My birthday in the Swiss Alps, IKEA and our {impromptu} first day of work

Wednesday was my 28th birthday!! Andrew and I woke up early and caught a train to Verbier, one of the premier ski resort towns in Switzerland. We took the gondola system up to the highest peak at the resort, had lunch at Le Dahu Restaurant next to the La Chaux chairlift, did a 3 hour hike and afterwards went down to Verbier town to hang out and have dinner. It. Was. Gorgeous. Photos just barely do it justice:

We took three gondolas and two massive cable cars that fit about 30-40 people per car up to the very top of the Verbier ski resort. This photo here is at 3,330 meters (approx 10,900 ft) high and we started at about 850 meters (approx 2,700 ft) at the train station at the bottom in Le Châble. You better believe we were out of breath climbing the steps to this spot, we were not accustomed to such altitude. Wow was it gorgeous and you could see 360 degrees around. The highest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc, is just behind Andrew’s head.
View of the Swiss Alps from the top of Verbier at the Mont Fort cable car.
View of the Mont Blanc and surrounding mountains from the top of Mont Fort in Verbier
View of the Swiss Alps (and a glacier! yay, Corinne!) from the town of Verbier
We did a hike after having a deeeelicious lunch at the La Chaux lift stop overlooking the mountains. We were so excited to look around and imagine what this is going to be like when we come back in the winter to go skiing!
                                                                          View along our hike in Verbier
View along our hike in Verbier. You can see from the highest peaks down to the valley where we came in on the train from Lausanne
View along our hike in Verbier

After our hike we took the gondolas back down to the resort town, Verbier. We had a couple of drinks before dinner at this spot on a deck overlooking the mountains under the umbrella. Let me tell you, this is how you spend your birthday!!! We had dinner at an amazing restaurant in the center of town on the deck. The town is very sleepy and quiet right now as it’s the off season, but we enjoyed getting to walk around and check the place out before it’s covered in snow and we’re lugging our skis around. Verbier took less than 2 hours to get to by train from Lausanne, and we can’t wait to go back!

Thursday we took some time to go to the local IKEA (which is conveniently located across the street from the Allaman train station 15 minutes ride away from Lausanne) to look at furniture. We figure once we know our move-in date at our permanent apartment, it’ll be easiest to order our furniture from IKEA online and have it delivered to our new apartment. That should save us from having to figure out how to get the furniture to Lausanne without owning a car and not wanting to go through the trouble of renting a moving truck and trying to drive it around the city. We still have time, so we’re going to try to find out about the other affordable home furnishing stores and maybe make some second-hand purchases, but at least we know what we can get at IKEA in a pinch!

Thursday night we went out to a local InterNations expat club garden party at the Carlton Hotel in Lausanne. I had learned about this expat club in blogs online and we figured it’d be a good opportunity to get out there and meet some people. It turned out to be a really nice event, for 10 CHF we got a drink, some appetizers and there were over 100 people in attendance. It was so nice to get out there and talk to other people who had at some point been in a similar situation. We talked to people from all over the world… Algeria, Albania, Colombia, Canada, France, Greece, Russia, Italy, so many it was incredible. I was surprised, we only saw a few Americans in the mix. I had expected to see more since we heard American English on the streets relatively often, but that’s okay – it forced us to talk to people from other countries and get out of our comfort zone with Americans. We definitely want to go back to get to meet more people and get a bit more exposure to the expat community here in Lausanne. You never know when or how you’ll make friends!

So, up until this point we had not yet heard much detail regarding our first day in the KPMG office on Monday 20 July beyond the date we were required to show up. We reached out to some people in the office on Thursday and ended up getting invited to go out to lunch with the Suisse Romande’s lead audit partner on Friday (the lead audit partner for the entire French speaking region of Switzerland). We met with her at our Lausanne KPMG office and went to lunch on the terrace at the Le Theatre Restaurant across the street. The KPMG office is much smaller than the SF and DC offices, only two floors, about 40 audit professionals and the rest are Marketing, Tax and IT. Most employees split their time among clients in the entire Suisse Romande, which includes the Genève, Lausanne and Neuchâtel areas. Not our expectation, but we ended up being brought into the office after lunch to have orientation! So, we had our first day of work! We were given our laptops and supplies, instructed on time/expense coding, HR related items and were able to order our corporate mobile phones – so we should have our phones next week some time. They have similar options as the U.S., I got an iPhone 6 and Andrew ordered a Samsung Galaxy S6.

We got our audit engagement assignments for next week and I found out that I’ll be on travel! I’m headed to work in Schaffhausen, which is a 3 hour train ride away from Lausanne and north of Zurich in the German speaking part of Switzerland. Talk about starting work and hitting the ground running! While we hadn’t expected to start work already, it was good to be able to meet people (everyone was very nice, though not too many people in the office since it was a Friday and most are at clients or on holiday), get our laptops and feel prepared to start work next week. I keep having to remind myself that we’re not here to roam around Europe and that we have to actually do some work while we’re here 😉

So far, our first week in Switzerland has been wonderful. It’s been very hot (in the 90s and no A/C in our apartment). I’m so glad that we found a fan! We’re learning our way around public transit in Lausanne and starting to feel more accustomed to our new home town. This weekend we’re mainly sticking around town and possibly going wine tasting in the Lavaux region just east of Lausanne. Should be good! Hope you have a good weekend, too 🙂

3 thoughts on “My birthday in the Swiss Alps, IKEA and our {impromptu} first day of work

  1. […] This weekend we were up in Verbier for a ski trip with Andrew’s client audit team. We were a group of 14 for the weekend and it was great to get to hang out with everyone. You may recall we came to Verbier last year with Andrew’s parents (see post) and we also came on my birthday our first week living in Switzerland (see post). […]

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