Bonjour de la Suisse

Hello from Switzerland! ~~ The adventures of a California girl who got married to a great guy, G, and traded in her old life for the chance to live in a foreign land and live the expat life for a couple years. We live in Geneva, Switzerland with our globe-trotting cat, Scout.

Ma photo
Nom :
Lieu : California, United States

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." ~ G.K. Chesterton

vendredi, juin 23, 2017



I'm back in California and dreaming of Swiss life. :)

mercredi, juillet 23, 2008

5,826 miles (or 9,374 km as they say across the pond)

How do you measure distance?
A plane ride?
A Skype call?

Just three short years before I had arrived in a foreign land so different from anything I knew, where I didn't speak the language, didn't know the customs, and more importantly didn't know a soul besides G.  Now I was leaving a place that I truly feel is my home; full of good friends, familiar haunts, exciting adventures, and so many wonderful memories.

Even though we are moving 5,826 miles back to our "other" home in California, I still will always consider Geneva my home.  There will always be things that I will miss about living in Europe, but there are a lot of things I'm looking forward to also.  I can't wait to once again be living close to friends and family.  I always said if I could live in the perfect place it would be Geneva but with all our friends and family there too.

It was a long journey back.  The Swiss Air flight from Geneva to JFK was a little rough for me.  Because Maddie was so young (only 8 weeks old) we decided to reserve a seat with a bassinet.  Unfortunately, the bassinet seat is on the bulkhead, so Gary ended up sitting in a totally different section of the plane with Scout, who flew under the seat in front of him.  I was in the very center of the plane squished between two people who didn't look happy to be flying next to me and a newborn.  Of course Maddie wanted no part of the bassinet and I ended up holding her about 7 hours of the 8 hour flight!  She did sleep in it briefly so I could eat a bit and use the lavatory.

The US customs agent was great.  He stamped all our passports (they don't do that anymore when you enter the US). On Maddie's passport he wrote "GL". I asked him if those were his initials and he said, "No, that is for good luck!" What a nice guy! The only passport he didn't check was Scout's. Yup, she has a Swiss passport which I wanted to show him, but he didn't seem too concerned about verifying who she was.

When we got to JFK I was trying to find a discrete place to feed Maddie before our next flight to Florida. We ended up in a corner table in the food court. I had had no problems at all feeding Maddie in public in Europe. It seemed to me like everyone did it and no one even batted an eye about it. (Well, except the little old man in the Paquis who glanced my way and said, "Bon appétit, bébé!") But here we were, just arrived on US soil, and the couple a few tables away gave us the biggest stares you have ever seen. They actually turned all the way around in their seats to stare at us. They looked offended, but what was I supposed to do? I wasn't flaunting it. I was trying to be as discrete as possible and Maddie was hungry. In retrospect I supposed they were offended because I didn't have a nursing cover (I did have on a nursing top so I didn't have my top hiked up). But at that time I didn't even know nursing covers existed! They don't sell them in Switzerland and I had never seen anyone use anything to cover up their babies to nurse them. Oh well, I stayed strong and ignored them.

The flight to Florida was a little easier and a lot shorter! Maddie was already turning out to be a good little flyer. This flight we all sat together which was nice for me. I was so happy to see Susie at the airport. It was a great start to our US homecoming. We must have been quite a sight! Two tired parents, a pile of luggage, a newborn, and Scout. I think the days of traveling light are over for a while! We arrived on July 2nd. I was happy that Maddie would get to spend her first 4th of July in the US.

Our time in Florida was brief, but busy. Maddie got to meet her Auntie Susie, Uncle Leo (who actually held her in spite of him being a little nervous he would drop her), and her great grandparents - Granddad and Ma. Ma told us that from now on she wants to be called "Gi-Gi", short for "Great Grandma", so that is what we will call her. Maddie is their first great grandchild and we were all thrilled they got to meet her when she was only eight weeks old.

