René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket: The perfect Sports Vacation

The first thing you’ll notice coming down Jaofa 50 in Chalong, the road where Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket is located, are the many hardbodies walking, or more often running around. Never miss an opportunity to do something for your fitness. That’s pretty much the motto when you decided to check in at Tiger Muay Thai. So did I for 12 days from Dec 2011 to January 2012 and it was indeed one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Finishing my last training yesterday, I feel even safe to say that it is the perfect sports vacation.

Tiger Muay Thai

And there are plenty of factors that have to come together for this statement: Let’s start with Tiger Muay Thai itself. The camp is amazingly well organized. There are 2.5 hours, twice a day structured courses every day for every level, from bloody beginners to really advanced pros. But there is much more than Muay Thai to it. There are daily Yoga classes at 6.30 am, “Body Fit”-courses at 9 am, weight training as well as several other martial arts experiences. Be prepared that every class will put at least equal emphasis on building up stamina as it teaches technique. Especially the 2.5 hours felt for my fitness pretty shitty. But every day a little less shitty :-)

Class-Training

Pricewise, a full package for a week costs 3,000 Baht (~ EUR 75), for a whole month 10,000 Baht (~EUR 250). That’s indeed for the „all you can eat“ package including usage of weight room, spinning bikes, boxing bags at your own discretion. What is more, you get to train with former Muay Thai Champions, 1:1 with personal attention to grow your skill level. 36 of them are working in the camp. Think of being able to train boxing with Mike Tyson. That’s what you get for Muay Thai for an hourly rate of 600 Baht (~ EUR 15)!

Komrit

Interestingly, the entire Jaofa 50 road seems to have evolved in a comprehensive „eco-system“ at whose centre sits Tiger Muay Thai. The camp itself again is very service-oriented and can arrange for accommodation, a scooter or excursions at discounted prices. But interestingly, there are plenty of independent businesses that have sprung up in a 200 m walking vicinity. You’ll find small cosy family restaurants that offer a meal for around 100 Baht (EUR 2.50) – even with emphasis on healthy, light nutrition -, massage spas that will squeeze the pain out of your sore muscles and really lovely guesthouses. Myself, for instance, was staying in Floraville, a beautifully set garden with a fish-pond for 7,000 Baht (EUR 175) per week – in peak season.

Floraville

The entire mood at Tiger Muay Thai is just right. Focused, yet not rigid. It’s functional with attention to hygiene. People I have met there we all easy to talk to, relaxed, nobody smoked or drank, but was rather eager to order the next protein shake. It’s neither a boot camp where you get screamed at nor one of these metrosexual fitness studios in western cities with their omni-present vanity. Last not least, nobody asks questions if you don’t show up. Hey, ultimately, you are on an island of one of the word’s last living paradises, Thailand. There is plenty to do if you feel you want an escape from your training routine. From a lazy day on one of the beaches, to a boat trip to another island, to a mountain walk to e.g. The Big Buddha, cruising with the motorbike, going for a dive or check at one of the plenty adventures that Phuket has to offer.

Phuket

Two points, though, for improvement: First, food at the camp’s own “Tiger Grill”. It’s somehow efficient, but also pretty awful. Had by a huge margin the worst “steak” in my life and the other cooked stuff was also nothing to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect 5 star cuisine, but Tiger Grill aims to “provide meal items that are designed to give our guest the choices they need to maintain a healthy and optimal diet while training at Tiger Muay Thai“, says the website. Reality is by no means living up to the promise. On a constructive note, alternatives are in close reach: any of the small family-restaurants on the road, as mentioned above, will be much tastier and healthier and not necessarily more expensive. My favourite was Chillana where Annamay Phurisa will cook phenomenal home-made Thai dishes.

Larb Gai

Second point affects a consistent level of teaching skills with the trainers in 1:1 sessions. No doubt that all of them know Muay Thai very well. My last trainer, Komrit (picture above), was in my view the best from a didactic standpoint. He would immediately see where I stand and have me do techniques for my level. If he saw that I was screwing up, he would make me repeat the same set 4, 5, 6 times until it looked good. Then he would do other stuff to return to the same technique to check if it had sunk in. Perfect. I believe with a systematic “train the trainer”-initiative, Tiger Muay Thai could bring this piece of the experience to a consistently higher level.

