Friday, December 30

Year 2005 in Cities

Since moving to live in Europe, we have been taking advantage of the cheap flights and mass of nearby destinations available to us. Inspired by Jason Kottke's post The year in cities, here is the list of cities I spent one or more nights in during 2005.

Adelaide, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
Geneva, Switzerland
Zurich, Switzerland
Venice, Italy
Paris, France
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
London, UK
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Galway, Ireland
Killarney, Ireland
Kilkenny, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland
Zermatt, Switzerland
St Moritz, Switzerland
Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Lucerne, Switzerland
New York, USA
Skopje, Macedonia

Peter's list is almost the same, except with Brisbane and Luxembourg instead of Tashkent and New York.

This is, without a doubt, the most traveling I have ever done in a year. However, I'm sure many of you (such as the 23 Australians I know who came through Geneva on holiday this year!) will have much more impressive lists. Let's see them then!

Tuesday, December 27

Hitting the Slopes

Peter and Jess pre-skiing lessonWe survived our first go at skiing in Switzerland! After 2 hours of learning what is meant to be the easiest form of skiing, cross-country, we were tired but enthusiastic. Peter got the prize for the most improved, and the best at getting up after falling down. Simon dreaming of trying snowboarding instead of boring old cross-countrySimon and I took to it quite quickly, with only a couple of falls or stumbles. Simon did a pretty good job of masking his boredom, whilst looking longingly over at the snowboarding school.

Brettaye was our resort of choice and the slopes were packed with downhill skiers and snowboarders (definitely not a cross-country skiers paradise). Our instructor, Michael, was excellent - very patient and helpful. Now we have a grasp of the basics, it's time to buy some skis and get out to practice! Zydre, Eddie, Dean, Peter and Simon take a late afternoon stroll

Christmas day was great. We spent it with the lovely Pembers, who welcomed us into their home for Xmas with their family and friends. One of the many highlights has to be last night's dinner, when we all went on sleds, pulled by a snowmobile, through the falling snow, to a fantastic Peter, Zydre and Bob at Xmas lunchrestaurant. An incredible and memorable experience for all of us.

Sunday, December 25

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! It's about 2 degrees here in Geneva and the snow has just started falling. We are about to head up to the mountains for lunch with another Australian family. Tomorrow we'll have our first skiing lesson!

Joyeux Noel et une bonne annee 2006!

Friday, December 23

Ciao Bella!

Claire and JessDuring Claire's last weekend visiting us, she took us out for a scrumptious dinner at Auberge des Trois Coqs (our favourite local restaurant). It was a special night with a small band playing downstairs and lots of atmosphere.

On the Saturday, she and I went into Geneva for some pre-Christmas shopping, lunch and sight-seeing. The shops were packed with people, but we managed to squeeze through the crowds to get our last minute gifts, and buy each other some earrings (Claire got gorgeous little snowflake ones).

Claire in the snow
We climbed the towers of St Peter's Cathedral in Geneva Old Town, up some very narrow spiral staircases, to see the lovely view over the city and lake. It was a bit overcast, the view would be even more stunning on a clear sunny day. See Claire pictured on the balcony of the north tower, just as light snow started falling.

On Sunday, we went driving through the Jura mountains, which was covered in a thick blanket of snow. It's a very picturesque drive from the warmth and comfort of the car. Driving in the JuraToo cold to get out! This is the area we hope to go cross-country skiing. There are many kilometres of trails to choose from.

Once home again, I cooked soup and roast turkey for Christmas lunch a few days early. I must say, it was pretty damn good! I even made stuffing for the first time and that worked out very well. The French champagne was also very nice.

Roast Turkey lunch

Thursday, December 22

Catch up

Time to play a bit of catch up with this website! Since I last wrote we have:

  • been visited by friends Kerrie and Bob;
  • been to celebrate Geneva's l'Escalade;
  • Peter spent a week working as an 'Invited Expert' at a statistics meeting here in Geneva;
  • spent another week with Claire after she returned from her whirlwind tour of Europe;
  • driven Claire to Zurich yesterday to catch her plane to Singapore then Australia;
  • returned from Zurich with son Simon who is visiting for 3 weeks

As you can see, a lot has been happening and I can't believe it's Christmas on Sunday.

Kerrie & BobFirstly our weekend with Kerrie and Bob was spent having a moules and frites dinner in nearby France (yum), market shopping on Saturday morning, spending a freezing cold afternoon/evening at l'Escalade and then a nice Sunday drive in the snow covered Jura.

L'Escalade is an annual event in Geneva celebrating the defeat of the Duke of Savoy's forces when they attacked Geneva in 1602. It is celebrated with lots of vin chaud (hot wine) and lovely soup, reminiscent of the boiling cauldron of soup that was tipped on the heads of Savoyard soldiers by a clever woman.

l'EscaladeThe old town comes alive with heaps of people dressed in period costume (some on horseback like the guy on the left), pipe bands, sword fights, cannon explosions and a general party atmosphere. Pity it was about -5 degrees!

The following Thursday, Claire returned from her tour with senses overload, having visited 8 countries in 12 days. She had a great time, but I think was pleased that it was over and there was no need to get up and on a bus at 6.30 again.

ClaireWe spent her second week here doing a bit of shopping, relaxing, checking out the old town (including climbing the cathedral tower) and having a special Xmas lunch, roast turkey and all. Yesterday Peter drove her to Zurich airport (3 hours away) where he exchanged her for young Simon who arrived about 2 hours before Claire was due to depart. Perfect timing!

Simon was very excited to be here and see his dear Dad again. When I got home from work he was asleep on the couch - exhausted from the 36 hours of travel it takes to get here from Adelaide. I, and probably the roast lamb Peter was dishing up for dinner, managed to rouse him from sleep and we had a great time catching up on all the news. He and Peter visited me at work this morning and we took Simon on a quick tour of the Palais. Tonight I think we are having fondue as it's perfect weather for this - ie freezing.

Saturday, December 3

Claire Arrives

Claire tobogganingMy sister Claire arrived last week for her first visit to Europe. After a good night's sleep to recover from any jet lag, we dragged her up into the mountains to try out our new sled. That's her tearing down the hill in the photo!

During the week she visited the Chateau de Chillon at Montreux, did the tour of the UN and spent time exploring Geneva. We've been out for dinner at the local Korean restaurant and she and I hit the shops at Balexert on Thursday night.

She's now off on a Contiki tour for 12 days and will be back to stay with us for another week after that. We're looking forward to hearing about her travels to Amsterdam, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Rome, Florence, Lucerne, Paris and London. Wow!!