Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Catching up: Stop in Milan

Via train, Milan is halfway between Morges and Venice, so on the way home Pat and I made a very quick stop there before heading on to Morges. Tickets to see the Last Supper were all sold out and it was quite rainy, so we just went to the cathedral and then to Peck for some cheese (burrata--yum!) and miscellaneous other treats. The inside of the cathedral felt very dreary and grim to me, though perhaps that was partly due to the weather? But the top of the cathedral was amazing, and we had a lot of fun wandering around up there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Catching up: Venice (sans enfants!)

While Pat's parents were here they gave us the fabulous opportunity to spend a few days away without the children. When Pat and I had first talked about doing this, months before the moving madness began, it had seemed like such a good idea. By the time the dates for this trip rolled around I felt traveled out and I was sorely regretting having planned a trip to Venice so close to our move back to the States. But because the tickets were booked and I knew I'd probably regret it later if we didn't, we went anyway. And sure enough, looking back now, I'm so glad we went.

It was hot, humid, rainy at times, crowded, and sooo touristy. But it was also beautiful, and amazing, and fun. We got to eat at restaurants, wander the city later in the evening, indulge in gelato at least three times a day (okay, that was just me. Pat was more restrained in his gelato consumption), and even took a cheezy gondola ride, which felt exactly like a Disneyland ride for grown-ups. I was actually able to read a little about the art and architecture we saw, though I still didn't fully understand or appreciate it. My photos seem a little bit empty to me without the children, but it sure was nice to take as many photos as I wanted, when I wanted, and at as leisurely a pace as I wanted.

Even though much of Venice was sadly over commercialized and overcrowded, in looking back over my photos I've realized that in the middle of all that there were still many completely enchanting corners.

Thanks so much, Ann and Mike, for watching the kids for us. I know we all had a great time!

More photos on Flickr!

Catching up: Visit With Grammie and Bumpa

Pat's parents came to see us one last time in Switzerland at the beginning of June. I've just realized that the memory card that holds many of those photos (and others, like the trip my little sister and I took to Paris) is not with me. I hope that it is with all of our other stuff on the boat somewhere. Anyway, so I don't have many photos of the very nice time we had with them.

We did one day trip to Zermatt, in hopes of getting a glimpse of the Matterhorn before we left. Unfortunately it was behind clouds the whole time, so it turned out to be another one of the gazillion Switzerland things we had to leave undone. But fun was still had--a scenic train ride, riding the cable car, hot chocolate at the top, sausages for lunch...good times. You might notice that we seem one short in the photos. This is because Muriel stayed behind with our babysitter, Audrey.

Monday, July 5, 2010

iPhone Images From Our Last Days in Switzerland

view from our hotel

Rowan and Niamh with our lovely babysitter, Audrey

napping in the hotel

R. in front of our hotel, the Mont-Blanc

the street our old apartment was on

Muriel, Zoe, and Niamh

playground antics

Rowan with Julie, a friend from school


Though our Swiss Adventure is over, this blog isn't quite done, as my big plans to get completely caught up before we left failed. So stay tuned!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Last Saturday in Switzerland

On Saturday we went to the market in Morges and got some snacks for the kids before taking the train to Lausanne.

After making a few farewell stops (chocolate shop, toy store, Ladurée, chocolate shop), we took the metro down to Ouchy and caught a boat back to Morges.

a view of Morges we didn't often see

Then in the afternoon our friends, the Girardins, drove all the way from the Jura for one last visit in Morges with us. It was so nice to see them!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Goodbye Apartment

As I write this there is likely a new family getting settled into our apartment. We had our inspection and handed over the keys yesterday, and I believe the new family was to move in today. It feels so strange!

The inspection went pretty well, with only one thing I feel we are being unfairly charged for (the paint on the ceiling above our shower is peeling). But even that is not a big deal, because apparently it's standard that insurance covers most damages to the apartment.

I do not know if it is like this in other European countries, but in Switzerland your apartment/house is supposed to be in pristine condition when you move out. We have heard horror stories of landlords going through with white gloves, counting dents in the floor, or even requiring that the entire apartment be refloored. With that in mind, most expats hire a cleaning service to get the job done. Do most Swiss as well? I don't know. I have been wondering if there's some sort of racket going on to take advantage of harried expats who don't have the energy to fight.

Anyway, It cost us 1,700 CHF ($1,600) to have our four bedroom apartment cleaned. This did not include the window blinds. They would have been an extra 200 CHF. I was not there when Pat got this quote and decided that cleaning the blinds would be easy, and we could do it ourselves, no problem. He bristled when I got angry at this, and insisted I wouldn't have to worry about it, he'd do it all by himself. In retrospect, I believe I can safely say he's learned
a) in regards to cleaning, one should listen to the person who does the majority of the cleaning in the family (AKA me)
b) ten hours of cleaning blinds in the midst of relocation madness is worth 200 CHF

From other families we have heard of quotes ranging from 1,500 CHF to 4,000 CHF, so I guess all in all it's not too bad, if you look at it as just another part of the exorbitant cost of living in Switzerland. And the apartment really was spotless when I went back to look at it one last time yesterday morning.

Quiet Time at Hotel Mont-Blanc

...not so quiet:

have just been informed that "adan" (aidan? adam?) is a boy at niamh's school who speaks english. hmmm...i didn't know that any of the kids there spoke english.