Alps

One year in Switzerland

What a crazy year it has been! I moved to Switzerland, lived in 3 different apartments, got married, started writing a blog…And these are just a few of the many things that have happened. But has it been all that great? Here is a quick review of my year in Switzerland.

January – the month when everything changed

In the morning of 12.01. my husband (then fiance) and I crossed the Swiss border with all our life’s belongings in the back of a van. We had driven all night long but were filled with excitement as well as fear. Finally, we had done it – moved to the mountains! One of our biggest dreams had come true.

The first month I couldn’t believe where I was. I started each morning by looking out of the window and pinching myself. Everything seemed so exhilarating. Though, at the same time, I felt lost – our lives had completely changed – new country, new home, new lifestyle, new work style, no friends…I was scared of the unknown but filled with hopes for what’s to come.

Revelation of the month:

  • If not used to mountain air it will make you very sleepy for the first days or even weeks
  • Weather can change within minutes up in the mountains
The first Swiss village that we lived in
Our first hike
You can still be hot even when surrounded by snow

February – wheels are important

Working from home showed its first challenges – I needed to get out of the house! Weekend hikes in the local villages no longer sufficed and I wished to drive somewhere or just be able to go shopping for food in a store that was bigger than our flat. So as soon as we received our permits to live in Switzerland we bought our first car. Unfortunately, the weather decided to be miserable most of February. Though, we did manage to see snow igloos!

Revelations of the month:

  • Car in the mountains is a necessity if you want to stay sane
  • Cannabis is legal in Switzerland
Visit to Tobogganing Park in Leysin

March – adventure time

Where February disappointed, March delivered! This month was full of adventures. At the beginning of the month, my husband and I attended Brandon de Moudon, a traditional carnival that celebrates the arrival of the spring. The event ends with a snowman being burnt at a stake. This was one of the highlights for me this year. If you are in Switzerland during February/March make sure you visit one of these carnivals, they are organized across the country at different times.

We also went to see a sled dog race and took our first road trip out of the country. And in between of all this, I put my fears aside and started learning to ski. I once read that each Swiss tend to have at least 2 hobbies. I understand why – skiing quickly became our favorite winter activity.

Revelations of the month:

  • Switzerland does not only have stunning nature but also loads of interesting traditions and events
  • New place = new germs. I was ill 3 times during February and March
Traditional Swiss Carnival
One of my dreams is to become a dog musher
Oh, the landscapes you see when skiing…

April –  is it spring or is it summer?

In April we had to move flats. To say the least this one was one of the physically hardest moves ever as we had to carry all our items up a steep path going to our new place.

Also, I couldn’t believe how warm April was in Switzerland! We wore shorts and t-shirts while still surrounded by snow. In fact, people were swimming and organizing BBQ parties down by the lake.

Revelations of the month:

  • Switzerland loves jazz
  • Do not visit salt mines if you have claustrophobia
Our 2nd flat in Switzerland
30-minute drive down the mountain where slopes are still open and Voila – summer!
We saw an avalanche!

May – the almost summer

Oh May, was the rainiest months of them all! For the most part, we didn’t see much mountains since everything was cloudy. I also attempted to create connections and attended social groups. In the end, it didn’t result in much, but hey, at least I tried, right?

Revelations of the month:

  • Most hiking paths are still closed in May. The official season starts mid-June – early July.
  • In spring cows are guided up the mountains where they spend all the summer months eating fresh Alpine grass
Swiss Cows and their huge bells
There is a very cool bar in Grueyeres – HR Giger Bar
Narcissi field in Montreux Riviera – one of the places to see in the spring
Proper footwear is essential when hiking!

June – did you hear wedding bells?

June was very jittery as it was the final month leading up to our wedding. And all I could think about at that time was – wedding, wedding, wedding! Hence, most weekends were spent practicing our wedding dance routine and preparing decorations. But in between all that, we managed to attend a few events and explore Swiss nature.

At the end of the month, we moved flats for the final time in 2018! Thankfully, we had to carry all our stuff downhill which made the process a lot quicker and easier. I sure hope we won’t be moving so much in the next years to come.

Revelations of the month:

  • There are too many hiking trails and not enough summer weekends!
  • Do not try to imitate sheep noise with sheep present, they may start running towards you screaming “BAA”
Swiss folk festival
These are dangerous animals!
Aigle castle surrounded by vineyards

July – finally here!

