...I suspect I may be the luckiest kid in the world

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The final, very last blog post at the end.

The final, very last blog post at the end.

Thanks for reading my Swiss blog. I had it printed the other day into a book and I certainly managed to talk about myself a lot. 150 A4 pages. Small print. Thanks for wading through all that.
I'm a bit sad that my Swiss life is over. I've started a new blog about ... well, me - (You, by the way, are more than welcome to start a blog about YOU) - and if you want to take a look, I've set it up here http://kylieathome.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading my Swiss stories and being a part of a (very excellent) Swiss Story.

See you on the other side. I mean, the other blog. http://kylieathome.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 11, 2010

Toto, We're Not In Europe Anymore. Part 2:

On Returning home.

Out of the bajillion of flights I've taken on this trip, the last one was the worst. It's a 4 hour drive from Sydney to our family home and so I decided to fly, rather than beg my parents to be waiting for me at 6AM in Sydney. I should have been on this domestic flight at 8AM and then glided in sometime around 9AM and been home in time for a coffee. Should.


With thanks to

ChinaAir for their tardiness, Sydney Airport for their exceptionally long customs and baggage line at 7AM in the morning(!), the Sniffer Dog for thinking my nail polish was delicious (thus requiring a search of my luggage for non-existant food), and a broken Qantas plane,

for making this not possible.

Instead my family went to the airport and waited for an unaccounted-for missing daughter (sorry! but I did try and call!) Heartfelt apologies to the any disembarking female passengers in the 20-24 age bracket who may have been swamped by a loving but foreign family.

Thankfully, they did come back and fetch me later that afternoon when I finally got in. Go here for my Mother's Side of the Story.

During the wait, where they shifted us between planes, buses and waiting gates I drifted off to sleep so many times. Each time waking with a shock and having to think about those essentials - who am I? where am I? why am i drooling? what am i doing here? why does everyone here have that strange accent?

Someone's gotta provide the entertainment.

But now, I'm home. Spending time with my fam. Shocked a lot by the local-yokel-ness of Australians. Finding myself out in the bush helping chop firewood (ok let's be honest, Dad uses his chainsaw and I collected the logs - why chop when you can chainsaw!?). Eating Mumma's food again. Taking family pictures. Freezing. Hunting down my old Uggboots. Catching up with friends. Baking Swiss bread --

What can I say? Old habits die hard.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Toto, We're Not In Europe Anymore, Part 1

I took myself off to the Airport and waved myself off. After a bad experience the week before-
(On the way to London - this included finding lines 100+ metres long - NOT normal for Zurich Airport! I had to beg, borrow and bribe my way through to the front of each line - I have NO jewelery left now, and then running for my life all the way to the gate which happened to be (of course) on the other side of the airport)

...I allowed plenty of time. I was maxed out on luggage allowance and would not-could not, be running anywhere.

After a brief sprint through the Frankfurt Airport, I was drooled on by a Chinese man most of the way to Beijing. I should have seen this as a foretaste of what was to come.

Beijing: Probably one of the craziest experiences of my life. In my whole week in China I probably saw only 20 other "white" people. Which meant that I was a walking sideshow freak attraction to all the Chinese.

Stared at?
Spat on?
Sat on?
Sneered at?
Shocked by?
Sized up?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

It was like going back to the beginning again. I couldn't read anything or understand anyone.

But after a good sleep, I felt like I might be able to cope and had an amazing trip. I got a wonderful glance of the Great Wall and finally was able to beg my way into buying a train ticket (an experience all of it's own) to visit my friend Aimee up in northern China.

I took a Night Train (they would only sell me 1st class-and I had to pay for the privilege) and arrived in Harbin. Here, I finally got to eat some real, good, Chinese food, explore miles and miles of underground shops/markets, take a million taxis, and even practice some Chinese on said taxi drivers.
It was very fun to see Aimee again (I actually caught up with her last when I was passing through Singapore on my way to Switz) and to tag along on some of her classes (she's teaching English).

The night train back was, ah, different, as I managed to buy a cheaper 2nd class ticket. Let's just say that the people who designed the bed size were very skinny.

But, actually, I really liked China. It couldn't have been any different from Europe. It's probably been a good transition spot for coming home. At least, home couldn't be any stranger than China.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Swiss Story By Kylie: THE END

It's a strange thing to move from your country of residence.

Ciao Ciao Switzerland. Thanks for having me.

China, I'm coming. Please be nice. I don't speak your language.

Australia, see you in a week.

A Swiss Story By Kylie: The End.

(There might be an epilogue somewhere down the track)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pick A Hand

I got off the plane tonight and had the option of 3 Exit Doors.
It's like picking a hand - except imagine that there are 3 hands.
In the 3 hands are France, Germany & Switzerland.

And tonight, for the last time, I chose Switzerland.

