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Frogs and neutrality

snow -2 °C

We are currently living in a snow globe. Today the biggest wafting snowflakes we have ever seen have been falling from the sky. We are in Switzerland staying with a friend we met while we were living in Canada. She lives just outside of Bern (the capital) and although we are enjoying the Swiss architecture and history, I’ve got to admin we are mostly enjoying the cheese and chocolates.

It has been a while since we last chatted, so let’s backtrack a bit. After Italy, we spent a week in Tignes in the French Alps with a friend that Iain and I used to serve with in the Navy. He is ex-Navy, and us… well, we are trying to be ex-Navy. It has been a long and drawn out process, I feel bad for the person that has taken our release under his wing. It has been one administrative hurdle after another and now they want us to get a medical examination before our release date. Yep, our release date is 8 Feb. The thing is, it is unlikely we are going to be in an English-speaking place until… basically when we arrive back on NZ soil. So to take into consideration the extra charges to have an English-speaking doctor… in tourist areas, and conduct the bizarre tests the Navy require is more of a drama than originally conceived, and the costs of these can only be imagined as exorbitant. Switzerland is the most expensive country in Europe, and I don’t know if you are aware, going to the doctor is not the cheapest exercise. But it’s ok, because the Navy will pay for it… hold on? They won’t pay Iain for his Long Leave, they won’t pay anyone else any extra skill factors and all the other perks cut but they will fork out for me to be felt up by some English muttering Swiss man… or god forbid a Bulgarian man… hmmmm…. To top it off, the other morning we were told that if we didn’t get it done, our pay would be stopped on our release date if we hadn’t completed it. Wow – plot spoiler! We are on ‘Leave without pay’ – the key is in the last 2 words…. I haven’t been paid since Dec 2011! Grrr.

Anyway, paperwork aside, the last couple of weeks have been really nice. We have moved on from travelling for the museums and the churches and are now travelling from friend to friend. It’s been nice to spend time sharing and discussing your travel experiences with people that understand the point of view you have. Sitting down and discussing the qualities of French coffee, whilst reminiscing about Wellington cafes is a pretty good way to spend a Sunday morning.

In Tignes we caught up with Jamie. It is an awesome little spot, filled with Brit holidaymakers pronouncing it Tig-ness (it’s actually pronounced Tiene). Fun people though, and the best part was most of them liked to stay on-piste, leaving the trees and the powder for us!

After leaving Tignes, we got on the road to Morzine – another French ski resort a little further North. This was a hilarious morning. Even though we had dug out our car 3 times during the week, there was still about 30cms of snow on top when we planned to leave. This was compounded by the fact that the car next door to us had emptied their car load of snow essentially on top of our little matchbox. A thought crossed my mind halfway through digging, that I bloody hope this is where we parked the car. How lame would it be if you dug out someone else’s?! We were in luck though, because almost everyone that had been in our chalet were currently in the same process of extracting their own cars. This meant there were plenty of people to dig, and push, and wipe and laugh (when people fell over), and shake heads in disapproval (when I realised gumboots would have been a much better option than my chucks of the same colour). So, with a snowboard bootlace keeping our chains on, (luckily we only had to go about 10 km’s) we were off again on more adventures.

A slow but beautiful drive later we arrived in Morzine, to visit Alice, a friend from Wellington days. We stayed with a Brit family that spend their winters in Morzine. The system that we are travelling with at the moment is called airbnb (www.airbnb.com). If you haven’t seen it, look it up, it’s pretty cool. Essentially, it’s normal people (well the ones we have met so far!) that rent out a room in their house, or their whole house, to people via the site. It means that you can stay very cheaply and meet people from the area. For those who know of the couch-surfing process, it’s similar except that you pay, and therefore expect a slightly better standard of accommodation. So far we have had lots of fun, met lots of nice people, and saved a lot of money. If you have a spare room in your house, it would be a good way to make a few extra pingas. Let me know if you are keen and I will ‘invite’ you (and claim the cash reward).

Morzine was great, we had a huge powder dump the night before we headed up the hill. This place had 207 lifts! Yep you read that right… I am almost certain we would only have half that many in the whole of NZ. Crazy, we snowboarded all the way to Switzerland, jokes on you Swiss… I didn’t take my passport.

From Morzine we are now in Thun, Switzerland with Maddie. She lives in a postcard-perfect typical Swiss building about 40 minutes from the capital Bern. It is a beautiful area, surrounded by mountains, lakes and history. I can see why this would be a next step location for someone that lived in Lake Louise. We have experienced all the things you should do when in Switzerland – an almost fondue fire, snow and getting your fingers pinched while trying to operate a Swiss Army knife.

Yesterday we went on the most epic sled track ever imaginable. It takes an hour or so to get from top to bottom, the gondola that takes you to the top takes about 40 minutes, if that gives you any indication of the length. Apart from making my hair into one giant snow dread, if was awesome fun. Iain and I finally got he hang of it (Iain slightly closer to the bottom carpark, than myself). But there was carnage, laughing and hilarity. It reminded me how much fun exercise thinly disguised as ‘sport’ can be. After watching Maddie’s work team play ice hockey last night, and realising (in my opinion) that the more pucks on the ice the better, we are now heading to Zurich on our way to visit a friend in Munich.

Look out Germany, I have had my minimal 5th form German language vocab hiding away whilst in Switzerland, and it’s waiting to get out. I know you are thinking, but they speak German in Switerzland Kayleigh… do they though? Do they? I have heard a crazy mixture of German, French, Italian and English, the trick is just to go with it, one day I might get a phrase right, but I’m not counting on it.

My last note, is if you have noticed less and less of Iain and I in the photos, the reason is this. After a year and a half of chasing winter we are beginning to look sickly, pasty and hobo-ish. It has started to get so bad that I am beginning to not recognise my own limbs. Iain and I have had conversations regarding the dissociative nature we have with our feet, they look so cold and detached that we have questioned if they are still attached. But it reached a peak this morning when I had to literally touch my own ear to ensure it was actually connected. Many people say that when you begin to look like your passport photo (for me I look like the female reincarnate of Hitler) you should go home. Well it’s happened.

Posted by kayles 01:44 Archived in Switzerland

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