Switzerland Trip (Days 3 Through 7)

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Friday August 7th

The following day, we decided to check out the East end of Lake Leman by way of our rental car. Our destination was the quaint little town of Vevey, roughly an hours drive away from Daina’s Nyon apartment.

The ride was incredibly scenic though the pictures I attempted to take were all skewed by the reflections made by the car window. Even still, I can remember us winding our way through the mountainous Switzerland freeway high above the lake elevation taking in the gorgeous views. At certain points throughout the drive, the freeway would direct us right through the terrain by way of a tunnel.

Apparently, the Swiss also care deeply for their countryside and choose to tunnel straight through the mountains in an effort to retain the natural landscape instead of knocking down the sides just to save some money on the infrastructure. In my personal opinion: money well-spent. There is something deeply appealing in a place that seeks to keep the original beauty and character of the land. In doing so, the identity and fingerprint are unaltered creating an inherently better experience and more complex connection to nature.

Upon arrival to Vevey, we promptly found a short term parking lot and began our journey to find a nice place to eat some lunch. The difficulty with this endeavor was soon brought to my attention as many of the local eateries serve much of the same food. I don’t necessarily think you can wrong in whichever you choose, though not having a cell phone with service to check reviews makes the decision that much more luck-based. In the end, we chose how most tourists probably would: we looked for the busiest restaurant with the highest concentration of locals and found a seat.

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We ordered a traditional European-style lager as well as some plates for us to share. The special lunch offering of the day included a creamy chanterelle soup and a pan-fried white fish with a beautiful citrus reduction served with boiled fingerling potatoes. We also chose local perch filets with pommes frites and ordered a traditional “rosti” — what I am calling a Swiss version of hash browns — topped with chanterelles to get the full experience. Needless to say, we did not leave hungry!

Following lunch, we walked around town, taking in the local sights and sounds, then headed down to the water to check out the views.

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To finish off the afternoon, we grabbed a gelato and hopped in the car before our 2 hour parking meter expired. It was a very warm day and we decided we should go back to the apartment to check in on baby Maya and her mother Daina. A short nap, a few beers and some grilled food at the homestead and the family was ready for bedtime.

Saturday, August 8th

We took our time getting out of bed and eventually decided to make breakfast which consisted of some nice baguettes, a selection of salamis and cured hams and some fried eggs. The morning was rather uneventful as we were saving our energy for the evening which entailed us taking a train to Geneva to explore and take part in the Fetes de Geneve (Geneva Festival).

From the train station, Lisa and I broke off from her parents to walk around and see a few places that I had not been to, as this was my first trip to Switzerland. I had requested to see the Patek Philippe Museum and that was the first place we visited. This was a very neat place that detailed the famous watch company from its inception back in 1839 all the way up to the present. There were thousands of timepieces on display and based on current pricing, there had to be at least a billion dollars worth of inventory on hand. Pretty incredible!!

From the museum, we simply strolled around the city sidewalks while taking a few selfies along the way. We eventually made our way to a small bar outside of the meeting place we had made with Lisa’s parents before our separation. We relaxed, had some peanuts and a beer and waited for her parents so we could go across the street to eat some dinner at Ingelwood, a fantastic place known for their mouthwatering burgers.

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Despite the long wait for our meal since the place was packed, it was the hands down best burger I have ever had. Ridiculously flavorful beef with local Gruyere melted on top, paired with what seemed to be an artisan-style apple wood smoked bacon and a perfectly fried egg sandwiched between a light and airy poppy seed bun. They only cook their burgers to a medium-rare unless otherwise instructed. I know this would scare a whole lot of people but let me tell you, the beef was so fresh and of such high quality, I would not have it cooked any other way. It was a truly euphoric experience that I will never forget.

