Zürich, Tuesday evening: Could it be that party season is already in full swing? If so, thank heavens! Gathered in our reading and radio lounge at Dufourstrasse are a sizeable crew from Zeit Magazin in Berlin, Swiss journalists and authors, handsome locals and the usual Monocle contingent. The reason for the impromptu celebration? Yet another magazine launch. Hot on the heels of their new food title Wochenmarkt, the Zeit Magazin editors have launched a twice-yearly Swiss supplement and I’m playing co-host with their editorial director Christoph Amend. Standing around our radio table, we discuss our respective connections with the country (somehow all roads lead to the Berner Oberland), why the whole place seems to work and the impact that Zsa Zsa Gábor can have on an impressionable young Canadian boy. The party moves on to the bar at the new David Chipperfield-designed Kunsthaus, where the charming Mischa looks after us, the singer Ava Vegas holds court (check her out) and Herr Amend suggests some future double-acts. Stay tuned.
Zürich, Wednesday midday: I’m about to board the Swiss flight to Los Angeles. It’ll be my first, proper long-haul trip (Dubai doesn’t really count) in almost 20 months and I’m rather excited. Then, in an instant, the whole thing is off. Canadians are welcome in the US but not via the EU. Somehow, amidst all the booking, confirmations, forms and checks this small detail was missed. The good news is that there’s a new date for the event in LA and I look forward to seeing all our southern-Californian readers in early December.
Zürich, Wednesday evening: Why not go to Copenhagen instead? Then to Stockholm for the weekend? I book it.
Zürich, Thursday evening: Genesis has just opened a sprawling showroom on the Bahnhofstrasse and we’re hosting a talk series in the lower-level auditorium on the state of the luxury goods sector. In the background is a “live” image of Seoul at sunrise on a wrap-around screen and I’m suddenly transported to the South Korean capital. Will a proper business tour of Asia be possible before year end? Here’s hoping.
As the days get shorter, Copenhagen gets cosier. Dark clouds have rolled in and, as restaurants and cafés prepare for the lunch rush, the candles come out and the lights are dimmed.
Copenhagen, early Friday morning: “You can take your mask off,” says Mikael, the driver, the second I spin out of the doors at Kastrup airport. “You will have heard that the pandemic is over here.” The last time I was in Copenhagen was the end of May and even then it felt like the Danes were done with it. But now Copenhagen feels very much like its good-old self and, for a blustery Friday, it’s packed. Tourists are out in force, the shops and restaurants are bustling and there’s a distinctly brisk energy about the place.
Copenhagen, Friday mid-morning: As the days get shorter, Copenhagen gets cosier. Dark clouds have rolled in and, as restaurants and cafés prepare for the lunch rush, the candles come out and the lights are dimmed. How do they manage to get the lighting just right in almost every setting? And, more importantly, how have they managed to overcome the dead light of LEDs? As I wait for Goods (an excellent men’s shop) to open, I pop into a lighting shop down the street to see if I’ve missed out on some illuminating innovation and if there’s a special hygge bulb that’s only available over the counter to Danish citizens. “Is there a new bulb that’s LED, dimmable and gives off cosy light?” I enquire. “You don’t look like the type of person who has lamps that are less than two years old,” she says in a dry tone. “So, no. Such a bulb is yet to be invented. Can I interest you in some of our vintage stock?” With a bit of a flourish she presents a packed shelf of old-school bulbs. “15, 20, 25, 40 – we’ve got all the cosy watts you need.” If you’re in need of some Christmas cosiness and a good glow, it seems that any Danish lighting shop has you covered.
Stockholm, very late Friday evening: I’m at Ett Hem hotel; most guests have turned in for the evening but our little table is still going strong and we’re readjusting the music and mood. I put on a track from Louane (“Donne-moi ton coeur” to be exact) and one of our group is getting into it as the lyrics kick in. This particular gentleman has considerable musical experience, has had a hand in a great many of the pop hits that fill the airwaves and dancefloors, and, as he finishes a glass of Barolo, makes the sharpest observation of the year. “What is it with the French?” he asks. “It doesn’t matter what they sing, it always sounds amazing. Is she reading from the phone directory or singing about her tax returns? It’s all so good.” Skål and santé to that.
Next stop? Our events in Munich on Tuesday and Geneva on Wednesday. Hope to clink glasses then. Details via firstname.lastname@example.org.