Happy New Year and Sincerest Thanks, 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!  2015 was a pretty spectacular year for Tony and I, and one I didn’t think we could top.  Well, 2016 proved me wrong.  It was full of amazing adventures, wonderful family and friends, success at work, and the greatest blessing of all – the creation of our first baby.

To welcome in the New Year, I am taking a look back on our magical 2016.  There are so many to thank for this incredible year.  I thank God and my husband.  I also thank my supportive and loving family and friends.  And of course, I thank my wonderful place of employment which brought us to Switzerland in the first place.

January

January kicked off with another visit to Dubai and India.  I try to visit colleagues in India once a year, and given the distance from Zurich, I usually spend 2 weeks traveling throughout this incredible country.  This trip was really special because my dear friends Pratiti, Sonale and Deepali showed me the true, local hot spots of both Mumbai and Chennai.  It was also my first time wearing a sari!

My first sari

Kingfisher at Leopold’s Cafe

February

Even though February is the shortest month, there were a lot of wonderful things I got to experience.  February took us to Nepal for the very first time.  What made this trip special was that Tony was able to tag along, and we were able to visit a local school.  I head up the Corporate Social Responsibility program at work, and we partner with an organization called Room to Read.  I was able to see their work in action and I was floored at what a strong impact they had made at just one school.  We watched first graders learn to read and write in Nepalese and you could see their little minds capturing and storing the information.

Kathmandu

1st Grade Class

Another great thing about February, which happened while we were in Nepal, was the birth of my nephew Adrian!  We were so thrilled to welcome the first baby to the Scarpaci family, and I was back in Chicago only a couple weeks later to visit him in person.  I never knew I could fall in love with someone I had just met.

My handsome nephew

The final amazing thing about February was a promotion at work.  I made sure to take myself to Prada to celebrate.  🙂

March

In March, I went to Doha for work and Copenhagen for the Easter holiday with friends.  Both trips revolved around food which was absolutely fine with me!  Arabic food is some of my favorite in the world so I indulged in Doha, and Copenhagen is known for its high volume of Michelin star restaurants.  However, those few restaurants emptied out our pockets for the rest of the month.   Whoopsie.  😳

Copenhagen

April

April took me back to Dubai for a 2 week work trip, and upon returning, my brother arrived in Zurich.  Getting back to my love of Arabic food, I went all out in Dubai, but I was ready to get out of the heat by the end of the two weeks.  Being in Zurich mid-Spring was super refreshing, and it was nice to spend some quality time with my brother.  I love it when he visits.

Brother and I

May

May slowed down travel wise, allowing Tony and I to enjoy the beautiful weather that was descending upon Zurich.  We tried bowling in Switzerland for the first time which was incredibly fun and felt very American.  We also found out the most amazing news of all – I was pregnant!

June

In June, Tony and I went to Budapest for a long weekend, and I visited London for work.  Budapest was my first trip knowing I was pregnant, and I found myself constantly Googling what I could and could not eat.  Who knew if this Swiss/American baby could handle Hungarian food?  Everything ended up being fine and it was a good first lesson in not stressing during pregnancy.

Budapest

London was much more enjoyable than normal because my friend Sara met me there for the first half of the trip.  We hit up the great sales and trendy restaurants and enjoyed a couple days sans husbands (no offence to Tony).

London

July

During the month of July, I traveled to Spain for the first time.  I was in Mallorca for work for a few days, and it felt like Heaven.  The sun, water, and food (again, me with the food) were all so calm and relaxed.  The people were constantly happy, and the breeze was always available to cool you off.  I didn’t realize a place like this existed!

The end of the month was a treat too because I went back to Chicago to spend time with my family.  There were some very special events that occurred in July with family and friends.  My nephew had grown so much from February and I was very thankful to be able to attend his Christening.

I also attended a very special wedding.  My dear friend Francesca got married at the top of the city, with my dad as my super cool date.

My besties and I wrapped up my trip with our annual birthday dinner.  We’ve held onto this tradition for 17 years!  WOW!

