Sunday, October 21, 2018

Discovering New Places

I've been letting myself fall into into a lot of different moments this month … and it's still not over yet! What a ride. It has been wonderful and still is!
There is unfortunately a little downside.
I haven't updated my blog much.
And I am sorry for that but I'll make it up to you … starting right now.
One of the hiking tours I went on made me discover a pretty amazing part of Switzerland that I didn't know: the Jura region.
As soon as we left Bienne behind us, it felt like arriving in a total different kind of country.
First of all there were hardly any houses which was unusual (Switzerland being a pretty densely populated country). We drove up and down the (very green) hills (a challenge for bikers!), coming across … horses. Oh my, I have rarely seen as many grazing horses as during the afternoon I spent there!
PICTURESQUE was the word that came to my mind.

We headed for Saint Ursanne. A cute little town. From there we walked along the Doubs (their river) to Soubey and back to Saint Ursanne. The whole day felt like living in a painting. A painting called "Study in Green".
I was so absorbed in the beauty of the countryside that I didn't take many pictures. Sorry folks. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and I simply forget to pull out my camera! Luckily I took a couple of pictures with my iPhone because I thought of sharing this wonderful green countryside with my Instagram followers (does that make me a bad person? hahaha).

Anyway, one thing is for sure though. I will have to go back. C'est trop beau they would say over there. It is beautiful. As the place is rather far away from where I live, I will have to make it a two days kind of trip. In other words: I've just added a new item on my travel bucket list :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Eating Habits

Back in January, I wrote a post about "Eating Habits". Re-reading my words of back then, it doesn't surprise me that, a couple of weeks after having written the post, I started to toy with the idea of stopping to eat meat.
Why not limit my meat consumption to while traveling or when invited, I thought.
Yes, actually, why not, I thought.
And I became, what I call, a part-time vegetarian.

It felt like an experiment at first but then I started to like it. My skin texture improved, my already impeccable digestion became even better. The only worry I have is the upcoming winter season. What will I eat when the variety of vegetables will be really limited? Well, we'll see and I'll certainly keep you updated :-)

Changing my eating habits made me talk and read about what "good" food consists of. And, honestly? It's a bit overwhelming.
So many different opinions.
So many different ways to look at food.
So many different opinions on what is healthy and what not.

Food seems to have become the new top issue to be an expert in. That's the impression I got.
To me it feels like people turn to food and health issues to feel like being at the wheel of at least one aspect of their life. We live in a big and "unmanagable" world. We feel helpless in the face of all the stuff that is happing all around us (the newsfeed is a scary place!).
We get sucked in even if we don't want to.
But we can control what we eat.
We are the boss of our health.
That makes us feel good. In control.

Or do I read to much into the whole issue?
I don't know. What I know is that I want to handle it like every other issue in my life:

Friday, October 5, 2018

October Wish

I have been thinking about what my October wish for you and me could be. Nothing came to my mind, honestly speaking, also because I don't have much time to do some serious thinking (remember my agenda for October?).
But then, yesterday, while reading a book this sentence caught my eye (yes, I have still time to do some reading hahaha - there is always time to do some reading, in my opinion). I read these words and thought: yes, that's it. That's what I wish for October.
Don't think, don't overthink, don't fret. Sometimes it's really just about jumping into the moment.


Monday, October 1, 2018

Tourist In Your Own Country

As my American friend is right now touring around the Southwest of her country (apparently, inspired by the words and pictures of my trip … I feel honored!), I discovered a Swiss city last week.
From time to time, I love to play tourist in the country I live in, and so, last week, I got on the train and went to Fribourg, in the French part of Switzerland.
I had heard nice stuff about Fribourg and I wasn't disappointed. A cute little town. A cute little town with a high quality of life … at least that what it seemed like to me.
The old city is perfectly preserved (it's maybe also due to the fact that it's located in the valley of the Sarine and that there is not much space to built new big houses). Lucky for them.
Discovering the city by foot is a challenge. It's all about walking up and down (my health app stated, at the end of the day, that I had walked 9 floors! Hilarious! That gives you an idea of how many stairs I walked up and down).
Here, what the city looks like from above:

I didn't take many pictures that day. It was more about soaking up the energy and enjoying (one of the last) sunny days of summer!

