Living away from family is tough especially during the Holiday Season while my husband and I have made a beautiful and loving life for ourselves in another country. I was still feeling guilty to not go hug my side of the family before the end of the year. 2019 already has a lot going on for us.
My parents are healthy but are aging and that’s my main concern. I want to be a good daughter but I also have my life and responsibilities. Anyway, things got quiet and I had a window where I could take a plane and go hug everyone. Also our 19 and half year old cat is doing quite well now considering her age while needing a daily drip and medication. Everyone who loves and has pets would relate…The other ones can go pound sand! My husband was amazing as always and encouraged me to go, guaranteeing that the fort will be kept safe and sound.
No Paris this time
I chose to not stop by Paris and my other sister in France as the riots with the “Gilets Jaunes” are getting out of control for what I’ve read and heard. According to my sister in Paris it’s a Civil War and only the army will be able to bring back peace and quiet. I feel for all those people and also for all the stores who are losing their main source of income for the year because of vandalism, which has nothing to do with what the protestors are asking for. France’s economy isn’t good and President Macron has a tough job. That being said I think every hard working person and the elders shouldn’t be left out. I love you Paris, I love you France!
A week in Montreux-Riviera
I arrived in Geneva early in the morning and randomly ran into René, the husband of my junior high school friend Laurence. They live with their lovely family in Saint Helena (Northern California), where they run Merryvale and Starmont Vineyards. Laurence and her husband are both from Switzerland. I offered a ride to René since we were going the same direction. Lots of laughter in the car especially when both of us were clearly lacking sleep and I was figuring out the stick shift of this rental car (6 gears)! I dropped René in Vevey and I went straight to my mother’s place to have breakfast with her. She is fun and likes to create a very star like environment in her apartment. Also, we are pet lovers in my family: It’s 4 cats, 1 dog, and 2 aquariums! It’s full of animation. The radio, LFM is playing and I have to be quiet because it’s time for the horoscope! I then went to my sister Virginie’s place. I stayed with her this time.
It was so much fun to be roommates for a week! She loves music and singing so there’s always something going on. Her dog and cat are funny too! I showered (I hate how gross I feel when traveling), took a 2 hour nap and met with my Dad and step-mother to go to the incredible Marché de Noël of Montreux and eat a cheese fondue at the well known Chalet La Poya. My dad has to be careful with salt so we had to have a small fondue. And it was plenty!
I went to have breakfast with my mother (she spoils me with super good bread and local honey) and then met with my long time friend Sanja on the boardwalk by the lake in Montreux. We stopped at a magnetic stone booth (the Marché de Noël is full of handcraft merchants with incredible things to sell) , talked, laugh, and went to eat at the Rouvenaz Restaurant a lunch special. I met a lot of people I hadn’t seen for a long time and sat by surprise right across my step-dad (he is not part of our lives anymore…It’s complicated) so it was amazing to get to hug him! So many emotions every time I go back home…Too many. I got to “surprise” my high school friend Veronique and we had our traditional tea together for a couple of hours. She lives in a beautiful little town with a 180 degree view on the Lac Léman (Geneva lake), it’s breathtaking. Afterwards, I went to see my Dad and step-mother and we had some tapas at the Davinda Restaurant Lounge in Territet. It was very good! I went back to my sister’s place (it takes 74 steps to get to her apartment – it’s good for the butt!), she was pretty stoked to make a homemade cheeseburger and asked if it was better than the one we go eat in the USA and I said: Yes! We chatted on the couch and had a goodnight tea together.
I had breakfast with Virginie, and then went to my Dad’s chalet in a nearby town. He and my step-mother live where my Grandpa used to live in the middle of vineyards. I adore this place, it’s very dear to my heart. The chalet represents a lot of memories and that’s the only thing that remained in my life since my childhood. My Dad was coaching a long time student (my father is a painter) so my step mother and I went to do some groceries and had a Saturday apero! We grabbed some amazing pastries from the Confiserie Heidinger. It’s such a delicacy. My dad and I walked Cartouche, their 14 year old dog and I left to get ready and have dinner with my sister Virginie as everyone but for my brother was going to see Laurent Voulzy with Tous en Choeur (a chorus) in the evening at the Auditorium Stravinsky. We danced, laughed, I cried (on the song Le Pêcheur not sure why this song did that, but it did it) and Virginie got to dance on stage with Laurent Voulzy. It was super fun to watch, she is an incredible dancer! She is excellent in whatever she does! Then we had a drink at the bar Funky Claude. I had to bring my parents home as at 2:30am they still wanted to party! When we left it was snowing.
I went to have breakfast at my mother’s place 😀 and then went to have coffee and taught some computer basics to my step-mother who was proud to pull out her new tablet/lap top while my father was watching, then I took off to see my brother and his little family near Lausanne. I got to play camping with my niece, she is so fun! My brother and his partner are starting a business called Le Duo Gourmand, it’s a food truck so I got hear all about what they have to learn, what they encounter, and how everyone has been generous in helping them setting up their new business so they can succeed. It’s not easy to become an entrepreneur in Switzerland. I wish them a ton of success, respect, values, honesty, and loyal customers. Crossing my fingers!
Monday! Marisa, a long time friend, invited my mother and I to have homemade pastas at her place as I missed her and Vito, her husband late summer when they visited California. We got to have a delicious and gruesome lunch with them and their sons. What a beautiful family! They are full of energy ! Marisa has always been so kind with her support and that goes back to Marital when I was a model and former Miss Suisse romande doing runways for bridal gowns. She has integrity and won’t take any crap! I love that.