Rene-Seifert-Tiger-Muay-Thai

Yet, these are really minor things compared to the entire experience, which was absolutely stellar. On a side not, being co-founder and MD of Brain Pirates, a social media consultancy, Tiger Muay Thai is doing an amazing job in using all possible tools and platforms from their own website, YouTube or Facebook and feeding it with relevant, exciting content. I recommend to “Like” their Facebook-page and I am sure by their daily stream you’ll get the appetite to give it a try.

One thing I lost at Tiger Muay Thai which, however, I don’t miss at all: fat. I wouldn’t yet be able to run with the hardbodies on Jaofa Road, but aiming to come back for more is a good reason to work (out) towards it.

Fantastic Flight Impressions from the Cockpit

Didn’t want to miss out on sharing some great videos from Sardinia three weeks ago with us three pilots Thomas Leiber (“The Leibertinger”), Felix Haas (“The Haasinger”) and myself (=”The Seifertinger) in Thomas’ plane, a beautiful Diamond D-40.

San Teodoro: Airfield

Yep, that’s The Leibertinger, just after heroically landing in San Teodoro (Sardinia) on a short grass field. If you listen to the sound, you would hear the flight director in its robot-like voice repeat: “Warning! Terrain-Terrain!”. That’s because the Garmin GPS system doesn’t know about such small airfields and believes that you’re just about to ram the aircraft straight into the ground. But it went better than that :-)

For take-off we had done lots of calculation if the length of the runway would be sufficient based on our weight, temperature and height of the grass and even defined a point to abort the take-off if we had not reached at least 50 knots. Here The Haasinger was Pilot-in-Command and did a phenomenal job in accelerating the plane, lifting it off effectively using the ground effect, accelerating further before assuming a stable climb.

This one, however, is by far my favourite. The Leibertinger again in command, me sitting to his right side (but all credit & glory to him, he did it all). This was a small airstrip some 800 meters above mean sea level in the mountains of Sardinia, no living soul around. It was clear to us that the length of the runway could be just enough for landing, but not way to get the plane up in the air, especially due to the trees just at the end of the runway. Still, we didn’t want to miss out on that one, so we did a thing in between called “touch & go”.

Kudos. The trees below, the plane above. Exactly how it should be, and never mind the margin between the two.

Global Russia Business Meeting 2011 in Cyprus

Traditions require pursuit. So when Frank Richter from Horasis is inviting to one of his legendary “Global Business Meetings”, the best option is simply to show up and receive a stimulating update on the state of the globalized world. This times it was the Global Russia Business Meeting 2011, last year I attended in Ljubljana, this year in happened to take place in Limassol (Cyprus).

As it was the first time to this island for me, I decided to come two days earlier and do a little bit of sightseeing, mainly into the surprisingly high mountains up to 1,900 meters …

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… as well as trying out the local cuisine which is famous for its “Meze”. Shared dishes which keep on coming in endless numbers and makes. Apparently, me including, every foreigner on his first time consistently commits the same mistake: Eating too much in the beginning and then facing complete paralysis when more and even more food is arriving to the table.

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The Island-Republic has been for decades an attractive destination for Russian tourists and investors alike: The single biggest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FTD) into Russia comes due to favourable holding- and taxation structures indeed from Cyprus.

Our hosts were enormously hospitable who made our stay a truly memorable experience. During the gala dinner on Sunday evening, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Dimitris Christofias welcomed us …

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… after which inspiring and funny conversations with other attendees extended way after midnight.

On Monday, in fact the major day of the event, there were a couple of “all hands” plenary sessions with CEOs and ministers of state as well a plenty of parallel “break out-sessions” for a more intimate exchange. Like last year in Madrid for the India-Meeting, I had the honour to moderate a session about “Creating Innovation Capacity” with eight distinguished participants on the panel.

