Monday, December 3, 2012

A Swiss Christmas

Ok no, it's not Christmas yet, but literally every moment of this past weekend felt like it was the beloved day of December 25th. Lindsey's brother was in town to visit and his old roommate who lives in Switzerland offered for us to come stay at his house/flat in Fribourg, Switzerland. And the story of the weekend begins even before the morning of our flight.

Wednesday we had been told that on Friday, there would be a 24 hour nationwide air, rail, maritime, and local transportation strike in Italy. Needless to say, that left us with the question as to whether or not our flight would still happen, or even if we could even make it to the airport at all. After looking into it, we came to find that our flight would still take off, but the public transportation wouldn't run, so we ended up taking a taxi to the airport on Friday morning. While it cost a little extra, it really was nice to not have to stress about whether or not we would catch our train or if the tram would run on schedule, etc. When we flew in over Switzerland, you could see the tops of the Alps peeking over the tops of the clouds. So amazing. I've never seen mountains that big. We landed and met Raphael at the airport. Since we flew into Geneva but Raphael and Barbara live in Fribourg (1 1/2 hour train ride away) we spent the majority of the day seeing Geneva. The first thing we did was grab lunch. I'll give you three guesses as to what kind of food we ate. Swiss? No. French? No. German? No. Ethiopian? YES. Makes sense, right? NO. But it was so wonderful! I had never had Ethiopian food before and I wasn't entirely sure about it, but it was amazing! The food was served on a large plate and put in the middle of all of us where we were sitting on couches and lounge chairs. The food was a mix of lamb, beef, and chicken with lots of sauces, poured over crepes....or at least crepe like things. There were also other crepe (like things) that you ripped up and used to eat the food off of the big dish. It was so good and was a wonderful experience.

view of the Alps from the plane


where we ate lunch at the Ethiopian restaurant

John Calvin monument

the womping willow from Harry Potter!

Lake Geneva

After lunch, we walked around chilly Geneva for a while, seeing the sights and loving the atmosphere. As the day wound down and the light disappeared, we decided to warm up with a cup of Geneva's best hot chocolate at a little chocolate shop. SO. GOOD. Man, do the Swiss know their chocolate. After hot chocolate, we caught the train to Fribourg where we went back to Raphael's apartment. Their flat was a precious little three story design, with the den, kitchen and breakfast nook on the second floor. Abbie, Lindsey, and I slept on the third floor, a small cozy little attic-like room accessed by a spiral staircase. It had a wall of windows with an incredible view of the whole snow covered town. That night we had a traditional Swiss meal of Raclette. To make it, you melt cheese in little skillets easy-bake-oven-style then dish it out over potatoes. Ah-mazing. And of course for dessert we had some Swiss chocolate.

Swiss hot chocolate

the Raclette cheese oven

The next morning we woke up and got ready for the day and had a wonderful Swiss breakfast of cheeses, breads, yogurt, eggs, and jam. And coffee. Of course coffee. The breakfast was so good and we talked for so long that we actually didn't leave Fribourg until just after noon! We took a train to Gruyere (yes as in the cheese) which is a tiny little mountain town with a precious town square, lots of shops, and a castle/museum. Everything was covered in snow from when it had fallen a few weeks before and it was just so beautiful! Plus the town square was all decorated for Christmas! We spent some time walking around the town square, the shops and the castle grounds. Since we spent a fair amount of time in Gruyere and hiking a bit to and from it, after we finished there, we just headed back to Fribourg for the night. On our way back to the apartment, we stopped to watch a well known Christmas parade that happens in Fribourg. It was fun to see, but it was definitely different from any Christmas parade in the states! Santa sat on a donkey and threw bread into the crowd. Totally normal. That night we had a wonderful dinner of cheese fondue! I had never had fondue before (shocking, I know) and it was even better to have it for the first time in Switzerland! We spent a lot of time after dinner just sitting by the fire and talking.

view from the train on the way to Gruyere

view from the train on the way to Gruyere



view from Gruyere

Christmas tree in Gruyere

The next morning it felt like Christmas. Really and truly. If you had told me there were reindeer hoof prints on the roof, I would have believed you. The first words I heard in the morning were "IT'S SNOWING!" courtesy of a very excited Lindsey. She had woken up early and gone to every window in the apartment to watch the snow fall. I can't really blame her, it was beautiful. We had a wonderful breakfast again and then headed out to catch the train through the snow to the airport and then flew back to Rome. Of course it wasn't quite that direct...we had to take a couple pauses to play in the snow. Just a little.

view of Fribourg from our window on Sunday morning

all bundled up

LOVING the snow

saying goodbye to Fribourg

having too much fun on the train

Today marks 11 days until I return home to the States, which is crazy and wonderful and sad and absurd. Because of this, we've resolved to do big things every day and really make the most of the time we have left in Rome, because sadly it is so small. So today, after my first class ended at 10:30, Abbie and I caught the bus to the Vatican where we spent the morning shopping on one of Rome's best shopping streets, Colla di Rienzo. I may or may not have gotten a very cute pair of wedges at a very good price, but that's a story for another day. After shopping we grabbed lunch at Cacio e Pepe, a little restaurant in that part of town and I had Cacio e Pepe pasta for the first time. After lunch, we hopped over to the Spanish Steps to go to Pompi, the location of the best tiramisu in Rome. No lie. The best. We then walked down Via del Corso to Piazza Venezia and saw at least five huge outdoor Christmas trees along the way. Love that. Abbie and I were giddy. We found a spot on the steps of a church by Piazza Venezia to eat our tiramisu and then we caught the bus back to school for our afternoon class.

I can't believe I have so little time left here in Rome. While there are certainly things I'm looking forward to about being home, I'm don't really want to leave Europe. Hopefully I'll have even more stories to tell about the coming 11 days, and I'm so happy that those 11 days will all be spent here in Rome.


No comments:

Post a Comment