Scout wasn't so sure about her temporary home at Ma and Granddad's condo. She would hide out either in the paint closet (no one could figure out how she was sneaking in there) or in the "library" behind the book shelf. The joke was she liked to read back there. She really is a good traveler though. What a little trooper!

We spent most of our time in Florida visiting with family and getting over our jet lag.  We spent some time at the beach, but I was worried about Maddie getting too much sun.  Down by the beach we took pictures at my favorite tree, it's the same tree I took pictures at when I was a kid. It was a really nice visit and a nice break on our long journey home.

All too soon it was time to get on another plane for our final leg to California.  We had another uneventful flight but by the time we arrived I was spent!  Gayle picked us up from the airport and took us to her house for some food and some much needed rest.  We ended up staying with her for a few days while we got our condo ready to move back into.  In addition to our luggage, we had a few boxes that were shipped from Geneva by air.  We packed them full of the absolute necessities for Maddie and for the house.  Our aero-bed, baby clothes, a few kitchen supplies, and some other stuff was in that shipment.  We would have to wait another eight weeks for the rest of our stuff to come over by sea and clear customs before being delivered to our place.

I think Scout acclimated better than we did!  She seemed to remember the condo and was happy to have her feet back on the ground.  We on the other hand, didn't have such a smooth transition.  Getting used to caring for a newborn on top of an international move was tough.  Sleeping on the aero-bed for eight weeks was tough. But slowly but surely we got back to the swing of life in California.  

The biggest and most surprising adjustment for us was the reverse culture shock we experienced.  We were anxious to get all our errands run on Saturdays because we kept thinking the stores would be closed on Sunday.  We were getting used to paying with a credit card again and not carrying around so much cash. I had to get used to the "car culture" in the US and the fact that I couldn't walk to the market or restaurants like I used to.  I felt very isolated from everything living so far away from a downtown.  I missed so much about living in Geneva that just didn't exist here.  Our friends, the lake, the festivals, Glocal events, outdoor cafes, public transportation, hearing the language, cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, the changing of the seasons, the view of Mont-Blanc, a proper fondue, a good kir, and so much more.

But our friends and family made up for all of that.  They welcomed us back with open arms and were really happy we had made the move back home.  Everyone was eager to meet Maddie and we had lots of visitors in those early days.  Maddie had two baby showers thrown in her honor.  One at Auntie Brand's house and one at Auntie Sharron's. They were more like "meet and greet" showers since Maddie was there too.  It was so touching to have so many people there to support us. 

By September Maddie started Gymboree, took her first dip in a pool, and we joined a playgroup.  Once our stuff arrived and we were able to put together a proper nursery for Maddie, things started to feel a lot more like home.  Maddie had been the biggest blessing and the best thing we could have come home with from our time in Geneva.

One day we may be lucky enough to have the opportunity to move back to Europe.  But for now we are starting another exciting chapter in our lives.  I'm looking forward to what lies ahead for Gary, Maddie and I. 

We were so fortunate to have had the amazing experience of living in Geneva.  I will always cherish our three years we had there and the wonderful friends we made.  I'm also thankful I created this blog that chronicled so many of our adventures throughout Europe and beyond.  

With that I am signing off this blog for the last time.  Thank you for reading and following along for the past three years.  I hope to start a new blog that will follow our little family and all our future adventures, wherever that may take us.  Until then, I a bid a fond farewell to "Bonjour de la Suisse".

Au revoir et milles bisous

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; 
it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." ~ G.K. Chesterton

mercredi, juillet 16, 2008

Catching Up - Our Last Week in Geneva

Well, it has been quite a while since I've posted and our lives have changed a great deal since then! At the time of my last post, we were about a week from moving back to California and our computer was shipped by air so we wouldn't have to carry it on the plane. I was also bound and determined to spend every minute of that last week out with friends and enjoying the city as much as I could. So not only was I not home much, but when we were home all of our time was spent getting ready for the movers to pack up our stuff. Since being back we've been trying hard to get settled which doesn't leave much time for blogging. So enough with the excuses... too much time has passed and now I'm ready to get caught up and back on track with my writing. I will begin with where I left off...

