I’ll Be Home For Christmas

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I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams. It’s hard to believe I was preparing to move to Basel five years ago. What a dream come true. To say it has been life changing is an understatement. From learning a new language, a new land and a new culture to a whole new way of life has been nothing less than extraordinary.

I am so grateful to all my friends and family Stateside who have encouraged me along the way. Leaving you behind has been the most difficult part of the journey. Thank goodness for technology and social media to help us stay connected. I am so thankful to all the new friends I have made here in my new home, too. Many thanks for helping me learn how to be an expat in Switzerland, for tolerating my terrible German and for sharing your hospitality and laughter with me. I am thankful beyond words.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and many blessings for 2017.

Playing Hooky

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Yesterday, I played hooky from my normal Tuesday routine. This midweek adventure took me deep into a place I love, the Bernese Alps. It was a cool, crisp morning when I headed out in hiking gear, as business commuters set out to begin their workday. Sitting on the quiet, yet packed to capacity train somehow sent my brain into work mode. What an added bonus to be able to crank out a new piece of content before reaching my destination.

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Ascending the mountain, my writing brain gave way to my photo brain. Upon reaching the top, I was greeted by beautiful alpine views, complete with the sound of cow bells from morning grazers. Fast moving clouds were making their way through the mountain pass, as magical glimpses of the Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau, Niesen and Schynige Platte intermittently appeared. There was even a group of yodelers, along with a kindergarten of Steinboch out for a morning stroll.

What an awe inspired day. Here’s to playing hooky from the normal routine!

Saturday in Solothurn

 

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We have been day-tripping around Switzerland for 4 years now, and it always seems the next place becomes our new favorite.  Solothurn, regarded as the country’s best example of baroque style, hits the mark as well.  Less that an hour by train from Basel, we found a great mix of old and new.  The fantastic cathedral of St Urs has an Italian-style staircase reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome.  Ten more picturesque churches are scattered amongst stylish shops and cafes, and the riverfront along the Aare is modern and lively.  The warmth and friendliness of the people we met made us feel very welcome.

A quirky thing to note is that Solothurners are infatuated with the number 11.  It was the 11th canton to join the Confederation.  There are 11 churches, 11 fountains, and 11 towers.  And there is even a local brewery named Oeufi, which is Swiss-German for 11.  And of course its namesake beer has 11% alcohol.  Wonder what the locals will do if they learn that TC’s birthday is 11/11! Stay tuned.

 

 

Lesson with a Delft Master

IMG_8414IMG_8188How fun to have a lesson from a master painter in Delft.

These artists make it look so easy. Now I know better. These handcrafted one-of-a-kind works of art are definitely worth every penny.

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IMG_8174I learned a great deal from the wonderful folks at Delft Pottery – De Delftse Pauw. Much to my surprise, the paint for these iconic pieces goes on black. It’s not until the clay is fired that it turns blue.

IMG_8214What a terrific experience. Many thanks to my instructor for all of his patience and help along the way. Can’t wait to see how my tiles turn out.

Windmill Watch

IMG_8321How fascinating to see the iconic Dutch windmills in person. The six surviving in the historic town of Schiedam are the tallest in the world.

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Some are still in operation today grinding grain for the local production of the classic Dutch spirit, Genever…the grandfather of gin.

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These tall giants are workhorses yet go about their business with a quiet hum. They are such a vibrant part of the town’s landscape, keeping their grand history alive for today’s visitors.