So that lucky wee babe. She had two first birthdays (that she’s not going to remember). One in Switzerland and one in Canada.
The one in Switzerland was held on her actual birthday at Maminou and Papinou’s house in the afternoon. It was considered a “Canadian Dinner” which translates to a potluck (I have no idea why we coined the phrase but I guess it’s probably like French fries.) There were many of our friends and family there. We shared wine, cake, presents and good food. The wee babe did great. It also served as a bit of a going away party for us as it as 2 days before we left the country after being there for 5 months.
To be honest, it was a nice transition because as we said goodbye with a birthday party to one part of our lives, we came back to Canada and said hello to the family and friends we had been missing.
After a couple of weeks, we celebrated again at the Lion’s Hall just down the road from us with another potluck. Colleen had made the wee babe’s first birthday cake (It was only fitting since she made our wedding cake – and she did a fabulous job too by the way). We ate food, cake, opened presents and George snuck a beer (even though there was to be absolutely no alcohol in the building – there’s one in every bunch). And again, the wee babe did great.
After the party, a few of us went back to our house and had some fondue! I was all fondued out but it was nice to see our friends coming together under our house and celebrating with us.
The video captures moments from Switzerland and moments from Canada’s goodbye and hello parties.
And with this post, I think I’ve finally captured all the Swiss stories I wanted before movin’ on back to Canadian soil.
And thanks to Scott Rose for this video clip as well.
We had the most incredible experience yesterday. My hubby and I were out for a walk around the area and we decided to stop in at a “degustation” which is a wine tasting. What the hell, it was 2:30pm – why not?
We were met by a lovely Swiss woman who sat us down and poured us a half glass of wine. This wasn’t a tasting, we were going to spend some time getting to know her. We tried 4 different types of wine that she had. Keep in mind every time we tried a new wine, she opened a new bottle. Oh and there are different size bottles here in Switzerland. In Canada it seems that we only have the 750 ml bottle. Here they have the 700 ml, the 500 ml and 350 ml I think. So she opened three 500 ml and a 250 ml.
She told us all about the wines, what is well paired with each wine, what valley and area each of the grapes come from. It was all in French so I caught some of it. We must have spent about 45 minutes with her and when we were going to leave, I think I had a buzz on.
We talked about buying some wine with a raclette that we were going to have last night for dinner. We also wanted to buy a present for some friends that we’re going to their house for dinner this weekend. And a little something for one of my hubby’s other relatives for Christmas.
Alas, the gifts that we wanted to buy weren’t available (but would be today) so we made plans to come back and pick them up today.
My hubby went to pay for the wine we wanted to take with us at the time and she said “no, no, no, you can just pay me tomorrow when you come back. Oh and take the 3 bottles of wine that we opened for free.” Say what? For realz?
That was downright amazing!! We left there with such a crazy feeling. What hospitality and trust this woman who had only known us for a short period of time was instilling upon us! It’s hard to believe in this day and age that people out there still exist. Her generosity was something that I haven’t felt from a stranger in a long time.
But this isn’t the first time since we’ve been here that I understood the Swiss trust.
The other time, my hubby went to pick up some flowers for the tweenager (she was having a bad day and I asked him to buy them on the way home from the train station) but he had no money on him. The woman selling the flowers told him to take them and for him to just pay her back next time he came around. Can you believe that? I had read in a book that I was reading about the Swiss people that they act on a higher level of trust than other countries but this really flabbergasts me! In a good way of course
I just hope that their trusting nature stays the way it is and that people from other countries don’t take advantage of their generosity. I hope that other people get to experience the same level of trust that I have experienced first hand.
Have you ever heard of the expression “until the cows come home”? Well, now I’m familiar with it on a personal level.
Once a year, the cows actually do come home in Switzerland after spending the summer up in the Swiss Alps. All around Switzerland, villages are welcoming back their cows with a big festival. The festival is called “Desalpe“. The cows are dressed up and each family that owns their cows also get dressed up into typical Swiss garb and parade their cows (with their enormous decorated cow bells) through the village streets. Some cows even have head dresses on and from what I understand, these cows are the oldest and wisest of the herd.
We had the privilege again, of being invited by our friends, the Droguets, to see this wonderful event. Additionally, my mom was visiting us in Switzerland so she was also able to attend. Of course, it wouldn’t be very Swiss if there wasn’t wine flowing, grilled sausages, 10 different kinds of cheese, alp horns, flag throwing, fondue, and Swiss music filling the air.
We watched the cows parade through the streets. My friend explained to me after we left that she grew up with this yearly festivity as her family took part in it for may years. She explained to me that this is the day that the cows are really proud. They make the 4+ hours walk down the mountainside with their handlers. When they arrive at the bottom their handlers bathe them, brush them and stroke them. A cow spa if you will. After, they are all primped up with their best bells and flowers, they strut through town holding their head high as this is their day to shine.
