Geraldine Chaplin once said, “It’s the change of rhythm which I think is what keeps me alive. In Spain I hear so much noise from my window I can’t stand it. In Switzerland it’s the lack of noise that drives me crazy.”
I don’t think this could be more true for my situation this year. Spain is so vibrant and loud (usually around 4 in the morning) that sometimes I just want to scream shut up and take a siesta, knowing that everyone would just look at me as if I were crazy (because Spaniards don’t really understand personal space or the need for quiet) and then they would ignore me and talk even louder. It’s times like these when I just have to get out, almost to put things back into perspective. So last weekend I flew back up to Switzerland to visit my best friend in Neuchâtel.
I spent two weeks there in September before moving down to Spain for the year, so this trip was much more of a relaxing, hanging out trip than crazy sightseeing. I also had to be very budget conscious because, as her husband so delicately put it, “Liz, you are not rich enough to come to Switzerland yet.” This is not false. Example A: Do you know how much a McDonald’s Big Mac costs in Switzerland?
The answer is 13 dollars. 13 DOLLARS for a burger! (Don’t ask me why I used McD’s as an example, as you all know my weakness for cheeseburgers, but still, 13 dollars! I was astonished! But yes, he was right. One day I will be rich enough to spend a lot of time there, and buy all the burgers I could ever want, but for now I would make do making food at home and resisting buying new clothes and a nice Swiss watch (I was also informed it was embarrassing to wear my Timex there. Fabulous).
As you might have gathered from my previous blog entries, Switzerland is by far one of my favorite countries. Incredible doesn’t do it justice. The whole country looks fake because it’s so beautiful. And if beautiful scenery weren’t enough, it is also the most logical, efficient, and best organized place I have been to. It puts Spain to shame (if anything its 3% unemployment to Andalucía’s 30%). As much as I love Spain, they basically had to shove me on the plane so I would leave Switzerland. I left early Friday morning for Málaga, headed out to the airport before catching a cheap Easyjet flight to Geneva (I will always pick Easyjet over Ryanair, I will vent over them another time). As the plane was descending, the last rays of the sun were setting over the Swiss Alps to my left, turning their snow capped peaks, pink, purple, and orange. It was an incredible image that I won’t soon forget. As I walked into the airport, I was greeted by one of my oldest and closest friends, before hopping into her cute, tiny white car and heading off to Neuchâtel. We caught up over a pizza dinner before crashing and falling asleep.
I woke up the next day to a clear beautiful morning and a crisp view of the lake and Alps from her bedroom window. Yes, I am incredibly jealous too. After having a breakfast of fresh bread and croissants, we headed out to the see Les Brenets to hike along the River Doubs, which marks the Swiss border with France. It is located in a long winding gorge with a large, impressive waterfall called the Saut du Doubs, and the lake, Lac des Brenets. It was a nice day, perfect weather for a hike.
There was no snow on the ground at all, which everyone tells me is really unusual for this time of year. However it was cold enough that the river was frozen solid and people were ice skating on it! We headed off to hike along the river to the waterfall for a few hours. It was really beautiful, and really long. During the warmer months there is a ferry that takes people down the river to see the waterfall, but we went on foot, which I didn’t mind because we had a fabulous view of everything from the top of the gorge. The waterfall was really pretty because everywhere that its spray reached had turned to ice. It was also really cool because just on the other side of it is France. Overall a really good day trip from Neuchâtel.
After heading back to Neuchâtel in the afternoon, we went to the little village of Vaumarcus, outside the city where her husband’s Swiss family lives for dinner. And let me just tell you, it was the best meal I have had since I’ve been to Europe. It was also one of those fancy meals that I wasn’t quite sure what it was, especially since I hadn’t even hear of half the ingredients, especially in French. It included an oat and veggie kind of cold mixed salad and desert was a chocolate mousse and a lemon mousse.
Delicious food and great company makes for the best time. The next morning we came back for brunch and round two, which included onion butter and pesto toast, great cold cuts, and a delicious cabbage like salad. We also outside in their back yard because it was so nice out. Did I mention that they have an incredible view over Lake Neuchâtel and the Alps? Yeah, it made a perfect end for a perfect weekend. We then went driving up into the Jura mountains, and walked around a bit before heading to Geneva so I could catch my flight home.