Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Switzerland Part 2

The one thing I forgot to mention is that Switzerland - particularly Geneva is expensive, very expensive. I remember pay 95 Euro for a simple lunch and getting the shock of my life. I thought Norway was expensive has nothing on Switzerland. Grace explained to me that it was due to the many diplomats who live in Geneva, the presence of a lot of international organizations and the famous Swiss Banks.

Anyway, during my visit I had the opportunity to visit one of the smaller towns in the mountains called Lenk which is one of the places were winter sports happen. I have never seen places that looked like a picture and so unbelievable. I even got to witness an old old Swiss farmers' game called Hornussen in session. The visit to the small town meant a lot to me because I was able to get a real Swiss experience and see how the ordinary Swiss people live. Switzerland is a very mountainous country, you will see this in the pictures.

Again I had so so many picture so it was very difficult to choose, I was taking pictures, Grace was taking pictures so I have hundreds of pictures.
It was about a 4 hour drive from Geneva to Lenk.
The views were stunning. It was a sunny day too.

We saw lots of cows along the way. Grace's 4 year old loved the cows. 
Need I say anything?
Loved how most of the houses in the smaller towns have flowers hanging from the windows. 
Can't figure out why it looks like it was a cold day in this picture, because it was a warm day by Swiss autumn standards. 
We made a stop at this place just to take pictures and breath in the fresh air.
When we arrived in Lenk the 1st thing we did was find a place to have lunch. Took a window table so as to see the stunning view of the mountains.
This was a delicious lunch. I fell in love with a Swiss soft drink called Rivella. It is good. But I heard that it is only popular in Switzerland, it didn't do well in other markets. 
One of the few streets in Lenk. I tell you, its so hard to get lost in these small towns.
Arrival at the field where the Hornussen game was being played. Of course had to take a picture other wise would forget the name:).  
These are rods which are used to play the game. 
Garce's husband is Swiss but he has never seen a game in session  because it is one of those old old traditions which is not so popular anymore. So it was a real honor  to be there for the game.
So the very flexible rod above is used to hit the ball and the end of the blue rail like thing. Believe me its not easy.
Look at that view in the background. Although it was October the snow was already gathering on the mountain tops. 
See those flowers on the windows. So beautiful.
Doesn't this look one of the pictures you wee on a postcard .. so tranquil and picturesque. 
Later afternoon after the game ended there was a celebration in the city centre. 
People came out in their numbers... I mean there was beer and food.
Horse and carriage in Lenk city centre.
There is also a lot of para gliding activities which happen. Managed to capture this para glider who was just about to lane. Do you see those snow capped mountains in the background. 
On our way to the lodge were we stayed. The stunning views are everywhere you look. 
This is the lodge were we stayed. It was charming. 
These where our neighbors for the time we were there. This is the view from the lounge.
Imagine having this as the view in your backyard? I want to have that (Sigh).
We managed to also to to one of the local waterfalls called Iffigenfall. 
So this waterfall is a result of the snow which will be melting from the surrounding mountains.
Goodbye Lenk. This is one of the last pictures I took as we drove away. 
I love places with character. This is a city called Aigle it is about 2 hours away from Lenk. We stopped here to visit a castle. In Aigle they grow grapes and make wine.  Its another small town but a little bigger than Lenk
Here is the Castle - the Chateau d' Aigle. This happens to be one of Grace's 4 year old's favorite castles. See told you before... amazing views from every direction. 
So in the castle they have a display of the wine making process in the olden days which I liked. 
Look at those wine tasters getting drunk. This is over tasting for sure. 
At some point they had a wine called Johannisberg - fascinating indeed. Don't you just love these cool wine labels they had  in the past.

I can't get over those labels - crazy different.
Looking at the vineyards from the castle

Painting of the castle the way it looked back then

So what do you think of Switzerland? As for me  I am sold totally hopelessly in love more than before. There is a reason I fantasied about this country long before I visited it. One of the places with the most amazing views I have ever seen for sure.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

When A Dream Becomes Reality

Alert!!! Picture heavy post - proceed at own risk 😊.