The irony of it all, was that when I entered and then subsequently exited Gatwick Airport this morning, due to a glitch in their system, I could have stayed in the EU indefinitely. Somehow, because I was a non-EU citizen, had no baggage to claim, entered through the South Terminal, but needed to depart through the North AND had a lengthy transit - I somehow managed to end up in a black hole where I could have disappeared and stayed here for longer.

If you have listened to me complain about being unable to stay longer over here in Europe at any time, you will understand why this is so ironic.

But now, after a very long day with delayed flights, beginning in Dublin this morning and ending up in Zurich tonight (actually, it's tomorrow morning already), I'm back in Switz for 2 days. I'm sad. I'm happy.

On the agenda? Unpack. Pack. Say Ciao. Eat as much bread and yoghurt as I can. Close my Swiss bank account. Track down 2 parcels I've just realized are missing in transit. Figure out why my credit card declined me today (expensive European holidays, I don't know). Learn magic so that I can somehow magically fit my belongings into my single 20kg suitcase (I'm kidding myself).

But now - time for bed. Which I'm pretty happy about. Especially since the last few weeks of hostels sometimes included plastic sheets. Yuck.

(I'm thinking about writing a book called The Princess and the Plastic Sheet.)

40 more hours in Switzerland. I love you Switzerland.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Have Your Castle - And Eat It Too

Would you believe that we've had the most beautiful run of weather here in Ireland? Everyone warned me of horrible nasty weather and I came prepared mentally - and with plenty of winter clothes.

So far, we've had nothing but sunshine.

I love it.

Have hired a car for the last 4 days and we're back in Dublin tonight after seeing too much beauty.

Cliffs and rolling hills and millions of Pubs and castles, castles and more castles.

Today I waded my way into the Blarney Castle.*** It was SOOO expensive to get it, so I decided not to kiss that Blarney stone (ewww! a gazillion germs!) - but when I realized I could take a little swim in the river and end up at the castle for FREE, well, who am I to say no to a swim eh? (Still wiping those germs off, though)

Then I got a ride in a police car. But that was because, um, we ran out of fuel, and the very nice police man gave us a lift.

I want to live in sunny Ireland. The Police men are so friendly :)

** My Mother would like to be noted that she did not bring me up to wade my way into castles....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



Have spent the last few days wondering (most likely looking like lost tourists) with Nat, catching numerous buses and tubes, hunting down markets and good food, trying not to get rained on, and generally feeling like I'm in the middle of a monopoly board. I kid you not. But I'm still looking for GO so that I can pass it and collect $200. Not successful so far.
Also haven't seen the Queen yet.
But did see 2 wonderful Broadway shows :) :)
There's Karaoke going on downstairs in our hostel, but we have to get up early tomorrow morning to catch the bus to Oxford, so I'm off to bed.

Crazy town, there's meat pies here!!!!! and I've also eated Indian, Portuguese (more custard tarts!) and Thai...and most likely more I can't remember....


Monday, May 10, 2010

Part 4: Madrid

Mad about Madrid...

We went in search of free tapas as soon as we reached Madrid... along with everyone else with the city. "El Tigre" was what was suggested - and boy, was it a popular place!

We managed to fit in visits to both the Museo Nacional del Prado and Museo de Reina Sofia (FOR FREE!!!) and saw lots of good stuff by Picasso, Dalí, Velázquez, Rembrant and Miro.

Went on yet another free walking tour of the city (NOT actually for free).

We dabbled in chocolate churro heaven and tasted true Spanish paella.

We were squashed like sardines a few too many times in the metro but met so many friendly people. We also found out that Pei Wen is super awesome at networking and may (or may not) have used "Can you get me a job?" as the second sentence in a conversation with a complete stranger... after starting with "So, what do you do?"

Part 3: Lisboa

Recap of Portugal, in and around Lisboa

We saw so many magnificent and beautiful places in Portugal - although it was ironic that we spent very little time exploring the capital, Lisboa.

We give our hostel was a 4 (out of ten) for cleanliness (the bad odors and mouse we saw scurrying across the kitchen floor directly contributed to its low score) and a 2 for security. The hostel staff seemed to open the door for just about everyone... our fabricated passwords for entry became more ludicrous as the days went by.

The award for most beautiful place (that we visited) goes to
Obidos (PW's pick) and Cabo de Roca (Kylie's pick).

Most interesting: the real time 360 degree periscope/camera thing at Castelo de São Jorge (PW-we also got 50% off the admission price thanks to my ISIC like type discount card) and the tram 28 ride in Lisbon (Kylie).

One of the funniest moments was using PINEAPPLE as the secret password to get into our hostel.