August

August is always special to me because it is my birthday month AND my wedding month.  But this time, it was also the month of our most epic vacation ever.  We did an 11 day cruise in the Baltic Sea and saw so many wonderful new countries and cities.  It started in Copenhagen and took us through Germany, Estonia, Russia, Norway, and Sweden.  It was unlike anything we’d ever done before, and even with all of the cities we saw, sometimes my favorite part was just sitting on our balcony and watching the waves below me.

Our cruise ship

September

By September, I had wrapped up most of my work travel.  My baby bump was starting to show more and more as I was moving into my 3rd trimester.  Tony and I took a weekend trip to Barcelona, our first time in this city.  We really enjoyed the food and as I write this I realize that is probably the theme of my travel this year.  🙂  We were present during Catalan National Day and saw thousands of people out and about, celebrating their nationalism.

October

We took two small trips in October because by now, I was really showing and my mobility was becoming more and more limited.  We spent a weekend in Poland with Tony’s sister and her kids.  We really enjoyed spending quality family time and being back in Krakow.  It has one of the best central plazas or platz in Europe.

Krakow

The end of the month we were in Catania, Sicily, for a last go at summer weather, and it was there we watched the Cubs win the pennant!  They were off to the World Series!

November

The only thing I can really say about November is CUUUUUUUBBBBBBSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!  On the morning of November 3rd, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. Tony and I started watching game 7 at about 3am Zurich time and cried tears of joy when they made the final out against the Cleveland Indians.  The Cubs win cemented the fact that 2016 was officially the best.  Year.  Ever.

At the end of the month, we took our final baby-moon – a train trip to Paris to see my friend Sara again and celebrate an American style Thanksgiving.  Baby bump had to learn just how special this city was to us – the earlier it learns, the better.

Baby bump in Paris

December

And now, moving into December, typing this on the last day of 2016, I sit back and reflect once more on what an amazing and blessed year we’ve had.  We hosted Tony’s sister and her family for Christmas and it was so wonderful to be with our family during the holidays.

Merry Christmas

Within the next 3 weeks, we will meet our first baby which will be the most magical way to kick off 2017.  Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I excitedly await for what 2017 has in store.

Blessing and love to you and yours, and Happy New Year!

First Stop, Copenhagen – and a bit of Mommy Fashion

Our cruise departed from Copenhagen, Denmark.  Tony and I had been to this great city before, so we did not spend too much time exploring.  We arrived late Thursday evening, the day before the ship departed, and had a great meal at Tight.  It was a trendy, wood covered little restaurant that boasted amazing onion rings (yes!) and Oreo cheesecake (double yes!).  The next day left us just enough time for a coffee, a Danish, and a trip to Christiania.

Christiania is the “free town” in Copenhagen, a sort of dirty commune where pot can be seen and smelled everywhere but the police cannot.  It’s not exactly a place I choose to frequent, and I purposely skipped out on it the last time I was in Copenhagen.

Photos cannot be taken inside, but nearby and throughout, many a beautiful mural can be found.  There was one that complemented the colors in my outfit just perfectly.  It was a great spot for my first visibly-pregnant outfit photo.

HM Coat

Black on black on black….

Prada Galleria Bag

No more hiding that belly

HM Top

What the Missus/Mommy Wore:  Top from H&M//Jacket from H&M//Prada Galleria Bag//Seychelles ‘Home Sweet Home’ Loafer

I am happy to report that H&M is hosting lots of baggy items, which has allowed me to feel somewhat normal when clothes shopping.  Rather than specifically seeking out “maternity”, I just buy stuff in “large”.  You will see much more of this theme throughout my cruise-wear.

After our visit to Christiania, we grabbed lunch by the water and headed to the ship.  As per my previous blog, this is where the adventure continued.  Next stop, Oslo, Norway.  I can already feel your excitement…until then…..

Eating Our Way Through Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a great city, made even better by the amazing access to culinary delights and the introduction of “New Nordic” cuisine.  Tony and I had been to Copenhagen before, and so this trip was less about the “seeing” and more about the “eating”.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, this “eating” also results in spending waaaaayyyyy too much money on food, but c’est la vie.

We were there for 4 nights over the Easter holiday, and our first eatery was all about the meat.  The adventure began at Nose2Tail.