I loved the houses

Up and down

I would have loved to take this bench with me!

One of the old town gates

bridges everywhere … there was even one built entirely out of wood (in the 1200) … now that I think of it, I forgot to take a picture hahaha

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Being Busy V. Being In The Moment

Are you busy all the time? I mean, busy for months in advance? Are you part of the people that, when you're asking them "wanna go watch a movie tonight?", they go (and their voice implies "are you kidding me???): "Tonight? Impossible! My next free evening is, wait, let me see ... in 2 and a half months."

Well, me, I don't want to be busy all the time. I sometimes have busy weeks and other times not so busy weeks. My busy times (i.e. my twenties and thirties) are behind me and nowadays my motto is more quality over quantity.
Right. But then how does the figure of speech read again?
The expection proves the rule?

This coming October is MY expection to the rule. You should see my agenda. It's filled with appointments: concerts, long weekends, nephew sleepover, more concerts, dinners (emphasis on the plural) at friend's houses, workshops, time out with girlfriends, hiking tours, etc. etc. I even had to decline an invitation ... Unprecedented.
It feels like I'm back in my twenties (Remember these? When staying at home just one evening was totally not cool AT ALL hahaha.)

Suddenly, it's like everybody wants a piece of my time. I have no idea what happened but it did. I do feel kind of dizzy just thinking about all the stuff I am gonna do the next five weeks but at the same time the stuff is so cool that I don't feel like complaining.
On the contrary.
It's time to implement what I practice during my weekly yoga class ... in a joyful and grateful way.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Remembering: Lago Maggiore ... One More Time

I had been to Stresa, a couple of years ago, and had visited the Isole Borromee. I had loved the places and I remember thinking that I wanted to come back in Summer time (I visited in April and it rained one day out of three). This is what the places look like:

I was curious to discover the other little towns along Lago Maggiore (especially those on the Italian side) and I was right. Retrospectively though, I am glad to have come back during off-season. Had I visited during high season, I'm afraid, my impression wouldn't have been as favorable.
SIGH … what do you want me to say? The disadvantages of mass tourism.

I can't imagine liking the cute little towns with their cute piazzas, their cute lungo lago (lakeside promenade), their cute little shops would they have been (over) crowded.
And I certainly wouldn't have appreciated to spend a weekend in Italy ... hearing German talk all around me!
Don't get me wrong.
I have nothing against Germans or Swiss Germans (remember? I live here hahaha) but it's not the kind of travel that I look for. Put the blame on my being a language aficionada but when I travel, I want the real thing and hearing the local lingo is part of the real deal.
Luckily, I got to have the real deal during my 3 days at Lago Maggiore and I highly recommend it to everybody … during off-season, obviously :-)

Detail seen in the Angera fortress

Rocca d'Angera seen "from the other side of the lake"

More details...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Remembering: Lago Maggiore

We had aperitivo and dinner al fresco every evening of our stay at Lago Maggiore. And I absolutely loved the sunsets! What do you think?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Remembering: My Big Birthday on Lago d'Orta

That's it! Now, I'll have to say "I'm 50" (not that anybody ever wants to know … it seems that after you hit your thirties nobody dares to ask anyway hahahaha). Anyway. Here I am. 50 years old.
The first half is over (what a ride!). I'll see what the second half will have in stock for me!

I spent my birthday on Lago d'Orta (my friends let me choose the day program). A magic place. On Lago d'Orta there is this tiny cute little island, called Isola San Giulio.

A boat will take tourists from the town of Orta to the island of San Giulio. There is not much to see besides walking along "Via del Silenzio" (the way of the silence).