PW's favourite activity was bike riding along the coast in Cascais. Kylie also liked the bike riding, but she enjoyed eating several dozen Portuguese custard tarts a tiny bit more. Kylie wanted to have a tie for this (she needed one to compensate for the other...oops!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Part Two: Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal
Things we have learned so far, after spending just 20 hours in beautiful Porto:
- The Black and White Hostel is pretty nice (in case you ever decide to visit Porto)
- The power bars will most likely blow the ipod charger you purchased in a cheap dodgy place in Greece (now PW needs to be careful with the constant WIFI searches around the city)   
-it's quite possible, even highly likely that the Metro doors will close with Kylie on one side and PW on the other. Kylie will then lift a helpless forlorn hand and wave to PW. (We now have a plan of action should the Metro doors decide to separate us again)
- Custard Tarts can be found here and they are every bit as good as your imagination. No. Better.   
- Do not tell your traveling buddy "mmm what's that wonderful smell?" while she is walking next to a garbage can... because a giant sniff is inevitable         
- Going on a wine tasting tour? Adds 30 years to your life when your twenty-something.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Fun And Fabulous (Frivolity Included) (f)Adventures of PW and Kylie! Part 1: Barcelona

....so perhaps I'll update you another time on the passport misadventures (it arrived (miraculously?) on the morning of my flight...

But for now, let me introduce The Fun And Fabulous (Frivolity Included) (f)Adventures of PW and Kylie!

Part 1: Barcelona

We are sitting in the bus en route to Girona from Barcelona and have decided to utilize the time productively by updating our blogs with what has happened so far on the trip. For those of you new to our lives, Kylie (chaupair.blogspot.com) and PW (paywhen@blogspot.com) will be typing away furiously every free moment we have to bring you the details of this Spain/Portugal trip.

PW: Barcelona was every bit as beautiful as everyone claimed it to be... we saw beautiful beaches, the Gaudi buildings, met friendly people and had great weather.

Kylie: I will remember Barcelona as a time of clutching my bag and looking suspiciously at everyone. This follows many warnings of the people we met...because "everyone they knew" had been robbed in Barcelona.
I can't tell you how many happy feelings I had bike riding in the sunshine along the beach path. Somewhat marred by unwanted viewings of people who should have been wearing swimming suits.

PW: I had a new found appreciation for my Mandarin "skillz"... everywhere we went there were Chinese people - most of them clothing or food shop owners/workers. The first night I was able to order some lemon chicken and rice for us in Mandarin (although I failed to secure a reduction on the cost of our meal). Then there were the other times I was useful for communication purposes: finding out how much the sushi/wok place cost, translating prices and descriptions of goods for Kylie and delivering the bad news that the dress she wanted (which was marked 6.50) was actually 12 euros for her, since we did not look Spanish enough to get the lower price.

Kylie: Its true. She actually said the double price was for tourists. Sheesh.
It's been a while since I've been in a country that I have absolutely no language skills.
(Well I can say please and thank you. I do have lovely manners. See, Mum? I told you I'd grow up ok.)
But other than that? It's been fun playing a giant game of charades.
Favourite part of Barcelona? Definitely being too cheap to pay to go up to the roof of a Gaudi house. And instead somehow finding our way up to the rooftop of the neighbouring hotel. A much better view AND it involved a game of hide and seek with hotel workers and cleaners.
I love games.

PW: WHAT?!?! Kylie totally stole MY favourite moment... It's true, we were too cheap to pay entry to the attractions so had to come up with creative ways to see everything. However, I'm required to recount the event Kylie has mentioned in a more accurate manner (her memory is not what it used to be). Firstly, we were at Palau Güell, which is under re-construction, so NO ONE could see the whismical rooftop chimneys on the roof. Being able-bodied, curious and cheap, Kylie and I snuck stealthily (is that even a word?) into a nearby casino/hotel and headed straight for the rooftop. There, we scoured the premises and realized we could see directly onto the top of Gaudi's first masterpiece mansion from a certain vantage point on the roof of this hotel. The problem was that 3-4 workers were on the roof as well - we had to 007 our way over scattered pieces of building materials on the ground, get onto the terrace and take the photo without getting caught. We felt quite accomplished after successfully capturing the photo. My other favourite things: saving a cat stuck in the tree in the beautiful Jewish gardens; sneaking into the gas station to use the w/c, then trying to justify the toilet use by buying a 0.30 euro pack of cookies; seeing the street performers on La Rambla.

Kylie: Her 30 cent cookie purchase was made all the better when she tried to pay with a 50 Euro note. Needless to say, we were not their favourite sneaky toilet users of the night.
And seriously--cats do not, can not, and will not get stuck up in trees. And if they do-it's their own fault. It's just part of their evil plan to rule the world. If we had the baggage room PW would be carrying bags of cat food with her. She wants to make sure she is remembered among them if they succeed in world domination.

All in all, we enjoyed Barcelona! Especially the 1 euro McDonalds menu!!! See you next in Portugal!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I don't like Iceland Anymore

Dear Passport. I know you are lost. Lost and scared and alone. And you don't know where you are. I don't know where you are either. Somewhere between Australia and Switzerland.