To add to the already memorable evening, we made our way to the lakeside to witness one of the most spectacular fireworks show in the world. The show lasted over an hour and a half and consisted of perfectly timed explosions of color to coincide with the dramatic music (i.e. iconic Harry Potter compilations from the movies, and many other well-known songs and orchestrations) that played clearly in the background. Although I was able to get some reasonably good photos, the experience was far greater than the pictures alone. It was no wonder the streets surrounding the area were literally flooded with people standing shoulder to shoulder to catch a glimpse of the show. I was unable to secure any hard figures on attendance but I would have to wager a guess in the neighborhood of 50,000 or more.

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Once the show was over, we made our way through the masses back towards the train station to eventually end up at the apartment for a good night’s sleep.

Monday, August 10th

We took a break from any sightseeing on Sunday to rest up for the busy week ahead. Monday came around quickly and Lisa and I decided to take a ferry across the lake to visit Yvoire, France.

After nearly missing the 12:30 boat, we enjoyed a rather speedy ferry ride across the lake and arrived in Yvoire. The sun was shining with few clouds in the sky which made for some great pictures in a tiny, but lovely town. We walked around a bit and found a great little gem to eat at where we sampled some great fish from around the area and a delicious risotto as well.

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As Yvoirre is so small, we ended up navigating the entire town in around 30 minutes (this does not include the time it took to eat lunch) even with a few stops in some local antique shops. Deciding there wasn’t much else to do or see, we caught the next ferry back to Nyon for a quiet rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 11th

We had made the decision Tuesday morning that we would visit the Nestle-Cailler Chocolate Factory in the Broc/Gruyere region. It was quite the drive there as the iconic back roads of Switzerland are no more than a car-widths wide. This makes 2-way traffic a bit of an adventure as one must yield and pull as far over as possible while the other swerves off-road. To add to the difficulty, many of these roads are as winding a passageway that I can remember traveling on, which at times makes spotting the on-coming car rather last second. It all adds to the excitement, I guess!

We arrived in one piece and were directed to park in a grass lot about a quarter of a mile from the actual factory. We bought a pre-made sandwich and crepe from their on-site store and waited for our tour to begin.

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Once “inside the ropes” we got an idea of the history of the company as well as some fun facts and history about chocolate including its roots dating back to the Mayan civilization. We then got to see the inner workings of the factory and learned some basic details about how they make chocolate at Nestle-Cailler (no secrets revealed…darn!).

The tour wouldn’t have been complete without a tasting area where we could sample several of Cailler’s different brands of chocolate from hazelnut-infused chocolate to espresso and dark chocolate combinations and everything in between. Regardless of one’s affinity for chocolate, there was something there to please even the toughest of critics.

Lisa and I finished the tour by taking a silly tourist photo in the provided booth and continued to the Cailler store where we would of course have to buy some of our favorites to take back with us.

We bought a few things and headed back towards the apartment. On the way, we stopped at an artisanal cheese shop to grab some gruyere to sample back at the homestead. Luckily for us, Lisa had remembered a good amount of French from her high school days to help us in understanding and communicating to the nice lady behind the counter.

We got home and quickly relaxed until it was time to make dinner. We called it an early evening in preparation for our trip to Paris, which would start very early the next morning.

To be continued…(including Paris and the final days back in Switzerland before our return home)

Thanks for catching up and I will be much quicker to post here as I still have so much to fill everyone in on!!

Travel to Switzerland (Days 1 and 2)

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The trip to Switzerland began on a flat note as our travel struggles opened with the four of us (Lisa, her mom, dad and myself) driving – or as it were “parked” — amidst a shut-down turnpike near Newark Airport. The unfortunate accident was caused by a tractor trailer truck colliding with an overpass on the New Jersey Turnpike and causing hours and hours of stopped traffic. We didn’t have hours to wait. We needed to get to the airport to catch our flight to Switzerland. (I have included a link to the full story if anyone is interested)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/nyregion/truck-crash-kills-one-and-snarls-new-jersey-turnpike-for-hours.html?_r=0

Without thinking twice, Lisa whipped out her iPhone and recruited the Waze app to navigate us around the Turnpike through the side-streets of other travelers doing the same thing. As I recall, the ride felt like a rollercoaster taking hard lefts and rights as we weaved in and out of traffic narrowly avoiding other vehicles in our rapid pursuit of the parking lot where we would catch a shuttle to the airport.

