July 15, 2017

Retreat to Majestic Switzerland

I've left Switzerland out of my travels since 2011 because I was scared.

Scared of the annoyance it is to go outside of the comfort of the Euro zone for Swiss Francs, and scared of the prices that those dreaded Swiss Francs present to me every time I remember my jaunt to Geneva back when I first started this whole European thing.

I don't know if I ever really would have pursued returning to Switzerland at all if it weren't for the fact that one of my very great friends is, indeed, a Swiss volleyball player.

So, dang you, Julia, I will come to Switzerland for you, and you alone!

(Just kidding. I will also come for your super rad fluffy cat, Chanel. I also like your extremely tall parents.)

The final leg of my 6.5 week jaunt from west to east was to Neuchâtel, Switzerland. (Midwest/Southeast USA - ParisBéziers - Annecy!) I took my first ever internet carpool ride from Annecy to Concise, got out of the car, and started walking.

I had no idea where Julia lived in this little lakeside village, and my best hope was for some wifi close to the train station. After ten minutes of wandering, a hotel wifi connection came to my rescue; Julia quickly found me and we made the short walk to her parents' lovely home.

I don't have photos of the apartment, but it is my favorite European apartment I have ever seen. A master bedroom with its own bathroom, another bedroom, another full bathroom, spacious hallway, and open living-dining-kitchen areas. The main living area opens to a large glass-doored deck that can function open in the summer and closed in the winter, all on the bottom floor of the complex so the backyard stretches out and gives such an impression of openness and space. I want to find out who the builder is and hope they have built in other countries as well!

We spent our few days together meandering about Neuchâtel, enjoying the delicious French-Swiss cuisine, and sitting by the massive pristine lake.

I get it now. I get why everyone who goes to Switzerland is totally obsessed with Switzerland and thinks the rest of Europe is a dump.

Majestic is the only word I can use to describe it.

I actually sat for hours on end, just staring at the Alps framing the lake. The wind whipped all around me, but I could not take my eyes off the views. My phone died and I couldn't take any more photos, and I didn't care. The pictures I did get don't even do Neuchâtel justice. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world I have ever been.

I'm lucky enough to have a friend who lives here?! Even if Julia moves away, her Ukrainian (or Russian, depending on how you look at it) parents won't. Her father told us that I was the very first American he had ever shared a meal with, and in his own home, to boot! That definitely meant I was also the first American to have ever stayed in their home, too. Julia, her parents, and I had a lot of fun chatting in French about all the ways American, Swiss, Ukrainian/Russian, French, and German cultures are different.

This was the perfect end to a very long journey. I got to give and receive so much happiness, love, and joy with a best friend, her family, and her cat. I thought I could live without Switzerland, but it turns out it's just been waiting for me to find it again.