Dear Volcano. I know you ate my passport. Or you scared away all the planes with the mail in them. Give me back my passport. I need it.
(Please, please, please come in the mail tomorrow.)

Dear Spain and Portugal. I really want to see you. Why do you always need to see my passport? I don't have mine. The Volcano ate it. Eyjafjallajökull. [Ay-yah-FYAH'-plah-yer-kuh-duhl] (just in case you were wondering)

With much love (for the passport & next week's countries), threats and bribes (for the volcano),

Next up: Another visit to Mamma Mia and Many many many mysterious blue boxes floating around Zurich City.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pink Hair, A Red Convertible & An Icelandic Volcano

This week I took to heart Climb Every Mountain and climbed a giant giant mountain.
Bigger than any I've climbed before.
It took a sturdy pair of snow shoes, some pulling from a good friend (Thanks Aline!) and 7 1/2 hours.
Yeah - I'm pretty happy.

Spring is really coming. We even had Sechseläuten yesterday.
After spending the last week up in the mountains, I am amazed at the colour everywhere. It even smells like Spring.
I went for a walk yesterday and ended up having a little nap in the garden at a Church nearby with a beautiful view.
There's something a little different about waking up from a sleep and realizing you're sleeping amongst 100-year old graves. At least I woke up - more than I can say from those sleeping next to me.

2 more sleeps until Mamma Mia! What? You think I've seen it enough times?! Pfssht!

Next week it's off to Spain. I'm pretty excited about this because 1.) the beach, and 2.) after Spain we are going to Portugal and here I can eat Portuguese Custard Tarts. This will be the fulfillment of a lifelong (well at least 3-year-long) dream.

That is, if this Icelandic volcano decides to sit still for a while. Please, Eyjafjallajökull, don't ruin my plans. It's ironic that it has caused so much havoc, and we really can't see a thing from down here below.
I think I have 12 flights planned for the next few weeks so I'm quite at the mercy of a Volcano whose name I can't even pronounce!

In other unfortunate news, I have pink hair. Actually somehow a mix between red, pink, and purple. I was trying for dark brown with a slight auburn tinge. How did I end up with pink?!

And, in other cool news, I got to be driven around the Swiss Alps in a red convertible on the weekend (Thanks Sandro & Pam!) How.Very.Cool.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Please Don't Steal Me" - The Desperate Plea of a Pink Bike

I know many of you are waiting with baited breath for news of the PB (Pink Bike).

After first trying to get it onto a bus 1. without the driver seeing it (not easy, pretty much impossible) REFUSED and 2. casually pretending there wasn't a problem REFUSED, I stashed it behind a church. Sacred ground and all that. Please don't get stolen.

The girls and I went home, we had dinner and I put them to bed. Still not sure how I was going to retrieve the PB. I had visions of walking into town and then riding back (a feat that would have taken all night - SO NOT happening!) So I called the lovely neighbours, and with my desperate pleading they agreed to drive me into town and pick up the PB.

I felt like a thief, creeping around the church grounds in the dark and putting a random bike in the back of the car.

The black clothing and balaclava I was wearing probably only fueled people's suspicions. Hey, I was cold.

PB is now home safe and sound. It had better be used, pinkness and all!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'm staying at the moment in a beautiful Alpine village about 15 minutes from a popular Ski Village and we're tucked away up in the mountains.

NickNat have gone to Venice for a few days and TayAbs&George and I are hanging out at home.

Saturday the 11th April. I've promised the girls a visit to the Pool

The girls are I make a crazy run for the bus. It only goes once an hour so we really want to make this one.
We have to change buses and then get off at the Supermarket to buy lunch and copious amounts of Easter chocolate. Yes, yes, Easter was last weekend, but who can say no to half-price chocolate!?

We get back on the bus and ride it til the end. Our mission? To buy a bike at the one-day bike sale for Nat. I'm dubious. I know nothing about bikes, and I don't even own a bike at this stage of my life (due to selling it to my Dad several years ago when I needed money).

Apparently everyone in Switzerland also wants to attend this bike sale. We join the long line to enter the shed.

When the doors open, we are pushed along in the throng of the crowd to rows of shiny bikes. It's doubtful that there's enough bikes for all buyers and so the race is on.

I fight off a few people with my handbag and use my Swiss angry words to warn off potential interest in the bikes I'm interested in. But then I turn into an angel as I help a fallen victim who was trying out her new bike.

I lose the girls several times but together we find a [hopefully] good buy. It's unfortunately pink but otherwise we agree.

After finally making it through the purchase line we step outside and start to walk toward bus stop. It's time to go to the promised pool but first, the bus. I'm rejected on the bus with the bike and so the girls go without me and I use some pedal power.

Upon arriving at the pool [wittily and appropriately called Eau-La-La - although the pool people probably should be informed that we are in the German part of Switzerland, and not the French part], I am faced with what to do with the bike. Since I cannot take it swimming with us, I hesitantly leave it outside, unlocked. Eeeek.