Nose2Tail

This restaurant is known for it’s meat and seafood, and prides itself on partnering with local farms.  They utilize all parts of the animal so nothing goes to waste.  This was evident via their pork crackles (pig skin) with a side of bacon mayo.

The main courses are light on options, and I went with the 200g tenderloin with bernaise sauce.  I couldn’t wait to eat, as I was still hungry after waking up at 4am to travel to Copenhagen.  Alas, all steaks were delivered, and all left plenty to be desired.  There were 7 of us total and all of us had luke warm steaks.  When we raised this with the waiter, the response was lackluster – the kitchen had already closed for the night.

We finished our food (the meat was still tasty even when cool) and hightailed it out of there.

Would I recommend?  As the Danes would say, “nej” (no).

Kokkeriet

Kokkeriet was my pick for the trip, and I booked our reservation months out just ensure we got space.  They have been awarded 1 Michelin Star, and we were ready for a unique, “New Nordic” meal.

"Rose" starter

“Rose” starter

The first thing I must share is that this restaurant is EXPENSIVE.  The small menu was 900 Danish Krone (132 CHF, 135 USD) and the large menu was 1200 Danish Krone (175 CHF, 180 USD).  There are many courses, but the food is small, light and artistic.  You don’t leave hungry, but for those prices, don’t expect to leave feeling stuffed either.

Dessert

Dessert

There were a few different pre-set menus to choose from, and each included “snacks” at the beginning.  Snacks = amuse bouche, and were quite interesting.  One included chicken skin (noticing a theme yet?) that was like gourmet Kentucky Fried Chicken.

As each dish came out, we throughly enjoyed ourselves, but before we knew it, we had been sitting at the table for 4 hours with 4 courses to go.  Our meal started at 20:30 and didn’t end until 01:30.  I was flabbergasted.

The staff was the most lovely I had experienced in awhile and the food was delicious – unlike anything I’d ever experienced.  But would I go back?  I think it depends on if your butt can stand sitting for 5.5 hours.

Would I recommend?  As the Danes would say, “måske” (maybe). 

Koefoed

Restaurant #3 was in a very cool neighborhood and had a really interesting vibe.  I didn’t see any females working there, and the waiters all wore blue denim button down shirts with leather aprons, like they were prepped to work in their own butcher shop.  Everything about this restaurant was meant to pay homage to the Danish island of Bornholm.  According to their website:

We focus on the island’s many small producers of specialty products of high quality. Bornholm has a unique climate, with many hours of sunshine and a fantastic nature.  The inspiration for the rooms comes from the distinctive round churches of Bornholm with their raw, whitewashed arches and vaults.

Fancy potato chip snacks

Fancy potato chip snacks

Koefoed’s menu had a pre-set option (and chicken skin and potato chip snacks), but they also had an a la carte menu that we ate from instead.  While this restaurant wasn’t nearly as expensive as Kokkeriet, it wasn’t cheap, and so I opted for one course (cod, mussels and carrots – yum yum!) and 2 of their craft made beers.

Would I recommend?  As the Danes would say, “ja” (yes). 

Geist

Last but not least was Geist, another Michelin Star restaurant.  Of all the restaurants, I thought this place had the coolest atmosphere.  It was hidden off the main street, dimly lit, and edgy without trying to be.  I liked that this place was cool in a subtle way – I even had a hard time confirming if they were Michelin Star.

IMG_2074

This restaurant had a recommended pre-set menu that just came from the existing menu at the same price – so we opted for a la carte.  Rather than small plates, this restaurant offered medium plates, and really, really, excellent cocktails.  My husband and I shared 4 plates and loved each and every bite.  We ate the zucchini, white asparagus with lard, chicken wings and scallops, and suckling pig.

Easter cocktails

Easter cocktails

The restaurant could get pricy if you were really hungry and ordered lots of dishes, but I felt this was the most reasonably priced and delicious of the 4.  It also fit my personality the best.

Would I recommend?  As the Danes would say, “helvede ja” (hell yeah). 

If you are planning a visit to Copenhagen, be ready to spend money, but on delicious food and experiences.  Do your research so you make the most out of each meal.  And finally, enjoy!!  You can get back on your diet when you return.  🙂