The mountain air feels fresh in my lungs. The tinkering of cow bells can be heard on the slopes below. We watch high up from our alpine cabin as the sun teeters on the brink of the distant peaks, before falling into the southern hemisphere. A buzzard swoops through the darkening sky.
“This is heaven,” I hear someone say contently, as they huddle beneath their ski jacket. “This is fucking freezing,” is my (decidedly more accurate) description. Heaven is a – warm – bar serving Czech beer, Polish vodka and Spanish-strength cocktails, littered with girls straight out of Carlsberg advert and presided over by DJs who’d rather marinate their own testicles / ovaries in sulphuric acid than play I Will Survive or It’s Raining Men on the dancefloor. Yes my jaunt to the Swiss alps for a friend’s wedding was very pleasant – in particular the getting seismically drunk part, and an impromptu game of volleyball under the snowy peaks. And whilst I can’t deny those mountains do look pretty spectacular, unless you’re one of those maniacs who enjoy throwing themselves off them armed only with a couple of fibreglass planks and a pair of Nordic walking sticks there’s not much you can do with them. Did I mention they’re freezing?
For a consummate city slicker like me, the biggest bonus of fulfilling my friendship duties in Switzerland was not watching alpine sunsets but the chance to call by Geneva en route to the rocks. The city has got a reputation of being boring, which I always suspected was unfair – and in my limited experience there – I’d say definitely untrue. Checking Easyjet Magazine on my way there, I found an article about the various bars that have sprung up around the dramatic expanse of Lake Geneva (something to rival Berlin’s beachside venues?), whilst the Paquis district has all the hallmarks of a colourful ethnic district with a red light zone providing a surprise sleaze factor (not my game you understand!) and lots of creative-looking young companies and cafes looking fresh and optimistic. The old town seemed straight out of Bond film (and indeed scenes from the Bourne Identity were filmed here), with a setting of narrow hilly streets, trundling trams and grand buildings populated by villainous looking rich dudes in expensive cars or sinister helmeted powerbike riders zooming about (presumably taking the micro film back to Dr. Lindt’s evil chocolate lair). At the back was a pleasant park where African drunks did a jig to a student band as young academics set up stalls to welcome the freshers for a new term. I milled around pretending to be 19 again. On my way out folk of all ages were earnestly engaging in giant games of draughts and chess. There definitely seemed enough to countenance a second visit, although maybe not until Tripadvisor have bought Urban Travel Blog for 1 billion dollars… even the beers in the “cheap” student bars were 7 Swiss Francs (over 6 euros)! WTF!!!
Oh yes, the point of my irregular From The Editor column is actually of course to tell you guys what’s new on UTB. Well how about a new design for a start!?!?! It’s been a while coming, but the rather wizardly Sebastian Dadal has finally finished HTMLing all the CSSoids that had Javaed their way out of the wrong plug in and WordPressed them into exactly the right place! Good man!
I hope you agree that the new – patented! – look is a lot more professional. And should be a lot easier to browse now. On the home page, you’ll not only get the latest published post displayed in full but a slideshow of our favourite recent posts, whereas we’ve stripped away a couple of bits and bobs to leave a top menu that really distills what we’re all about. Fantastic city guides for a long weekend in the best metropolises del mundo, plus fun and funky urban reporting aka ‘adventures’. Hover your mouse over for a drop down list of post categories. Who contributes all these masterpieces to the mainframe? Our team of talented travel writers and photographers (go read up on these bunch of good lookers!).
Another feature of the new design which I’ll draw your attention to (as I’m rather fond of it) is our Destinatons Tag Cloud, which you can find in the footer. All of our articles are tagged by city and country only, meaning you can use our Tag Cloud as a kind of heat map of our worldwide coverage. You can also use our tags as well as of course for finding destination-related articles to any post you’ve got already got open. So reading up on Richard Tulloch’s recent experiences on a Brooklyn Street Art tour, you’ll also find you’re also only a click away from our High Line Park Photo Story and New York Weekend Guide!
Other recent articles include Ben Rhodes’ entertaining tales from the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada and James Pengelley’s introduction to the Colombian resort of Cartagena de Indias.
Until next time!