The pool is wonderful. There's something amazing about swimming outside in a heated pool, in cool weather, with snowy mountains all around. I selfishly plant myself at the water massage section and settle in for the long haul. Life is tough.

The girls come and go [it's hard for them to choose whether to use the water slide or the massaging jets] and a little British girl hears us speaking English. When she finds out we are Australian, she proudly shouts to her Mum that she can understand Australian.

I am strangely watched constantly by an older woman who is wearing so much gold jewelry in the pool I wonder she doesn't sink. Her carefully made-up face and string of pearls stick out amongst us normal people, who don't wear enough jewelry in the pool to start a shop.

I am relieved to find the bike still there when we leave. We are on a race against time to 1. get to the grocery shop before it closes and 2. get the last bus back to our village.

I am rejected again on the bus with the bike and so decide to hide it behind the church so conveniently placed near the bus stop. Please don't get stolen, I plead with it. I've invested too much of my day with you.

The girls are I make the made dash around the shop and then jump on our first bus just in time. We're lugging bags of groceries, swimwear and also the copious amounts of chocolate. Which, I'm positive will be in tiny pieces by the time we get home.

We arrive home, 7 buses later and minus a bike.

Mission somewhat accomplished.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Me Me Me

I am drinking tea.
I am applying for uni.
I am thinking about A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. SO GOOD.
I have so many wonderful friends.
I am so excited about up-coming trips.
I have too many flights booked here, there and everywhere, to count.
I am alone in the mountains...with 4 little girls. Well, in a nice house in the mountains.
I am currently loving lattes, fresh peppermint tea, and kirsch liquor filled chocolates.
I am anticipating spring so much, and enjoying the glimpses given.
I am thankful for so many things.

I found my pros and cons list of Options for 2009. I had to laugh in disbelief when I read the Cons for Au Pairing/Living OS:
Lonely? Boring? No Friends?
I don't think I've felt any of those things this year. At all. I'm so glad I didn't listen to my negative possibilities.
I laugh in the face of my 2008 self. :)
When I'm reminded of the fears of the unknown I've had before, it gives me so much confidence for the future unknown.

Which brings me to a quote from A Million Miles [Donald Miller] (it's really worth the read! - and I'll probably quote from it more than a time or two!)

Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose.
But fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.

I am drinking tea. And I am thankful.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kissing BigFoot

So today I went skiing.

I know, I know. I dislike skiing and all that, but we had the most fabulous snowfall last night and the season is nearly finished, and the sun was so sunny when I woke up this morning, that I kind of got emotionally tricked into it.

I'd been wanting to try out a set of skis, called BigFoot. Let's just say they were created around '90 and, well, never really took off. But they're about half the size of normal skis, with toes on the end! and I thought perhaps I could pretend I was rollerblading down some Alps. You know, as you do.

I took regular skis up the gondola as well, to keep at the top, in case BigFoot and I didn't get on so well. And slowly, but surely, I made it down. I didn't love them, especially when I realized you can fall flat on your face with them (kind of impossible with normal skis).
But, we will remain acquaintances. At the very least, I made myself laugh all day with my BigFoots and my 80's ski jacket. Watch out people, here comes a blast from the past.

At 4:30PM I remembered about those skis I'd left up the top. And, as they weren't coming down by themselves, I headed toward the Gondola.
I was *um* using somebody else's ticket to go back up. Somebody else's with their photo ID, but, hey, I was just quickly going up and back and they never check the tickets.

I nervously got on the first gondola, wearing dark glasses and trying to act cool.
I got halfway, where you have to change gondolas, and the second gondola didn't seem to be running. I hung around the entrance, looking for another option besides walking all the way to the top and a man offered to let me in through another entrance (main one was closed) and I was very thankful.

I was the only passenger and feeling a little nervous (remember, NOT my photo on the ID) and so I made some conversation with the operators, a couple of young-ish guys. English with an Australian accent in Switzerland - always a plus. BUT they wanted to check my ticket. Thankful for my dark glasses, I cooly gave them the photo ID ticket with someone else's photo.

It was a long moment: look at me, look at the photo, back at me and back at the photo. But I think my Australian accent distracted well, and I was let aboard, the only passenger.

Up we went. Me and my private gondola operator. Knowing I spoke English, he chatted and asked to sit next to me. I couldn't say no, I was sitting on the only seat.

After a couple of minutes , he asked my name, and I introduced myself as Kylie.

I immediately wanted to stuff the name back into my mouth. Kylie? My ticket said Natalie!

I am NOT good at this someone else's ID thing. I've had too much practice introducing myself as Kylie.

He held out his hand to shake mine and introduce himself and then leaned in for the introductory kiss on the cheek. Uh, I thought to myself. This is the downside to living in Europe. So much kissing people you don't know.

