My Mom’s visit to Switzerland 

Last year I got delayed for a day in Denver while flying to join Andrew’s family in Tahoe for NYE. The United Airlines rep must have felt really bad for me while trying to help find a solution because without even asking, she compensated my troubles with a $1,000 travel voucher to go anywhere in the world with United by 31 December 2016! I didn’t need the ticket since United doesn’t offer many flights within Europe but it was perfect to use to fly my Mom to Switzerland for the holiday season in December! Mom came to visit from Wednesday 14 December until Monday 19 December. The weather has been cloudy and grey in Lausanne thanks to the typical winter fog layer over the lake, but we managed to sightsee around our area, and then escaped to the sunny Alps for a couple of days before returning to visit the Montreux Christmas market. All in all, a wonderful trip for my Mom to get to see where we live in Lausanne and have a Swiss holiday trip!

Wednesday: Mom flew in on Wednesday morning from Virginia. Andrew and I still had work, but I met her at the train station, got her situated at the apartment and left her on her own for the day to acclimate to the time difference and explore. She rested, went for a run and we all reconnected for a home-cooked meal at the apartment in the evening.

Thursday: I was able to take off work Thursday through Friday and Andrew took off on Friday. Thursday morning my Mom and I went for a run down on the lake front, and then at mid-day set off to walk around Lausanne to see our Swiss home town. We visited the Lausanne cathedral, the old town, the anatomical clock in Place de la Palud, and walked through many of the shops.

Inside the cathedral, all dressed up for Christmas. We lucked into stepping into the cathedral while the organist was practicing.

After seeing Lausanne and making some important chocolate purchases at Chocolats Blondel (we’re a little late to the game in discovering this place and it is THE BEST chocolate), we got on the train headed for Saint-Saphorin.  We love taking visitors to this adorable little village on the lakeside. You feel like you’re stepping back into time as you wander the narrow, winding cobblestone streets up the hillside into the terraced vineyards of Lavaux. We spent an hour walking through the village and along the  the vineyard terraces. The sun was setting and the clouds were blocking our view of the Alps, but it was still lovely.

Mom & I walking through the wine terraces above Saint-Saphorin.

Friday: Our “big” trip while Mom was visiting was to head into the canton of Valais for two days. We first drove to Crans-Montana to do some hiking. You might recall we did the KPMG ski weekend in Crans-Montana last winter and we also stayed there last June before doing a via ferrata on the anniversary of my father’s passing. We had originally wanted to do a hike along the Bisse du Rho, but we arrived at the trail head to discover it was closed for winter. Instead, we hiked an alternate trail through the forest for a couple hours. It was beautiful!

Mom on the section of the trail below some really cool rock cliffs
View from the hike and where we stopped for lunch. That is a dam at the center of the photograph.

After our hike we stopped in the village of Crans-Montana to walk around a bit and take in the panoramic view of the Alps. The Crans-Montana resort area is famous for its south facing slopes that soak in the sun and provide these amazing views.

View from Crans-Montana
View of the Weisshorn (4,506m/14,783 ft) from Crans-Montana. The valley below it is Val d’Anniviers, where we stayed on Friday night.

Friday afternoon we drove across the Rhône valley and up into the Val d’Anniviers for our destination village of Grimentz, where had reserved a spot at the Hotel Alpina. Friday night we had just enough time to walk through the adorable little village streets lit with Christmas lights before time for dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Walking through the Streets of Grimentz

Saturday: Saturday morning we woke up to see the streets of the village in the light. Grimentz is seriously one of the cutest villages we have been to, and I can only imagine how much cuter it is in warmer months when they have all their flower boxes overflowing with bright red flowers. We just might need to return next year!


Graveyard at the church in Grimentz. Instead of gravestones they had these wooden markers. It was a beautiful spot.


Once we were packed up and the sun had made it’s way a little higher in the sky, we purchased tickets and rode the Grimentz Bendolla cablecar up to the top of the nearby peaks into the Zinal ski resort. A short walk later, we found ourselves sitting in the warm sun on the porch of the Buvette de la Marmotte. We hung out in reclining chairs, had drinks and took in the incredible view at 2,800 meters.


Andrew and Mom suffering through the afternoon on the porch of the buvette . The Weisshorn (left) and Zinalrothorn (right) are in the background.
There were a lot of para-skiers practicing on the slopes. It was amazing to watch them




View of the buvette as we were leaving. Pretty sweet spot!


