Monday, October 30, 2006

Moving Day

Chase enjoyed moving day - she especially loved our French movers!

And so tomorrow we depart. We will drive to London - this time through Luxembourg and Belgium - spending one night in each.

I can't tell you how much we enjoyed living in Zurich. I will miss so much - the cheese, the chocolate, the weather, the lake, the sound of the tram as it passes our flat, the vines that grow outside our living room window, the fireplace we never got to use, and the little old ladies who make such a big deal over Chase.

What a lovely chapter of our life this has been.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Road Trip To X: Return To Zurich

On our way back from Aix en Provence, we stopped in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was lovely, but we were tired and needed to get back to Zurich to pack.

Road Trip To X: We Made It!

After five hours of driving we arrived in Aix en Provence.

The sun was low in the sky and the light was amazing. Just when we thought it couldn't get any prettier, the light would change and we found ourselves ooohing and ahhing ...

We awoke early the next day (thanks, Chase) and went exploring. Following a cup of cappuccino (which to my surprise was one shot espresso, two cups fresh whipped cream), we took in the sights. We spent three days there - drinking loads of coffee, eating loads of pastries - ah, France. Following are some sights (unfortunately I didn't take any pics of the gorge fabrics).

Mmmm, the candy shops...

Mmmmm, the cookies...

Yummy mushrooms ...

Amazing selection of fresh produce...

Aix's most prominent fountain (one of many) ...

A lovely old church...

Picturesque alleys...

One of our favorite cafes...

Dinners in cozy restaurants...

At the end of our stay, we asked the owner of a local formagerie to recommend one of his favorite restaurants. He pointed us to a hole in the wall called Cafe Charlotte, where we enjoyed a most amazing caramel pork dish. I begged for the recipe and was provided a list of ingredients (here I must give special thanks to Jacqueline and Gaston for translation!).

When things finally settle down, I'll try it out myself. If it's a success, I'll post it for the rest of you!

Road Trip To X: Gorgeous Country

The drive from Geneva to Aix en Provence was gorgeous!

Road Trip To X: First Stop Geneva

It suddenly hit us that we only had two weeks left in Europe. So we decided we needed to go, well, somewhere.

Then the Chinese Embassy confiscated Brian's passport, so our options became somewhat limited (we had to drive, rather than fly). We agreed a drive to Aix en Provence would be a perfect, provided we could actually get into France without a passport. Crossing our fingers we would be able to make it across the French border, we set off ...

To make the drive to Aix en Provence a little more manageable, we stopped over for a night in Geneva (very cool city, but not as lovely as Zurich - and yes I am a little biased).

We stayed in what can only be dubbed the most "Swisstastic" hotel ever ...

To make the most of our short stay, we decided to slip into the UN ...

As the front was heavily guarded, we slipped in through the back entrance ...

But first we had to talk security into giving us a badge (we told them Chase was a diplomat and they bought it!)...

After that, it was smooth sailing ...

While Chase did a lovely job of showing us around, we decided to join a tour ... to learn how it all works (for those of you interested in being a tour guide, you must know three - of the five - official UN languages and pass both a written and oral exam).

After a great tour, we stopped for a moment at the Red Cross Museum, only to find out they were closing soon, so we headed back to the hotel...

As an aside, for those interested, just up the street was WHO ...

After a nice dinner out, we fell into bed - only to wake up to major road trip (and yet another mountain pass) the next day ...

Happy Halloween!

Oooooh, spooky ...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gearing Up For The Next Two Weeks

The next two weeks are going to be pretty hectic - so updates may be few and far between.

In a nutshell, we have a week to explore Europe (we decided to drive to Aix en Provence as Brian's passport was confiscated by the Chinese embassy - so flying anywhere is definitely out - a shame, because we were thinking about doing a tour of Eastern Europe). We then have one day to pack. The next day the movers arrive. Next, we stuff as much as we can into the car and drive back to London (by way of Luxembourg and Brugge, Belgium).

We will stay in London for three nights before flying to Singapore. From there, Brian will fly on to China - stay there for about a week - scout it out. Turns out that getting an entry visa for Chase and I proved harder then originally thought - so we will take in the Singapore sights.

Dagney, our dearest kitty, is taking a break from the craziness and flying to Portland, Oregon, to stay with my mom (until Christmas). Turns out Singapore has a 30 day quarantine, whereas China - if you fly into the right city - does not have quarantine. The catch is we have to fly with her, which is probably better anyway because the Chinese eat all sorts of animals. Someone has got to watch out for poor Dag!

I'll post photos and updates when I can ...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

7 Months - You're Still In Switzerland, Baby

My friends' children all have perfect nursuries.
Freshly painted walls.
Cribs, rugs and curtains match.
Regular mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes.
Most take baby sign, baby swim and baby yoga classes.

Chase, on the other hand, sleeps in my lap, among other places.
She sleeps when she is tired and eats when she is hungry.

She's lived in 2 countries (UK and Switzerland) and visited 5 more (Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, US, France, Italy). She's on track to additionally visit Belgium, Luxembourg and Singapore in the next two weeks - and will pick Singapore or China as her third home country.

All this means she will have been in at least 10 countries in her first 8 months - and visited some more than once.

She doesn't know baby sign, but I'm pretty sure she knows German, as well as English. Soon she will learn Mandarin.

It will be interesting to see how all this moving about influences the woman she'll become. Will she be a home-body or will she be nomadic? Will she be well-adjusted or need loads of therapy?

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Matterhorn

We just returned from a trip to the Matterhorn (one of the highest peaks in the Alps - 14,692 feet).

Zermatt, the small town at the base of the mountain, does not allow cars. We had to leave the car behind and travel in by train.

When we arrived, we could see most of the mountain.

We had a great view from our hotel.

When we woke up the next morning, the mountain was gone -hidden behind dense clouds.

Zermatt was small and sweet - but I must say there is definitely something strange about a ski resort without snow. It reminded me of a night club at 3 a.m. - after the lights come on.

The day we arrived, Dad and Fern hopped a small train up to Gornergrat 3,089m. Brian and I had hoped we could join, but it was far too high to take a small child.

The next day, we went for a hike before heading home. The hike was lovely, but the drive home turned out to be the real adventure of the day.

It all started when we opted to take the mountain pass (up and over), instead of the train (straight through the mountain). We were about a quarter way up, when the gas light went on. There were no towns or gas stations for miles. About halfway up, we turned off the headlights, and even the stereo. We all started leaning forward.

The road twisted and turned - up and up we went. I couldn't help but notice that where was a distinct lack of guardrails. Soon, we were up so high we found ourselves staring down a glacier.

We passed a strange, deserted hotel.

The good news: We made it to the top after what seemed likes miles and miles and hours and hours.

Here's a look at some of our drive up...

We coasted the entire way down. And finally, we came to a small town. We coasted right into the gas station. The bad news: the pump was empty.

Somehow we managed to make it to the next town, where we were rewarded by a gas station with gas.

Note to self: always start a mountain pass on a full tank of gas.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Grandpa Mark's Visit

Grandpa Mark reading "Go, Dogs. Go" to Chase ...

At the toyshop ...

Walking around Zurich ...