Travel Suisse: Zurich

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I can’t believe we have lived in Switzerland for over two years, and I’ve only just visited Zurich. It seems like such an obvious place to visit. I know many people think of Zurich and Switzerland to be essentially the same thing. And it’s so close – well, everything in Switzerland is, it’s not a very big country.

But there are factors involved in not visiting this city yet. The first and foremost being cost. If Switzerland is crazy expensive, then Zurich is hella-crazy expensive, so we’ve always avoided it a bit for that. Also, there is the language barrier. Not that it matters in such a tourist-friendly city (I wouldn’t be surprised if more Swiss in Zurich spoke English than in Geneva), but our grasp of French often keeps us turning towards our large French neighbour to the west. Continue reading

Smashing cauldrons and stockings hung by the fire

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I’ve wanted to embrace some of the traditions of our culture here in Switzerland. One of the biggest festivals in the year in Geneva is Escalade. According to legend (or history, or whatever), the Duke of Savoy wanted to take over Geneva at the beginning of the 17th century. On the night of Dec 11, 1602, the French army marched on Geneva along the Arve river (which passes by my village). But the Genevois citizens would have none of it and turned the French army back. One of  the mythic figures of that night was Mere Royaume, who lived right above one of the gates to the city, caused a retreat by tossing a cauldron of hot soup onto the men trying to scale the wall (escalade, in French). I suspect it was the cauldron beaning them rather than the soup that did the trick, but that moment has been celebrated now for 400+ years here in Geneva. Continue reading

Travel Canadiana: Pigeon Lake

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If there’s anything that I miss about Alberta in particular, I’d have to say it’s the big skies. Look at that. The sky is huge. It goes for hundreds of miles above you, and you feel like you can really breathe. That was one of the joys of “coming home” I experienced while taking my month in Alberta.

It’s a weird feeling, when home isn’t your home anymore.  My time in Canada really exacerbated this feeling for me. Like I said, it was weird. Everything that used to be everyday and common-place felt a little … off. And I found myself missing things in Switzerland too, although that came later.

To begin with, I spent nearly three weeks at my mom and stepdad’s beautiful cottage on Pigeon Lake. It was perfect. The time I spent there was really precious to me. I got to spend time with all my family. It reminded me of times growing up when we would spend a week or two at my family’s cottage, and how important those times were for me as well. Also, we had our own guest house, which made it all the more awesome. At least when the two little monsters cried all night, I didn’t have to feel guilty as well as frustrated! A downside was I was missing Z while he continued to work in Switzerland. But for the most part, the whole experience was so wonderful for all of us. Here are all the reasons why Pigeon Lake is awesome, in photos: Continue reading

Playing the tourist

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Things have been busy over the past week, and with pretty much all awesome things. Yes, I’ve been looking for houses to rent, but there’s also a lot of downtime (between going to the park and napping, of course). X and I are taking the opportunity to explore our new home, checking out new neighbourhoods and making discoveries. Z joins us when he can too, of course. As we explore areas, we’re also discovering more about the pace of life here. Obviously it’s different for me at home with the baby rather than Z at work, but we’re both seeing how life here is a little less strenuous. Things move a little more gently and time seems softened, maybe by the fantastic weather we’re enjoying. For example, we met for lunch on Friday. I thought we might grab some sandwiches at a mall. That would have been the extent of our lunches back in Calgary, when Z was working. But instead we settled in and split a bottle of wine. As I wandered the flower-strewn streets home with a red wine buzz, all I could think is pretty much life is fantastic.
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Playtime in Switzerland

This bridge cannot be crossed too many times. That's a scientific fact.

This bridge cannot be crossed too many times. That’s a scientific fact.

Over here in Geneva, we’re still waiting on our air freight to arrive, so we’re living out of suitcases. One of the biggest problems with this (okay, actually there are a lot) is that X’s toys are all packed away. On the other side of the world. He has two books, which we can safely say he’s read enough. I have them memorized, so I know I’ve read them enough. Two little stuffed toys and his Winnie the Pooh round out his stuff. And here I am stuck with him in a small apartment all day! He is very creative and comes up with all kinds of great toys around the place, like hiding in the curtains, bouncing on the couch, and of course the mop is forever fascinating. But there’s only so much an apartment can do for you. And I don’t know how many times I have to say “don’t play in the bidet” before the message gets through. These are words a mother should never have to say. These are words nobody should ever have to say, really.
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Let Sleeping Babies Lie: getting a baby over jet lag

Why take the bus when you can walk on a day as glorious as this?

Once we solved our immediate problems in our temporary housing situation, our number one challenge on arriving in Geneva was trying to get a one year old over an eight-hour jet lag. It has been rough. X has been up all hours of the night. There were times, when he was fully awake and playing at three am that I was not sure how I was going to get through it. To be honest, I’m not sure how much of X’s lack of sleeping had to do with jet lag (although it certainly isn’t helping!) and how much was him just pushing back at us for putting him through so much. The past few months have been so tumultuous, I don’t really blame him. His sleeping hasn’t been great since the last time Z went to the Middle East, four months ago, and has been getting progressively worse to the point that he’ll only sleep in bed with us.

But having a baby in bed with you kind of sucks, especially when he likes to sleep horizontally between you to and routinely dig his bony little feet into you while he sleeps, and gets up about once an hour to scream or potentially slap you in the face. So our predominant question is how do you get a fussy baby over jet lag?
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It’s a start

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Even without a working fridge I can get used to life in Geneva.

First few days in Geneva have been interesting – some things have been awesome, others not so great.

I guess I’m not too surprised that things got off to a rocky start here in Geneva. Leaving was hardly easy, so no surprise there were a few unpleasant surprises waiting for us here in Europe. Like the fridge not working. That’s a pretty major thing, and I truly believe that we completely take for granted our fridges until they stop working, and we wonder how we ever did anything without them. Like keep a babies’ milk cold. The first few evenings were chilly enough I was able to leave the milk outside, but that’s a stop gap that hardly helps.
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