Wedding month!!! In mid-July we left to Latvia for OUR wedding. It was a very long drive and took us 2 days but finally, we arrived in Riga and started the final planning before the big event. I know this period is always stressful but it was even more for me – I had planned my whole wedding remotely from Switzerland! On top of it, this was the first time for us visiting Latvia and also seeing our friends since the move. Almost every day was packed with positive emotions and once we left for Switzerland I felt a little sad as it didn’t feel like we are returning back to a place I could call home (yet).

Revelations of the month:

  • Swiss bring their dogs everywhere, even to concerts
  • Maybe that’s just me, but after marrying my husband the thought that “one of us will die before the other” rose to a whole new level

 

On our way to Latvia
One from the big day
Montreux Jazz festival

August – silence before the storm

After the wedding blues where over we visited Lugano – the place where my fiance proposed to me on our holiday in 2017. It was a wonderful weekend away and I cannot still believe all these beautiful places are just a drive away from where we live now. August was a nice month.

Revelations of the month:

  • Hiking between 2 steep edges isn’t fun nor relaxing
  • Beware of snakes when hiking! It’s hard to notice these slippery monsters
Lugano is beautiful
Overlooking Italy from Switzerland
A beautiful evening from our balcony

September – honeymoon disaster

September started off great, we visited an amazing wine festival in Ollon. And then left for a 2-week long road trip to Italy, which was overall – okayish. But, firstly, I think Switzerland has ruined my whole travel experience. It is one thing to travel to beautiful destinations when you live in a city and don’t get much chance to see nature. But in Switzerland, we see one of the most beautiful landscapes on daily basis! So, yeah, Italy was okay but I didn’t get that much excitement as I normally did before living in Switzerland.

And secondly we had a series of unfortunate events:

To save money, we rented a tent plot on camping on the Amalfi coast. The camping was very sandy and dry so we had a really hard time placing tent stakes into the ground. Then we discovered that one of our inflatable single mattresses had a hole in it. My husband insisted that I take the working mattress despite that he was ill and feverish.

To make things worse, on the first night a storm appeared. Our tent was being tested! The top part kept moving in the wind, the stakes came out of the ground and sand was blown inside the tent and inside our noses… In the morning the wind only grew in force and our plans to visit Capri island by boat were quickly demolished.

Anyhow, we stayed the 2nd night in the camping. The wind kept blowing and tent moving. About 2-3 times during the night we went to plug the stakes back in the ground. On one count, my husband accidentally struck his finger with a rock and then…noticed that his wedding ring was missing! It just couldn’t get worse, could it? We were running around the tent like crazy chickens searching for a ring. In the end, I found it in the tent. On the following morning, we decided that our limit was reached and decided to cut our Amalfi visit short. Sadly this was only one of the many unfortunate experiences on our grand Italian road trip…

Vineyards of Valais

October – when life keeps giving lemons

After the Italian road trip, everything just kept getting worse. We had problem after problem and spent most of the month at home. On top of it, I had various health issues. The feeling of “when your body fails you” is one of the worst there is. And believe me, each issue magnifies when there is nobody that could help because all the potential helpers live away.

Revelations of the month:

  • Mountains in the autumn are spectacular
  • Hairy cows with big horns are scary
Trying to forget about the issues
A start of a beautiful autumn
A mix of winter and autumn

November – I can (somewhat) communicate in French!

Overall it wasn’t a terrible month. My friend was visiting me in Switzerland and I visited my family in Latvia. Oh, and I went to Chocolate factory for the 4th time this year! But you know when the bad luck strikes and you think “come on, things cannot get worse than this?” and then they do get worse…Hey, but at least I had my first proper conversation in French with a stranger!

Revelations of the month:

  • Swiss are very welcoming to foreigners that move to Switzerland. Especially those who try to integrate
  • Fondue is addictive

December – Goodbye 2018!

My husband and I did some traveling out of the country and for the first time I experienced homesickness for Switzerland! So it looks like I am starting to settle down here after all.

This was also our first Christmas up in the mountains. In 2017 I thought that we could rent a chalet somewhere in the mountains and spend Christmas there. Surprise! Life made it happen, but in this case, we didn’t have to rent a chalet we now live in a one.

Revelations of the month:

  • Beautiful sunrise is a reason to wake up earlier
Amazing sunrise
Montreux Christmas Market

So what next?

2018 has been a life-changing year for me. It has brought some of the happiest moments in my life but also taught various life lessons (the hard way). While living in the Alps has fulfilled me in many ways I can honestly say that some crucial things are missing in my life up in the mountains, but I do not want to give up without a struggle. It took 5 years to have a balanced life in the UK… Bring on year 2 Swiss edition!