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In the nutshell, a couple of issues pertaining to Russia:

  • Assumptions from foreign businesspeople that Russia is operating like a Western country are strongly overstretched; one needs to know how to navigate the system with all its intricacies.
  • Political regulation changes frequently, and not always for the better.
  • Russia has strengths in R&D, yet deficits in devising products and services out of this, also with sub-standard abilities downstream when it comes to marketing and sales.
  • Russia’s strongest GDP-driver, natural resources, is both a salvation as it is a curse: It lacks the necessary “eco-systems” (benchmark: Silicon Valley) to allow other truly innovative sectors to emerge in order to contribute to a better diversification of the economy.
  • Russia possesses a healthy self-awareness about its strengths and weaknesses and has set up a variety of private and public initiatives to foster exchange to gain best practices.

This appears to be especially true after the financial crisis where the government is listening better than ever to entrepreneurs how to be serious about the necessary implementation of change.

Thanks Frank for once again putting a great program with inspiring people together, hope to see to see you soon at one of the subsequent events.

And on a personal note: Thanks to Davor, from Les Clefs d’Or- Concierge from LeMeridien in Limassol who helped me within 18 hours print my forgotten business cards and held some true insider tips for the best local dining in the area ready. “Hvala vam ljepa na vasoj pomoci, Davore”, – who originally hails from Bosnia and with whom I proudly conversed in our mother tongue Serbo-Croatian. That’s globalization at its best as it comes with the touch of home … :-)

Lufthansa Customer Care – The Rift between West and East

The shifting economic power from west to east is a favourite theme sung by observers of globalization. The most often quoted reasons in favour of the east: demography (young) and growth (high). I would like to add from my own experience another critical one: attitude (great).

I’d like to illustrate this on a small example which happened yesterday during boarding with Lufthansa in Frankfurt. My purpose is both to use this public display as part of a complain which I have filed, but also as an illustration of a broader picture which I see emerging.

When I arrived to my boarding gate B23 for my flight LH 754 from Frankfurt to Bangalore yesterday on February 04th 2011 via direct transfer from Zurich, I requested at the boarding gate an upgrade from Economy to Business Class thanks to my abundance of miles in the Miles & More programme. The German tall guy behind the counter, let’s call him by his initials E.H. said „Yes, if you have miles.“ He went to his computer, went through the menu and replied: „Sorry, it doesn’t work, your ticket class doesn’t allow for an upgrade.“ End of the story – for him. I retorted that I didn’t believe this was accurate, as I had upgraded myself successfully on the TO-sector.

Lufthansa A321 (D-AIR)

I grabbed my mobile phone, called my always super-duper-customer-oriented Lufthansa-agent Vignesh Mohan in Bangalore who has been immaculately serving me in the last 3 years. He immediately picked up and explained to him the problem, he replied that he believed, too, the ticket was upgradable, but he would cross-check in the system and call me back.

Time was running out as I was the last passenger at the gate, the German guy and his female German colleague didn’t bother to even look at not to mention look after me once. Vignesh being Vignesh kept his promise, called me back after 2 minutes from India and confirmed: “The ticket is upgradable.”

What came next is really the point for my anger and the illustration of the different attitudes. I was polite and relaxed, went over to Mr. E.H. with my phone and said kind of: „I have Vignesh on the phone, your Lufthansa colleague from Bangalore, I suggest you both talk to each other in airline-lingo with all your ticket-codes to sort things out.“ He again wouldn’t even look at me, lest try to find any solution. Instead his female colleague stepped up to me and said in a super-annoyed way: “Well, it doesn’t work this way, we would have to call the ticket counter.” – Expectedly my response was: “And why don’t you do it?” She went on with: “Next time be a bit earlier with your upgrade request.” I turned back to E.H. and asked him why he wouldn’t talk to his colleague in India. Brief answer: “I in general don’t talk on a mobile phone.” Wow, that’s a rare mix of impressive and progressive.

Contrast that with Vignesh who was still on my ear and grasped the full sense of urgency of the situation and said: “René, give me a couple of minutes, I’ll sort things out from India.” I don’t know what Vignesh did, but magically after minutes the upgrade went through as smooth as silk. All fine, but I really got annoyed by this pathetic behaviour from the German Lufthansa team and announced that I would complain against him and asked for his name. He wouldn’t even have the balls to tell me, so I had to bent over and read it from his name plate. The grand final of the scene were his good bye-words: “But I just want to let you know that I am not the responsible load manager.” Bingo. This says it all: Zero attitude translates to zero responsibility which translates to zero civilized behaviour.

