Switzerland

October 6, 2018 to January 8, 2019

This post is going to be a bit longer than normal. I’m going to attempt to capture the highlights as well as what I was feeling on the inside. I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular blog post as I feel now, as I look back, that it was a really hard time for me emotionally, but now I see what I was doing and why and what I should have done and what I’ve learned about myself going forward.

Lausanne
I love Lausanne. The architecture, the feeling of the city, the cobblestone streets. I visited Lausanne several times. Once with Kim. Once with Vivi. Once for a date night. It’s only about 15 mins by train (the LEB) from Luc’s parents’ house in Jouxtens to Lausanne. Lausanne in Christmas time is just so picturesque. It’s hard to really put a finger on what it is but it’s like this fusion of old historical buildings with new funky vibe. When you go, visit the Cathedral for outstanding views of the city.

Vevey
This place has my heart. 8 years ago we lived here when I was on maternity leave. Jaedyn would go to school down in Vevey and me and Vivi (6 months old) hung out in a little apartment while Luc went to work during the day. Vevey is right beside the lake and has the most incredible vibe. The lakeside is the best part of it and we really loved Pizza Taxi both 8 years ago and even today. You might know this place by the giant fork or the Charlie Chaplin statue. This year they are having the Fete de Vingeron (only every 25 years or so) and Luc had hoped that he could go back there before heading home at the end of July. It’s not to be. We came to Vevey over and over again for a date day, for a date pizza and when Jaedyn came for Christmas we came here to reminisce and walk around and of course visit Pizza Taxi. I feel one day I will live here again beside the lake when I’m old and want to stare at the lake and mountains forever.

Montreux 
We walked from Vevey to Montreux one day and it wasn’t exactly as we had remembered. We thought there was a beautiful lakeside path that took you the whole way but in actuality there a lot of road walking. As you get closer to Montreux, the path comes back and it’s gorgeous. We had a DELICIOUS fondue at the Christmas Market (I didn’t really share because I think Luc made fun of me – you’d think he’d learn). The Christmas Market here is really outstanding. Lots of things to buy and mulled wine and so many things to taste. Montreux is where the rich and famous come so be sure to stop by here if in you’re in the area. It is beautiful and also lakeside.

Geneva
Vivi and I took a train one day to Geneva in December. Luc didn’t want to go but wanted to visit with some friends and play in the snow so her and I went. I really wanted her to see Geneva and I hadn’t been yet since coming back to Switzerland.

It was COLD! About -2 I think. We explored: visited the outside of the United Nations, walked along the lakeside, had a sandwich, hot chocolate, the Christmas Market and watch the Jet D’eau. We basically walked until we were too cold and then ducked inside to get warm and then outside again. Geneva is an old city. Almost hygienic in its cleanliness and lack of colour. I’m glad I went, I was equally glad we went home. On the way home, the train stopped for about a half an hour because it said that something was on the rail road tracks. I had heard earlier that this happens a lot because people jump in front of the train to commit suicide. No idea if that’s what this was, but we got out and walked home from that stop.

Opening of Dr. Gabs
Dr. Gabs…. Delicious dark (or light) micro-brew beer. I loved this beer. This company was created by 3 men who went to school together (one of them lived down the road from Luc and is friends with him) and started brewing beer from a birthday present that was given to one of them – a home brew kit. From there they have grown and grown and grown. Luc went to work very part time at the factory.

While we were there, they opened a store/small pub/the lab in the most famous and expensive street in Lausanne: Rue de Bourg. So we had to visit. It was the second week of December, and it was opening night. We had a blast checking out the new digs and the beer was exceptional. Another impromptu date night!

I only wish I could import their beer back to Canada. It’s that good.

The Olympic Museum and Ouchy
Some stuff about the school system in Switzerland bugs the hell out of me. You can’t take your kid out of school for a day unless you have a doctor’s note. When we went to Ouchy (by the lake) we wanted to meet Vivi’s class at the train (as they were coming back from the pool) and then directly get on the train to go to Ouchy. Instead of Vivi walking back to the school and us walking up to the train again (she would have missed about 20mins of class time) but the teacher wouldn’t allow it unless she had a doctor’s appointment. Sigh…

Anyway, after doing it the “right” way we got on the train and headed to Ouchy. There’s something about this place – I think it’s the proximity to the lake. I’m beginning to realized I’m a water girl through and through (I am a Pisces after all) and all these places that I adore are close to massive bodies of water (no wonder I want to go home).

