Time for the show, eh?

Back in Zurich but still thinking fondly of the snow, and mountains, and trees and friends back in Canada.

The first 3 weeks of the trip were spent in Victoria and exploring Vancouver Island. It was wonderful to spend time fully relaxing with my parents- eating pancakes, drinking tea, watching for the sea otters, and playing cards. We all fit nicely into each other’s schedules as the yoga and golf and choir continued on smoothly. Fortunately for us ‘foreign’ types, there were plenty of great experiences to be had, even in January. Robbie Burns night, for one, where my Dad and his pipe band were the main act, filling our ears and eyes with their melodies and foot high feathered caps, respectively. We even got to dress the part. Very appropriate after the Scotland adventure.

The clan
Bonnie laddie

A meal of Neeps, Tatties and Haggis, as well as the history of the scoundrel, Robbie, completed the evening.

As well, we had to see some of Victoria, including the breakwater, Government street, the Royal BC museum with its collection of themed exhibits, and a good number of beaches.

Canadian wildlife
breakwater at dusk

Tilmann and I also made it North of Victoria to ski at Mount Washington, hug some amazingly big trees, and collect our thoughts at some desolate beaches.

From the top of the island at Mt. Washington, ocean beneath the clouds
9m around, 76 m high, 700 years old- the magnificient Douglas Fir
Brilliant green, even in January
living beard
Hidden waterfall
Back to the roots

And of course, some family time. A late Christmas meal with old friends, and a short day trip over to Saltspring Island. We took the ferry over to Saltspring, on an unfortunately grey and misty day. We missed the views of the other islands, but did find some tasty sea food, an eclectic hardware store, plenty of sea gulls and island dwellers (of the cheese producing and raw chocolate type!)

Ferry to Saltspring

And of course, my twin spent the weekend for Robbie Burns too! Claire and mom below.

At ‘Christmas’, looking festive

From the island, the trip continued to Vancouver for a few days of mountains, parks, ocean, and even a bald eagle! Calgary was the next stop for a visit with many old friends. Such great conversations, a super bowl party, and even caught the end of a chinook! One highlight- dressing up with the girls for the texas themed party.

Calgary- tatooed on my heart

Onto Toronto and Montreal. More friends to discuss about the world, life after school, love, quinoa and where we are all heading next. Amazing how a year and a half doesn’t really create much space between these old friends.

Thank you to all who housed me, drank tea with me, shared in the experiences and inspired me for the upcoming year! You are all in my heart, even on this side of the ocean! To those I missed, there is always room to visit in Zurich!

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Highlights from June

Regular classes were finished, but we were all still busy with our short ‘block’ courses. I was finishing up the case study (see the school page) and others were on educational adventures to the forests and nature reserves in Switzerland.

It was great to be done the bulk of the year’s work, and there were certainly a few celebrations as it was well into barbecue weather. So a few photos can capture the aspects of what my friends and I did in June, outside of the extra school work.

Flowers were in full bloom quite early, and the number of roses astonished me. As you walked through the streets you could catch little whiffs of floral scents from the various trees and shrubs in the city. I often saw locals collecting the wild flowers along the river to bring home. In this respect, the city has a thriving natural environment.

First signs of summer

One weekend I went up to the mountains to be with Lisa, Freddi, Nora and Mia. We went up to an old ruin near Flims (along the face of the Flims stone) for lunch. There were spectacular views over the valley which was checkered with forests, farming fields, and grazing land.

Meeting of the Rhine rivers

 I hadn’t been for a few months and it is amazing how this curious babe can change. As sweet as ever, Nora is now walking and babbling but hasn’t quite grasped her 4 languages that she is hearing (German, English, French, and the local language, Romansch), but it is coming.   

Curious

The other young lady in the house is Mia. Strong-minded, bright and detail oriented, I foresee an engineer in this girl. Sigh 🙂

Observant

The two sisters- I loved how Nora stared at Mia, with full trust that the chocolate bar would end up in her mouth.

Bonding through chocolate

Since I have known her, Nora has loved textures. She will happily sit and feel the grass and leaves. Sometimes she finds a flower and plays with the petals.

flower girl

As the weather inevitably got nicer, the get-togethers were always outside. I discovered the inner courtyard of my building and the free barbecue stove. We’ve had a couple of evenings there now, with kids and cats playing around us in the warm evenings as we enjoy out white wine spritzers and cream cheese stuffed mushrooms.

backyard barbecue

A few last photos from other days and nights.

candle light
bike by art

This final one is the old viaduct into the city centre, and is now part of the bridge for the trains entering the centre. I just catch a glimpse of it from my bedroom. I hear this is being done in other cities as well, but the space below the bridge has been renovated into retail and restaurant space- very funky and a great use of prime real estate in an area full of young people and parks. Each store is numbered, to enhance the simplicity of the concept.

viaduct stores

Schluein

This is the town Lisa (my Aunt) lives in with the gang of Freddi, Mia, Nora and Ruby. I go up (about 2-ish hours from Zurich by train) whenever I feel the need for some family time or a little open space.

It is the ideal place to get to know Swiss living (this last weekend we had fondue and made our own pasta!), take some fantastic walks through the surrounding hills with my Uncle Frederic who is a mountain guide and play with my cousins, Mia and Nora, and the dog, Ruby.

The town is in the area of Flims and Laax which are famous ski resorts in the area. The summer hiking on the ski hills makes for dramatic vistas onto the surrounding Alps.

Some photos for you to get the idea… 

View from Lisa's Living Room
View from Lisa’s Living Room

The big trees on the left are walnut. Lisa and I went out to pick them as the tree drops them over the fall. In a month or so, they harden up and develop their lovely buttery taste.   

Lisa and Nora
Lisa and Nora
My lovely Aunt and baby cousin.
The Mountain Hut above the town of Laax
The Mountain Hut above the town of Laax
The mountain hut that was built by Frederic and his friends. They go up here for three weeks a year during the legal deer hunt. At dawn and dusk they are 30 feet up in the air suspended from their favourite strategic tree waiting for the elusive Red Deer… this year was a bad year (blame it on the hard winter, was what I heard the locals whispering) and only 3 deer were shot amongst them. We hiked up to the hut once to meet them when they came down for lunch. Sitting around over wild mushroom (that they found on their way down) risotto with a bunch of smelly, unshaven, and deer-obsessed mountain men was a funny experience. As I sat there listening to Lisa translate with my eyes wide, I must have looked a bit like a deer myself. It certainly blew away any previous notions about Swiss hunting that I had.
The Flims Stone, the local area is known for this formation
The Flims Stone, the local area is known for this formation

 Taken from the town of Flims, this outcrop is the backdrop throughout the town and is instantly recognizable once you have caught a glimpse.

Flims Ski Hill
Flims Ski Hill
We made our way around the open face of the ski hill with the Flims Stone in the background.
Cool mushrooms everywhere
Cool mushrooms everywhere
I could probably do a whole post only on mushrooms…
Blueberry picking with a sleeping Nora
Blueberry picking with a sleeping Nora
Our path went through a huge blueberry patch. We ate our fill and talked about our safe escape from scurvy. Nora did not partake.
Freddi and Ruby
Freddi and Ruby
The distant mountains just started to clear out of the fog as we finished the hike.