up and simply left because their food wasn't coming. Four middle aged ladies were sitting not far from us. Three of them got their moules frites and one waited. When her food came in (fifteen minutes later) it wasn't warm enough so she had to return it to the kitchen. I had an oyster and a shrimp and Marie-Eve tried one of my mussels because the food was right in our face. I didn't want to eat as long as her food wasn't coming.

As some point, she asked our waiter if her moules frites were coming. He said "Yeah don't worry, it's coming". You know ... moules frites doesn't take long to make. Really, it doesn't. We asked one more time ... finally her food came in about forty-five minutes after my platter came in. Why? Because there was a misunderstanding and they thought we were going to share the platter. First of all, it was specifically written on the menu it's a platter for one. Second, we have been very clear when we ordered that we were ordering for ourselves. Basically, the whole thing had been ready for a while, they were waiting on us to eat the platter before bringing the moules frites. The funny part is they never told/asked us.

That was really disappointing for us. But the worst didn't even happen to us. Some lady who came to have lunch with her husband and their son got mad. Like really mad. Apparently she had been waiting for her main course for about two hours. Her husband and her son were eating their desserts. She started yelling "This is outrageous! Where's my food? I'm hungry!" and the waitress came and asked her what was wrong. She told her (while yelling) that she had been waiting for her food for two hours now. Though her reaction was too much, she was actually right. It wasn't her fault. The problem is the waitress got mad because she felt insulted (which is understandable) and started yelling back, telling the lady this is not a way to act and talk to people. They both kept on yelling at each other, because it was no one's fault (which is true, so why yell?) and the waitress went fetching one of her colleagues. The other waitress then yelled at the customer saying it wasn't a proper way to act in public. The lady was obviously outraged (and we were) for being told how to act when it's not even her fault in the first place if there was a misunderstanding between the waitress and the guys in the kitchen. To this day we still don't know whose fault it was. Anyways, the lady told the waitresses she wanted to talk to the manager. So guess what? The manager came ... and yelled at the customer. Damn. We were really disgusted. We both worked in customer service for such a long time that seeing that scene was a serious shock for us. Usually the boss is supposed to make things right, apologize for whatever happened, calm the customer down, and even offer the meal. The customer felt obviously deeply insulted, got up and left. Her son and her husband followed. She kept yelling at them from the street, saying how disgusted she was and how ashamed they should be.

At the end of our meal our waiter asked us how we felt ... we told him "Well, let's say we're used to a different type of customer service where we come from..."

Oh, and about those sea urchins I wanted to eat so bad? THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY THAT DAY. Like what? Really? Fresh arrival everyday my ass! Every other fresh seafood restaurant in the old port had sea urchins that day but not that specific place? Pffff.

So do I recommend La cuisine au beurre? Fuck. No.

That's it for today! See you soon!
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