I also have an amazing memory of my stagette starting here 10 years ago during August. It must be the memories coupled with the water that gets me all nostalgic.

We walked over to the Olympic Museum and had lunch with Luc’s cousin, Chiara. It was a delicious lunch and so nice to catch up with her one last time before leaving.

Chateau de Chillon, Luc’s Birthday and Halloween
On Luc’s birthday we had a loooooong lunch and then to Chateau de Chillon beside the lake just past Montreux. I’ve been in this castle 3 times now I think… It’s really beautiful. I especially love the dungeon and the story of the guy who lived there for years and years. Not sure why I like it so much… maybe I’m a bit twisted?

Being that Luc was born on Halloween, every year he has to share it with the trick or treating. But this year we made it back too late to trick or treat so Vivi missed out (I think Luc was secretly happy). We ate cake for dinner. Vivi asked for a salad. I think it was really nice for Luc to be home for his birthday to spend it with his parents and friends.

Vivi’s Canadian Birthday Party
Speaking of birthday’s, Vivi celebrated her birthday at a patisserie with a few friends the last week of school before Christmas break. Since she was really missing home, we had a Canadian themed party! If you can believe it I managed to find some Canadian and BC flags, little Canada pins for the good bags, Luc had Canada flag stickers from his stag and we decorated in red and white.

I think it was a pretty big success. It was a wonderful way for her new friends to send her off and for her to feel like her birthday was a big deal. Which it was. She maybe missed Canada just a little bit less for a little bit.

Making friends
While I was there, I got to reconnect with Lauren and Francois and their two girls. The let us stay in their place for a few days between New Years and Vivi’s actual birthday.

We had dinner with Julian and Stephanie and Emily and Yann and their kids. That was really fun. We also partied for Julian’s birthday (I partied a bit too hard if you know what I mean).

We had a few meals with Maxim and Filis and their two kids. One extraordinary fondue in their little cabin behind their house. And another garden meal with Maxim’s parents that was also out of this world.

I was happy to spend a day with a friend back home, Kim who coincidentally was there visiting a friend just about 10mins drive away. That was really neat to see a familiar face so far from home and to be able to talk about life and such.

Walking to and from school 4 times a day
But most of my days after returning from the Camino was filled with walking 1km to and from school sometimes 8 times a day. Vivi went to Luc’s old school and she needed to be walked to school in the morning (the I walked back). Two days a week, she walked home for lunch (we would meet her to walk her home and then walk her back 1.5 hours later). And finally at the end of the school day.

Now, something that Luc and I didn’t agree upon was whether should could walk alone. I felt that 8 years old walking that distance, without a phone, was too far. Call me reserved, scared, fearful, whatever, this is just how I felt. Luc on the other hand was totally fine for her to walk there and back alone – so you can imagine the contention.

For the most part I liked walking her. It got me outside, away from the house, in the fresh air. It was time that we got to be together and the view was gorgeous. It didn’t rain much either and sometimes we drove if we were running late. Sometimes I would meditate on the walk home.

Running and walking
A lot of times I would walk Vivi to school and then I would set off on a run somewhere or a walk to Renens to take some time by myself. I would also walk to a bench and then meditate.

I loved running around Jouxtens and the area. It was fall and the leaves were changing and it was cool. My body temp tends to run a bit on the hotter side so running in the fall is perfection. The cool temps, gorgeous leaves, beautiful swiss architecture – it’s all just a little wonderful.

Creating my business and writing my book
At least 3 times a week I would walk to Renens to a coffee shop there and work on building my business and writing my book. Sometimes I would do research for our trip. I would spend a good 4 hours there before I needed to come back for lunch or something. I loved this time to myself and away from the house. It was always a peaceful time for me – getting to be me.

Our Airbnb rental
After a while of living with Luc’s parents in their house, I felt we really needed to connect as a family unit again. So I looked up a little Airbnb not too far away so that Vivi could still go to school on the Friday and the Monday.

