Monday, October 31, 2011

So what are you afraid of?

I thought that given today is Hallowe'en day that there is no better topic for my blog then that of fear. So what scares you? What are you afraid of? Is it spiders, the dark, being alone, snakes, birds - love you Cate! What makes the hair on your neck stand up and your stomach move into your throat?
I hate that feeling that wells up inside of you, the loss of control, the cold sweat, the thing that keeps you up at night. Are you ready? Today in my blog I'm going to get deep. I'm going to put it out there. I'm going to be honest. One of my greatest fears is FAILURE. At many different points in my life I have been consumed by my fear of failure and my fear of being perceived as a failure. Now don't get me wrong, my fear has never prevented me from doing things. If anything it has done the complete opposite. It is the thing that will not let me rest. It drives me forward from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next, to the get the idea. I'm constantly looking for the success that will set me free. Set me free from my fear of failure and inadequacy. Have you ever felt this way? With our workaholic society and everyone rushing around I think there must be lots of people out there who are like this but haven't taken the time to think about it. I've discussed this with friends and I know I'm not alone but that this fear manifests in different ways. I have a friend who admits to self-sabotage. He is a brilliant guy with creative ideas and a unique way of looking at the world. His fear of failure causes him to put up walls, to procrastinate, to avoid experiencing real failure by creating the failure himself. I'm sure we've all been afraid of failing on some level at some point and have self-sabotaged or run away or run ourselves into the ground. Please tell me you can relate!
One of my dear friends, Tracie Lee, shared one of her favorite quotes with me "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure". This was a really thought provoking quote for me because it made me take a step back and think of my fear in a different way. Is it that I'm afraid to fail or that I don't think I deserve to succeed??? Wow....thought provoking isn't it. She also told me to "grab 30 by the balls and show it who's boss". She is such a wealth of thought provoking quotes :)
Well, this year I'm turning over a new leaf. I deserve success! Success on my own terms. I will define it and I will achieve it and I will not need the praise of others to recognize that I have. I'm not afraid to fail because you can't fail until you stop trying and I'm never giving up! I'm grateful for the small successes every day and the opportunity to pursue new ones tomorrow.

This is your life. It's short.
Do something every day that scares you, don't live your life scared!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

They Make Mischief & Mayhem

Thing 1 & Thing 2
You ask, "Who is that?"
They're a Seussical pair from the Cat in the Hat

What do you think?
Pretty close, eh?

Happy 29th Birthday Char-bot and Happy Hallowe'en Everyone!
In the Netherlands they do not celebrate Hallowe'en so I was very excited when Nick's lab mate Ben, from England and his girlfriend Mandy, from Ireland, decided to host a Hallowe'en party. This year Nick and I dressed up as Dr Seus's, Thing 1 & Thing 2. We found the perfect blue wigs and wore red pants and shirts. It was really tough to find red pants so I had to buy us women's stretchy pants. Nick was a real trooper in his womens 2XL stretchy pants. The party started at 7pm so we left our house just before to walk across the Maastricht city centre. People stared and laughed and said Carnival! Some people didn't notice us at all.
When we arrived at Mandy and Ben's house they answered the door dressed as Dracula and his bride. They weren't familiar with the Dr Seus characters but really liked our costumes. It didn't cross my mind that people would not be familiar with Thing 1 and Thing 2. By the end of the night there were three pirates, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Dracula and his bride, a guy with his head shaved just up the middle and a bunch of dutch friends in their regular clothes :) We had a great time and really appreciated the effort that Mandy and Ben made. They had decorated their whole apartment, they had carved small pumpkins, made candy apples and a delicious spread of food and drinks. Because they don't celebrate Hallowe'en here it took a tremendous effort to set the scene for the party. Well done! We had a great time. Nick brought the Wild Turkey - Kentucky Bourbon, to introduce to his friends and we have lots of great picture of them getting their first taste of "the Bird".
Here in the Netherlands they have a celebration that sounds similar to Hallowe'en in some of it's customs and it is called Carnival. Carnival is a festive season which occurs just before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life. We are looking forward to wearing our costumes again for Carnival :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Heavenly Experience, to be continued....