So, we walked the small alley … in silence (astonishingly enough, all the tourists kept silent!), stopped at every sign, read the words, reflected on them, went on to the next. A magic quarter of an hour (magic is in the small things!).
BTW, the words were written by Madre Anna Maria Canopi, one of the 40 nuns living in the island's convent. Besides the nuns, the island has 11 official inhabitants of whom only two live on the island all year long.
I didn't take pictures of all the signs (obviously), I picked those which spoke to my heart:

This is how I want to live my second half of my life

A cute little island…

We had lunch in the town of Orta, took a walk up the hill (from where I took the first picture in this post), had some gelato, enjoyed the cute shops.
It was the perfect way to spend my Big Birthday.
In the evening, we went out for dinner and as the temperatures were summerlike I got to wear my pretty dress and my sandals.
What a perfect ending of my first half of life!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Best Birthday Presents Ever

Next week I'll celebrate my 50th birthday. (How fast time goes by, incredible!). I will be spending it "on the road", so to speak. I'll be going on a road trip with two girlfriends of mine and we'll travel around Lago Maggiore. Can't wait!
For a couple of weeks I toyed with the idea of organizing a birthday party sometime after my trip. I thought that it would be nice to have it all … the trip on my birthday, the party sometime after … but I couldn't seem to make up my mind. Where? What? Who? My thoughts were a mess. And as always, when I can't make up my mind, I just … don't. The perfect idea would find its way to me :-)

And it did.

I decided (obviously) to stick to my 3 day road trip with my friends and to NOT throw a party. I didn't feel liking throwing a party but I totally felt like spending time with my friends. So, I decided that, when someone'd ask me "what do you want for your birthday?", I'd answer with "some of your time". Do you wonder what I mean by "some of your time"? Well, let's see. Here some examples.

With my family it's gonna be dinner at a restaurant of my choice. I've picked one that specializes in game dishes (their gift to me: their time, spent in a restaurant they normally wouldn't spend time in). It's not about who treats whom to what. No. I just want to have me some game dish because, autumn after autumn, you hear me say: this year, I'll have me some delicious game dish … but then somehow, year after year, I never got to have any. No more!

Then I'll be spending an evening at my home with some friends whom I haven't seen in what feels like ages (what a gift to get together after all this time).
Other friends will make wishes of mine come true: visiting places that I have been wanting to discover for what feels like forever. With one I'll be spending a day in Fribourg and with others I'll be hiking in the Swiss Jura.

I feel so grateful. I feel like it's gonna be a wonderful 50th birthday that will last so much longer than a single day. I am thankful to this inner voice of mine that never let's me down and that always surprises me with the best ideas. And I am particularly grateful for my family and friends who are all cool enough to let me indulge in my heart wishes :-)

I believe I will have some new stories to tell you after all that :-)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September Wish

I love the French word for the "back-to-school" vibe. I love the notion of "coming back" implied in the word because September often feels that way. We come back. Back to everyday life, to our routine. Back to colder temperatures (SIGH). Back to whatever was before the summer (break). Yet, somewhow (or at least that's my feeling) we come back to a different situation.
Summer changes me. I soak up the sun. Do a lot of ... nothing. I read. I think. I spend days and evenings in plein air. I disconnect.
Like going to a spa ... without the spa (hahaha).

And then comes September and I feel like ... starting anew.
So, my friends, let's all start anew. With new ideas. New motivation. New everything. New whatever-you-need-right-now.

Bonne rentrée tout le monde!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

When Common Sense Has The Upper Hand

I don't believe in coincidences and I strongly believe in going with the flow (not in the sense of not having own views or opinions, meant more in the sense of serendipity).

So, last week, on an evening that I wasn't even supposed to be at home, I was watching a documentary on TV about Guatemala and thought "I need to add Guatemala to my travel bucket list". Just that thought. Nothing more.
But then, two days later, while hiking with a friend of mine, I was telling her about this amazing documentary about Guatemala I had seen on TV (she loves traveling even more than I do and our conversations tend to center around traveling), when she said: do you wanna go to Guatemala? Do you know that I have a 5 week vacation this winter (accumulated overtime) and I haven't decided yet what to do or where to go? We could go to Guatemala together, what do you think?