I do not even want to stretch the terms “customer orientation” too far and I don’t even intend to play my black card being a HON Circle member. This is just not a manner to behave. And being an entrepreneur I am safe to state into Lufthansa’s direction that you simply don’t want anybody like E.H. doing any customer-facing jobs. This was not his one time-failure, it’s an attitude problem and he’ll never get it.

Compare that to Vignesh’s attitude and action, and I am happy to conclude that we need more of the Vigneshs being allowed to play a much stronger role on the global economic stage and replace the E.H.s ideally yesterday. And please nobody tell me that this was – prominent German term – “unsozial”, i.e. not in line with social considerations.

Picture Source: Flickr.com / Andres Rueda

Weekend in Kolkata: The living Contrasts

6 years in India and never managed to travel to Kolkata. Shame-on-me. This weekend finally, I made up for this black spot in the company of my friends Tim & Dominique Butzmann and Marek Janetzke. Landing in Kolkata on Friday evening, we could figure already by the disorganized procedure of the prepaid airport-taxis that here, in the capital of West Bengal, “Old India” still held the upper hand. (All the pictures of the trip here on this Flickr-Set.)

Queing for Airport Taxi

Coming in downtown, driving past and through the chaos, entering Jawaharlal Nehru Street, the cab suddenly pulled left in front of an unassuming gate. We underwent a security check, from where we felt that we had landed on a different planet: The Oberoi Hotel. Its white colour, splendour and luxury became our witnesses of an foregone which had not just survived but re-invented itself throughout more than a century.

Oberoi Hotel in Kolkata

At its fine Thai restaurant Baan Thai, we enjoyed our first dinner.

Dinner at Baan Thai in Oberoi Hotel

The next morning we headed out for our first walk and were – right after the magic gate – intercepted by the most obnoxious, aggressive beggars and touts I had so far come across in India. We walked along the monumental India Museum, turned left into Park Street.

Walk through Park Street

There further for breakfast at Flurys. Supposedly founded after a Swiss patisserie in 1927, this place today is purely living off its dividend from the past as well as hugely overrated. The poor food, terrible service in combination with high prices make it a location just to ignore.

Exactly the opposite has to be said about the Victoria Memorial, where already the walk through the large scale greenery with grazing horses along Queen’s Way is an experience in itself.

The Maidan in Kolkata

Not after too much time, the monumental white towers will gaze through the trees and provide the curious visitor a clear orientation which path to follow.

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After buying the ticket of Rs. 150 (price for foreigners), you walk straight face up to the statue of Queen Victoria sitting quite broadly on here throne and then into the memorial which looks – to quote the Lonely Planet – like a mix between the Capitol in Washington D.C. and the Taj Mahal.

Food is great throughout India, but us four tall Germans acknowledged that we experienced a special culinary highlight at “Oh!Calcutta” in Forum Mall. Nice decoration, courteous service and especially phenomenal food. Bengali cuisine is known for its emphasis on Fish, especially the local “Bekti”.

Oh!Calcutta Restaurant

The various ways of preparations in different ways and curries are simply out of this world and a visit to this restaurant with reasonable prices an absolute must!

After dinner we headed to Park Hotel to listen to the life-band in the bar whose name is seriously “Someplace Else”. The crowd tends to be a bit nerdy, 90 % of the guests male, likewise the four guys on stage, all in their forties appeared, except one, a bit as if they were still living with their mothers. Still, their Rock’n Roll in combination with a cold Heineken in hand was cool stuff to listen to.

Due to “Dry Day” on Independance Day on August 15th, everything closed already at 11.30 pm, hence we decided to take a 10 minutes-walk home when we ran into this guy making himself comfortable on the rear of his car.

Afterhour

Our further path was plastered with people sleeping on the sidewalk to an extent I haven’t yet come across in the centre of an Indian city. Yet amidst the undoubted poverty, small stars of mutual human respect are able to rise. A guy, falling asleep in his chair on the street, seeing us walking towards our 5 star-hotel, wished us a heartfelt “good night”. So I wished him back a sincere “good night to you as well”. Likewise, in all the unfortunate circumstance the ragpickers work, they still manage to smile at you during their work.