I pulled away but he held tight to my hand and reminded me that this was Switzerland.

Damn you Switzerland. You with your THREE kisses. And YOU, sleazy operator guy. Learn the difference between cheek and almost my mouth. Ew.

After the third very deliberate kiss, I pulled away and slid along to the edge edge edge of my side of the seat. Who makes these things so small!? My nervousness about the ID kept me chatting (shut up, will you!) and I chatted my way out of the gondola to avoid further physical contact with Mr Sleaze.

Switzerland protocol or not, I was not kissing him goodbye three times.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Swiss, I Will Miss...

Dear Swiss,
I will miss you.

I will miss you sweeping the road with a dustpan and brush. Yessir, that would be cleaning your bitumen roads with a dustpan and brush.

I will miss your children going on and on in Swiss German to me as I smile and nod.

I will miss getting a foot of snow in about 3 hours [today], and you coming along in the minutes afterward with your snow plow.

I will miss your whole Kindergarten class coming to your house to pick you up on your birthday. All coming up the road with their stick horses and Pringle cans aka drums. Singing.

I will miss eating the most amazing Zopf breads in the world.

I will miss the wide and luxurious chocolate choices I have at my fingertips...in my mouth...right now. Ah.

Love Kylie, who had all these Swiss things happen today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gum Anyone? Fresh Yeast?

I'm on the train and I'm lugging around a giant handbag. Full of stuff.
At least I'm prepared...with:

3 books
4 blocks of chocolate
1 pair of gloves
2 bottles of deodorant (this does NOT mean anything)
1 hairbrush
1 comb
1 journal
1 phone book
2 wallets
1 new tube of toothpaste
1 pill bottle (good rhythm for when i walk)
1 cube of fresh yeast (yes, indeed. don't ask)
2 pens
1 million pieces of scrap paper
1 pair of sunglasses, broken (is it any wonder, being shaken and squashed in this thing!?)
1 packet of throat lozenges
1 iPod
1 bottle of moisturizer
2 packets of chewing gum
1 set of broadway tickets, used (unfortunately)
1 NYC map
55 cents

No joke, I am prepared to: walk NYC with music in my ears, sporting cracked sunglasses, chewing an awful lot of gum whilst simultaneously sucking throat lozenges and scoffing chocolate, brushing my hair and applying, yes, an awful lot of deodorant, and baking some fresh bread. I can also read a book, whilst journalling about this experience. I'll have to think about what to do with my 55cents...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I Would Do If I Had No Money

This Blog is Entitled: What I Would Do If I Had No Money.

Wait - I don't have any money.

In that case, I want to tell you what I've done with no money. A little over one year ago, I arrived in Switzerland with, well, about $500. I'd bought a plane ticket and signed up for a new family.

(Nothing wrong with the old one, by the way. Hey, guys!)

I've since spent that $500 - most likely all on Swiss chocolate (Hey, Lindt!) and a number of other monetary chunks that arrived in my bank account courtesy of the Swiss family (Hey, Swiss fam! - wait, I hope you are NOT reading this).

Now, I want to make it clear that I did work for the money. Some people have mistakenly assumed that I've been on holidays for the last year (Hey guys! Nope!)

But, one vacuum fades into the next and I can make beds in my sleep now (1.3 seconds) and I'm now at the end of a year that I only started with $500.

$500 + Bed-making + Vacuuming + a whole bunch of other work =

The most amazing year in Switzerland. And a whole lot of other places. Travel & Adventure & Having to step outside of myself to be able to see everything a bit clearer. New friends & the chance to be a part of this whole other world.

And 7,000 photos. I am NEVER going to be able to sort through all of that.

Pretty sweet deal eh? All of that on $500+...

Perhaps I should title this blog: How I survived in Switzerland (home of the most expensive Big Mac in the world) on $500.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Spring is taking it's time.

I know, I can't complain: I've only recently been swimming in the warm Caribbean...but I can dream.

Have been walking the most beautiful snowy tracks here the last few days. I'm staying far up in the mountains, there are very few people around. Everything is white and sparkling and fresh.
This white and sparkling and fresh snow is also still very deep.
I know.
I know because one walk involved sinking down every step to my waist.
This same walk also involved searching for lost shoes and feet and thus losing my hands somewhere deep beneath me in the snow.
It also involved frozen gloves, pants and hair. It's really fun walking with frozen pants.

But there was no other way home. Only way out is forward, kind of like a sinking-down forward, you get my point.

After losing my feet one time too many, I found a piece of cardboard in an Alphütte and thought perhaps I could slide through this deep snow on my behind. You know, spread some of the weight out so I didn't completely sink every single step.

Not the greatest idea I've ever had. I'm sure you don't much help picturing
somebody almost completely sunken in snow, technically still sitting on a stupid piece of cardboard.