How do you get to paradise? It starts with a shuttle, then there is an airplane, then a train, then a boat, then a walk and it ends at Stella Matutina in Hertenstein Switzerland :)
I arrived back in Maastricht last night at about 11pm. Back to reality! Well, my reality for this year abroad. I've been in Switzerland since Thursday of last week at school for my third year of Osteopathy. I've been very lucky that I have been able to continue my studies in Osteopathy because the CCO has a sister campus in Switzerland, SICO. I really felt like this week I unplugged from the world and got rid of all the background noise. No television, no phone and being at one with nature. I was able
to immerse myself in my studies and the experience of Stella Matutina.
As I mentioned I had a lot of traveling to do to get there and numerous connections and switches in modes of transportation. I felt a bit like Harry Potter trying to get to Hogwarts :) The trip was beautiful, almost as beautiful as the destination. Flying into Geneva is my favorite. The snow capped mountains and the lake views blow me away every time I see them, 3rd and 4th time, no big deal :) The train ride from Geneva to Lucern takes you along the edge of cliffs and along lake Geneva, AMAZING! and the ferry boat ride to my school is, UNREAL!
When you arrive in Hertenstein, Isabel the school administrator said, "just call a nun to pick you up", just call a nun?!?!
I was advised that it was only a 10-min walk from the dock to the school so I decided to walk instead. My legs needed a stretch after all the sitting anyway. The ferry dropped me off at the Hertenstein dock and as it pulled away I had a real feeling of being deserted. I watched as the ferry pulled out and continued on it's trip across lake Lucern. I was in the middle of no where and I mean no where! Well, I thought to myself, my phone doesn't work here and there doesn't seem to be one around so I should just start walking. I wandered through the countryside; cows, sheep, forrest, fields, real countryside! After about 10-min I stumbled upon a small hotel and I used what little french I have to ask for directions. They said "Stella Matutina??" and I said "No SICO (Swiss International College of Osteopathy), I think??", they gave me a map and it was at this point a bit of fear lumped in my throat. Where the heck am I going? What am I going to do if I get lost on this island? The rest of the trip had been so straight forward. I've come so close.
Thank goodness the women at the hotel was right! About 10-minutes later; more open fields, woods, nature, following the road as it bends around a hill on the horizon I spot it, Stella Matutina, a truly heavenly place. Stella Matutina is a monastery that is cared for by a group of nuns and is where our courses are held. When I arrived at Stella Matutina I couldn't
believe my eyes. It is unlike any place that I have ever been before. The architecture is so well
planned - they think of everything, it is so clean and well cared for and they have done an amazing job of keeping the old world feel with all the modern amenities. When I approach the office in the entry hall to ask for assistance there is only one nun at the desk in her habit and customary dress. This is too cool! She really did look like a much older version of Mary Poppins. When I say I have a reservation she has a puzzled look on her face. She runs off and again the lump forms in the back of my throat. She quickly returns with a nun who kind of speaks English and when I say this I mean she spoke in French and I spoke in English. They speak Swiss German here which apparently is very different then German, neither of which I have any understanding. They were so kind and caring....I love the nuns! They gave me a tour which I got very little from aside from what I could see but appreciated the effort none the less. They showed me to my room which was humble, yet very comfortable, and I joined all the guests for dinner in the dining room. For the week I was spoiled with delicious meals.
All of the guests eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together in the dining room and it is served by the nuns at specific times of day. The food was very hearty and always in 4-courses at lunch and dinner; a salad, a soup, a main dish and desert. They were great about providing me with vegetarian options and food that I have never tried before but really liked. I was well taken care of. I arrived a day before the majority of my classmates because I was participating in a clinical day and had the opportunity to meet my teacher, Paul Wagner. We had meals together and walked around the village as well. He is from Vancouver and has a wealth of experience and knowledge about many things. It was nice to spend time with a fellow Canadian. For the clinical day I treated a nun :) She didn't speak English so some fellow students did the interview portion of the treatment. People in Switzerland speak many languages. When I say many I'm talking about somewhere in the neighbor hood of 4-languages and often jumping from language to language in a single conversation. I really need to work on that. I was told I need at least two by my teachers. I speak 1 and a 1/2 on a good day. It was a really great experience to team treat like this and to see how gifted the Swiss are with language. Arrival and Clinical Day were amazing and I will report on the remainder of my stay throughout the week. There is just too much to say for a single blog entry :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back to School, Back to School...