Ragpickers in Kokata

On Independence Day security with police and military had been intensified, however without problem for our tour by taxi to the huge Howrah Train Station.

Howrah Train Station in Kolkata

We crossed back the heavy Howrah Bridge where, on a regular working day, around One million people cross on foot.

Howrah Bridge in Kolkata

We continued to walk past the Christian Armenian Church, Holy Rosary Cathedral, the Moghan David Synagogue, St. Andrew’s Church, were impressed by the lake BBD Bagh on whose riverbank a graveyard for old police vans is emerging.

Strolling through Kolkata

On further South to Raj Bhavan, looking at a beautiful old building still reasonable intact, …

Strolling through Kolkata

… and from there through the Tram Terminal after our 2.5 hour tour, a last time back to our little oasis of the Oberoi Hotel.

Kolkata is clearly a must for the avid Indian traveller. The city exudes charm, catching flair, its people a pleasant dignity. At the same time, I would not recommend for a Westerner for his first time visit to India to begin with the capital of West Bengal. The poverty is striking and so are the contrast when morphing through the different worlds of “what a Westerner is used to” vs. “how the majority of Kolkatans live”. Nevertheless, a journey worth undertaking to see with own eyes what different shapes a human life can take.

MännerMitÄhre: Mountain Tour to the Schachen and Meilerhütte

As we started the tradition last year with MännerMitÄhre (=MenOfHonour) heading up for the Zuspitze, we continued in the same quartet of Rainer, Stephan, Werner and me for the tour to the Meilerhütte. (All the pictures here on this Flickr-set). As the three guys have not changed at all being “the machines”, I took my preparation in the last 8 weeks quite seriously with regular spinning sessions, bodypump-classes, leg muscle-exercises and obedience towards my nutritionist Ashwini in my gym in Bangalore. Writing these lines is the best evidence that I made it both alive and in one piece ;-)

We started out from Partenkirchen (altitude 700 m MSL) through the ever astounding Partnachklamm where the river Partnach gets compressed into a dense bed between the rocks of the canyon.

Partnachklamm

After that, without any notable mercy from the mountain, quite a steep climb up the Kälbersteig towards the Schachen. After breaking through the forest, with stunning panoramas like this one of the Reintal.

From Schachen to Meilerhütte

An absolute must, at least with good weather, is a small deviation down to the Schachensee whose chilly temperatures provide a worthwhile refreshment after the 3 hours of walking uphill.

Cool and refreshing Lake Schachen

From there is short of half an hour along grazing cows up to the “Schachen” (altitude 1,866 m MSL) with the little hunting castle “Schachenschloss” of the Bavarian “Fairy Tale King” Ludwig II. Rather unassuming from the outside, likewise in the ground-floor during our guided tour, the miracle reveals itself in the first floor of the building.

Schachenschloss

And that’s in the so called “Turkish Room” (see the link for the picture). King Ludwig used to come here regularly for his birthday and, if I translate the political correct insinuation of our tour guide into plain language, the party must have looked like this: The King stoned himself with smokable drugs indulged in the company of his orientally cross-dressed gay entourage (=MännerOhneÄhre).

From the Schachen it’s another 1.5 hours and plus 500 meters of altitude up to both our summit and our place for the night, the Meilerhütte (2,374 m MSL) which stands like an “Eagle’s Nest” on top of the ridge of the Wetterstein-Mountains.

From Schachen to Meilerhütte

There is nothing more thoroughly well deserved after alighting from the backpack and taking off the heavy shoes than having the first beer together with the comrades and enjoying the view to both the Bavarian and Austrian side of the mountains.

Well deserved Summit-Beer & Schnaps

That’s the funny thing anyway with the Meilerhütte: It lies exactly on the border between both countries, Bavaria (note: NOT Germany! ;-) and Austria. So what happens when you go for a wash, you leave the house which stands on the Bavarian side, the path in a slight right-turn bow comes over to Austria, …

Meilerhütte: Right on the Border between Bavaria and Austria

… before it comes back to the Bavarian side again …

Meilerhütte: Right on the Border between Bavaria and Austria

… and leads to the separate washing hut. That can indeed be called effective border crossing. Food on the hut was simple, but super-yummy with the classic of all foods on the mountain, the legendary Kaiserschmarrn.

