One year …. and some adventure along the way

Here we are! Andrew and I have officially passed the one-year mark. What a year…. we moved to a foreign country. We are working among a French-speaking culture. We are learning French. We got an apartment together with a beautiful view of Lac Léman across to the French Alps and Evian (where the water is from!). We have traveled all over Europe, including: Switzerland; to Milan, Italy; to Munich, Germany; to Antibes and Paris in France; to London, England; and to Iceland. I think it’s safe to say we have seen a fair share of the ski resorts and mountains in our region – but still more to see! So many ups and downs, highs and lows, frustrations, accomplishments, growth (personal and professional), you name it, it’s happened. It’s been a quite the year! My favorite is that we have done it all together and it has all been captured here on my blog, which I plan on turning into a book at the end of our rotation for us to hold on to for the future.

Everyone’s next question is naturally, “Are you staying?” and the answer is honestly a bit difficult and changes day by day. Our current employment contracts end 30 June 2017. If we want to extend our time in Switzerland, it is a possibility that we are fortunate to be able to pursue with KPMG if we ask. But, we have mixed emotions and are trying to weigh out the pros and cons – because yes living in Europe is cool and amazing, but we live here. We work here. It’s not always a vacation or a hike in the Alps (which we of course love) but  we have some reasons why staying might not be the best choice. So, we’ll keep you posted but for now our time in Switzerland has been and continues to be an awesome experience.

Next, what the heck we have been doing since we got back from Iceland? Well, we worked a ton in June (thank you to lots of statutory audits for Andrew and a 29 May fiscal year-end audit for me) and June was also gloomy with day after day of rain, rain and more rain. July has started off much easier. We have found some time for fun stuff to keep us busy! Be prepared for a long one ….

Via Ferinetta in Saillon

June 26, 2016 marked one year since my Dad passed away. I wanted to do something special to commemorate him and try to bring light to what would otherwise be a sad day.  Before Andrew and I moved to Switzerland, my Dad was disappointed that we were leaving the U.S. and moving so far away but also incredibly excited for our adventure and especially to visit us. His biggest goal was to climb a via ferrata together (What is a via ferrata? see here!). So, this was the plan! Since we do not have experience with these things nor the equipment, I hired a guide to take Andrew and I on one.

We stayed the night in Crans Montana (See post – same ski resort town we visited for the KPMG ski weekend) at the Hotel Valaisia. We arrived in a rainstorm, which was fine because our night in the hotel also includes a thermal bath and spa (heated pools with jets and a whirlpool, sauna, turkish bath and hot and cold pools). So we relaxed in the spa in the afternoon 🙂

I am by no means a huge soccer fan, but since we are in Europe and the Eurocup is going on, we have been watching quite a lot. The Switzerland game was on that night, so we hung out at a little bar to watch the game.

As you can see here, we picked the locals bar with the somewhat older crowd 🙂 no matter! they gave us some local cheese (typical Swiss bar snack) and welcomed us!

Saturday night we treated ourselves to dinner at the Hotel Crans Ambassador restaurant Le Texture. The food was incredible and the view was stunning. We had a sweeping view of the the mountains and the valley.

At our dinner at the Hotel Crans Ambassador

Sunday we got up early, met our guide Vincent and headed for the via ferrata in Saillon. The trip was so fun. We hiked up into a river gorge, followed the via ferrata up through the gorge, above waterfalls, crossed rope bridges, and came out at the top after about 2 hours. It was similar to rock climbing, but easier (probably because this was a beginners route) and I felt way more protected given that each person is attached to a cable the entire time. It was exhilarating and so fun. My dad would have loved it and I thought about him throughout.

Shots from during the via ferrata with the vineyards of Valais down below. Bottom left are the prayer flags my sister gave to my Dad before he went on a trip to Switzerland to climb the Matterhorn. I brought them up to give them another trip up a mountain with him in mind 🙂

The rest of our days have been filled with a lot of Eurocup, and a weekend when our friends Kevin and Sarah came to stay with us for a few days before they headed off to language school in France. We had fun going down to Ouchy to watch the Eurocup on a big screen on a warm night, watching Game of Thrones and cooking together 🙂

The first weekend in July was the first perfectly clear, sunny and warm Sunday in weeks. Knowing us, you won’t be surprised that we headed for the Alps. We parked in Ferret and headed up for Petit Col Ferret. We climbed nearly 1,000 meters in elevation (aka a great leg workout). The views were incredible, the ground was blanketed in fields of wildflowers of all kinds and the cows are now up in the Alps for the summer so we were greeted by their clanging bells on the slopes. We even crossed the border into Italy at the top!

Cute little house in Ferret at the trail head. It was early and the grass was glittering a mint green color from the morning dew. Stunning!
The beginning of the trail passing through fields of wildflowers. The cows spend their summers chowing down on these alpine flowers, herbs and grass. Which makes it so clear when you see this why dairy products taste so good in Switzerland. We had actually just passed a herd that was picketed in a section nearby. The herders will move them around the slopes as they eat through patches.
Vista along the trail on our way up
Just another gorgeous view
We met a nice Dutch family at this spot and we exchanged taking photos. Always nice to meet others on the trail 🙂 This one was far busier than any other we have ever done. I think everyone was excited to get outdoors after our rainy June weather!
Near the top, on the border with Italy!
Looking into Italy 🙂

One of our favorite things about Switzerland is the existence of buvettes in the mountains. These are little restaurants that are often in a spot you can only hike, ski, or snow shoe to. Another one we visited was in Ovrannaz after snow shoeing, which you can see in this post. After our hike we went to Le Gîte de la Léchère. The view was amazing and the beer definitely hit the spot after our long hike!

Post-hike beers mountainside

The second weekend in July was beautiful again and we chose to spend our time hanging out by the lake.

Saturday we went to hang out at the city public pool/beach, Bellerive-Plage

Sunday we rented a pedalo (paddleboat) for a couple hours. Here you see the big paddleboat ferry La Suisse coming through. 
Our pedalo came with a big slide!

The third weekend of July we celebrated my 29th birthday. We went out for a nice dinner on Friday and Saturday night went to Montreux for the big music festival Montreux Jazz Festival. You have to pay to see the big acts, but the festival has an entire free section open to the public with free live music and plenty of vendors set up all along the lake shore. The night was the perfect temperature and it was so fun to walk around.

We stopped here at the Nestle sponsored tent and watched this incredible cover band. They were so good and it was awesome with the backdrop of the lake and the Alps behind them. 

Sunday we headed for the Alps again to hike above Lac d’Emosson. Our downstairs neighbor, Sheida even joined us. There was still quite a lot of snow at the top, but it was a beautiful hike and a good time.

Andrew and Sheida at our lunch stop

View of Mont Blanc off in the distance

So, next up? In less than two days we are headed off on our big four week summer vacation. Be ready for posts on Spain, Portugal, Amsterdam, Norway and France as we work our way through our big Eurotrip!