What did I think? Oh my, what a loaded question. My mind went on overdrive (too many so-called coincidences for my liking). We hiked on and talked about Guatemala (and a possible detour to Belize). We were both pretty hooked but at the same time unsure. I was unsure about the money issue. She was uncertain about where to go the remaining weeks (as I knew I'd be able to accompany her for only a bit more than 2 weeks).
We decided to take a night to sleep on it.

I slept on it and, to cut a long story short, I am not going to Guatemala in November.
I could list the many reasons why I didn't feel like traveling oversees (again) in November. The main reason though, besides the money issue mentioned above, is that I strongly feel that traveling should NEVER be like ticking destinations off a list.
It should be something special.
Something to look forward to.
Not just something you do because.

So, with a heavy heart, I ignored my credo of "I don't believe in coincidences and I stronlgy believe in going with the flow" and let my common sense have the upper hand (this time) (feeling proud and adult haha).
I'll go to Guatemala and Belize another time :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

9 Years of Solo Traveling

I went on my first solo trip in 2009 ... 9 years ago. My first 3 and a half weeks by myself kind of trip. Up until then I had only experienced some long weekends by myself (Amsterdam and New York).

Long weekends, in my opinion, are a good way to start your solo travel experience. It's easy to do: you book a flight, a hotel room, and you spend your days doing touristy stuff (keeping busy being the main thing). Well, you may find the whole having meals by yourself thing difficult or struggle with having to decide on everything anytime but on the other hand, you'll also know that you'll be back home in a couple of days, if you don't like the experience. (And if you like the experience, it will open up a whole new travel dimension for you!)

I, for instance, realized by 2009 that I was ready for the "real" thing. None of my friends had time to travel to the US at that time of the year and I decided that the alternative, staying at home, was (and still is) a definite no go for me (haha).
Therefore, in November 2009 I bought a plane ticket to Washington, DC and there I went, traveling solo for more than 3 weeks for the first time. Even though many things went so completely (and hilariously) wrong (hey, I was new at this … I had a right to mistakes haha), so much else was so nice and so cool that I knew right away it wouldn't be my last solo trip.

To honor (and to remember) my 9 years of solo traveling, I decided on creating a photo book of the best pictures I've taken these last 9 years. I usually do photo books of every trip but this one is gonna be different, more classy, more like a coffee-table book. I have started on the pictures (sooo many of them!) and will have to decide on the kind of book later on. It's gonna be an exciting journey :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

When Life Is Like Something Out Of A Painting

Summer is usually the time that I spend NOT traveling the world (last year was an exception with my Greek trip in August due to a wedding!). When the weather is nice and the days long (and the people away on some crowded beaches), I love to discover places not far away from home.
Therefore, these last couple of weeks, I walked around Lake Greifensee, Lake Türlersee, I went hiking in Andermatt with my brother and my nephews/nice and just this Monday, I spent my day on a boat trip on Lake Walensee.
That was when I took this picture...

... that made me say to my friend (who joined me on my boat trip) that sometimes I wish I could paint. Because this mood? Oh my, that would make a wonderful watercolor painting, don't you think?

Thursday, August 2, 2018

August Wish

August ist one of my favorit month ... especially the weeks when everybody (and I mean everybody, like people in the neighborhood, in the city, etc.) is away on vacation (somewhere on a crowded beach, I guess). I love it! And when, like this year, summer is sunny and hot ... I'm in heaven.

Happy Summer to everybody! Deconnect, recharge, rest, let your mind wander, meditate, do yoga or whatever makes you happy.
Yes, do something that makes you happy!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monument Valley ... Part 2

Here some pictures :-)

The Early People (that was the name my guide gave the first people living in the Valley) left their mark