I have no reason for posting this picture except that I think it is AMAZING!

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I leave for Switzerland to start my third year of Osteopathy. My morning will start at 4:30am when the shuttle arrives to pick me up. The driver picks me up in front of our house and takes me to the Brussels airport. From Brussels I will fly to Geneva, get on a train to Lucerne and take a short ferry ride to Herststein where my school is situated. I will be staying at a monastery where they rent rooms to students and prepare your meals. I'm really looking forward to that. I told them I'm a vegetarian so we'll see what they come up with. I was told that when I arrive I can just call one of the nuns to come pick me up. Thoughts of Mary Poppins dance in my head. Chitty bang bang, chitty chitty bang bang :) I'll let you know if it lives up to my expectations.
I've been told that the views from the school are beautiful and I'm really looking forward to getting into the swing of things. Apparently SICO has both lake and mountain views. That sure beats the view of the 401 and Yorkdale Mall from our school in Toronto! I am hoping to get out for a few runs to explore the island while I am there as well. I have six courses this year that I will be traveling back and forth for between now and June. In June, I will be writing my BIG third year exams so this year is all about preparing for those. Tomorrow will be the first run through of the trip. What an adventure! I hope it goes smoothly. Luckily, travel here is very affordable and it will cost me only 125 euros for the trip, flight/ train/ ferry included.
I always get excited for the first day of school. I've been this way since I was a little girl. Mom and dad always hyped up the first day of school so I think I've been conditioned to look forward to school. I'm excited but I will definitely be missing my class mates and teachers from the CCO in Toronto (C-Blow, June Bug, Rad - my osteo yoda, Candy Ass, Ethmoid, Camaroon and the whole crew). We've become a real Osteo family. I would be the eccentric but lovable uncle in the family. Osteo's roll out!
I have promised them I will be back and an Osteo always keeps her word or is that the good witch from the wizard of oz???? I am both excited and anxious to see where I fit within this new group. They have an established osteo family of their own and I will be the second cousin that they've never met. But family is family, right?
Hopefully, they can look beyond my lesions :) and I hope my "BUFFALO!" goes over well. Friends from CCO know what I'm talking about. I have plans to bring my camera and will be sure to take lots of pictures to post when I get home.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I got high in Amsterdam

