You Slacker, You. Also Switzerland.

I’m clearly not very good at keeping on top of things. Being that it’s been over a month since my last post and even longer since the events I’m writing about, it should be clear what my New Year’s resolution is (not that I managed to write them anywhere!); be more organised. From now on I hope to keep to a posting schedule of at least once a week.

Last post I spoke about Milan. Well, after Milan, and after a fair amount of stress around getting on a train, we arrived in Zürich, where my boyfriend’s aunt lived. We had stayed with my relatives already on this trip, however I hadn’t met my Dad’s cousins either so it was equally daunting for the both of us. This time however I was meeting a woman my boyfriend obviously had a good relationship with and I had no idea what to expect. Would she like me? Would I like her? Was her husband nice, did her children behave like total brats? I was lost, and a complete nervous wreck.

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It’s just postcard perfect, isn’t it?

As it turned out she is a lovely woman, who looks about ten years younger than she is, her husband was an absolute delight and their children some of the best behaved I’ve come across in some time. Phew. Once that dilemma was well and truly dealt with, I was much more relaxed about our trip. Truthfully, I didn’t have a clue what there was to do in Zürich and was completely reliant on my boyfriend to sort things out. We spent a week in Lenze Heide with his aunt’s family, up in the Swiss Alps, which is a completely beautiful area. Unfortunately due to having developed Osgood-Schlatter’s in my right knee, I was finding it difficult to be as active as I wanted to be, especially when it came to going up and down the mountains. Luckily my boy is very patient in times like this and put up with my slow pace and hisses of indignant pain when needed.

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I was more than ready to return to Zürich from the Alps when the time came. I was having a slight bit of technology withdrawal, as the holiday house was newly purchased we weren’t even sleeping on proper beds, so wifi was out of the question. Zürich is interesting, but I probably wouldn’t list it up with my favourite cities. It’s certainly pretty, the museum is incredible and the view from the top of one of the mountains nearby is breathtaking (I honestly don’t remember which one), but by this point, and so soon after my favourite city (Venice) it’s not somewhere I’d go out of my way to return to now.

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I find Swiss-German very difficult. I’m nearly fluent in German after five years of continuous study and an exchange trip, but Swiss-German is just too different, and nearly impossible for me to understand, so keep that in mind when planning a trip. They may share some similarities, and certainly written it is easier to understand, but the accent and pronunciation can be vastly different.

From Zürich we travelled to Lutry, a little town near Lausanne in the French part of Switzerland where my Dad’s cousin Philip lives with his wife. Philip is one of the most amazing people I know in terms of being multilingual. His first language is Cypriot Greek from his father’s side (brother to my Grandmother or Yiayia in Greek) Armenian from his mother’s side, English from school and my Grandparents whom he stayed with often when he studied in England, German which he learned to speak to his wife (and to read the good car magazines!), and finally French which I believe was also learnt in school but is practised due to where he lives, just amazing. I find two languages hard enough, but to have five sitting there in your head is insane.

Reformation Monument in Geneva

Reformation Monument in Geneva

With Philip we travelled around Lausanne, Gruyere and Geneva. Lausanne is incredibly pretty in the snow and the cathedral is breathtaking. Gruyere was interesting… we saw Spanish football fans doing something with bells (see picture) and that was a stand-out moment. Geneva was again, really pretty but just about the most expensive place we went. Both Philip and his wife Barbara are amazing cooks so the food was incredible, but as my knee was still playing up I couldn’t go for spontaneous walks like my boyfriend could, so I didn’t see anything I wasn’t driven to.

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In conclusion (wow, I haven’t written that since high school…), Switzerland is completely gorgeous, but incredibly expensive so if you’re looking to go there I’d recommend saving a lot or finding people to stay with (you also get local knowledge this way, which was invaluable for us as otherwise we quite possibly would have spent our 2-3 weeks in Switzerland being confused by the funny not-quite German or French that neither of us spoke, then get to the end of our stay and totally regret everything we didn’t see because we didn’t know about it (or at least, I would have…). Anywho, we got on a train from Lausanne to Geneva, then a high-speed TGV to Paris, and that is where I’m leaving this post for now because honestly, if it hasn’t become obvious by now that I’m truly crap at this, making this post any longer would do it. So next up: Paris, then London, then Germany and surrounding cities we went to just outside Germany (probably in two posts… a whole month is a lot to cram into one post, and given that one country is practically an essay I won’t do that again. I swear. 500 word limit)

Until next time,

Helen

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