We are so excited that the Youth Olympic Games 2020 will be happening in our neighbourhood! Children are the future of sports and athletics. Some of them will continue on to become the best in the world but many will take their experiences and grow to become informed sports scientists, doctors, engineers, etc.
Will you be here in 2020 to help cheer on the future of sports?
My own children are hoping to be part of the host nation ski team. Cross your fingers for them!!!
Photo and video credit: Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games
I am, without a doubt, a very visual person. I need to see things to understand them and make stories I’ve been told make sense. So, when I came across this video that shows what life in Morges, Switzerland is like, I knew I had to share it.
With vivid imagery from the local market to remembering Audrey Hepburn, this little video demonstrates the richness of our new home. Morges may be little, but she is definitely mighty!! Enjoy…and don’t blame me if you crave chocolate by the end of it!! 😉
Video Credit: D3 Studio
Photo Credit: Jennifer Hart
I don’t even know where to start explaining what a good idea a street food festival is. With something for everyone, ranging from vegan cuisine to cocktails to the ultimate in BBQ eats, street food festivals are a great place to try a lot of different foods in a festive atmosphere. We recently took a tour around the Lausanne Street Food Festival and enjoyed it so much I thought I’d put together a a photo tour of our night of tasting, laughing and fun. If you are in Lausanne this weekend, you can enjoy the festival tonight, Saturday 30th April (even with the rain) or all day tomorrow (1st May from 11h00-20h00). Entry is free but bring cash and an open mind to try as many things as you can!! Some of the cocktail stands and bigger food trucks accept payment by credit/Maestro cards but I think you are safer assuming you will need to bring real money with you 😉
Good to know: The festival is definitely family-friendly.
Thanks for the memories, Lausanne! We’ll be back next year!
It is the spring school holidays here in the canton of Vaud (where we live) and I am busy keeping the junior Harts from the dreaded effects of boredom! Unfortunately, this leaves me little time to write but I’ll be back next week. Until then, enjoy a photo tour of our day trips around the region!
First up, Lausanne. The self-declared party and foodie capital of Switzerland, we feel very lucky to live 10 minutes down the road from this happening city. Lausanne is not as punchy or cosmopolitain as other cities like New York, London or Paris, but it does have a lot to offer both young hipsters and families. The food scene is worth a visit alone. It is relatively small population-wise but the area is rich in culture and history.
Lausanne at a Glance:
Greater area population: 420,000
Metro stations: 28 (smallest city in the world to have a metro system)
Known for: International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters and IOC Museum
Things to do: Museums, lake front activities, restaurants, shopping (from luxury to quirky boutiques), walk the countless hills of Lausanne, art galleries, wine tours, boat tours
Closest major airport: Geneva International Airport (trains direct to Lausanne 4 times an hour – running time 40mins)
I came across this today and immediately knew I had to share it. If you are not familiar with Lausanne, the fun hipster capital of French-speaking Switzerland, I encourage you to take a couple minutes and watch this exceptionally cool video by Sylvain Botter. Botter, a visual artist based in Lausanne, has created a fantastic way to tour the city from the comfort of your home. Give it a watch, I promise you won’t regret it!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say I cannot be the only person who really didn’t know much about Switzerland when I moved here. I mean, I knew about Rolex, Cartier, the Alps, Heidi, The Sound of Music and cheese but apart from that, what did I REALLY know about this place? Embarrassingly, very little.
To the Swiss, I am sorry. To everyone else, feel free to ask questions if there is something you’d like to know.
So, I decided to compile an early list of things I have learned thus far.
1) This country is GORGEOUS! I mean, I knew that coming in but to be here daily with Mont Blanc standing in all her majesty across the lake, I feel like Switzerland never fails to take my breath away. In addition, the rolling hills of vineyards, the lake, the cities…it is all so beautiful. However, I encourage that you don’t just take my word for it, you should visit it. For more information on travel here, check out the MySwitzerland website. It is amazing portal of information.
2) Switzerland is expensive. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You think you’ve heard that before but aren’t a lot of places expensive? Yes, they are but not like this. The price of things here set my brain on fire the first month and I was coming from Paris where a box of Kraft Dinner/Mac and Cheese would set you back about $10CDN($7US) but there are two things here that help with that. Salaries here often more than make up for the price and the price adjustments that started this summer to combat the Swiss Franc inflation cap disappearing is making a big difference. So, when you DO come here, remember it is just going to be expensive and the Swiss really don’t care that ‘back home’ things cost a lot less. It’s not endearing to hear that over and over!
3) To combat number 2, I have discovered some amazing places to shop and ways to work the system. My favourite on the top of the list is Aligro. Aliwhat??? Aligro. This is Switzerland’s answer to places like Sam’s Club and Costco. The membership is free, the benefits are amazing. If you live here or are planning on a move here anytime soon, bookmark Aligro and check it out. You can thank me later (and a big thank you to my running buddy for pointing me in the Aligro-direction).
4) Cow bells are EVERYWHERE! So, we live in a pretty happening mini-city but you can imagine my surprise on a recent run when I heard all this clanging and chiming up ahead. It sounded like a group of people practicing how to ring a church bell. What was it? Oh, it was the local cattle hanging out that had recently returned from their summer grazing period in the mountains to the warmer and less harsh environment near the lake. So, the dog and I are learning to run to the sound of cow bells now and I really like it. It is almost hypnotic. Also, I have learned the reason for the bells coincides with the liberty the cows have to roam. Since they are not cooped up in factories or confined to small spaces, the cows often wander off on their own and can get lost. The bells act two-fold at this point. 1) it helps the farmer to possibly hear what direction the cow walked off in and 2) it helps hikers, VTT/mountain bikers and joggers hear if a cow is potentially going to cross their path. Cows rule here, us humans just have to go around. No one wants surprise face-to-face with a lost cow! The bells are an appreciated warning.