The runner's high that is!!!!!!!
Nick and I spent the weekend in Amsterdam where we explored the city like tourists and I ran the Amsterdam half marathon. Let me just start by saying, I absolutely loved Amsterdam! It was an amazing mix of serenity and beauty with the canals and the architecture but a buzz with excitement and people wanting to let loose and have fun.
Some of our many stops included the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District, Dam Square, some of the many canals, Van Gogh Museum - outside only :(, the Amstel River and Vondel Park. We stumbled upon a protest. We think it was regarding global warming but the only words we understood were the profanities. We got the main points I think....they are pissed about global warming! We did tons of walking but still have so much more to see. I wanted to take one of the canal cruises and a walking tour so that we could learn more about history but the weekend was too jam packed to fit in anything else. I felt like parts of Amsterdam were like Disney Land for adults. Some things were over the top and very commercial but what really appealed to me was the history, the setting and the culture. We definitely, want to go back.
After we had walked around the city all afternoon we were especially hungry and found a little hole in the wall restaurant. Our server asked where we were from and when Nick said America
he quickly chimed in that he was from Afghanistan and proceeded to call Nick "Johnny Boy" for the rest of the evening. He was very flamboyant and we enjoyed our meal very much. Some of us more then others :) The hotel that we were originally booked to stay at was a bit out of the way but gave Nick and I an opportunity to explore the city by bus :) The transit is very easy to follow and luckily Nick had figured out how to get everywhere we needed to go. When we arrived at the hotel we were told that the hotel was overbooked and they offered us a room at a hotel in the city centre - a better hotel in the heart of the city for the same price? SOLD! We stayed in Leidse Plein and walked 30-minutes through Vondel Park in the morning to collect my race kit from the Olympic Stadium. Start time was 1:30pm so we had lots of time to have breakfast, walk to the stadium, explore the expo and situate ourselves for the race. I think the walk through the park was my favorite part of the whole trip. Vondel Park is one of the most beautiful city parks I have ever seen. It makes Central Park look like the ghetto. I'm not sure how many times I said "Isn't this so beautiful?", Nick must have been getting tired of that but it
was. Part of the race ran through the park and it was spectacular. The course was the perfect mix of urban terrain and green space. We passed many of the major tourist attractions and there were tons of fans. The fans aren't as loud as the fans for the Scotia Bank Marathon or Ottawa race weekend but they were definitely there and numbered in the thousands. The Olympic stadium was built in 1928 and this was where the race started from and finished. We loved seeing the American and Canadian flags in front of the stadium. I was a little disappointed that I forgot to wear any Canada gear. The finish of the race was inside the stadium. We ran into the stadium and crossed the finish line after completing a lap of the track. It was AWESOME! When crossing the finish line I hammed it up and put my arms in the air, I couldn't help it the moment was screaming for me to do it :) I ran a personal best for the half marathon 1:37.03PR. It was a great weekend, the perfect day and I was extremely pleased with my efforts. There were 40,000 participants in the race and the crowd of runners never seemed to thin out like they do in the other races I have completed. The day was broken down into three different races; the marathon, 1/2 marathon and 8km with three different start times. The organizers sent the runners out in waves based on estimated race times to break down the field even further. I can only imagine what it would have been like if they had sent us all out at once. It was a wonderful experience to run an international race like this but for those who are looking to run really fast times I think it is difficult in a group this size. Overall, I had a great weekend and I'm thinking Berlin in April might be a good time to take a crack at another Marathon. Who knows, maybe I'm still high...a runners high of course :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

I got a notice today about my Dutch lessons which are scheduled to begin next month. I signed up for the lessons at the city when I first arrived and have been anxiously waiting to hear back from them. I got a letter to invite me to a meeting to ask questions and to make sure I qualify for the sponsored classes. Did I mention how competitive it is to get into these courses? At the meeting they told me it is the law that immigrants make an effort to integrate and that I was doing the right thing by choosing to take lessons. It was intense...I thought this was for fun when I signed up, only to find out I would be breaking the law if I hadn't. Nick is in trouble! Bad boy, bad boy, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you? The more exciting message was that I qualified and I could start as soon as there was an opening at one of the schools. The city is going to pay the majority of the cost of the course and I am responsible for 200 euros. These courses are usually over 2000. Lucky me! I waited again and finally another notice came this week that said that I am required to come in to write a Dutch proficiency test in order to place me in the appropriate class. I tell you, they sure do make you jump through hoops around here! I don't know why it is necessary for me to take an hour out of my day and waste the time of an exam proctor to tell them I know absolutely nothing. I filled that out on the application form. I understand that if you had some background this would be helpful in getting you started in the right class but if you have never heard or spoken the language before I think it's pretty clear where you start, THE ABSOLUTE BEGINNING.
I was thinking about the test today and for a second I actually considered studying. The type A in me hates to fail, refuses to fail, but this is one occasion that I know that no matter how hard I cram for this exam I am going to fail. Nick and I joked that if the entire exam asks only about saying good morning, thank you and how to count to eight that I may have a chance of passing it :) So after this final hoop I think I will be able to start class in November. It is an emersion program that runs full days so I should be speaking Dutch in no time. Fingers, Toes and Eyes crossed that I will be speaking Dutch by the New Year.