When it was all said and done we made it to check-in and security with time to spare and were just looking forward to bringing our heart rate and blood pressure back down to an acceptable level as we waited to board the Boeing 767.

I’ll spare you the long, drawn-out story…We boarded, found out the plane had one cockpit monitor working while the other was malfunctioning and were asked to deplane and wait while a replacement was found. After several trials and tribulations, all was repaired and tested and we were off the ground and over the Atlantic en-route to our Geneva destination.

Upon arrival two hours later than expected, we gathered our belongings from baggage claim, went through customs and approached the rental car company where Lisa’s parents had reserved a car for us to get around with whilst in the country.

Apparently, Alamo does things a little differently abroad than we have come to expect in the United States. According to the less-than-accommodating agent on duty, it is customary for the company to “give away” your car that you have reserved 3 months in advance if you do not pick it up within two hours of the scheduled time. After several attempts to comprehend this behavior, I simply chalked it up to bad business decisions on the company’s part. Needless to say, they made no effort to check on the status of our flight and realize that we were behind schedule and by no fault of our own-doing. Not even saying sorry, she exclaimed that she could do nothing to help us and put her head down in an effort to end the conversation.

After giving up with Alamo, we tried our luck at the other rental car places in the airport only to find that they were all booked as well. We did get some solace from the other companies when they stated that they would never think of giving away a vehicle that was reserved (by credit card mind you) to someone else.

After this debacle of a 12 hour time span, we opted to forego waiting around for a miracle rental car to become available and instead decided to schlep our belongings to the train station to get to Nyon which was our final destination. Keep in mind we had no less then 10 pieces of luggage between the four of us to get from here to there. All complaining aside, we arrived at Daina and Marcus’ apartment midday and pretty much crashed on the bed after formalities and meeting the baby, Maya.

Early next morning, we were able to get a ride back to the airport from Marcus in order to secure a different rental car from Hertz. The white “7-seater” Kia was slightly larger than a Toyota Prius and could fit four adults under 6 feet tall within the first two rows of seating. The third row “seating” would be reserved for a ten year old napping lengthwise during a drive-in movie which he was forcibly brought to. Outside of that, I am not sure how one would even get back there to the third row as I am fairly certain the second row was locked in place. The climb and tumble maneuver would be necessary for this feat. Regardless of my joking, the car worked out perfectly for the duration of the trip and the people at Hertz were a gem to deal with.

Later that afternoon, Lisa thought it would be nice to take a walk to downtown Nyon and check out Lake Geneva, the largest body of water in Switzerland and one of the largest lakes in western Europe. I agreed and we weaved our way downhill through cobblestone streets and a mix of historic and modern architecture as we neared the lake view.

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As you may see from the picture, the water is a cool blue-green and mountains abound which gives you a sense of how small a creature you are in the grand scheme. This is true unadulterated natural beauty at its core. If you love to hike, Switzerland should be on your bucket list, hands down.

Since the weather was not exactly cooperating with a ‘sit and mingle’ style of tourism — 90+ degrees and humid to boot — I snapped a few more pictures and we trudged our way back up the hill to the apartment which wasn’t necessarily a better place to be. Switzerland is a seemingly ‘green’ country and opts to forego central air conditioning and insists on powering down optional appliances like washers and dryers during the heat of the day. I applaud the thinking even if, at times, the heat and humidity inside the house were less-than-comfortable. That being said, the fans did help out and after a couple of days, it wasn’t so bad really. Many of the nights were much cooler than the day and having the windows open and fans going made sleeping much easier.

Tomorrow (August 27th) I will be posting the next series of our trip abroad covering roughly the first entire week of Switzerland before we talk about the trip to Paris, France.

I hope you enjoyed and come back tomorrow for the next installment with many more pictures to be included.

