I love my birthday, no matter how old I am, so I like to celebrate it every year on the actual day. When it’s on a weekend it’s the perfect opportunity to gather everyone, family and friends, and celebrate it all together. If it’s on a weekday it’s not that easy so on those years I’ve been trying to spend my birthday traveling somewhere.
This year I went to visit my sweet friend Joana, whom I met in Sri Lanka last year. We had so much in common - a love for freedom, surfing, nature and spirituality - that we quickly bonded and became very close.
Joana has been living in Switzerland for many years and returned to Gstaad last year, where she works seasonally. A nature lover as myself, she spends her free time exploring the mountains, lakes, forests and waterfalls and took me to the most beautiful landscapes around the area.
I arrived on my birthday. Flew from Lisbon to Geneva and then took a train towards Montreux and then another one - the MOB Golden Pass line - up to Gstaad. Half of the trip was along Lac Léman and the other half between magnificent mountains and forests, and the town of Gruyères, where the famous Swiss cheese comes from.
Gstaad is a very small town, with not a lot to do except shopping at high end fashion stores. From the town center, you can easily catch a bus that will take you closer to the hiking trails. And that’s exactly what we did.
On our first hike, we took a bus to Lauenensee and then hiked all the way up to Geltenhutte. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, the air was crisp, the landscape was still very green with some autumnal tones starting to show up, waterfalls and water streams everywhere, it was absolutely magical!
We climbed up to 2000m, with plenty stops on the way to appreciate nature, have picnics and naps, and dip our feet into the freezing waters of the Alps.
The following day we were a bit sore so we went easier on ourselves. Or so we thought! We lingered a bit in the morning, while enjoying our coffee and the sunlight at Joana’s chalet porch, then caught a bus to Feutersoey and hiked to Arnensee. Although we didn’t climb as high as the previous day we did go a couple of km further. We spent a couple of hours just relaxing, chit chatting, picnicking and sunbathing on the shores of the lake. As we began our hike back, we could see that the weather was starting to change and some white fluffy clouds were slowly covering the bright blue sky.
On the day of my departure, we went for a big cup of coffee at a cozy coffee shop in Saanen, another cute small village nearby, I continued my journey back home to what would be some very hectic weeks, and Joana went back to Gstaad to finish her last week of the summer season.
Jo’s gourmet tips
Best place for a hot chocolate or coffee: during the summer, Huus hotel balcony. In the winter, Pasatiempo.
Dinner with friends on a Friday night: 16 Thai Food in Saanen
Favorite picnic spot and what to pack: Lauenensee lake; pack meat or vegetables to grill (my favorite is Halloumi cheese), snacks, bread, salad, drinks, swiss switchblade, cutlery (preferably in metal to avoid plastic waste), matches, bikini, towel, frisbee.
The wood and grill is provided at the place.
Tip: I bring all my food and snacks in glass containers. It’s a super good reusable solution and food looks even more yumi inside them :)
What food gift should we bring back home: champagne and black truffle cheese fondue + meringue with whipped cream. The best are from the Molkerei.