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

jeudi, janvier 31, 2008

A sudden change of plans...

The day after we arrived back in Geneva from Burgundy we had a doctor’s visit with my OBGYN. During a visit in December I was told to “take it easy” due to my cervix being on the “short end” of the scale. I was to stop exercising, not to take stairs, not to lift anything heavy, and not to walk too much. Even with our travels I had modified my activities and was following her instructions to a tee.

Now it was late January and during my most recent ultrasound it showed that my cervix had shortened to just 2cm (normal is 3-5cm). So my doctor put me on bed rest at home and forbid me to travel. Well, this drastically changed our plans for moving back to California.

We were set to move back the last week of February, which is just one month away, now it looks like we are here until after the baby is born in May. We even asked, “If we were to get me on a plane tomorrow, could I make the journey back to the US?” “Absolutely not” she told us. So it looks like we are here for a few more months.

The other plans that suddenly changed were the few remaining trips I had booked that I now had to cancel. Next week I was supposed to visit my step-brother in Weimar, Germany where he had moved to a couple of months ago. Then I was to meet G in Köln, Germany for Karnival (cleverly disguised as a business trip). I also had plans to visit Andorra (the last of the “small countries” I have yet to see), a short trip to Paris to visit a high school friend who lives there, and finally to Northern Ireland to do a little genealogy research. I had to scrap all my plans and trade it for our not so comfy couch. It is probably for the best… I don’t want to overexert myself 24 weeks into my pregnancy.

The last week of January G went to Köln on his business trip. At first he didn’t want to go, but I insisted. It was only for three days and it really isn’t that far from Geneva in case he had to rush back for any reason. (He did cancel his upcoming business trip to the US, because it was just too far with me on bed rest.) I was bummed to have missed the festivities in Köln, but it sounded like G had a good time. His costume for Karnival was “The Duke of Darkness” and I thought the pictures turned out great!

I was also happy to hear that there were a ton of “hippie” costumes this year. We went as hippies two years ago (we bought the real deal from Height-Ashbury on a visit home) when the costume was completely nonexistent (clowns and cowboys dominated the scene). Did we start a trend? I like to think so, but that may just be in my mind. Still, it’s pretty groovy!

Partying it up at Karnival in Köln

dimanche, janvier 20, 2008

A January full of travel

Glacier Express, Switzerland

Our very first trip of 2008 was on the Glacier Express, one of Switzerland's most famous train excursions. It runs from Zermatt to St. Moritz, but we hopped on in Brig, which is much closer to Geneva than going all the way to Zermatt.

The Glacier Express has been operating since 1930 and is billed as "the world's slowest express train", averaging just 36 km/h (22 mph). Since we have moved to Switzerland this famous train journey has been one of the big things on our list of things to do. We decided to pull out all the stops and booked first class tickets on a panoramic car with windows that extend to the roof.

The trip did not disappoint… it was really quite elegant with first class service and delicious food. We traveled over historic bridges, through beautiful landscapes, mountain forests, Alpine meadows, and scenic valleys. We arrived in the posh resort town of St. Moritz in the evening and walked the snow lined streets to our very nice hotel. The next day there was time for a bit of shopping and a walk around town before we caught the regular train back to Geneva.

All aboard!

We arrived in St. Moritz!

City of San Marino, San Marino

The second week of January G was off to the US for work, so I decided to travel to little San Marino, which is completely surrounded by Italy and claims to be the oldest constitutional republic in the world. I actually didn’t realize it was a country until a few months ago. Being the third smallest country in Europe (only Vatican City and Monaco are smaller), it naturally went on my list of places to go!

I made the 7 hour train journey from Geneva and found myself in the Italian town of Rimini where I had to catch a bus to the capital city of San Marino. Little did I know there are only 5 bus trips a day and I narrowly made the last one! The trip took 1 1/2 hours and by the time we got the end of the line on the outside of the town wall, I was the only passenger left! It was dark, foggy, and completely deserted and I had no clue how to even get inside the town walls, let alone my hotel!