Thanks for following me and just as a quick FYI, I have been going all out on golf since the return from Europe including fitness, nutrition and of course practicing and lots of playing. I am feeling great and can’t wait to get back to competition!

CPGA Professional Championship Overview

SO…Now I suppose I should update you on the golf part of my life. As you can tell, I really didn’t have any time to practice or to play but I had signed up months prior for The CPGA Professional Championship held at The Resort Course at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, SC (July 28th-30th) and I wasn’t about to back out.

I had a super late flight from LaGuardia Airport to Wilmington on Sunday the 26th of July, which, by the  time I grabbed a taxi, got me back to the house around midnight.

After a short 5 hour rest, I got up early and made my way to the golf course which took nearly an hour and 15 minutes to reach. This allowed me a short warm up before I teed off for my practice round at about 8:20am. Having not touched a club for two weeks and sitting in the back seat of a minivan for a large portion of it, my body was stiff and I had little to no coordination and certainly did not have much control of my golf ball. As the practice round progressed, my swing started to come back but I was still not confident or comfortable with the ball flight or directional control.

I hit several more balls at the range following the round to try and find a swing key that I could play with over the next few days of tournament play. I had little success in this endeavor. I continued my pre-tournament practice with some putting and short game drills for easily an hour to try and hone my skills in preparation for the ensuing rounds.

I’ll keep it fairly short since my performance was not exactly up to the standard I hold myself to. That being said, my swing continued to get better throughout the tournament and I started to get those feelings and motions back that I had when I last played in the eGolf Southern Open a few weeks ago.

My first round of the tournament began at 12:09pm on Tuesday July 28th. The winds were blowing at a steady 10mph with gusts up to 15-20mph later in the round. Not exactly the ideal conditions I had hoped for considering the state of my game, but I grinded through it. Probably the best highlight I can give was my very first hole, which measured 460 yards (par 4, 1st hole) and played dead down wind. I selected a 2-hybrid and pounded it straight down the middle and left myself only 155 to the back-middle hole location. I hit what I thought was a perfect pitching wedge only to have the wind carry the ball to the back fringe in line with the pin, which was not a place I had hoped to be. I was left staring at a 20 foot putt down a severe slope on greens that were running very fast (I would guess at least a 12 on the stimp meter). I was merely trying to lag it as close as possible. To my surprise, the ball trickled right in the front edge of the hole on its last rotation for an opening round birdie! A big thank you goes out to Chris Nicholas for following me and for getting this shot on film!

Needless to say, that was about as good as it got for the rest of the tournament. I had 7 penalty strokes from hitting it out of bounds and in water hazards on various holes and paired that with three 3-putts to shoot an underwhelming and disappointing 80. Even though I was embarrassed by the score, I really had no expectations and was playing in the event solely for more big tournament experience.

I think it goes without saying that playing in windy conditions is difficult on its own and pair that with a golf swing that was very inconsistent and you can expect to shoot a high number. To be truthful, it doesn’t even bother me that I shot that high. I knew my game wasn’t ready and I pretty much expected it.

Round 2 was a little better from a swing perspective, but not necessarily a scoring perspective. I shot 77 in the second round for a total of 157 over the two days and tie for 96th place in a field of 140+. I still had 3 penalty strokes from the same woes as the prior round and again had three 3-putts.

If you were to take out all of the penalty strokes and all of the three putts, I would have shot under par. I think that speaks to the quality of my iron play and the quality of my short game. Yes, that may be asking a lot to reverse all of those terrible shots but I KNOW that when I play and practice every day, I hardly ever hit the ball that poorly and that much off-line. Heck, even when I was at my literal worst, I still beat almost 50 players!

I am choosing to look at the positives of this tournament and not the negatives. I know I have the talent and the ability and my tournament confidence is growing and I am becoming more and more comfortable in those high-pressure situations.

