Hats By Katrinka

Kate Brown Pernia is a Milliner on sabbatical in Switzerland. She has been designing hats and teaching millinery under her Katrinka label since the 1980s. Kate is also the founder of Houston Hat Net. View Katrinka hats and hat patterns at www.hatsbykatrinka.com.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Last Gasp?

When I woke up this morning I noticed the heat was on so peeked out the window at our temperature gauge. It is the 31st of May and 1 C. It has been raining for a couple of weeks here and quite chilly the last couple of days but I was not prepared for what I saw next. SNOW! Mixed with rain but, yes, there were flakes melting on the furnace chimney! Yesterday we had hail and thunder but today snow. I’m told it gets hot here in July and August but that is hard to believe today.
K Q:-0

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Die Blicke

More views of Luzern.


My Sweetie was away this past holiday weekend so Starr and Holger invited me to travel with them to Luzern on Sunday. They had visitors from Germany and we felt like exploring. Luzern is beautifully located on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) below Mt. Pilatus and the showpiece of the city is this Kapelbrücke or chapel bridge built in 1333. Unfortunately, much of the bridge burned in 1993 so only the ends of it are the original structure. The Swiss rebuilt/restored it in just 9 months after the fire so it is still a fascinating walk into the old town section of Luzern.

Holger has a talent for picking good restaurants so we enjoyed a gourmet lunch at Brasserie Bodu, a Französische bistro in the Altstadt. We sipped Swiss Chardonnay from the Vaud and I ordered Gazpacho, Quatre Delices (seafood) with spinach and noodles and then Crème Brûlée for dessert. By the time we emerged from our leisurely meal it was raining again. We decided to save the boat tour for a sunnier day when we can return by train from St. Gallen in about 2 hours. K Q:-)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mehr Lindau

A few more pictures of Lindau. Here are the Rathaus and the lighthouse in the harbor. K Q:-)

On the Bodensee

Yesterday was the Ascension Day holiday here. It was grey and chilly and my Sweetie is away on business so I took a scenic drive with Starr and Holgar to Lindau on the German side of Lake Bodensee. Lindau is another charming medieval town on an island with fountains, a lighthouse, chestnut trees and a spectacular Rathaus. It also has a gelateria where we indulged and it did not disappoint! I had a scoop of apricot and a scoop of chocolate with chilis which was terrific but Starr’s orange/mango was even better! We spotted a hat store with a Borsalino fino fino fedora priced at 898 Euros (that’s over $1,000!). I should have snapped a picture but had a momentary lapse - perhaps shock! I loved this marionette advertising the Marionettenoper season. For more pix see http://www.lindauer-mt.de/ . Think I should take my hubby back in June for Die Fledermaus or Die Zauberflöte. K Q:-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Swiss strawberries - our reward for winter? I wonder what the German for YUM! is?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Today the temperature gauge in my window says 12 C. (that’s about 54 F) and it’s raining off and on. In fact, it rains a lot here. It is said that the rain is one of the reasons the Irish monk Gallus settled here as a hermit about 612. Regardless of that, no matter what the weather it never lasts long. We are close to both the Alps and the Bodensee so it changes a lot. To date my most extraordinary weather moment was walking home after midnight last winter in a snowstorm with lightning and thunder bouncing off the mountains.

To my Houston friends: note that I am still wearing a jacket in late May! K Q:-)

P.S. It turns out that our delightful Amsel sings in the rain too.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I was doing my Deutsch homework this evening when our doorbell rang. It was two Swiss Frauen graduate students doing a survey of people’s usage of rooftops in St. Gallen. They spoke German at first but when I told them, "Ich spreche nicht so gut Deutsch" they immediately switched to English. Maybe I’m crazy but I invited them up to our roof. After all, this is safe Switzerland and without the liability lawsuits we worry about in the US. I told them we use our roof occasionally to enjoy our warbling blackbird who sings whenever the sun shines. After a brief friendly chat they went on their way. To hear the sound we enjoy go to http://www.vogelwarte.ch/home.php?&cap=voegel&ArtId=4240&lang=d
and click on the stimme button. K Q:-)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Indian Cuisine in Switzerland?