We had a wonderful time spending the day in the sun, taking in the atmosphere which we followed up with a wonderful fondue.
Thanks again the Droguets for yet another, rich Swiss experience!
I need to take the time to record a moment in time where I’m so proud and ready. Let’s hope it keeps happening.
For the past few nights now, the wee babe has woken up in the middle of the night and self soothed herself back to sleep. Yeah baby! I was so ready for this to happen. I need to admit I was a little nervous about how this was going to come to pass. I think I mentioned that I had basically given up rejecting night feedings (even though I knew she didn’t need them) while we were on our trip across Canada as every night was a different sleep for her. Different noises, different temperatures, etc… so I had absolved myself to sleep training her once we arrived in Switzerland. But, I was wondering how I was going to do this. Crying to sleep? Pick up and put down all night long? I wondered.
Then, last Thursday (I think) I said to my hubby, it has to be you that goes to her in the middle of the night, as she associates me with breast milk and feeding. So we planned that as we fell asleep. Without fail, around 2 am she aroused from her slumber in her bed and the hubby began to get up. I said “wait a sec and see what she does.” So we waited. And low and behold she cried for a few minutes and then she found her fingers and off to sleep she went again. It happened again that night and self soothed herself again. Et voila! One night under our belts. Would you call that sleeping through the night? The tweenager says no but the hubby says yes.
Next night, exact same thing. Then the night after we were in a hotel room in France (more on that in a bit) and she woke up at 5 am. We weren’t as lucky that time as she tried to self sooth but it didn’t take and because it was so late in the sleep I decided to breast feed her.
Last night, same as the first two!! I think we’ve established a pattern that I’m thrilled about as I was so scared that I was going to have to do the crying thing. Now cross fingers that this pattern sticks. And not a moment too soon either. The wee babe (and the tweenager) are heading to the in-laws for a sleep over on Saturday (have I mentioned that I’m a little nervous about this yet? It’s me, not them) and it will be my first time to leave the wee babe with someone else for a whole night alone. So, I’m feeling quite a bit better given the wee babe’s sleep patterns of late. I’m a whole lot more relieved.
I’m thrilled actually! Fingers crossed that she keeps up her patterns.
France: Colmar, Obernai, Strasbourg
Our family did a little out trip through the wine district of France on Sunday and Monday. We always do a lot of comparing when we arrive in Switzerland with Canada. So I’m going to do a bit of comparing now. Europe seems to shut down on Sundays (and a bit on Mondays too!). Personally, I think this sucks. I understand that people need a break but I’m sure there are other people out there that would gladly work. And so it make traveling on these days difficult.
Regardless, the scenery was breathtaking. I’m one for visiting little villages versus seeing the view from a mountain top, so this was right up my alley.
We stopped in Colmar for lunch. I had the most delicious meal of Roesti with goat cheese. Oh my god. It was devine. And the town was straight out of Heidi (IMHO). When the tweenager and I read the book and the part where Heidi runs away from the house in Germany, the village is exactly how I would imagine it to be. I seemed like a scene out of a movie. I kept asking, “Is this real? Do people live here? Or is this just the tourist area that they fake-it-up?” My hubby said “Oh yeah, just like in Disneyland where it looks like people live but no one lives here”. He was kidding of course.
After getting our fill of Roesti and walking around the town, we got back in the car and toured the countryside. Castles, vineyards, wineries oh my! Most of the wineries were closed but we did happen upon one that would serve us some yummy pinot gris and gewürztraminer. We bought a couple of bottles to bring back with us.
We also stopped in at a place called Monkey Mountain. This is a mountain in the forest that has a whole bunch of monkeys roaming around. You pay to get in (it’s a tourist attraction) and you get a handful of popcorn to give to the monkeys. It was pretty neat to see them up close and personal. I liked the baby monkeys the best.
We arrived in Obernai and found our little hotel (3 floors up and no elevator). It was nice though. We headed out to find some dinner.
We happened upon this wonderful outdoor restaurant called Zum Schnogolock. Cheap cheap cheap. And oh so good. We had tarte flambé and a delicious goat cheese salad. Oh yeah, the tarte flambé was also goat cheese. I had a bit of a goat cheese craving going on. So I have to explain what a tarte flambé is. It’s like a pizza, only thinner and it’s made with cream instead of tomato sauce. You then get different things on it like mushrooms, ham, munster cheese, etc…Oh it’s delicious. After all that food, we quietly hid our leftovers in a napkin and stashed it in the stroller (doggie bags are poo pooed here) and then we were on our way for ice cream! Yum. The hubby kept saying how cheap it all was. If he’s happy, I’m happy.
