Settings to avoid on a picnic: someone?s backyard, a spot right off the highway, an office building parking lot, and as many people might agree, next to train tracks. Not so for my husband, Olivier. Our ?peaceful, romantic? picnics in the French countryside often find us only meters from the tracks of France?s sleek high speed train, the TGV. We have spent hours on top of foot bridges waiting for these powerful trains to whoosh past us at frightening speeds. From his boyhood spent playing with his train set, to designing his own model at Paris? SNCF exhibit last year, Olivier is obsessed with trains.
And so, for his birthday, what else to do other than take him on a train ride up the mountain to have mouth-dropping views of not only Zürich, but Germany and the snow-capped Alps in the distance.
Just a 20 minute train ride brought us to Uetliberg, where a small sign showed us the way, ?Top of Zürich.? And so we followed. And found ourselves climbing the stairs of the antenna to see views like these:
With me behind the planning, of course a picnic was involved. This one was 100% Swiss, at a little spot we found along the hiking trail.
I had gone to my beloved Bürkliplatz market (that?s a whole other post in itself) that morning and spent some time with Andreas, who explained the differences in sausages and cheese to me. At 8am, I wasn?t much up for tasting them all, so I trusted his opinion and went for the original sausage made of 90% beef and 10% pork, instead of the others made of deer or with potatoes or peppercorns. He also cut a few slices of the Bünder Mostbröckli, a favorite among the locals, beef marinated in red wine. I thought it would be a bit too bold to buy the entire thing, which resembled a dark lobe of foie gras, but smelled much stronger.
A few cheeses in my bag too and Andreas recommended a special bread to go with, a bread that resembled more of a dried fruit scone at first sight, and then more of a piece of concrete in my hand. Sure. And it was delicious. It crumbled off in pieces and matched perfectly with the cheese. Not too sweet, a mix of a cake and scone, heavily dotted with raisons, figs and nuts, a perfect accompaniment to a mild or strong cheese.
Our stomachs full and energy levels high, we followed the trail for 2 hours, passing picture perfect scenes, Olivier likening them to Legoland?s version of the countryside. Every field perfectly manicured, tall corn stalks lined up like dutiful soldiers, curving paths with green rolling hills on one side and Zurich?s lake down below on the other, it?s buildings and apartments now lit up in the distance.
Note to fellow Ueliberg hikers: the last cable car down to the Adliswill train station leaves at 10:05pm. We learned this at 9:55pm. Good to know.
And so, a quick ride back to civilization, where Olivier?s birthday soiree ended with yet another train ride home.