Toulouse: Pretty in Pink

I honestly knew nothing about Toulouse before our quest to see Carcassonne brought us to France’s fourth largest metropolis, but it’s a lovely place. Known as the “Pink City” for the color of its brick, Toulouse has gorgeous French architecture and is quite lively thanks to a large population of university students. We stumbled across a group of them leading llamas around the sidewalks on leashes in order to, quote, keep Toulouse weird, which was indeed a pretty interesting sight to behold.

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Carcassonne: Quite the Castle

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Guillaume has had the medieval walled city of Carcassonne on his travel wish list since we moved to Geneva, but the logistics of getting there from our perch on the opposite side of France are a bit complicated. Luckily, I stumbled across bargain plane tickets to the nearby city of Toulouse one day during my regular sweep of travel sites and snatched up two for the first weekend in March. At the time, I didn’t know that March falls comfortably within Carcassonne’s off-season, but that turned out to be a real blessing: The normally tourist-ridden city (according to our guidebook) had only a trickle of visitors during the day — and after dusk we had the place gloriously to ourselves. We also got lucky with the weather, as it was originally forecasted to be dark and rainy all day, but turned into a beautiful, mild, sunny afternoon. You can see the change in the photos 🙂

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Zürich: Spring for Sprüngli

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Zürich reminded me of Geneva more than I expected: I think I envisioned a larger version of Bern because of the shared Swiss-German culture, but the elegant urban architecture and the way the city is situated around a lake more so resembled the Swiss-French city that I currently call home. Not to mention that Zürich seems to be filled with English speakers! We heard American- (or perhaps Canadian-) accented English everywhere — which is a bit different from Geneva, where you often hear people speaking English but with accents suggesting that it’s not their native tongue.

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One-Year Anniversary

It’s quite the leap of faith to move to a country you’ve never before set foot in, trusting that you’ll be able to make a home there. It’s also very much against my Type A, super-planner personality. But two years ago today, that’s exactly what we did, and I am certain that we are better for it.

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Sunrise from our Geneva-bound plane, one year ago today.

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Budapest: A Love Story

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After being so charmed by Krakow, I tried to lower my expectations in preparation for our trip to Budapest to avoid disappointment, but there was no need. Walking down the street of the Hungarian capital, Gui declared that it truly was “the Paris of the East,” prompting teasing on my end about which slogan-wielding travel site he read to prepare for our visit. Moving past the cliché, however, I would have to agree with the sentiment. Budapest has a certain kind of magic, of sparkle, of romance, that pervades the city, with a distinctive Eastern European flair. Even if we hadn’t been there celebrating Valentine’s Day, and even if the weather hadn’t been so bright and sunny, I think I still would have been enamored. Here’s how Budapest captured my heart:

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Krakow: Eastern European Elegance

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Krakow, but with the price I got on our plane tickets a few months ago (20 CHF!) I was ready to take my chances. Verdict…? Gosh, it’s such a cool city. Yes, it was absolutely freezing with even a little bit of snow, but we were asking for it with a February visit. And yes, we spent part of the trip learning about the city’s tragic history, but it was a very meaningful experience. Add in the elegant architecture, the warm, hearty Polish meals, and the low prices for top-notch everything… It was a wonderful stay. Here’s the recap:

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Chambéry: The Mystery Château

My friend and I were looking for a relaxing destination to celebrate our winter break and — after discovering the the Swiss hotel with the internet-famous infinity pool cost more than 600 francs a night — settled on the much more affordable option of a day trip to Chambéry. Gui suggested the French city and former capitol of Savoy because he had read about its cute old town and château, and with lovely 50+ degree weather and blue skies on tap for Thursday, we were sold.

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Grindelwald: A Snowy Escape (Not the Harry Potter Villain)

If you’re looking for the next big tobogganing sensations, you might want to give Guillaume and me a call. Our first double-team toboggan experience started a little rough — if you can call nearly sliding off the edge of the mountain cliff rough — but by the time we embarked on our second run we were looking pretty darn good. “Lean left! Right! Left!” I would shout from my perch in the back, as Gui supplemented with some foot steering in the front. “Ah! Watch out! Don’t hit that cute family!”

The toboggan adventure — also called sledging in Switzerland — was definitely the highlight of our trip, but really our entire stay in Grindelwald was a delight.

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Expat Battle: Blogger Collaboration!

Hey guys! Amy from the awesome blog Food Etcaetera asked me to inaugurate her new series called “Expat Battle,” which features expat bloggers discussing their experience in a new country. Amy is a Swiss blogger living in the United States and I’m an American living in Switzerland (duh), hence the “battle” 🙂 French speakers, get excited: You can enjoy the post in English and French by adjusting the language in the top left menu bar, thanks to Amy’s translation skills.

Check it out here! https://www.foodetcaetera.com/en/expat-battle-1usa-switzerland/ 

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