Wow. Paris is magical. We took each day as it came with zero planning and it turned out to be the best way to go. The weather was unpredictable and we definitely got caught in the rain a few times; but nothing we couldn’t laugh off. While walking the side streets our first evening, we stumbled on a place that looked promising for dinner, which it proved to be. Being small on the interior, everyone shared the same table. We couldn’t help but rub elbows with our neighbors while we shared table bread and water making it feel super homey! Many restaurants serve you an aperitif (before the meal) or digestif (after the meal) drink. It’s typically a house made liquor that serves to either stimulate your appetite or aid in digestion. After receiving our digestif and caramel, which made an odd but perfect duo, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. Our timing was impeccable as we showed up a few minutes before the lights came on, glistening for a bit against the dark sky. It was one of the most memorable moments that a photo just can’t capture.
The abundance of crepes, croissants, and patisseries in Paris is insane! We packed on the sugars and carbs this trip and have no regrets. When the sun was out we made sure to see as many sights as possible, using the rainy hours as coffee breaks, beer tastings, and meal times. We were able to enjoy the sunshine from the top of the Eiffel Tower and during a picnic at Luxembourg Garden. The walk through the garden was gorgeous as the fall foliage set the scene. Visiting Notre Dame was also very beautiful in a unique way. The gothic architecture against the giant stained-glass windows seemed unreal, our photo really does no justice.
Paris is broken up into about 20 different neighborhoods, each with their own flair. We spent a good amount of time in the St. Germain des Pres area. There are tons of shops and eateries here with plenty to see and do. It also gave us a strong sense of culture and really just felt like Paris. We also spent time in the Montmartre area which has a more electric vibe with several lively bars. Then there’s the trendy, artsy Bastille neighborhood that is great for window shopping. We purposely saved a lot to do here knowing we will be returning before long. We really enjoyed visiting in the fall. Already having an intimate vibe, the rain and the changing color in the leaves only magnified the natural Parisian aesthetic.
After arriving back from our trip, we decided to see and experience some Swiss traditions! It’s no secret that Switzerland’s cheeses are well known. A popular dish we tried was raclette. In its most simple form, it’s a slab of melted cheese on a plate… but it’s really so much more than that! They take a flame to a giant block of cheese, as it gets melty and bubbly they scrape it off onto the plate. It’s typically served with pickles, onions, and corn. It was seriously the best cheese we had ever had. This became a dangerous meal as it was all you could eat!
After indulging in as much raclette we could handle, we met the source. Every fall in Switzerland, the milk cows descend from the mountains to their winter barns before the snow arrives. Known as “Desalpes”, it’s essentially a cattle parade as each cow is decked in flowered headdresses and giant cowbells. A pretty fun sight to see! Led by herders wearing traditional Swiss getup, the cows came ringing down the street, greeted by locals along the way. Of course, we shared some local wines and more cheese (shocker) at the fest, complete with the sounds of the alphorns in the background.
Our whirlwind hasn’t stopped, its only changed. Our Swiss adventure started out as a rush of chores and errands but has morphed into a rush of culture, eye opening moments, and travel. As we talk with newcomer expats, we are reminded of that time not long ago. It feels really good to be settled in and we are having way too much fun. We do have work and rough days, but the awakening things and places we’ve seen lately has outweighed those. It’s been downright amazing. Keeping up with the blog and our personal journal entries has been really important to us with so much going on. We continue to soak it in as much as possible and try to never take anything for granted.