Friday, 1 August 2014

Happy Am 1. August!

Fifteen years ago, I went to Switzerland as an after-thought while backpacking around Europe. I had no intention of visiting the country because everyone I talked to mentioned how expensive it was and how unfriendly the people were. It was only when I was reminded of a family friend I could stay with in St. Gallen that I added it as a possible destination on my European backpacking trip, but it still took meeting another Swiss person who invited me to visit his part of the country to convince me to actually go to Switzerland.

A rainy evening in St. Gallen
It was, in no uncertain terms, my favourite country of the whole trip and I wish I had allotted more time for it, but I had a time commitment to keep in Ireland so I had to move on. Yes, it was the expensive place that everyone told me it would be (especially coming from Italy), but they were also the most helpful people I met during my entire journey.

The vineyard of a family friend, near Basel. Their first harvest will be this Fall.
Obviously, I need to go back to Switzerland so I can try some of their wine!
I had spent most of my childhood longing to learn German and travel to Germany because my mom's family comes from there and I knew so little about the country compared to Ireland. (My dad's an immigrant whereas my mom's family came over a couple of generations ago.) But this desire was almost completely undone by six days in Switzerland. I had loved travelling in Germany, I had even fallen in love with Austria, and wished I could have spent more time in both countries, but Switzerland? Switzerland stole my heart.

Town Square, Thun
When I looked into University programs I could attend in Germany (yay EU passport!), I had the option of a university pretty much next door to where my mom's family comes from or one that was 40 mins from the border with Switzerland.  I went with the proximity to Switzerland. (In fairness, it was also a proximity to my Swiss boyfriend so that decision wasn't just about Switzerland.)

View from the ferry looking towards Merligen, Lake of Thun
I've had the opportunity to return to Switzerland a few times over the years and every time, my love for it grows a little more. If only I could get a job which could afford me the pleasure of living there. (Remember, ridiculously expensive!) So, it really should be no surprise that when the Swiss National holiday of August 1st rolls around, I do something to mark the occasion. (This year, I made a loaf of züpfe and brought it into work.)

Near Fluelen, Lake Lucerne (or Luzern, if you're me)
I could wax poetic about my love of Switzerland for hours - hell, if you've ever spent time with me and made the mistake of asking about Switzerland, I have waxed poetic about it for hours. And I'm not sorry that I did - and I wanted to share some of my love for it with all three of you on this Swiss holiday.

Sunset from my friend's apartment rooftop, Zurich.
Lieb' Schwiiz!

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