We did make it out alive though.
And in the end the piece of cardboard was put to very good use for the end of the trek where the snow wasn't 4ft deep.
Sledding down a snowy track on pieces of cardboard towards the setting sun, watching deer run across our path, and with our pants frozen stiff?


[Other] Priceless [Moments]:

Making the best Snow Angel I have ever made. Throwing myself down onto assumed soft bouncy snow to find it's hard with no bounce. Ouch. I am, however, still very proud of my Angel.

Tobogganing again. (With the real deal, none of this cardboard stuff.)

Cheese Fondue. Glühwein. Access again to Swiss Chocolate.

(In case you didn't know:)
  • I'm back in Switzerland for the next 2+ months.
  • Am currently camping out (not literally) at some rather-nice-very-good friend's house up in the mountains. (They, somewhat ironically, have 3 girls the same age as MLF 1, 2 & 3.)
  • When they kick me out, I also am staying at some-other-rather-nice-very-good friend's house in Zurich.
  • Am currently thinking about and researching lots of options for uni when I get back to Australia.
  • I'm trying to plan trips to Spain & Portugal (& Morocco?) & the UK. If anybody has any free houses we can stay in, Priceless!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

100 Places To Visit Before You Die

Dear Mum, this is not me.
Love Kylie

Now, the following list is merely a guide. It is not all-inclusive, nor does it take into account sinking cities.

For example it does not mention my current view whilst writing this blog. But it does mention Venice: Folks, it's sinking an inch every decade! Hurry!

A friend sent this list to me this week, and I'm enjoying dreaming about all these places. It does however, give me itchy feet. I already had itchy feet so now I think I've got a bad case of the hives.

The List:

Pyramids of Egypt
Chichen Itza
Mont St Michel*
Great Wall of China
Kashmir Valley
Topkapi Palace
Taj Mahal
Nile River Cruise
Prague Old Town*
Carnival in Rio
Serengeti Migration
Easter Island
Golden Temple
Galapagos Islands
Amalfi Drive
Angel Falls
Grand Canyon
Colosseum of Rome*
Yellowstone NP
Machu Picchu
Fjords of Norway
Chartres Cathedral
Antarctica Cruise
St Peter's Basilica*
Mezquita Cordoba
Iguazu Falls
Egyptian Museum
Damascus Old City
New York Skyline*
Amazon Rain Forest
Valley of the Kings
Uffizi Gallery
Eiffel Tower*
Ngorongoro Crater
Hong Kong
Rio Panoramic View
Great Barrier Reef
Sistine Chapel*
Golden Pavilion
Niagara Falls
Angkor Wat
Burj Khalifa
British Museum
Victoria Falls
St. Basils Cathedral
Burj al Arab
Forbidden City
Louvre Museum*
Abu Simbel
Yangtze Riv. Cruise
Canals of Venice*
St Mark's Basilica*
Florence Cityscape*
Ayers Rock*
Carlsbad Caverns
Hermitage Museum
Banaue Rice Terr.
Chambord Chateau
Bora Bora
Kathmandu Valley
Li River Cruise
Lijiang/Shangri La
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Shwedagon Stupa
Potala Palace
Mt Everest
Sahara Desert
Banff NP
Jerusalem Old City
Temple Em. Buddha
Leaning Tower Pisa*
San Francisco
TerraCotta Warriors
Hagia Sofia

* = Kylie Waz 'Ere

Better get moving. Places to go, people to meet. Swiss winters to hide from.
Would love to know what places YOU think should be on the list??

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seinfeld on Swiss

"The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever seen that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Not much of a weapon there. Corkscrews. Bottle openers. ‘Come on, buddy, let’s go. You get past me, the guy in the back of me, he’s got a spoon. Back off, I’ve got the toe clippers right here."

-Jerry Seinfeld

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Do You Like That BIG Apple?!

I stepped out of the bus and arrived a few blocks from our Hotel Hostel. Stepped out with my giant bag into mountains of slushy snow.
The bus driver greeted me with a humourless 'Welcome to New York.' I think he was glad to see me. Probably. The city had been shut down the past few days due to to humongous amounts of snow.
And have now spent the last several days traipsing around the Big Apple. I think I've worn an inch of my height. It's huge.

Memorable bites of the Big Apple in no particular order:

Broadway: Was VERY lucky to see The Phantom of the Opera AND Billy Elliot. I love musicals so much. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I even randomly break into song and dance to be in my own musical. LG Life's Good.

Times Square: This place has so many lit and electric advertisements that it looks like day even at midnight. No kidding. It's amazing. After standing with my mouth open for a good few minutes, I realized this made me look too much like a tourist and tried to keep the mouth closed.

Hailing a Cab: I hailed a yellow NYC cab (very proud - although it did take a few tries....they'll speed right past you unless you throw yourself in front of them. I'm a bit bruised.)

Being sat on: Yes indeed. It's official. I'm invisible.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. And then being able to use my awesome Brooklyn accent once I reached the other side. They're from another country over there.