After we couldn’t stand the views any longer we figured we should get in a bit more relaxation. We headed down to the car and drove to the village of Ovronnaz to enjoy the thermal baths. Typical with these places, we could not take pictures but if you look at the link I referenced you’ll be able to see that the view was incredible from the outdoor baths and we enjoyed every relaxing moment as the sun set over the peaks rising above us!


At 1 we got on the train and headed for Château Chillon, another favorite place to take visitors. They were having a special Christmas event for families, with shows for children and vendors selling gifts and food in the main hall of the castle. The clouds were clearing, so we got a great view!



One of my mom’s top reasons for wanting to come visit us in December was to visit the Christmas markets. Luckily, we live near the Montreux Noel Christmas market and could go for a visit on her last day in Switzerland. We went for the late afternoon into the evening, wandering through the shops, stopping for vin chaud (hot, mulled wine) and had fondue at one of the pop-up restaurants.

Inside one of the bars at the Christmas Market. This one is a huge pop-up log cabin with a fire. They sell special beers made by Boxer, a local brewery, specifically for the markets!


A real live Santa flies by on his sled on the hour. Here he is against the Sunset and Lac Léman. Pretty incredible!


Our dinner restaurant. A pop-up restaurant that features traditional Swiss fare.


We had to give Mom her fondue experience! Here’s our pot of cheese, and below is my croutes au fromage, which is a piece of bread, with either a slice of ham or pièces of ham, topped with cheese. Some restaurants often offer to crack an egg on top. It’s SO GOOD …… for you? 🙂

After reading this post … you may have noticed that some of these pictures are looking much better than the others? Well, Andrew and I have upped our game!  We recently purchased a “real” camera for ourselves to capture all our adventures. We settled on a Sony Alpha a6300 mirrorless camera after Andrew did a ton of research on different cameras based upon our expected use. So far, I can really tell the difference in our photos.

So, this is a wrap for 2016 in Switzerland. I am so happy my Mom had the chance to come visit us in Lausanne and experience our Swiss life. Both Mom and Andrew flew back to the U.S. on Monday December 19th, and I just finished working one more week before I fly back to the U.S. for the holidays today on Christmas Eve. I’ll be in Virginia for 3 weeks as I am working in VA on a work engagement again in January. I can’t wait to be home to visit with friends and family for the holidays. After that, we return to Switzerland to begin our work busy season and hit the ski slopes as much as possible. Stay posted 🙂

KPMG Ski Weekend at Crans Montana

Ski weekend group photo
Our co workers from KPMG Suisse Romande audit practice. We all work in the French region of Switzerland and most of us are from the Lausanne or Geneva offices.

This past weekend was the KPMG Suisse Romande Audit Practice ski weekend. Our social committee planned an incredible weekend for us with a full itinerary on Saturday. It was so fun!

We spent the weekend at the Swiss Chalet Montana, in a room with a view of the mountains – literally could wake up, look out the window and stare at the vista and even the Matterhorn off in the distance. It was not a fancy hotel, but the rooms were large for European standards, it came with breakfast, a self service bar, pool, Foosball, and the inn keeper even caravaned everyone to dinner on Saturday night so that we wouldn’t have to walk 20 minutes in the cold to get downtown.

Darn trees are in the way but the view from our room was still beautiful!

Saturday morning everyone met at the ski station to pick up our tickets. Andrew and I skied a couple pistes with some co workers before, well … let’s just say they left me in the dust haha these people ski as if they literally came out of the womb on skis they are so good! I tried to keep up but I am just not good enough at skiing yet. So, we bid farewell and got in a couple hours of skiing by ourselves before stopping and meeting back up with everyone for lunch. The snow was awesome and the pistes were so fun. The resort is huge and we had a great time exploring a new ski area.

View from lunch at the Les Violettes terrace

Lunch was a group affair at some tables reserved out on the terrace at Les Violettes. The weather on Saturday was mild, crystal clear and blue skies. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The panoramic views from the pistes of Crans Montana were incredible
View out over the glacier at the highest point of the resort. There was an awesome super long piste to ski down the glacier and down the mountain from here
Andrew and I after lunch on the terrace
My map man and his map ❤️
Skiing down from the glacier. Had to be careful to stop looking at the view and focus on where I was going!

Dinner was an organized group meal at Restaurant La Désalpe, followed by drinks at The Constellation followed by going dancing at some basement club that miraculously I cannot remember the name of (wonder why that is …. 🙂 ) It was a really great time and fun to get to hang out with our colleagues outside of work. Crans Montana was a really nice resort and honestly had the best panoramic views of the Alps. Better than I ever imagined. We left Sunday morning exhausted but loved every minute.