Meilerhütte

Next day, Monday August 2nd, we were prepared that the weather wouldn’t be a nice as the day before. So we started our descend downhill to the South onto the Austrian side towards Leutasch (~1,100 m MSL) in cloudy conditions.

Descend from Meilerhütte to Leutasch

We couldn’t have been luckier, when we arrived at the bottom, it started to drizzle. After another 10 minutes, just when we found shelter waiting for the bus, a heavy thunderstorm started to pour down an ocean of rain. So we just-in-time escaped into the bus which brought us back to the Bavarian side – first to Mittenwald, then back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Bus from Leutasch to Mittenwald

There we treated ourselves for the finale grande with Schweinsbraten (roast pork) and Weißbier (wheat beer). Overall, a memorable and highly recommended tour, especially in the right company like with our comradeship of MännerMitÄhre.

Indredible India – Carbon Neutral Schoolbus

One of these drive-by moments when you try to be as fast as possible with your camera. Yesterday in Delhi, we were approaching this one from the back with three happy kids in their school uniforms in the back …

Delhi Schoolbus

… and three happy kids in the front.

Delhi Schoolbus

Chapeau to the driver for pedalling in 40 degrees of heat these six cute little chicken home into their nest.

Amazing India – Impressions from the Airports

Even after 6 years of living in India, the subcontinent is full of surprises every day. Just one week of being here, countless of heartwarming, witty and inspiring stories. Starting in the here and now: I am sitting on a “laptop station” after security of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and blogging this post away. Really amazing where India has gotten with such a world class airport, working stations including free high-speed wireless internet (try to get that on a German airport).

Delhi Airport

It’s been quite a busy travelling week, so last Friday I have been at Cochin Airport where this instance caught my eye. In contrast to western economics where capital EXCHANGES labour for the sake of saving cost, the success formula in India seems to be capital PLUS labour.

Machine & Man at Kochin Airport

In a congenial combination of man & machine the concept works like this: A customer steps forward to the apparatus and selects an item. The guy in the yellow T-Shirts takes his money and shovels it into the machine, the magazine drops down, the guy picks it up and hand it to the customer. Variation B: For bigger items, that’s even more hilarious, the guy collects the money, opens the door, grabs the article and hands it out. So basically as a customer you get the feeling that modern technology is still grounded by good old human service.

Some Indian ads are just involuntarily funny, I really wonder what rode the heavily metrosexual art director of coming up with this copy. It’s supposed to promote the speed of transfer as well breadth of shopping opportunities at Bangalore Airport.

Bangalore Airport Advertisement

Well, if I was that girl, I also wished that rather the teddybear be my father and not that guy with the gay moustache with the glossy lipstick beneath LOL

St. Moritz: From the Bottom to the Heights

It has almost become a sort of tradition that I spend my birthday in St. Moritz, so 2010 was on again. The reputation of St. Moritz travels faster than the speed of light, and after being there a few times by now, I’d like to shed some of that light from my experience what to expect, where to go and what to do. (All the pics are here on this Flickr-set, by the way.)

First of all, the skiing slopes are the most awesome I have ever seen, it feels like driving down a 12-lane Autobahn on snow. And so is the view.

Skiing on Corviglia in St. Moritz

The area covered by the lift-pass is huge and there is something for every level of difficulty – I will usually stick to the “red slopes” with my average skiing abilities. In terms of what to expect for foodies up there when skiing, this is what I can share:

  • El Paradiso is a platform for plain vanity, even by St. Moritz standards. The owner, his staff and the guests mutually reassure each other how great they find themselves. The waiters are cover-magazine-beauties, the food is poor, the prices astronomic and the attitude fucked up. Once you step in, it is all about that artificially inflated show if you have reserved and how long you would have the table before the next service. Once you order the bill and intend to pay by credit card, you get told that this incurs a surcharge of 3 %. This place has seen me for the last time.
  • Poor on a completely different level is the otherwise lovely looking hut of Lej de la Peche. The entire service is completely disorganised, waiters don’t show up at all or if, they forget half of what you ordered. It takes finally 45 minutes to get some pasta. Just bad.
  • Skiing on Corviglia in St. Moritz

  • Really good, by contrast, is Salastrains where one would also see non skiers hanging out in the sun-chairs who have come from the bottom by car or walking. Food is decent, prices reasonable and the waiter keep in midst of the hectic lunchtime their happy spirit.
  • Lunch at Salastrains

    Down in the Dorf (=village) of St. Moritz there is plenty to do and see. During the last three weekends, there is a major happening taking place: The White Turf – the only horse-race in the world on snow, to be more precise, on snow which has been layered on top of the frozen lake.