Yes! And it’s truly delicious! I have always enjoyed Indian food so was delighted when Starr introduced me to Simi Rehani. Simi is a lovely generous teacher from India who is teaching us how to make delicious regional specialties from her native country. Last week we prepared a delicious Bengali meal including Alu Posto (Potatoes with Poppy Seeds), Chana Daal, Aamer Chaatni (mango chutney) and Korma, a curry usually made with mutton (we substituted chicken). Can’t wait to see what we have in store for tomorrow. K Q:-)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Starr in Appenzell

Here is my pal Starr with her wee Molly. Starr has been my saving grace in recent months helping me find my way around Switzerland while mein Mann works long hours. She is a retired USAF officer, a whirlwind of energy and fluent in German. Starr has involved me in Book Club in Zurich, Carnevale in Venice, Simi’s Indian cooking classes and, as of tomorrow, a dinner cooking club which includes husbands. Of course, one of our favorite pastimes is shopping the fabric outlets.

Since yesterday was a glorious spring day we decided to ditch our plans for sewing and go to Appenzell - just a 15 minute drive up the mountain - for lunch. We were hungry so passed by the shops and headed for a restaurant graced with lace doilies and carved wooden chairs. After a veal and rösti lunch and a dl of wine we strolled to the shops only to find them closed for lunch. Ooops, we forgot! Next time we will stroll until the shops close and then go for lunch. K Q:-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Madonna del Sasso

This Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso (Madonna of the Rock) is built on the site overlooking Locarno where Capuchin Monk Bartolomeo d’Ivrea reputedly saw a vision of Mary. It was during the plague year 1480 but after the apparition the people here were spared. K Q:-)

Monday, May 08, 2006


We took off Saturday for a weekend in Locarno in the Ticino (the Italian canton of Switzerland). The spectacular 4 hour train trip was quite different from the snowy scenes of my trip in February. We were treated instead to gorgeous green hillsides and fields of wildflowers punctuated by blooming apple trees, newly shorn sheep and grazing cows. (How DO they stay upright on those steep hills?) The higher peaks of the Alps were still covered in snow but the slopes leading upward were dotted with the paler greens of deciduous trees among the conifers.

When we arrived in Locarno we found mild but hazy weather around Lago Maggiore so our views were not quite postcard perfect. The haze didn’t interfere with our enjoyment, however. We’d just missed the Camellia Festival but the roses were blooming along with a variety of other flowers. On Sunday we took the Funicolare (100+ years old) up the mountain to the Franciscan Santuario della Madonna del Sasso consecrated in 1487. From there we boarded a cable car and then a chair lift up to the summit of Cimetta to enjoy the cool breeze, birdsong (cuckoos!) and watch the parasailors. Here I am 1670 meters above sea level but these fellows are much higher! As for the haze ... we hear Eric Clapton will be on the Piazza Grande for a concert on July 11 so we may give Locarno another try! K Q:-)

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I’ve been working on my patio garden in recent weeks so have had Blumen on my mind. Yesterday on the way to Book Club in Zurich we spotted this spectacular wisteria. Inspiring! I am off for a weekend in Locarno with my camera. More on that later. K Q:-)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Künstbär (Art Bear)

My Houston friends will remember art cows scattered about the city a few summers ago. Sponsoring organizations hired artists to decorate cows in various themes. St. Gallen’s legend about the hermit St. Gallen encountering a bear has this Swiss town adopting the bear as its mascot. Decorated bears are popping up all over town with the spring flowers. Here is one of my favorites, a punk bear. I laughed at the tail codpiece and then my husband pointed out whose picture graced this bear’s behind - W - not popular here! K Q:-)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Up on the Roof

We live in the heart of the Alt Stadt (Old Town) of St. Gallen in a penthouse (attic) apartment in a 500 year old building. We are fortunate, we are told, in being in one of the few buildings with an elevator (added much later). Large wooden beams (some 8" across) supporting the roof are exposed around the edges of our flat. I have to pay attention not to stand up too fast lest I knock myself out when rummaging in storage areas. Our windows to the outside of the building are small portholes 41 cm across (about 16 inches) but it’s a large sunny apartment due to the six skylights and our central open air atrium. From our living room we see the atrium through a glass wall with doors. Best of all, our atrium has a ladder to the roof which has a grand view for parades, fireworks and whatever happens to be going on in Alt Stadt. Here is our northeast roof view. The fleur de lis fence is our guardrail and that’s not laundry hanging in the street but banners celebrating ecology, I think. They are always celebrating something here. K Q:-)