As promised, a few more snapshots of our time away.
Switzerland is full of superlatives. The fields are ridiculously green. Coming from the harsh and dry climate of Australia, the lushness of this tiny country, surrounded by high mountains, lakes and an abundance of rain, feels sometimes too picture-perfect. The legendary swiss order, at times over-bearing, oozes through every corner of the landscape. Everything seems a photo opportunity. Manicured hills straight out of ‘The Sound of Music’. Cows grazing with pretty bells hanging from their necks. Every chalet is decorated with cascading rows of geraniums….and a neat stack of firewood. There is attention to detail, from the well maintained hiking tracks to the best public transport system in the world.
We managed to go high enough for the kids to experience their first snow. What a hoot! Slipping and sliding on the snow, they made balls with it and then ate them and were amazed by the ‘whiteness’…
Again, for me, it was the view that took my breath away. I could have sat there all day, getting lost in reverie and contemplation. Being surrounded by such natural beauty, it is easy to start philosophising about one’s smallness compared to the vastness of the world around us, isn’t it? What is it about nature that makes us question the meaning of life?
And then we hopped on a really fast train to Paris.
It is hard to compare Paris with Switzerland. Both are awesome and astounding in very different ways. While I feel a deep yearning for the green pastures and the view of tall mountain ranges in the horizon, I love a buzzing Metropolis. Growing up, I spent a lot of weekends in Milan, where my grandmother lived. I do love the big smoke, in small doses. The mountains are replaced by imposing buildings, rattling trams and the incessant traffic noise. And Shops. Lots of them. And history.
Paris, and France for that matter, epitomizes Europe for me. An open-air museum of art history and a tale of the long and tumultuous past of a nation in one city. From the arrival of the Romans to todays Fashion capital, all is there to bear witness. From the Ille the la Cite, where it all began, to the Eiffel Tower and on to the high end shops of the Champs Elysees. Around every corner, your mouth gapes open with amazement.
The kids were fabulous, as I dragged them from one monument to another. But to avoid aching legs and feet, we did hop on one of those touristy hop-on-hop-off double-decker busses and I found myself wildly gesticulating and pointing at the major sights along the way. I think the kids were impressed. Mostly about the fact that they were sitting on the top, with the wind in their hair…..
The highlight was when we finally arrived in view of the Eiffel Tower. Recognisable to every kid in the world I think….
The queue to the top was too long, so we opted for the stairs. 780 of them. The wee man didn’t think anything of running up all of them, patiently waiting for me to catch up, puffing and panting….With a big ice cream as a reward (mostly for me), we took in the size of the city. And they were impressed…
Paris is by far the most beautiful city I have ever been to. Hands down. No Question. You could easily spend 2 weeks there and wander the streets and get lost in its history. And watch all those incredibly fashionable Parisians walk by…..mmmmh.
In all, travelling with the kids by myself was fabulous. There was hardly any whingeing, and they got plenty of treats and rewards along the way as incentive…Every morning we’d stop for a croissant and hot chocolate and every few hours we would stop for a crepe and a drink, a punnet of berries or an escargot. We discovered Asterix & Obelix, vintage merry-go-rounds and the simple pleasure of pushing cute little sailing boats around a fountain in the Tuileries Gardens. While I would have liked more time for shopping, there was no way I could have dragged them in and out of shops….but alas, it was just perfect the way it was and I know that they will carry the memories of this trip for a long time.
After Paris we returned to Switzerland. To more mountains and to play with our Swiss friends. We kicked back and enjoyed the lovely cheeses, crusty bread and the amazing selection of yoghurts. We discovered more amazing mountain playgrounds and did some educational walks.
It is good to be back. Back with the man who so faithfully held the ZIGOZAGO fort. Back to my wool and the many knitting projects I am itching to start.
Before we left, we got that delicious shipment of Swans Island Organic Yarn, remember? I made a pair of pretty ribbed arm warmers for my swiss girlfriend and she just loved them. There is plenty in the skein to make another pair. This delicious organic wool has been selling well and I am hoping to stock some more colours from the range.
There is no denying now that Christmas is fast approaching and if you are looking for some ethical and beautiful presents for your crafty loved ones, Swans Island would be just perfect.
In fact, next blog post will be all about Christmas. The crafty things we could do and maybe some simple gift ideas. I have been searching for quick and easy patterns for this season and there is nothing unusual about knitting winter hats for Christmas I think. Or socks?
Dream in Colour is my new favourite yarn for those quick accessories, with its delicious cashmere content. Smooshy would be just lovely knit up quickly as a Lunar Cowl, I think. And you won’t get too hot knitting these cute little hand warmers.…
But more about quick gift ideas next time.