5) I knew this one before but I just wanted to reiterate it here: there is no such thing as Swiss Cheese (i.e. the stuff you see in cartoons where the cat is trying to catch the mouse). It is called Emmental after the amazing area it is from. There is, however, an abundance of amazing cheeses here which I am happily testing out.
6) Efficiency is really, truly not just a stereotype, it is a way of life. My biggest complaint of our 10 years in Paris was the inconsistency and absolute disorderly conduct in which everything was apparently run. Ask any expat in Paris how they feel about a trip to the local préfecture and watch their body language change and their eyes roll. It’s a make-work project at its finest. Here, I could cry with how efficient it is and maybe, just maybe, I have once or twice already. I doubt I would appreciate it as much if I had moved from somewhere else that handled things with a degree of effectiveness but I did not and for that I say I even MORE grateful when I go the local commune with a problem and leave 20 mins later with the problem solved and a ‘bonne journée’ from the person serving me. It’s the little things, y’all!
7) The people are NICE. Before moving here I was warned by people and by countless hours of research online that the Swiss are guarded and unfriendly. I am happy to report I haven’t seen that. They have their way of doing things and it is very very much governed by the need for this to be succinct and controlled but that works for me. I’d rather know where I’m standing than not. We moved in and received flowers, cupcakes and a box of apricots (because they are very Swiss and were very ‘in season’ at the time of our arrival) from our neighbours. My children have been thanked by our neighbours for being helpful with carrying back the communal compost bins and I have been thanked for keeping our garden/lawn looking nice. Our elderly neighbour, a Swiss German now living in Suisse Romande, even asked if I needed help with learning how to plant in extremely rocky soil. She actually also asked if I needed to borrow anything like pots or pans before we had fully unpacked. So, maybe the unfriendly Swiss are coming but they haven’t come my way yet and this post IS about what I have learned so far…
8) The wine is great. I don’t need to go too deep on this one as I have already posted about it here but it is something I have learned so it is worth the mention again.
9) There is a LOT to do here. I mean a crazy amount. I was a bit worried at first that we would have to buy heaps of expensive gear to get our lives established here since were are on of THOSE families that likes to do a lot of adventurous things together. However, they have it sorted out, folks!! Since kids grow every single day I was really worried about buying ski gear every year. No need. We went to Francois Sport in Bremblens and got on the rental scheme. You can rent skis/poles/boots for both downhill and cross-country (as well as other sports like snowshoeing, sledding, etc) for an ENTIRE SEASON and just return them at the end of the year. If your kid grows mid-season? No problem, bring the gear in and exchange it for free. Everything the juniors got was brand new, never been used and is costing us a whopping 100CHF per kid for the season. They also do the same with adult stuff so you can either rent for a season if you can’t afford to buy, don’t want to buy or like being someone with brand new kit every single year. They have it sorted.
10) This one is personal but so is this blog so I will post it. I have learned that after countless years of moving, soul-searching, trying out different lives and trends, I have found ‘home’. I don’t know what it is but the very first day we arrived I felt a weight off my shoulders I didn’t know I was carrying. I have the mountains, the lake, the beaches, the city and a happy family. We are all so happy here that it kind of stings when people say ‘make the most if it while you are there’ or ‘Let’s hope Mr H keeps his job’. Moving here wasn’t a lark. It wasn’t a rash decision. We chose this and had chosen it years before it happened. Mr H negotiated his permit to be one that was not attached to his job and allowed us to stay no matter what. We chose this and we continue to choose it every day. I choose it when I get up and head out to get muddy with the dog on a run along the lake. I choose it when I put on heels and head out with Mr H for dinner. I choose it when I pick up my kids from school looking the happiest they have ever looked. We are allowed to choose this so I hope people accept that means there will be no ‘going back’ to someone else’s idea of what home should be for us. It’s a hard thing for some to accept and we’ve already faced ‘commentary’ on this but we are here and we plan to stay. It wasn’t an accident that brought us here. It wasn’t ‘just a job’. It was a choice to live the life we wanted to live.
So, there you have it. I can’t wait to see what else I learn along the way but for now I am a very happy student on Swiss life.
The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.
Apologies my few and far between readers. It has been a lifetime and a half since I last took some time to write here. It was not on purpose. It was not out of avoidance. It was, quite simply, because I was enjoying my life. Moving here has brought me a sense of peace I didn’t know I was missing. Well, maybe that isn’t entirely true. I knew it, I just wouldn’t dive into dealing with it. I lean towards ‘make the most out of a bad situation’ type of personality but I know the limits of that. I know it stops me from really opening Pandora’s box somedays. I know it helps me put up a wall when I should be asking for help. It is my strength and weakness all wrapped up into one curly-haired mess. It is me.
But here I am, a few months into the Swiss Experience and I am in love. Big love. Like that kind where ‘you can’t stop smiling and want nothing more than to spend more time with it’ love. This is NOT to say Switzerland is perfect. Far from it. But right now, it is perfect for me. It’s perfect for rediscovering my mojo. It is perfect for my family. It has become my home faster than any other place I have lived. I think that deserves the credit it is due. Home was instant for us here, it wasn’t forced.
So where do we go from here? I have a bunch of stuff lined up for the coming months. I not only plan to talk about myself (because, hello, this is a blog!) but I also have trips planned to discuss and review. It’s my pleasure to do the dirty work of finding places here for others to enjoy 😉
Take care, my readers. I know I abandoned you for a while. I needed to abandon myself for a while, figure out how I was doing and then get on with it. I am there now. In a big, bad way! Those who know me as Hartless, never fear. I haven’t gone soft on you just yet…!