Monday, October 10, 2011

You’re Gonna Miss This, You’re Gonna Want this Back…

Do you believe I’ve been here for almost 3-months? On one hand the time seems to be flying by and on the other I feel myself counting down days waiting for this and planning for that. Do you ever catch yourself counting down the minutes, the hours, the days? Do you find yourself looking at your watch and saying only one more hour of work or only two days until the weekend? I find myself counting down more then usual lately; 9-months until I move home to Canada, 74-days until Christmas, a week until my half marathon, 4-more reps, 20-minutes more sleep before the alarm goes off…..but what would happen if we just lived in the moment? Just grabbed a hold of every second and lived it. I’ve just finished a book called “Zen, the art of being still” and the author raises a very important point. Isn’t all this time between events still life? As opposed to counting it down and wishing it away shouldn’t we be embracing it and appreciating every single moment for what it is, life.

Last night I was looking through our cd of wedding photos. Every time I look at them I can’t help but smile. Our wedding day was so filled with love it was bursting at the seams. I think it may be my most favorite day ever! I am planning to have a few of our favorite photos printed and framed to hang when we have our forever house, “some day”. Often, I catch myself thinking and talking about “some day” and whenever I ask Nick about “some day” he always says “Sunday??” which bugs the heck out of me. I’m not sure if he is doing it to be silly or if he really is trying to take me back to living in the moment or maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t know the answers to my “some day” questions.

I’ve come to realize that there are some things that are within our control and many things that are not. One of the things that are not is “some day”. You never really get to the “some day”. I’ve been talking about “some day” my whole life and have yet to get there. There will always be a new “some day”. It’s hopes, it’s dreams and it’s possibility. I don’t really want Nick to have the answers because that’s the excitement of the “some day”. What’s important is to not to be consumed by it but to live all the moments between your “some days”. Recognize that there is beauty in the small things; family, GELATO, hugs, double rainbows…… and that you don’t really need to sweat the small stuff; Nick not folding his towel after he uses it, Maggie snoring and keeping me up, missing the master beat in my fitness class (I will get you elusive master beat!)……. So the message is grab a hold of the ones you love and “Enjoy when you can and Endure when you must.” (Burd, NA)

In the title of my blog I reference a country song by Trace Adkins. The lyrics poetically express how you can quickly “some day” your life away. You should definitely embrace a moment and listen to it some time J

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What does thanksgiving mean to you?