Luc and I had a lot of conversations about this Airbnb rental. He felt that his parents would wonder why. He wanted to go further so we could explore somewhere else. He didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I held strong in that I wanted this place to be a place of down time. To play games, watch movies, connect. This wasn’t a time for sight-seeing. To be honest, Luc and my relationship was not doing well and Vivi was so homesick. I was close to depression and I needed to have some time together and away. Some autonomy.

We went to visit the Airbnb about 4 days before our check in. It was perfect. We each had our own rooms, our own kitchen, our own living room and dining room. Then the woman said that we could come early – 2 days early even for free! It was like the universe was giving me exactly what I needed and wanted.

We took advantage of our time there and entertained for 3 meals. It’s something that Luc and I really love to do, to have people over to our house, cook a nice meal and connect. It felt so right to do this in our own space.

All in all, the Airbnb was amazing. I’m so glad we went. It at one point was almost just me and Vivi as I took a strong stand for my well-being and told Luc that if he didn’t want to go, that was fine, Vivi and I would go alone. He made a great choice joining us. It was so important for our family to get back to being our family again.

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A weekend away in Tofino and Ucluelet, BC

Wild Pacific Trail: Lighthouse route

Luc and I thought we would do one last trip to the rugged West Coast before we leave, just the two of us.

Tofino has always held such a beautiful place in my soul. So many memories growing up. Chesterman’s beach has been where my spirit retreats to when I think of a warm peaceful place in my heart.

In my influential years, I slept in my car for an entire weekend in the long beach parking lot while me and my girlfriend searched all weekend long for our two friends (they had taken off to another island without phone service). I’ve camped in my Volkswagen van on the side of many roads in and around Tofino. I’ve done tequila shots off a surf board around a camp fire at Chesterman’s beach, fallen asleep in front of the fire with my friends and had one of my friends sleeping bags catch on fire (he was ok but what a way to wake up!). So many many memories. And I feel like as I’ve grown up, so has Tofino. All of the things I just mentioned, would never happen now. Tofino is very regulated now as far as fires, camping and public drinking goes.

Anyway, back to last weekend, Luc and I took off for a weekend of reconnection to each other and the West Coast of Vancouver Island. In typical Luc fashion, he forgot a pretty integral piece of clothing when visiting the wet coast – a rain jacket. This provided no end of laughter for me throughout the weekend. What was priceless was watching him hike for 11KM’s with a massive golf umbrella.

FOOD/Restaurant

Tofino and Ucluelet have some wonderful wonderful places to eat! Extra bonus: lots and lots of seafood! Yum!

Hanks BBQ
This photo stared at me the entire time I was eating.

Hank’s BBQ, Ucluelet

Our first meal was out of this world delicious! The ambiance in the restaurant was pretty eclectic – Luc and I had no trouble singing along to most of the songs. Great beer choices too! I’d say this was our most expensive dinner but probably because we ordered two drinks each, two appies and one main meal to share.

Feast Tofino 8th Annual Dock Festival

We were lucky enough to be there when Feast Tofino was happening. While the weather was less than desirable for an outdoor food experience, it was so freaking delicious. We paid $25 each for 10 tickets. Those tickets would get you one little sample of food from different restaurants and hotels from around Tofino. All seafood and fish based delicacies. Absolute heaven. Live music while you stuffed your face.

It was hosted by Chef Lynn Crawford and featured culinary teams from the Wickaninnish InnLong Beach Lodge ResortShelter RestaurantJamie’s Rainforest InnSOBORuby Watchco, and the Tofino Resort + Marina.

Feast Tofino! Feast Tofino!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Loaf Bake Shop, Tofino

This rustic bakery has been a part of my life for over 25 years and not surprisingly it hasn’t changed much. They still take cash only at the till. Super fresh baked goods with piping hot coffee. When you come to this bakery, you want to just grab your book, and chill out. Slow down. You’re on Tofino time. Definitely worth a visit to grab a java and some baked goods for your breakfast tomorrow or a snack today.

Floathouse view
View from outdoor eating area at the floathouse.

