Travel: Exploring Switzerland

{Lake Geneva}
Hello friends,

If you were following us on track my tour, you have seen some of these photos. Now it's time to share the story.

The World Traveler is in Switzerland all the time, but never long enough for me to have a proper visit. When he mentioned having to attend a conference for a week, I jumped on the chance to explore life in Vevey.

We flew into Geneva and took a train for a hour to Vevey, a small village sitting on Lake Geneva.

Our plan: As is our custom, we had a list of options but didn't make plans until we arrived. This approach takes pressure off us to check off a list of ten things we have to do/see. Once we settle in and meet with friends/colleagues, they tend to suggest must see's not listed online or in a travel log.

Vevey is a tiny french speaking village, you will not find much online to help plan.

I hope you enjoy traveling with me, via the written word. Let's get started with an overview the region we explored. ~ enjoy!

{old town Vevey}
Vevey: Trios Couronnes was home base for our visit. Part of the old village, the location was perfect. I was able to explore the delightful streets, shops while looking at these shop windows.  Every morning I was out walking the streets within fifteen minutes of waking up.

There is a paved path to walk/bike along the shore, playgrounds everywhere.  Vevey has a train station, and a bus loop to Montreux but mostly is a walking town.

The village center is located on the lake, but look to the south and you are surrounded by vineyards, and a cable car leading to the International Hotel School. Charlie Chaplin lived in Vevey, click here to learn more about the Charlie experience.

{Chateau de Chillon}
Montreux Riveria: This is a lovely town, with a castle at the end of town.  It's home to the famous Jazz Festival, Freddie Mercury tribute, and the Noel Village.  On foot, the journey from Vevey to Montreux is 4.2 miles.

During our stay, the Noel Village was in full swing which gave me the perfect destination for a daily run. I could run there, walk the shops lining the lake, grab a nibble and work my way back to Vevey in under two hours.

Lausanne: Lausanne is a large city with an old world feel.  Located between Geneva and Vevey.  We didn't spend much time there but it's a lovely place to visit, you can walk everywhere AND you can take the twenty minute ferry to France, for lunch, or a run!

{Evian, France}
Evian, France: Another town we didn't spend much time in but it's just a twenty minute ferry ride away (from Lausanne). Home to Evian water, museums, cheese(!), and it's own old town feel.  I will be back to explore, and need to learn more about the towns display of driftwood.

We happened to visit opening weekend for la fabuleux village (Evian's noel celebration) so we spent our time enjoying this rather than visiting a museum.

The Language: I was thrilled to discover I can read French pretty well. Sadly, the locals speak so fast I couldn't understand much.  After mentioning this to a few colleagues I learned they speak in a different dialect from what I'm learning with Rosetta Stone (and my foreign movie consumption).

A few things you should know before visiting the area:
- Vevey, Montreux, and Lausanne speak french but most of Switzerland speaks German.
- Residents speak one or the other, not both.
- Shops are open from ten to noon, and 1:30 - 7PM
- It's hard to eat out midweek, most restaurants are not open past 8PM
- 99% of Switzerland is closed on Sunday's

More posts to come, from cultural observations, our travel adventures, and more! Have you been to Switzerland?  There's SO much we didn't see.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for my next visit.  I would love to hear from you.

Next travel post: Montreux Noel (Christmas Village)

Book Review: Insurgent

Why I picked it: I read the first book knowing the movie is coming out in the spring, now I'm reading the series.

Click here to read my review of book one in the series (Divergent)

Synopsis: One choice can transform you, or destroy you. Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Quick Take: I read this book immediately following the first one, mostly because my son is reading the series and it's fun to be able to discuss it with him.

Book two continues to reference the importance of values, always a good thing!  I noted this statement on guilt, which is good for everyone to remember: "Let the guilt teach you ho to behave next time," my father would say.

I didn't love book two but it did fill in the back story, set up the plot for book three. I can see why this series is so popular.

Have you read it? Did you let your kids read it?  If yes, did you read it first?

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Personal copy

Travel: Christmas time in Vevey

Hello my lovely friends! It's hard to believe I have been in Switzerland for a week: exploring, living, and loving everything about Christmas in Vevey.

Lac Leman (also known as Lake Geneva) has embraced Christmas, most of the shops in old town Vevey look similar to this one. Having been to towns in Switzerland, France, and Italy this week I can tell you that this photo expresses the holiday spirit to perfection.

Santa likes to rope climb!  He's creative but could learn some tips from the elf.   Speaking of the elf, I have not spotted one yet but I have been smurfed!

I promise to share every detail soon, I have so much to share with you that I need proper time to sit and process what you might want to read.

Switzerland is the most magical place, I'm sad to think of my home with only the tree decorated (without presents), stockings to be hung, no cookies or baking this year. We are planning to bake on Christmas Eve, and enjoy our family tradition of Raclette. Maybe I will decorate when I arrive home and keep things up for a few weeks in January so I can enjoy an extended season.

