Gratitude Friday – Hello Visa!

Post by Lauren

This week, I’ll make it short and sweet……I am grateful for the visa being official. And for all my Mom’s help driving me around Washington, D.C. and to visit folks while I was back in the US. I feel very fortunate for both these things.

Now I can officially say this!

Bon weekend everyone!


Monday Funday in Lausanne & Evian

Post by Lauren

On Monday, we took a little day trip. Andreas and I knew we were going to venture somewhere (Gabe unfortunately had to work and couldn’t play). But, luckily discovered that friends S and A were up for an activity, as well as they had another visitor C who wanted to join as well.

We took off for Lausanne, not completely knowing what the day had in store. Lausanne is a beautiful city on lake Geneva, just about 40 minutes north of Geneva. When Gabe and I first toured Switzerland, we immediately fell in love with Lausanne but it was too far to live from Geneva. I love the architecture and rolling hills. It has a similar feel to San Francisco, and our legs definitely got a work out exploring as well.

After climbing to the cathedral, we decided it was time for a lunch break. We stumbled upon Via Veneto right behind the cathedral and it turned out to be a great find. The owner was so open and welcoming and we also enjoyed chatting it up with the patrons next to us about Italy who shared their cheese plate with us. We all had plats du jour – everything was amazing, including the wine. When in Lausanne, we’d highly recommend this place.

After lunch, we strolled back down to the coast of Ouchy and enjoyed a drink on the deck of the Laclustre before boarding a boat for Evian, France. Yup, Evian, like the water. It is right on Lake Geneva, on the French side. The boat ride was quite nice and we split a bottle of wine and played games to pass the 30 minute journey.

We took a quick tour of the Evian “hall of information” but quickly found it to be quite boring, so we moved on to explore the town.

Highlights were a nutella crepe from the cafe and an interesting stop at the evian casino. I’ll let you wait for S’s post on that to explain the humor.

It turned out to be a really enjoyable day.

Reason # 37 I wish I knew German

Post by Lauren

Introducing Sven. He is a Volvo. He is our method of transportation when we aren’t using Geneva public transportation or trains. Like in the case of Gruyeres that is best explored by car because of how remote it is. Its only a 1 1/2 hour drive, but via trains/buses, it would be more like 4 hours. Also, sometimes its cheaper to use a car if you have multiple passengers vs. buying train tickets. Of course, it could provide more room for issues in driving or directions, but that is part of the fun.

Sven is always very dependable. Until this weekend. He starting acting up in Vevey, when we stopped for coffee and a peak at the shoreline.

The guys looked under the hood, but we decided to press on to our trip to Gruyeres. After cheese tasting, Sven had some trouble starting. Uh-oh. It was a Sunday, we were in the middle of no-where. And it was raining. We kept on going to the castle, etc. and just kept our fingers crossed Sven was going to be able to be revived upon our return to him. We made sure to leave by 6pm, so we could figure out from an open restaurant how to do the train home if we had to. There wouldn’t be any prayer of an open service station on a Sunday. Questioning why? See a previous post.

We enjoyed our trip and descended down the mountain hill in the rain, hoping and praying Sven wouldn’t disappoint. He sputtered out. After seven attempts, he started.

Immediately after we took off, he displayed this warning:

None of us knew German. We assumed he was telling us he was going to blow up. Oh no, and now we were out of walking distance to assistance for the train route. Andreas hurriedly pulled out his Blackberry and translated. And it translated “trunk open”. We stopped, closed the front hood, and Sven pulled off his warning. We laughed. Disaster averted.

So, thus, another reason I wish I knew a different language. We could actually know what our car needed. But then again, what is the fun in that?

The coolest and scariest bar I’ve ever seen

Post by Lauren

Before we left Gruyeres, Andreas suggested we stop into a bar he had seen on our walk in, the HR Giger Museum Bar. Now from the title, you may think, how scary can a museum bar be? Well, Giger was known for his creative work on Alien and won an Oscar. Apparently this bar was inspired by Jonah being in the belly of the whale. Check out the creativity…..the whole place was a magnificent work of art.

I love the one of Andreas and I doing a “double dragon”…our scariest move, from behind our skeletal stools.

For a more detailed look by professional photographers, check out this link or see this YouTube video:


Gruyeres, Switzerland

Post by Lauren

We are excited to have Andreas in town visiting for the US this week. At first, Switzerland decided to show Andreas its gloomy side, but Gruyeres ended up being a good little day trip as the heavy clouds made the castle a little bit more mysterious, and the chill in the air made our cheese dishes a little bit more tasty.

When we first arrived, we checked out the Gruyere cheese factory and even got to try a sample.

Touring the Gruyeres Cheese Factory

The arduous process certainly made us appreciate our cheese more. I really especially liked the story, told from the perspective from one of the cows, detailing the history of cheese and cheese-making. The story also compared wine tasting (when you pick of flavors of cherry, oak, etc) to cheese tasting, where one should pick up the cumin, the thistle, etc of the matter that the cows graze on.

Next, we moved onto the town of Gruyeres. Usually you can see the Alps in the background. But, it was a tad foggy. Oh well. We were still charmed by the beautiful walled town. We grabbed a traditional cheese dish of raclette and relaxed and dined by a panoramic view of the valley.

After lunch, we adventured to the famous Gruyeres castle. It was really neat, but my favorite was the beautiful geometric gardens that rested in the courtyard.

We almost had an additional adventure when our car took 7 times to start in the very empty rainy parking lot. But, he made it. More on that later.

The cure for jet lag

Post by Lauren

Transatlantic flights are getting easier with time. In fact, on this latest jaunt to the US and back, it only took one day for the jet lag to wear off, both ways. So glad that I am finally getting the hang of it, and wanted to share my recommendations for those traveling through multiple time zones:

Okay - you got me. This wasn't the plane I took.

From USA to Europe:
Upon landing, try to stay awake as long as possible. No naps. Take a nap and you will get screwy. Try to find sunlight and stay outside in it to start to teach your body about the new time zone. Since I don’t sleep well on the transatlantic flights, usually the max that I can make it is 7pm. This is generally good enough. Take some sort of sleep aid to ensure you can stay asleep as long as your body needs. This is usually about 11 hours for Gabe and I.

From Europe to USA:
Same rule about staying up as long as possible, so you adjust to the new time zone. I can usually make it to 7pm* or 8pm in this case.

Other tips for flying long flights and jet lag:
–Drink lots and lots of water to avoid dehydration. They say that you need an extra cup for every hour you are in the air, but take in as much as you can physically drink . They also usually have a beverage stand in the galley of most large planes. Visit it often to get more liquid intake.
–Eyemasks, earplugs and a neck pillow help me sleep better on the redeyes overseas so that the noise and light doesn’t bother me. I also have a special potion of Tylenol PM + 2 glasses of red wine that assists my ability to sleep. Check out my friend A’s recap of her latest transatlantic flight for more insights and tips.
–Don’t schedule anything important for the first evening of arrival – you will be a zombie and typically not functioning*

*On the night Gabe planned to propose to me (our two year anniversary), we had just landed back into the US from our first introductory trip to Switzerland and I was terribly jet lagged. I fell asleep around 7pm, before he could do it! Luckily it worked just as well the next morning!


Gratitude Friday: Fun in the Great US of A

Post by Lauren

Life sure is good. I am so blessed to have gotten a chance to catch up with many loved ones while on my mandatory home leave. Since “prior me” was often over-scheduled, stressy and crunched, it was a breath of fresh air to have this chance for visiting.

Fun in Annapolis and D.C.


Bon weekend, everyone!

Charlotte reunions!