So I realize I left you hanging back in June. Unless you are a fan, you may not know that after a valiant effort by the German team, Spain beat them to win the 2008 FIFA EuroCup Championships. Here is how the final games went down:

We went to the FanZone in Geneva to try to catch the championship game with some friends, but there was no way we were getting in there with a stroller. So we ended up wandering around, taking in the festivities around town. But I'm getting ahead of myself, because the final game was on Sunday, June 29th, just two days before our big move.

So what was our last week like in Geneva? It was crazy hectic, a bit surreal, and definitely bitter sweet. The week started on Monday (the 23rd) with an "Au revior" party at G's office. The Friday before the office hosted a lunch in our honor with speeches from the big boss who said, "You are so lucky to be going back to 360 days of sun in California!" and some very sweet words from some of the other folks. I was fighting back tears and despite my best efforts to hide my feelings I think it was pretty obvious I was all choked up.

Every day of that last week I made sure to take in as much as possible and try to make our remaining time slow down a bit. We had lunches by the lake with friends, breakfasts at La Terrasse (my favorite lakeside bar that also serves food), and lots of ice cream at our favorite gelato place. Every second I wasn't in our apartment packing I was out and about soaking in everything I could.

Maddie had her two month check up that Tuesday which went well. Her pediatrician, Dr. Roupond wished us well and reassured us that if we ever return to Geneva he will still be Maddie's doctor! I thought that was so sweet. He also waned to know who was going to be in charge of her bilingual education, which is something I sincerely hope we can provide for her.

Believe it or not we still had one more out-of-town visitor who was coming to stay with us! Our friend Will arrived on Thursday and we immediately went down to the FanZone to check out one of the semi-final games. The game was great to watch, but the real entertainment was watching G and Will take advantage of the 70% off sale at the FanZone souvenir stand. They bought T-shirts, hats, balls, key chains, pins, and other memorabilia. It was hilarious to watch them go back for this and that. We had so much stuff we could barely get it all home! I have to admit I am guilty of picking us some EuroCup stuff too. At Manor I bought a few things, including a EuroCup bib and onesie for Maddie.

On Friday our sage-femme (or midwife), Sandrine came for her final visit. She was there to teach us all about baby massage, but Maddie would have none of it! She was just not in the mood for a massage (is that possible?!?) But fortunately for us, G and I got to fill in for Maddie and we each got a mini massage (for demonstration purposes)! G got a back massage and I got a face massage. How great is that? All too soon it was time to say goodbye which was tough because she really had made a big impact on our lives. It really was a blessing to have her around for the first few weeks after Maddie was born.

For lunch Will, G, Maddie and I headed down to my absolute favorite lunch place in Geneva, the Bains de Paquis. We met up with Mrs. Kofi and Els who convinced me I had to have one more dip in the lake before our move. G and Will even braved the dive platform! It was a great afternoon in the sun but it was all going by way too fast!

 That night we headed down to Le Terrasse (where else would we be on a beautiful Friday night?) where you are bound to run into a ton of folks you know because everyone seems to gather there. Our friend, Shawn, was having a small group together for going away drinks because it was her last night in town before moving back to New York. That is the thing about Geneva... people are always coming and going. It is so hard for me to say goodbye to friends but I know we will stay in touch and the cool part is now we have friends literally all over the world!

The next day we zipped off to Yvoire, France with Will to show him a little of what lies beyond the Geneva border. I had been there a few times so I decided to go one last time to all my favorite shops. I bought some wooden toys and a few antiques. When we stopped for lunch I decided to pop into my absolute favorite little shop full of rustic nick-knacks that was just a few doors down from the lunch place. I was so happy when the lady who owns the shop remembered me from the times I had been in there before! What a nice surprise! I told her we were moving and stopped in again after lunch to introduce her to Maddie. The owner was so sweet - she went to the back and came out with a little stuffed bear for Maddie. I was so touched by her going away gift!