    White Turf in St. Moritz

    Opposite above the lake stands majestically the characteristic hotel Badrutt’s Palace, one of the architectural symbols of St. Moritz.

    Badrutt's Palace in St. Moritz

    The Bellini in the night bar costs 25 Swiss Francs, but it is a worthwhile investment for people spotting. Unlike El Paradiso, the setting is immaculate, and expect the unexpected: Women on botox, men in blue blazers with golden buttons or, as this, time a group of rich teenage kids most likely from the prestigious and adjacent boarding school of Zuoz having a night out. One couldn’t say that they were behaving badly, but at some point one could tell that they were  spoilt brats who got shovelled everything up their arses by their wealthy parents. 16-year old girls in ultra-short mini-skirts and designer bags – as I learned – priced at 3,000 Euro, is devoid of any envy a bit over the top to establish a proper moral compass for life.

    One of my consistent favourites for an aperitif is the cosy bar of the Kempinski hotel with a modern fireplace in the middle surrounded by glass.

    Kempinski Hotel St. Moritz

    The service runs like a Swiss clockwork and embodies style, too. At the rate occasion that I order a bottle of champagne, as I did for my birthday, the waiter would put on their white champagne-gloves to serve the bubbly happiness.

    Other places to recommend for food:

    • Chesa Veglia is a sort of classic with an exquisite restaurant as well as a pizzeria. The selection of wines is abundant. Expect to run into folks like Claudia Schiffer as I did two years ago. Prices-wise rather at the upper scale.
    • The Veltinerkeller does a bit more of the rough stuff. A very recommendable highlight are the Pizzocheri (a pasta). Service is super-efficient, almost such, that one tends to tell the waiters to slow down the pace a bit.
    • One of my personal highlights is the simple Swiss restaurant Engiadina right at the central square of St. Moritz village. When entering the place, the smell of melted cheese will crawl up your nose, and that’s exactly its speciality: cheese fondue. If I had a wish how to die, it would be drowning in cheese fondue.
    • Birthday Action

      Along with some open white wine and a good cherry schnapps for digestion afterwards, there is nothing more the culinary heart can desire.

    Last but not least, the greatest discovery in St. Moritz which is still considered something as a secret tip and stands right at the parking of the Signalbahn: La Baracca. Founded some six years ago, it was targeted at ski teachers and other working staff as a place where they could have a decent meal without the high price tab of St. Moritz on it. However, by now the place has evolved into a potpourri of people from all walks of life. Dresscode is whatever, music nicely chosen, the decoration set with personal love to the smallest detail and the food exceptionally good.

    Dinner at "La Baracca"

    There is a changing menu every evening with, say, ten dishes to choose from. But those are done really, really well. Somehow this place reminded me of “Soul Kitchen“, a restaurant of a similar type which is currently the name and subject of a successful German movie.

    St. Moritz has lots of stuff to offer from the bottom to the heights – in every sense of the word – but keeps on calling to come back for more.

    Thanks for your gentle Birthday Wishes

    Dear Friends,

    Thanks to our brave new interconnected world, but even more so thanks to your kindness, your kind birthday-wishes have been reaching me here in St. Moritz (Switzerland) during my skiing vacation. It was lovely to see the first congrats coming in even late evening yesterday my local time – which was already Feb 15th in Australia. And as the date-line was moving westwards, India came next, then Europe and now the first ones are coming in from the U.S.

    It is my pleasure and privilege to express my humble thoughts that you have thought of me on my birthday, and rest assured that I will have a drink on your behalf tonight here in St. Moritz. More in detail I’ll explain in this brief video both in English and in German :-)

    Hope to see you all soon again in person. Take care and warm regards,

    René

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