Wednesday, December 28, 2011

(Euro) Christmas Vacation

Unfortunately the Griswold's weren't able to join us on this year's vacay (I think they went to Vegas again...), but that didn't stop us from enjoying our first Christmas as a married couple.

First stop: Torino, Italy. This northern city is the capital of the Piedmont region and host to the 2006 Winter Olympic games.

Only three hours from our home here in Switzerland, we enjoyed a terrifying leisurely drive (sans the toll-road incident) through the Swiss Alps before arriving in Torino. We walked. We ate. We enjoyed the perfect weather. We drank. And we took in the Italian culture. Sigh... it was hard to leave just a few days later. Harry Winston, however, was happy to say "Arrivederci" to Italy and rest his weary paws.

The Palazzo.
 The Advent Calendar in the main piazza.
 The Po River.
 Enjoying a much needed break.
 Museo di Cinema.
 A favorite of mine in NYC, we took in the smells, sights, sounds and tastes of Eataly in Torino.
 The waitress looked surprised when we ordered tre piatti...?
Proof that we were there together.

On Christmas Day, we were on the road again. Next stop: the Provence region in south eastern France. Andy hadn't ever seen the Mediterranean coast so we veered off our navi's suggested route and headed south before cutting up to Provence. We pit-stopped in Antibes and enjoyed the scenary while Harry Winston took his first "dip" in the Med Sea.

 Testing the waters.
 Traumatized. I think he's a bit young to appreciate the beauty.

We were greeted with smiles and hugs by Eric Vance and his posee as we pulled up to the cottage (rented by Eric's aunt and uncle, Kristen and Alan) we'd call home that night. E and company treated us to a homecooked Christmas dinner before a night of story-telling, wine drinking and game playing ensued.

Harry found a new lap - how surprising.

Monday brought us to Arles, France with Eric, Tanya, Kristen and Alan. It was so fun to go off the beaten path and spend our day flitting about this beautiful little town.

 The Colosseum.
 Our new favorite photo-opp.
Number of Christmases Andy has spent with Kate: 2
Number of Christmases Andy has spent with Eric: 2
I'm seeing a trend...

After a successful and tiring trip - we clocked more than 1,500 km on the Citroen - we were happy to arrive safely back in Lausanne on Tuesday afternoon.

We made some amazing new memories and traditions, explored new places, saw familiar faces and met a few new ones, and had an absolutely wonderful getaway.

Christmas is far from over as we await Rochelle and Martin's arrival on the 31st. We'll re-celebrate Christmas in Bern, drink too many MARTYritas (one part lime, two parts Cointreau, three parts tequila), eat another 1,200 grams of fondue and enjoy showing off this beautiful country.

on to the next one...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Montreux Marche de Noël

This morning, Andy and I hopped in the car and headed to the Marche de Noël in Montreux. Having not yet traveled there, we decided to scope it out for my mom and Martin's upcoming arrival as they'll call this beautiful lakeside town their home during their stay. Although we did not indulge in any mulled wine - a Christmas market staple - we took in the sights and sounds (Evan, they played Band-aid on the loudspeaker) while enjoying a few treats.

A quite impressive market spread.

Blowing glass.
 Roasting chestnuts.
 Christmas wishes.
Enjoying the scenery.

We depart for Italy on Friday morning and could not be more excited to celebrate our first Christmas in my favorite country.

on to the next one...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Halfer Ellie!

I can't believe this nugget is already 6 months old. It breaks my heart that the next time we see Ellie (in real, not-Skype life) she'll be almost a year old. Time sure flies!

Keep growing. Keep bringing incredible joy to your mom and dad. And keep being cute. Can't wait to love you again in May!

on to the next one...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

L'Escalade in Geneva

This afternoon, we packed up the Opel and headed south for Geneva. The boys' teammate and his girlfriend invited the American crew down to their apartment for L'Escalade, an annual festival held in December celebrating Geneva's defeat of a surprise attack by the Duke of Savoy in 1602.

Genevois legend has it that sometime during the middle-of-the-night attack, a local woman grabbed a large cauldron of vegetable soup and hurled it at group of attackers trying to scale the town walls and enter the city. The heavy cauldron of boiling liquid landed on the head of one attacker and killed him. This commotion roused the sleeping townsfolk who awoke to help defend their city (in their jammies) and ultimately bring victory to Geneva.

In true Genevois style, we smashed chocolate cauldrons filled with marzipan vegetables and snacked on candies wrapped in Geneva's colors - red and yellow. 

One of our many chocolate cauldrons.
 Kai loved breaking his cauldron...
 ...and so did Harry. Thanks to Uncle Evan for helping.
 Our gracious hosts, Bastien and Elodie.

Once sugared and bundled up, we hopped on the metro and headed to the center for the annual parade. Unfortunately, we arrived in town just as the sun was going down but I absolutely loved seeing the city all dressed up for Christmas. As we waited for the parade begin, we enjoyed mulled wine, hot panini and roasted chestnuts - it was perfection!

 The Patchells
 The Stewarts
 The Heins

What a way to spend our Sunday. Thanks again to B and E for hosting this gathering and giving us a little lesson in history.

on to the next one...