I then went to see my Dad, we walked his dog Cartouche, and left to see the exhibit of the painter Soulages at the Fondation Gianadda in Martigny. I had mixed feelings about the exhibit because it’s really abstract, minimalist and it’s all in black! So it doesn’t always looks like anything but the blackness and the light bouncing on the paintings create something absolutely beautiful to look at and it made me laugh to think that those pieces could be sold for a fortune! But they are interesting for sure. They work for me. I purchased a postcard with one of them as a keepsake for CHF 1.20! I can’t afford the real deal!
We drove to pick up my step mother in Territet where she has her hair salon and stopped to their friend Hanibal’s who runs a pizzeria in Villeneuve, they took 2 calzones to go (I didn’t want any because I’m clearly not hungry with all I eat there). We called my sister in Paris who will be coming with her kids for Christmas. I’m excited as they plan on coming to the USA next summer! It would be a first for them. My father keeps talking about it but has never visited…(it’s been 15 years). Fortunately, my mother comes at least once a year, my sister every other year, and my brother came 3 times in the past but not since he is a father. The world is a small place. If one wants to meet one can. I takes good health, effort and love. The rest is manageable.
Sometimes, people ask me if it’s worth it to live far away from Switzerland. It’s hard for sure, my heart is pinching because I miss the air, the beauty and the safety of my country and my family but I’m living my dreams, and the life I chose for myself which wasn’t the case many years ago. I discovered what I like while living in the USA, my passion, I met my love… The USA is so vast and offers incredible landscapes too. It’s not Switzerland but they are SO incredible and diverse! I also like that my life is not run by money, making money or blaming the system for not giving me enough or having to worry about doing the groceries daily. I like what I like for sure but I don’t take things for granted. I know things can shift easily and I feel lucky. It’s not to judge, what I want to say it’s a mentality and a culture. I remember thinking how the world was not working when living in Switzerland when in fact Switzerland isn’t the reality compared to the rest of the world. It’s an oasis yet, where I find people content, and sometimes happy but I’m not so sure. I often think of Hobbits when thinking of the population there… Hobbits are goodhearted and cool.
I find it interesting how everyone all the time talks about doing the groceries “je dois aller faire les courses” well… I have to admit the food is very nice…And has flavor from fruits and vegetables that live through seasons that I clearly miss. Having to do research on everything we eat sucks but I eat food from all around the world in the USA at least in California.
I took my breakfast with my sister Virginie (she had a day off), and then I’m not sure anymore…I went to have coffee with Marisa and she suggested to go do a quick tour on the Ferris Wheel. It was hilarious and so high! We saw an old friend Carmen with whom I used to do runways.
I went to walk the dog with my father, napped at the chalet on the couch for an hour and a half, making my step mother a bit upset I think but it felt good to literally crash there. No one understands jet lag when one has not experienced it. Also, my schedule is intense when visiting. What you need to know with my family is that either I visit for a week or 20 days, it’s the same…Everyone is scattered everywhere so I figured I can do a week like that but 20 days not so much. Anyway, it will never be enough.
In the evening, I ate at the chalet and later on stopped for the second time by my Grandpa’s grave at night. It was scary and special too… I lit a candle.
I had breakfast with my step-dad. I miss him. He has rebuilt his life and seems happy. We talked, laughed, tried to fix the world etc…And said Happy Holidays. He offered me a calendar of Switzerland and chocolate. I haven’t unwrapped them, they are under the Christmas tree now.
I met with my beautiful mother at the Forum, a Commercial Center in Montreux. We had coffee, I got some gifts at the Fnac for my niece and nephew who are visiting from Paris this weekend and that I’ll miss. I had lunch with my mom and her companion. My mom cooks so well. My mother was so kind to me.
My father and I walked the dog in Villeneuve along the canal du Rhône, I took him back home to his home. I met with Sanja (who always makes the best effort to come see me when I’m in Switzerland) at the Village de Noël briefly in Vevey. We had an apéro and met randomly with a friend DJ and event organizer, Patrice, a forever young kind of guy with 4 kids and a grandchild! We had a good beat altogether! And then I went to meet with my parents (father, mother, step-mother and my mother’s companion) for dinner, my sister wasn’t feeling well to join us. It was hard to say goodbye to my father because I find him so quiet. Well…I’m going to skip the details but a wave of tears came from my stomach up…
Departure…Well…Not really! My plane was canceled. My mother knew it! She heard my horoscope the morning of…;) Well…I heard it of course in Geneva once already in line for check-in. It was pure chaos at the airport that day…Holiday Season traveling…I’m going to make it short…(that journal is already super LONG) I got to take the train back to Montreux and go say “hi” to my sister Virginie and stay on the couch at my mother’s place for the night. She and her companion were kind to take me at 4am the following day back to Geneva so I could catch my replacement flights. I had a great flight back home to SoCal with Lufthansa and I’m happy to have found again my crazy and loving pets, my 19 and half year old kiddo, my amazing husband and my life. Oh, and United has a great customer service, they reimbursed a big chunk of my ticket to apologize for the inconvenience of cancelling the first flight! Overall, one additional day with my mother (whom I didn’t get to see much as she told me to go see my father on this trip because she visits us every year) and a refund!
I’m an actor
While visiting Switzerland, I did my daily acting exercises early in the morning (thanks to the jet lag it helped to be awake at 5am) to keep my instrument tuned and I think it has helped me keep sane with the intensity of my schedule too. I also read 2 feature film scripts on the plane.
Hope you’ll enjoy that read. It’s a journal week prior the holidays in my life while visiting family…
Much love! Caroline