That afternoon was our big going away party at Lady Godiva Pub. We had about 50 people stop in to wish us a fond farewell. I was so thrilled that so many folks came by! It was tough though, because I really couldn't spend the quality time with everyone I would have liked too. Maddie was an angel. She was so good, letting everyone hold her and even getting a nap in. After the party a small group of us went down the street for dinner at a pizzeria. Right up till the end we were still discovering new places to eat in town! :)

On Sunday (the day of the EuroCup final) Will was on his way back to California. We would be seeing him again in about a week but I was trying not to think too much about that. I was still holding on to every last minute we had in Switzerland. That night was our last night sleeping in our apartment. The next morning was the last morning I would wake up, gaze out our bedroom window to the pretty little church across the street and think, "I can't believe we are living in Europe!" I never took for granted that we had this amazing opportunity to live in such an amazing place.

Monday the movers came bright and early. All of our frantic packing was hopefully good enough. Like I told G, one way or another all this stuff will get to California, organized or not! Poor Scout had to be locked in the bathroom so she wouldn't escape out the open door. The movers were amazingly efficient. The three of them each took a room and wasted no time getting to work. By lunch most of the apartment was packed up.

The strange thing about our move is that our crazy neighbors from across the hall were also moving! This is the couple that fought all the time. His stuff regularly was piled up outside their door and was soon followed by flowers. One night at about 4am we were woken from a dead sleep to their screams from across the hall. The husband emerged with a duffel bag that he dumped in the dumpster in the alley behind our place. I was convinced that he had murdered his wife, but thankfully it wasn't that dramatic. G also walked out of our apartment one day to the wife standing in the hall wearing only her lingerie saying goodbye to her mother. Strange couple to say the least.

But back to our move. There was a couple things we still wanted to buy before the move. The day before I was at Manor to buy a traditional fondue pot (which are very heavy by the way!) and the day of the move we realized we had never bought a cuckoo clock! So while the movers were at lunch we went to a nearby shop that specializes in these traditional clocks. We returned with our chalet style clock just in the nick of time to make the sea shipment! After some frantic last minute cleaning we headed to Mr. & Mrs. Kofi's for dinner and to sleep (since our beds were all packed up).

On day two of the move the movers actually took all of our boxed up stuff and put it on the sea container that was on a truck parked outside. I couldn't bear to watch so I went for a walk down by the lake and met up with my friend Carola for one more coffee (we had met up for lots of "coffee dates" over the last year and G liked to say to me, "Oh, are you going for coffee with Carola?") Our dear house cleaner, Sonia, came by for one last cleaning (She was a lifesaver when I was on bed rest and just a wonderful person who really helped to lift my spirits during that hard time). She was another person it was hard to say goodbye too, but since she works for Mrs. Kofi I hope to see her again when we are out to visit next summer. We had a few last minute things to take care of, including buying real Swiss watches (we really waited till the last minute for that purchase!) and some final apartment cleaning. Our final night was spent at Mr. & Mrs. Kofi's house in Meis. They had a special dinner for us and it was the perfect place to spend our final night.

The next morning was crazy. We had to pick up Scout who spent the night at our apartment, return the Mobility car that we had rented, and get all four of us checked in (Scout too)! We also stopped into G's office (which is right there at the airport) to say our final goodbyes. I was a mess! I was not ready to move and that morning was just the worst. It was really one of the saddest days of my life. Thank goodness Sarah was there to help us stay organized and help me keep it together. Monte and Raphael also came down to the departure area to see us off. At the last minute Sarah and I ran into one of the shops for a last minute box of chocolates and some Swiss herbal candy called "Rescue" - she said it would calm my nerves and make me feel better.

The inevitable was upon us, it was time to go through passport control and leave our friends on the other side. After lots of hugs and some tears we were on our way. The passport control guy stamped Maddie's passport (her first stamp) and we waved goodbye from the other side of the glass. Our journey was just beginning but I was already exhausted, emotionally and physically.

Like it or not... USA here we come!