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Is it getting together with family and friends? Feasting until you are so full you can't move? Is it pilgrims and pumpkin pie? Is it football and fall?
To me, Thanksgiving is the changing of the leaves; crimson, orange and gold. It's a run in the woods with the smell of pine needles and the sound of crunching leaves under foot. It's fresh cool sheets that mom took off the clothes line. It's apples that are hand picked from the MacIntosh apple orchard. It's the anticipation of the night before with a turkey floating in the bath tub at mom and dad's house in Spencerville. More then all of this it's time spent with my family and friends. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I guess you could say I've always had a thing for the Burd :) So why is it that a holiday celebrating the harvest and the giving of thanks for a successful bounty of crops has come to be my favorite holiday? It is my favorite holiday because it is a "pure" holiday. It hasn't been consumed by consumerism, there isn't the stress of a full schedule or the pressure of the pursuit of the perfect gift. I think I love Thanksgiving for what it isn't. It isn't a holiday; spent rushing around, spending money or filled with unrealistic expectations. For me, Thanksgiving has always been spent relaxing and spending time with the ones that I love. It is a holiday with the sole purpose of taking a moment, living in the moment, being thankful and giving of yourself.
I'm sure that you're also wondering how a vegetarian can love such a carnivorously focused event? Although I'm a vegetarian I can still appreciate the delicious smell of turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven and the mouth watering aroma of my mom's pumpkin pie spiced with nutmeg (my personal favorite). My Aunt Elsie always made the lemon meringue pie because she could get the meringue just right (Char's favorite). Last year mom and dad came to my house in Burlington and Nick and I made Thanksgiving dinner for them. I made a Tofurkey. What can I was terrible! I'm glad Nick insisted on making a real turkey as well. Once again, Nick saved the day. I didn't eat it but I was glad our guests didn't have to endure that nasty Tofurkey. This year Nick and I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving together with our three cats. We made dinner together; fish, salad, vegetables and a glass of wine. You can see it above and yes that is my new bike in the background. Dinner was delicious :) We sat with a candle at our cute little dining table and enjoyed our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, just the two of us. Make that the five of us ;) Pumpkin, Gizmo and Maggie were there too.
This Thanksgiving I am taking the time to formally reflect on what I am most thankful for. My "thankful for" list is too long to mention in full so I will give you the coles notes version. In short, this year I am thankful for; lifelong friends (you know who you are), new friends, new babies...and old babies :), a best friend who is also my new husband (glad to be rid of that old one...just kidding), tremendous opportunities, adventures in a new place, my health, my cats (the kiddies), continued learning and growth, the opportunity to create my own happiness and most of all for my family. Happy Thanksgiv'r! Love you xoxoxo.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hooting with the Owls

So an Irish girl, a Greek girl and two Canadian girls walk in to a bar......
Last night I went out for a girls night with some new friends in Maastricht. I was really excited to go out for an evening and Nick has been teasing me for days about being a party animal. There is something magical about the bond between women and I've been missing my girlfriends. We are new friends but the conversation was fun and easy. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with Nick and we talk about everything, but girls just GET it!
We got dressed up and met at my new Irish friend Mandy's house where we shared a glass of wine and got to know more about each other and what each of us is up to. Mandy's boyfriend Ben poured our drinks and quickly retreated to the bedroom. All of our significant others were very intrigued by our girls night and wondered what we were going to do. There was even the suggestion that we were going to have pillow fights. Oh boys! We decided that the details of our girls nights would remain top secret. When asked about the girls nights we have decided to say "It was awesome" and "Sorry, no details, girls code". Keep them guessing :)
We went out to a local cocktail bar and had Cosmos, very Sex in the City. We are all Xpat's and share the common bond of being in a new place. Conversation focused around our new challenges and adventures in Maastricht and then quickly turned to some high quality girl talk. I was home by 11:30pm, crazy I know, what can I say, I'm a real party animal! I arrived home feeling happy and excited for our next girls night which is already in the works. This morning when I woke up to teach my morning fitness class I was tired and Nick teased that "If I'm going to hoot with the owls I need to be able to soar with the eagles". He has all kinds of these wonderful sayings :) I'm sure you can sense that I say this dripping with sarcasm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If you're in it for the money, you're in it for the wrong reason

