The May post

Let’s catch up on May 2017, shall we? I’ve been a bit delinquent in blogging but we’ve been busy!

Andrew’s Aunt Cindy and Uncle Rick visit

The weekend of May 6 – 9, Andrew’s aunt Cindy (Andrew’s Mom’s sister) and uncle Rick from Tuscon, AZ, stopped in Lausanne to visit us during a vacation in Europe. They arrived on Saturday afternoon and left on Tuesday morning, giving us some time to spend together and show them the Suisse Romande.

On Saturday we took a walking tour of the old town in Lausanne. It was in the rain, but we made the best of it. For Saturday night’s dinner we went to a local favorite, Suku’s, for some South Indian fare.

On Sunday we headed for the village of Gruyères, a favorite for visitors. Just our luck, the village was having it’s annual Fête du Fromage (a celebration of cheese). They had some musicians playing  the alpenhorn, local singers, some stalls selling local handicrafts and, of course, samples of local cheeses and meats. We took some time to wander the village and take a walk on the path around the castle.

gruyere from afar
The Gruyères castle and village, perched up on a hill. It was clearly a good defensive position!
gruyere
View from our walk around the Gruyères castle
gruyere groupshot
Me, Andrew, Uncle Rick, Aunt Cindy, in Gruyères on Sunday

Afterwards, we went for lunch at La Maison du Guyère where everyone had local Swiss specialties, including rösti (similar to hashbrown potatoes and served with various toppings), croûte au fromage (bread, cheese, various toppings like bacon and egg), and quiche. It’s a bit touristy of a spot, but a great place to experience local Swiss food.

After lunch we went to Maison Cailler, the chocolate factory located nearby in Broc. Cailler is owned by Nestlé, and is honestly my favorite of the chocolates sold in our grocery stores (when in comparison to something like Lindt or Frey). They have a tour at Maison Cailler that educated us about the process to produce their chocolate and was somewhat interactive. We had fun wandering through the tour and then at the end it had unlimited chocolate pralines for sampling!

cailler
The all-you-can-eat chocolate bar at the end of the Cailler. Heavenly!

On Monday Andrew was able to take off work to hang out with Cindy and Rick. They went for a hike and then that night we all met at our apartment for one last meal together, cooked at home. It was so nice to get to see Cindy and Rick and to show them our home in Switzerland!

andrew and fam

family dinner at apt
Everyone at the apartment for dinner

Hike to Vallon d’Emaney

Sunday 14 May Andrew and I ventured up into the mountains to see what kind of hiking we could do, and how high in elevation we could make it with the Spring snow levels. We were treated to an incredible hike! We did about 8 miles and 3000 ft gain in elevation into the Vallon d’Emaney. Upon arrival I started looking up into the valley walls because I felt like we might see some wildlife (reason? tons of skat and chamois poo pellets on the trail) and after a while saw something running parallel to us on the other side of the valley, bounding in and out of the snow. It was pretty far away, but we’re about 99% positive we saw a Eurasian lynx, a rare and elusive animal of which there are an estimated less than 200 in the country. Other large mammals in the area that could have been similar are a fox or a wolf, but we’re fairly certain it was a cat. If we are right it was a super rare sight and so cool!

After that, we kept hiking further towards the end of the valley and heard this loud crack sound like thunder. Well, that’s the sound of avalanche! We saw what was like a waterfall but of snow. Thanks to my geologist sister, I learned that it’s called a gullied avalanche. It was incredible. Over the course of about 2 hours spent in the valley we must have seen and heard about 20 of these avalanches. Overall, we had a really great day. We were happy to see that we could hike to nearly 2,000 meters on a south facing slope and wouldn’t be stopped by snow, we think we saw a wildcat and we saw these amazing avalanches. And these views!!

20170514-Vallon d'Emaney-004
Gorgeous pano shot of the Vallon d’Emaney. If you look closely you see the tons of waterfalls coming down. Additionally, it is a good demonstration of the idea of trying to hike on southern facing slops versus northern facing. See the right that is all brown/green? That’s southern facing and perfectly hikeable! The left faces north and was covered in snow and really not accessible for us.
20170514-Vallon d'Emaney-005
That’s one of the avalanches you see in the center. It was so cool. Also a closer shot with all the waterfalls all over the place. 
20170514-Vallon d'Emaney-002
View of the lake on our drive home

This weekend

This weekend we had our friends Yann and Marie over for dinner on Saturday night and I made a three course meal. We hadn’t seen them since our last dinner at their house in December so there was lots to catch up on.

Bottom left is the first course: bacon wrapped scallops; main course is the top of a beef ragu and bottom right is dessert: caramel crumb bars with vanilla ice cream. 

On Sunday we managed to get out of the house after our indulgent dinner and night of drinks with our friends and visited a local park at Les Pléiades for a short walk. The main attraction is the below pictured white flowers, the narcisse, which were in bloom and blanketing the hillsides.

picture

Life

So, what’s going on in our life? What are we doing about the move? Lately, I have experimented with selling furniture online to understand how it will work in June when we need to unload all our furniture (we are not taking ANYTHING back with us to the U.S.). I was successful and sold our guest bed and our desk chair on Anibis, a local website similar to Craigslist. With regard to the apartment, we have not solidified a replacement for our lease. There is someone that has applied to take the lease on 1 August, which means we would have to pay 1 month of rent for July, and we will have to decide soon if we accept their offer. Otherwise, we keep trying to find someone for 1 July, which is a little risky.

We booked our flights home! Our official departure date from Switzerland is on 27 July to fly back to San Francisco. Our plans for the summer are still coming together, but we do have the Europe part 100% planned now. We finish work on 30 June in Lausanne and the following Monday 3 July take the train down to Venice, Italy, meet up with our friends Maddy (my friend from JMU who lives in NYC) and Dani (Andrew’s friend from SCU who lives in Denver) and take a bus to the village of Cortina, where we will embark on a hut to hut trek in the Dolomites of Italy for 5 nights. It’s going to be so amazing. After that, Andrew and I take a train to Bologna for one night and then catch a plane to Bucharest, Romania. We’ll stay in Bucharest for a couple days and then take the train into Bulgaria, where we will spend over a week traveling the country from the villages in the north, to the Black Sea, to the mountains and finally to the capital, Sofia!

In the upcoming weeks we have some fun stuff planned. This upcoming week is a 4 day weekend holiday in Switzerland for Ascension and we will be going to the Côtes du Rhône in France. The first weekend of June we have a 3 day holiday weekend in Switzerland and will be traveling down to the Italian speaking region of the county, Ticino. After that, we’re in our last month of living here and it’ll all fly by. As always, I’ll keep you posted!

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