I wandered around for a while and was thinking this may not have been the best idea. But I got some help from the owner of another hotel in town and soon I found my way safe and sound to my hotel. The next day I explored this small hilltop capital city (still engulfed in fog) and even got my passport stamped (for 10 Euros!). Soon I was on my way back. I didn’t stay long, but there wasn’t much more to see. And while the town was really cute, I was keen to get out of the fog!

The cute town of San Marino

Self portrait in front of the Town Hall in Palazzo Publico

Burgundy, France

With G back form the US we decided to rent a car and spend a long weekend in the French region of Burgundy, a region rich in history, culture and geography. Our home base was the cute little town on Beaune, just outside Dijon. This area is known for its fine cuisine and wine, but on this trip I couldn’t indulge in the later (although I did have a few sips from G’s glass).

We wanted to explore the countryside and see some of the out of the way sights. We ended up visiting the isolated, medieval Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay, one of the oldest abbeys in France (it was founded in 1118). It was such an interesting and peaceful place to wander around and we had almost the whole place to ourselves.

Next we drove to the town of Vézelay to make the pilgrimage, like thousands of others before us, to the Basilica of Ste. Madeleine where the medieval masses came to see the relics of Mary Magdalene. The Basilica is also famous for the three Crusades that started from here. We ventured down to the crypt, which is actually the foundation of the original 9th century church and the location of the famous relics (there isn’t much to see of the relics, but they are there). What a great experience, I felt like we were traveling back in time!

Back in Beaune we ate like kings and found the town so cute! The biggest sight there is the medieval charity hospital, Hôtel-Dieu, which is now a museum. On our way back to Geneva we stopped in Dijon for a few hours to get a taste of the city… it was actually quite big and crowded, much different than the three days we spent in the quiet countryside. Overall we had a wonderful time and it was just the get away we needed.

Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay

Outside the Basilica of Ste. Madeleine

Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune

jeudi, janvier 10, 2008

Driving "Smart"

With our time in Europe coming to an end, we made a list of all the things we still wanted to do and see. When we realized we hadn’t driven a Smart car yet, we immediately booked one through our car sharing service, Mobility, and on our next free Saturday we zipped around Geneva in style!

We didn’t really know where to go in our tiny car (and let me tell you … it was TINY - measuring only 250 centimetres (98.4 in) in length - as long as the width of an average car), so we drove around until we ended up in nearby Carouge where there is a giant baby store that we checked out, mostly out of curiosity. After being there for about 10 minutes G declared that he was “overwhelmed”, so we didn’t stay too long. ;)

On the following Monday I decided to head to nearby France to the lakeside city of Evian, made famous by Evian water. There really isn’t much to the town (blink and you have driven through it), but I bought some water and hung out by the lake for a bit before driving back. It was a nice day, even if it was somewhat uneventful.

mardi, janvier 01, 2008

Cheers to a happy & healthy 2008!!

We arrived in Geneva on December 30th, just in time to get our plans organized for New Years Eve. Could the year really be over already?!? It certainly has been a blast for us and I was sad to see 2007 end. But bigger and better things lay ahead for us in 2008!

Now that I’m just about 22 weeks pregnant, we decided to skip the rowdy party scene that we had participated in the year before and opted for a more mellow evening. We started with dinner with friends at a local Indian restaurant (where we know the owner) and then we headed over to a bar called Lola’s where we met up with some more of our friends. We rang in the New Year with glasses held high and big smiles all around.

Yes, I have a feeling 2008 is going to be great! It’s also going to be filled with big changes for us. We are moving back to California in February and then the little one arrives in May. Although I know we are going to really miss living in Geneva, I am so excited to start this new chapter in our lives.

Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you are looking forward to the New Year as much as we are!!

Wishing you all the best for 2008!
Bonne Année!!