Floathouse Patio and Grill, Ucluelet

Our last dinner didn’t disappoint. This restaurant floats which makes it pretty unique. While eating outside would definitely have been better for ambiance it was too damn cold! So we sat inside and enjoyed great food and our server Emma from Australia was wonderful.

Tacofino, Tofino

Our last stop before taking off was at the most tasty food truck this side of the 49th parallel. The original truck that started it all off for Tacofino definitely was worth the wait. And the line up was long! No surprise though cuz the food is out of this world. Outdoor seating is all there is with two big long tables to share your meal and space with like minded foodies! Be sure to stop here at least once while in the Pacific Rim.

Tacofino 2018 Tacofino 2018

Drink

Tofino Brewery
2 Flights!

Tofino Brewing Co, Tofino

We stopped in here to take a couple of delicious flights and to dry off and get out of the rain. The place was buzzing and we grabbed the last two seats. Before long it was really busy in there! Super fun and a warm feeling where people are there to experience their liquid gold. I highly recommend to stop in here if you are interested in beer tasting and micro breweries. One of the tasters even had kelp in it! We’re still really confused why the Ucluelet restaurants don’t carry this beer but they carry Victoria and Whistler beer… we think there might be a bit of a feud happening but we’re just not sure…

Pacific Rim Distilling, Ucluelet

This place was so quaint. The guy who owned it was 3rd or 4th generation distiller. He was just about to close up for the day but let us sample his distilled vodka. I believe he said that he had been open for a week but has been selling out constantly. I would stop by here and say hi to Luke on the way through Ukee!

Hiking

Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

We hiked 11KM’s along this beautiful well kept trail. Where we got on the trail, it was very close to many different hotels and resorts which we commented on that it definitely didn’t feel like we were out and alone like you do when you’re hiking in East Sooke Park. At some point the resorts fall away and then you’re more alone which is nice.

Every turn has a bench or look out that is breath taking. At one of the parking lots, you can borrow a walking stick that has been left there for others to use. Be prepared to take lots of photos and it will take you longer than you expect to walk it. We just kinda got carried away with the beauty of it all.

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Wild Pacific Trail, Lighthouse Loop, Ucluelet

A smaller loop (2.6KM’s I believe) which winds in a circle to the lighthouse. It’s really very beautiful with a lot of placards along the way that you can read about the history of the shipwrecks, birds, trees and your surroundings. There is a pole along the trail that is dedicated to love locks that people have placed many locks on it.

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Chesterman’s Beach, Tofino

As I’ve said before this is my all time favourite beach. When you look inside your heart to find the most beautiful peaceful place in the world you’ve been, Chesterman’s is that for me. White sand, surfers, jutting rocks, long walks, kids playing in the ocean, and Frank Island. There’s something so mystical about this beach. When you’re there, be sure to close your eyes, and stop and listen to all that is happening around you: the people, kids, churn of the ocean, wind, smell the surf, birds, and sun or rain on your face.

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Airbnb

Get $45 CAD off your first adventure for FREEWe stayed at a wonderful Airbnb in Ucluelet called the “Surf N Stay” tucked in the back of a property on a quiet street. It was walking distance to Ucluelet and to the Wild Pacific Trail. While you could hear people walking above your head quite easily, it was really the perfect spot for us to use as a home base for the weekend.

Airbnb is a wonderful way to travel and see more of the culture of the place you are visiting. You feel like you’re one of the locals when you’re staying in locals homes. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, I highly recommend it. And please use our travel link. Using our link will get you $45 CAD in free travel credit and we receive $25 CAD. Win win!

Reflection

Luc was pretty heart broken to not have sunshine while we were there but if you think about it, Tofino and Ukee are best known for their wet and rainy weather so we got the full authentic experience. We went there to connect back to nature, the West Coast beauty, and for me – my roots. The Pacific Rim helps me to connect with my life force and love.

I had a wonderful time with Luc full of laughter (maybe at his expense), love and connection. We even saw a bear on the way back. I believe that when you set your intention for what you want to get out of your journey, all that there is left to do is open your mind to what you want to experience, and hand it over to the universe to create that for you, you let go of how it has to go and just open up your heart and soul to how it will unfold.

I will miss you my beautiful rugged west coast. You hold my heart, love, space, and life force. Until we meet again.

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