Today I have spent the majority of my day trying to memorize choreography for a class I am teaching tonight. Being a good fitness instructor is so much more challenging then I ever thought. I am teaching 10-classes a week at this point and working really hard at it. Instructors are paid for the hour that they teach and if they are lucky a few extra hours for prep time. Today alone I put 6-hours into preparing for a pre-choreographed class. Memorizing someone else's class :( I like to teach my own stuff but this is a good learning experience. Right away, it's very clear, you can see that teaching isn't about the money. Personally, I am trying to develop myself as an instructor in order to be able to better equip my staff of instructors in Canada as well as to generate new ideas for classes that we aren't currently offering. I'm also interested to see how these businesses are set up for my long term goals of having my own therapeutic fitness and wellness centre. But what motivates other instructors to put in the long hours? As an instructor, after class, you usually have one or two people come up to say thank you or to let you know that they enjoyed the class. Is it the praise that we are after? There are so many other things that we can receive praise for. This can't be it. My supervisor at UM sport was a dancer and singer in her youth and loves the stage. She said that is how she came to be an instructor. So is it a craving for the lime light? But it's such a small stage. This can't be it either. Is it to make sure they get in their own workout? Lots of instructors teach to get that scheduled hour for their own fitness but all the effort to prepare doesn't end up saving you time. Personally, I think it has to be a combination of many things to get you started and keep you going. A passion for sharing a love of health and fitness is a big first priority. Secondly, a love of math. What you say??? Yes! fitness instructing is math because it is choreographed to music which is broken down into 8 counts and 32 count combinations. The best fitness instructors have musicality, rhythm and a brain for equations. I have never been great at math so one of my goals this year is to improve this in myself. Making sure my combinations are well planned and mathematically correct. Timing is everything "they" say and in a fitness class "they" are so right. You have to count your participants in on the last 8-count in order to move your group seamlessly into their next move. So this is my second goal, to improve my timing. I think the foundation has been laid and it's time to take my instructing to the next level. I'm working on my math and my timing! I'm definitely not in it for the money :) Did I mention how lucky I am to have the financial support, well support period, of my amazing husband. He's my biggest fan!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fondue as the Swiss do

This weekend marked Nick's big three oh and our first trip together in Europe. We decided to make the journey to Switzerland to visit Nick's good friend Dan, his wife Beth and their beautiful baby girl Taylor. We caught a flight out of Brussels early on Friday morning and landed in Geneva an hour later. A shuttle service picked us up at our front door at 4:20am....ouch! Good news, they had Starbucks at the airport :) This quickly made up for the very early start. I haven't had a Starbuck's latte in two months. I LOVE STARBUCKS!
The travel was easy on Easy Jet and as we descended upon Geneva the snow capped mountains poked through the clouds. A truly breath taking view! I love the combination of both the mountains, water and beautiful trees. Beth and Dan live in Laussane where he works for the Nestle Research Institute and Beth teaches at an international school. Beth and Dan welcomed their baby girl in July. When we arrived we drove home with Dan to meet the new baby. We brought Klompen (wooden shoe slippers) for the whole family, Taylor too, and they really liked them. Dan took us into Lausanne for a walk on the waterfront of Lake Geneva where we explored the Olympique Musee which was very cool. Nick and Dan really enjoyed the greek inspired athlete statues. A little too much if you ask me ;) The architecture of Lausanne was not what I expected. I think I expected the city to look like a little mountain village with Saint Bernard's and gingerbread houses. It reminded me more of San Francisco with all the streets and buildings built into the hills. It was a mix of both modern and french inspired architecture. Similar to Quebec City. The lake was beautiful and we could just make out the swiss and french alps in the distance through the fog off of the lake. I enjoyed a coffee and the boys a beer at a small pub at the waterfront. The perfect way to spend a sun shiny day. There were Geckos and palm trees at the waterfront which was a big surprise to me. I had no idea it was warm enough for that. That evening Dan and Beth took us out for dinner to an authentic Swiss Chalet and we had fondue. My very first ever fondue! There was live music and it was wonderful to spend time with good friends in an authentically Swiss setting. Taylor, T-bone as I like to call her was the best baby ever. So cute, well behaved and what a sharp little dresser.
On Saturday they took us to to the village of Gruyere (the place where Gruyere cheese is made). The drive was beautiful. There were beautiful lake and mountain views and vineyards were built into the side of the hills. The cows in the fields all had giant cow bells hanging from their necks and the highway drove through tunnels carved into the mountains. We bought cheese and spent a relaxing evening with Beth, Dan and Taylor. We made dinner for Beth and Dan to thank them for putting us up for the weekend at "Hotel Moore". Our next adventure will be Amsterdam in two weeks and Paris at the end of November. We met a very nice older American man on the shuttle ride home who invited us for a visit at Christmas. He lives in a village about 10-min outside of Maastricht and teaches at the University as well. We are thinking we will go the Christmas markets in Germany for our December trip. I'm looking forward to the markets but Christmas away from home will be a challenge.