We knew things would be different in Switzerland compared to the States but it was impossible to predict all of the nuances! Now that we feel more settled in, the differences are as transparent as ever. One huge part of our lives that has changed is our cooking habits. We love to cook, explore eateries, drink, and anything else that involves food. Simply making a salad can be an all-day affair here, we’ll walk you through. The first step would be to collect the ingredients. Getting to the store alone takes 20 minutes (walking). After getting there we realized there are very few options for dressing so we decided to simply make our own. We found a great recipe for honey mustard ranch, however it calls for buttermilk. Then we realize buttermilk doesn’t exist here, so we do a quick search for how to make it ourselves. It’s easy to imagine the level of annoyance the locals had as we continually googled throughout our trip in the grocery store. This is just one example of something easily purchased in the US, that now requires us to exert effort and make it ourselves. This also leaves room for a lot of mistakes, which have certainly been made a time or two!
Fajita nights are our thing, as some of you know. We’d do it every few days if the tequila permitted! We knew Mexican cuisine wasn’t as popular here, so we planned ahead and stocked up on our spices to send in our shipment. The tequila we know and love is available in limited quantities, but we’ve found it none the less! We have yet to find fresh jalapenos, Mexican cheeses, and chips like the ones in the States. We’re hopeful we’ll discover things like this as we spend more time here.
Two things we’ve found to be of great quality but significantly cheaper here would be wine and flowers. The market is our go to place for DIY bouquets. And it’s perfect for wandering on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, there’s so much to see! The streets wind around and when you think you’ve reached the end, there’s more. We were surprised to find that our knowledge of fruits and veggies is no bueno! There’s several things for purchase at the market that we’ve never even seen before and would have no idea what to do with. The market is a good place to show off your French skills (or charades skills if you know very limited French like us).
The wine here is spectacular. There’s a huge selection of tried and true wines for very reasonable prices! We have our favorites from the States that we would always have on hand so we’ve been trying several kinds to find our replacement here. White wines are most popular, made with Chasselas grapes. The region of Lavaux, 3 miles from us, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the most famous wine growing area in Switzerland. You can hike through the vineyards, stopping along the way at the wine caves to grab a glass or donate some change to grab a bottle of wine yourself out of the various wine stations they have setup in the area.
The hard water is something else we’re still adjusting to. It has a lot of minerals in it, calcium being one of them, which leaves our skin extremely dry. It is potable, tastes no different, and the minerals are actually good for you so we were happy to know this. We sought out a filter to use for the shower which has helped, but it’s still something our bodies are getting used to. This is also the case with the lack of air conditioning. Its gotten up to 90 degrees a few times and let us be the first to say we were not happy when attempting to fall asleep in a puddle of sweat. Hot showers are a thing of the past when it’s that hot and leisurely trips to the air-conditioned stores become our new hobby.
The warm weather hasn’t deterred us from getting out and doing things (maybe because we’d be just as hot, if not more, staying in). It’s festival season! We’ve attended numerous, each with their own unique vibe. The Montreux Jazz Fest is taking place over the next two weeks. It’s massive, supposedly the second largest jazz fest in the world, complete with eclectic stands, a kazoo band among other live music, and of course street food. We had the BEST green curry at one of the trucks here. Although it could be that our senses were just heightened with all the smells, scenery, and sounds to take in around us. While walking through a lively area of the city we stumbled upon Festival de la Cite with open-air multicultural shows spread all over old town. There was another fest that consisted of several different genres of music, each with their own block of the city to eat, drink, and dance. We of course joined in when we found the Latin area, the Scarpino’s salsa nights in Fayetteville are proving to be useful here!
Despite not being in the States we still managed to celebrate America’s birthday! Fireworks weren’t available so it wasn’t quite the same but still some fun 4th festivities grilling, playing games, and catching some rays. It’s nice to have a good expat group to spend holidays like this with!
Travel changes you. It gets you out of your comfort zone, taking you somewhere new. It presents new faces and excites you, anticipating seeing familiar ones. It costs time, energy, ease of normality and sometimes money. It demands patience, openness, strength, an urge to know unknowns. It confronts you with beauty, honesty, different, and freedom. It challenges your mindset, routine, outlook, body. It makes you think differently and look at aspects that you maybe haven’t before. It changes you and we are constantly doing just that.