Lastly, I'm working remotely this week so our adventure's will slow to daily life in Vevey.  I am posting a few photos daily to instagram, and this weekend we have two action packed days planned.  You won't want to miss our adventures!

Three things:

Reading: I finished the third book in the Divergent series and hope to start reading Mating (by Norman Rush) tonight.

Loving: I must find out the smell being forced down the hallways of our hotel.  I want to bottle it up and bring it home.

Wanting: to go for a sunny run around part of the lake before work emails start arriving from the US

Are you ready for Christmas?

Book Review: Night Sweats

Why I picked it:  I enjoy reading memoirs, and decided to read this after reading Joy's review.   Her review is lovely, and she has a connection to the author (always love reading these tidbits).

Synopsis: Laura Crossett was thirty-five years old, one month into a relationship, and six months into a new job when she sat in a staff bathroom and looked at a stick that told her something she already suspected.

Almost half the pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unplanned. Some of them happen to married women, some to unmarried; some occur due to failure to use contraception; some due to contraceptive failure. Some happen to women who hope one day to have children; some to women who never wanted children at all.

In a political climate that polarizes around issues of sexuality and choice and a popular culture that glamorizes pregnancy and fetishizes motherhood, we rarely hear the stories of women who did not seek to become pregnant. Night Sweats is one of them.

Quick Take: I find it challenging to review a personal story, knowing that life is filled with unexpected moments that define us.  That said, the author has a lovely voice and captures the emotions of her story while keeping the reader interested.

I enjoyed her honesty in writing about the struggles she dealt with while pregnant (relationships, family, values, the future, her career).  The only complaint I might have it that it's just 104 pages!

If you enjoy memoirs, pick up a copy of this book.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Personal Copy

Book Review: The House I loved

Why I picked it: Mostly due to author buzz, and the setting... who doesn't love the setting of Paris!

Synopsis: Paris, France: 1860’s. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a “modern city.” The reforms will erase generations of history—but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. 

Quick Take: I do enjoy stories told with letters! The author did a beautiful job bringing historical Paris to us, the story a sad one though.  

I struggle sharing my opinion of this book. The plot didn't move much from set up to the last chapter, other than secrets being revealed along the way. It's a book that I enjoyed more after completing and having time for reflection.

Two questions (source: reading group guides):

1. One of the central elements of the novel is Rose’s deep and abiding love for the house in which she spent her married life, which becomes apparent from her many memories tied to every room. What does the house represent for Rose and how did it change her life?  I love the idea that she was so attached to her home and it's family history.  I remember reading a book years ago mentioning the concept of a 'forever home', something that has stuck with me over time.  I wonder if I will ever have a forever home.  Do I want one or am I'm interested in the idea of a forever community... 

2. Between the years of 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and Baron Haussman remodeled major sections of Paris in an attempt to bring the city into the “modern” era. Did you know anything about this major period of time in Paris’s history before reading this novel? Have you read The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.?  I learned SO much about the early 1800's which helped set the stage for Paris as described in this novel. I was in Paris last year, walking the streets, exploring, feeling the history. This helped me get the feel from words to the mood set within these pages.

Book clubs: Has your book club read this book?  Did you have a good discussion?  My book club might enjoy the genre but there's not a lot to discuss. 

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Library

Book Review: Divergent

Why I picked it: After seeing the trailer for the movie, to be released spring 2014, I decided I should read the book.  Why? Honestly, it's time to get out of my comfort zone... especially when I know I will see the movie with my family (they love this genre).

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior's world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue. On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is. She can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

Quick Take: I didn't expect to enjoy this book but it wasn't as futuristic as I expected and it's filled with messages to reinforce values/ teachable lessons that are revisited on almost every page.  Here are a couple that I highlighted:

Fear: becoming fearless isn't the point.  That's impossible.  It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, that's the point.

Bravery: half of bravery is perspective

The story moved at a quick pace, with enough back story to keep adult readers engaged. I'm happy I read it.

Three questions: 
- What faction do you think you would have been born into, given your family and its values? This is hard to answer, my parents wouldn't have picked the same faction at sixteen.  Which means they wouldn't have married or had children.  Based on who I am, I best fit Amity.  

- How would you feel about making a decision that would determine your life’s course at the age of sixteen? The characters in the book are raised to be mature enough to make this decision, and guided by the exam they take.  As the book continues (and in book two) we learn more from the adult experience of being raised in one faction and moving to another (consequences, good and bad).  This is interesting.

My husband and I are complete opposites, something that can't happen in this world.  Interesting concept, making for unique situations, stressors, etc... depending on the faction you choose. 

- During initiation, is it selfish of Tris to crave victory, or is it brave? I'm not sure if it's either but might be how she's wired or more importantly... what's expected from her. 

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Personal copy

Have you read it? Did you like the book? How would you answer the questions above? 

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