The slightly unfortunate part is that I cannot immediately begin to work on my game because I am taking one more trip to visit Lisa’s new niece Maya Emelie Lind, born July 31st, 2015. Her sister Daina and husband Marcus live in Switzerland and just gave birth to this little bundle of joy. I am excited to welcome the newest member of the family and to help out in any way that I can. Golf is very important to me as it is my new means of income, but to me, family will always trump everything. I am glad I have the opportunity to go and visit a place I have never been to, but also to assist Daina and Marcus as they prepare for their new journey as parents.

Rest assured that when I return, I will have a passion and desire to ‘crack the whip’ on myself to become the best golfer that I can be.

Thanks again for following my journey and stay tuned for pictures and updates from the Switzerland adventure!

 

My Recent Travels to Northern East Coast to Toronto and Back!

Hey all!

It’s been a super busy few weeks and lots to update everyone on!

First and foremost, I have been away from golf and from my computer for the past two plus weeks. My fiancé Lisa and myself scheduled a trip to visit family and friends along the east coast (also Toronto, Canada) as well as spend a good amount of time in Saratoga Springs, NY to continue planning for our wedding early next year by meeting with our chosen vendors.

First, we flew up to Trenton, NJ to visit my sister, Jen, her husband Sam and my niece Nora (4 months old). We had a great trip here connecting with Nora and got to spend some quality time playing games and helping to take care of the little one. Here are a couple pictures from our trip to New Jersey:

Jen Scott and NoraNora and Me on the Couch

We then went to Lisa’s friend’s wedding in Kingston, NY and stayed nearby in Woodstock. The weather held up for the ceremony and the reception was so much fun! Congrats to Casey and Andrew on their new lives together. The following morning we had brunch downtown and sampled some baked goodies at a local store down the block.

Then it was off to Toronto to visit Lisa’s Aunt Maija and Uncle Chris. It was quite a long drive in the minivan but we made it safely despite a good bit of traffic as we got closer to the city. We had some great food here as well thanks to Maja and Chris’ wonderful cooking skills and had the pleasure of spending some time in Lisa’s cousin’s art gallery in the city which was remarkable! She had a great selection of artists and their works and did a superb job with the lighting and the displaying of the artwork to create a one-of-a-kind viewing experience. After we said our good-byes to the family members, we hit the road again to travel back towards Saratoga Springs.

Due to the copious hours of driving that had already taken place during the prior week, we decided to make an overnight stop in Utica to get some rest and prepare for our numerous appointments we had scheduled for the next day.

Since so many things happened the proceeding days, I will give you a summary:

-Appointment with the Florist

-Cake Consultation

-Cake tasting and consultation

-Meeting with our DJ

-Tasting with our Caterer (so amazing!!!!)

-Phone call with a potential Officiate (we ended up going with her)

-Appointment to browse our venue (first time seeing it in person)

-Engagement Photo Session!

I am sure I have left something out, but you get the picture. A busy week of appointments, tastings and the like. Amidst all of that, I ended up having to go to the local Urgent Care one morning when I woke up very sick and in a lot of pain…

Scottie in Urgent Care

The good news was that I wasn’t going to need any invasive surgeries or procedures done to me despite the doctors saying it might be a possibility. An ultrasound proved it was a just some localized bacterial infection that could be solved with some antibiotics and some pain meds for the (major) discomfort. I will spare you any further details but suffice to say I am finally on the mend and almost done with my medications.

Although we were not able to go to the Saratoga Race Track on opening day due to my poorly-timed illness, we were able to go the following day. This was my first time at the track and I had a blast even though I had no clue what I was doing when strategizing my bets.

Saratoga Race TrackAnd Thier Off

I was up a few dollars (maybe $20 or so) and ended up losing it on what I thought to be my safest and final bet of the day. Even still, a break-even effort at the track is a success to me! Not only that, but we ended up getting seats (for free!) in the clubhouse because of a giveaway that our hotel was running which made the day that much more special. Almost forgot! Lisa and I were interviewed while having our photo shoot downtown Saratoga and we ended up making it on the local 11:00 news!

It was a very memorable, but hectic, time away from home and from golf, but I loved every minute of it.

Stay tuned for an update on my tournament results!