The next day, we packed up and had a coffee and French bread for breakfast. Then we took off to Strasbourg. The weather was menacing. Threatening to pour. And I mean pour. Then the wind showed up. We arrived in Strasbourg and it was pretty dark. The city itself was bigger than we had seen the day before. We walked over to the famous cathedral but I didn’t really want to go in and the wind was picking up. The wee babe was also getting a little testy too. So we stopped for some snacks and then we walked around the city. It was so very different than North America. All the architecture here is so stunning to me. Every turn down a different road or alley way is a new unfolding of the senses.
Then it rained and rained so we took cover in The Stub. We had more tart flambé but this time it was desert so I picked a chocolate/banana tart that everyone agreed was the best. We wrote a huge postcard to our friends in Duncan and then headed back to the car.
We stopped for gas and to pick up some cross border shopping that took an undesirable amount of time and headed home.
Oh and it was our Swiss anniversary that day but we didn’t really do anything special for each other. We decided that for our 5th we would jump out of a plane together.
Wow, what a drive. This drive was dialed in at 5.5 hours on the GPS. We arrived after 10 hours. We stopped A LOT.
Let’s see… first stop was 3 Valley Gap where we took a break and bought two ham sandwiches and a fruit cup for $13!! My god.
Roger’s Pass was our next stop where we took a photo with a fake bear and breathed the mountain air.
In Golden there was a HUGE diaper explosion. I took EVERYTHING out of the car to get at the diaper wipes stored in the wheel well and the Swiss Mister thought I was ridiculous.
Of course you can’t go to Golden and not get a some golden delicious apples so we grabbed some food at the grocery store and paid the SAME amount as 3 Valley Gap.At the ‘Welcome to Alberta’ sign we pulled over for a photo op and some other people pulled over too so I asked them to take a photo of us but it didn’t work so then I asked the tweenager to grab the baby and take another photo but the flash was up and the photo was crap so I asked her to go back and take another and the hubby thought I was ridiculous AGAIN!!
Lake Louis was a gong show with sooooo many people there. It was a little stupid for us to go just for a picture as the drive back down was a 20 minute wait.
The wee babe was really not happy for the last 2 hours of the trip so we stopped at a mosquito infest road side pull out where there was a bear gate that the hubby just had to pass through. Then a tourist decided that he wanted to pass through it too (WTF?) and the hubby thought it would be funny to growl like a bear to scare him. We all think he shit his pants because after he jumped he said “Was that some kind of joke?” I thought that the hubby was going to get punched. I think the baby saved his ass.
We continued on and the hubby was convinced that the wee babe was teething so we stopped in Canmore to get some Oragel but Shoppers was closed so I gave her some baby Tylenol. That knocked her out for an hour. Not long enough we still had a half an hour to go to get to my cousin’s house.
I realized that yesterday was too far of a drive. I couldn’t hack it when the wee babe was crying, screaming, howling… It was too much for my nerves. I begged my hubby to do whatever he could (he was sitting in the backseat) to get her to stop. All she wanted was out of the freakin carseat I think. Not sure if she was even teething because each time we stopped the car, she stopped freaking out instantly. It’s really unbearable for me to listen to her. She doesn’t cry like a whining it’s like a cat it getting murdered.
Anyway, we arrived at my cousin Lyndsey’s house and she had forgotten that we were coming. I guess I should have trusted my intuition and emailed her a few days before just to be sure. But we did call twice during the day, she just didn’t check her voice mail
But she was so hospitable and gave us left over steak and ribs. Potatoes and corn. We were so lucky and the food was devine. And then we started in on the wine.
With the time change it was still light out at 11pm. Yeah baby! But it was a bit of a shock when the wee babe and tweenager were still awake at that point. So off to bed the tweenager went.
Man oh man did we laugh. We were up to 2am talking about a bunch of dirty stuff I can’t tell you about. Oh dear. Hilarity ensued. Let’s just say Jeff is now our new BFF.
We woke up at 8am, had a wonderful coffee and some granola, rehashed in PG13 some topics from the night before, packed up and we were off. Thanks soooo much Lyndsey for putting us up. We really appreciated it.
We’re on the road now, the hubby is driving (obviously) and it’s a play by play of the things we’re seeing (not much.) but I’m content with it none-the-less. Calgary was a gorgeous day but now we’re under clouds but I can see blue skies in front of us.
Today’s destination is a little undetermined but we’re thinking Morse with a stop in Medicine Hat first (couldn’t miss it Courtney!!). Evidentially, Morse a nice little town on the side of lake. We’ve used up all my relatives and aren’t going to be mooching off anyone now until Ottawa (thanks Allison!).
Gas: $56 @ 1.11/litre Food: $13 sandwiches and $13 groceries Wee babe disposition: pretty stellar save for the last two hours of howling. Wildlife seen: Coyote, gophers Weather: averaged 22 roughly Things that have already broken: cable for the iphone Stress level: a solid 100% when the wee babe was howling. Back down to a normal 5% for the rest of the time.