Dreams come true. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. Do you remember in this post when I talked about how much I wanted to visit Switzerland, which is my favorite country and how I wanted to visit the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva? Well, it happened and coincidentally exactly 1 year after I wrote the post. I was in Switzerland in October last month. I remember being on the flight to Geneva and wanting to pinch myself because I just couldn’t believe a long-time dream was just about to come true. So how did I end up going to Switzerland?

A few months ago I found out that I had a meeting in Winchester, England (well that’s another post right there). I decided to take advantage of being in England to travel to other parts of Europe since its cheaper to travel from England. I contacted my friend Grace who lives in Geneva, the one who invited me to her wedding years ago and I failed to make it and she and her family were happy to host me. I began to make preparation and once I got my Schengen Visa I was ready to go. 

Switzerland remains my favorite country, so yes it lived up to my expectations. I have to say though Geneva on its own was not too different from other big Schengen cities in countries like Sweden and Spain. But the small towns in Switzerland …my goodness, I was mesmerized. Some of the places looked like pictures on a post card, those kind of places you see in magazines and you wonder if they really exist. It was so so beautiful. I would love to go back again and spend more time in the mountains – with the stunning views and the fresh air. Let me not keep you in suspense, here are a few pictures for your enjoyment. This Part 1 will focus on just Geneva, I will have a separate post for the 2 days we went to the mountains. It took us 2 days to go around Geneva, the day I arrived and the day before I left.
On the plane - and so excited that I was less than 2 hours away from being in my favorite country in the world.
Managed to go to the Red Cross Museum. I would recommend it to anyone who goes to Geneva.

The Museum is very interactive something which I enjoyed. This was the room of the silent witnesses. 
Here is one of the witnesses sharing their story. They were in different room and you have to touch their hand and then they will start telling their story. Most of them are heart breaking.
They even had this painting of Nelson Mandela.
Grace and I were fascinated by this in the Museum. We both agreed we liked body type 3 or 4 but according to this most men like body type 5.
Although this picture is dark I like the view of one of the conference rooms in the Palais des Nations (were the UN is housed in Switzerland). Couldn't believe I had finally made it there.
Outside the Palais des Nations sitting on one of the stones on which names of countries are engraved.
Here is a picture of part of the Palais des Nations. I couldn't capture it all with my camera. The ball is the Woodrow Wilson Celestial Sphere. It stands for peace and dialogue. Wilson was America's 28th President.
Me standing among the flags of all UN members on the Palais des Nations.
This is the picture of the Broken Chair on the Palais des Nations. It symbolizes opposition to land mines and cluster bombs, and acts as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva.
Isn't that Flower Clock just gorgeous?
The Magnificent St Peters Cathedral. I have a thing for churches and so I always try to visit old churches. Geneva has quite a number of interesting ones.

This is the Maison House which is the oldest house in Geneva. It was built in the 12th century by the Maison family.
This is were the tribunal of the famous Treaty of Washington met. On the agenda was the settlement process for the Alabama Claims which was a dispute between the UK and US governments during the American Civil War. Geneva is a  town rich in history I tell you.
A random picture.
After all the walking it was time for lunch. 
The Restaurant was inside one of the big parks.
The lunch was scrumptious!
Just had to play a game of chess after lunch. Couldn't resist since there were boards outside the restaurant in the park. A good way to work off the lunch😊
This a much smaller church than Saint Peters above. In this one we got to light candles and say a prayer.
I don't know why but love this picture of Grace holding the stroller of Baby M.
We even made it to the CERN which is the center of science.

Although it was just October, it already felt like Christmas in the shops.
My last night in Geneva, Grace and I went for a Ballet Show. Loved it. It was emotional, there were times I was so immersed in the stories emerging and it was like being in a dream. I so enjoy going to theater shows.

The performers taking a bow after a brilliant performance.
I am so grateful to Grace and her family for taking time to show me around. They drove me around and gave me a real Swiss experience. It was great to meet Grace’s 2 gorgeous children and see her husband again. And not to mention we did a bit of catching up too since we haven’t seen each other in 6 years. Thank God for good friends.

The Good Changes

Perhaps I am a person of contradictions but here is the thing – I like doing new things but I am not a huge fan of change. I like planning ...