Visiting JAO Schwartz: Remember the Giant Toy Store from Home Alone? It was based on this store. So.Many.Toys.

Chinatown!: Coming up out of the Subway, having boarded in New York and then arriving in China Town? It's bizarre. Like arriving in another country....like China!

Mulberry St: Dr Suess, eat your heart out!

Lady Liberty: Alas, I only saw her from afar. She acted kind of distant.

Seinfeld: Remember the Restaurant from Sienfield? I met the gang there for breakfast this week. Well, actually they couldn't make it, but I sure enjoyed their food and restaurant.

Walking on Thin Ice: Central Park. Yeah Baby!

Zurich Friends: Who would have thought I'd be able to meet up with 5 of my Zurich au pair friends in New York?! Against all weather odds, we all managed to get there for the same long weekend. So crazy and it couldn't have been any better! Thanks guys for making the trip! See you next time! Wherever that is!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Hairy Cut

I dread trips to the hairdresser.

It may have something to do with the money they want from me (USA - MUCH cheaper than Switz!) or perhaps from the disapproving looks I receive when they see the state of my [very] unkempt hair.

All this happened today. That, and the Southern hairdresser trying to give me as big of a head of hair as hers.

Then, when I sweeetly explained what I wished for my hair, she stabbed me with her treacherously long fingernail.

And, due to the fact that I asked for it thinned (thin-haired people have no idea about what we thick-haired people go through!) she gave me up for lost.

And when I got home I found a rather large chunk of my hair missing. Up top.
Spite. Pure spite.

Other than that, I'm loving my thin and much-healthier, albeit 3 inches shorter, looking hair.
Thanks, Southern hairdresser-lady with lots of hair!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweet Home ALABAMA

So, about 2 weeks ago, I was in the Carib. Sweating. I melted, it was so hot.
I'm in the deep south of Alabama. It's cold. I am not melting.

Since I quit my day job:

I've been shopping. I blame this largely on Katie and her influence. I bought a new bag. Again, it's not my fault.
We went "just for a look" in this giant bag store. The bag I desperately wanted was on the topmost highest shelf.

6 Steps taken to obtain happiness bag:
1.) Jumping.
2.) Jumping again. Higher.
3.) Attempt with ladder. Ladder too heavy. Ditch ladder.
4.) Me on all fours. Katie on my back.
5.) Katie jumping. Ouch.
6.) Me making a ladder with my hands and other body parts. Katie climbing up to the topmost highest shelf.


I've started eating. You may have thought I'd been eating before. You probably were wrong. We've been making good use of the local drive-through fast drink place (they bring your order out on ROLLER SKATES!) and eating plenty of Mexican (with plans for more tomorrow!).
But, of course, the best. Food at home. Cakes, Cookies, Breads, Chillis, Ice Cream, Roasts, Muffins, BBQ, Biscuits & Gravy, Soups & Marshmallows. So.Much.Good.Food.

I saw my first 3D movie (Correction: I'm sure I've seen one before, but have no recollection. Thus, my first memory of a 3D movie...).

This was accompanied by a visit to a few fish friends (Fish are friends, not food) at a HUGE Aquarium. It was here the Aquarium Staff tried to lock us in a diving cage. We may look happy in the photo, but we were NOT.

Side note: This same cage was the inspiration for Jaws...

I used the Men's bathroom. It's just not fair. Girls always have to wait so long for the loo and the men's bathroom is always empty. So, this week I decided to be brave and enter the unknown depths of an empty bathroom.
Of course, just after I decided to use it, a million men did too. I lost count of the knocks on the door as they waited. I thought for sure an army had lined up. I tried to use my best southern men's drawl to answer "Just a minute!" and "Won't be a second." I think I fooled them.
And when I left the bathroom and had to walk past the one lone impatient knocker, I used that deep southern drawl for a "Mornin'."

I've thought about becoming a Troglodyte. I talked Katie into it too.
And so we went caving.
To an amazing, awesome fantastic cave. I've never seen such a cave. I want to live there. Maybe not. But I want to visit again. I think Dr. Suess got his inspiration from such a cave. The visit was such a treat, so much beauty hidden away underground.

(A pair of wanna-be Troglodytes)

I've been given private tours all over this part of Alabama. By the lovely Katie herself. And her little blue car. We've been everywhere, man.

Today we visited a little Soda Fountain. That's been around since sometime in the 1800's. And mostly still decked out in a lot of original decor.
We were served real Alabama style. Well, real something style. Our waitress kept calling at her husband to come over here and serve us, 'cos she was so busy. With her other customer. But she was kind and gave me a double milkshake.
While we were eating, an elderly gentleman came in and sat down on the bar stools. And we listened as he told the waitress about how he had come to this Soda Fountain for his 10th birthday. And how he'd sat at the same stools and eaten ice-cream.
And I loved visiting a place that had so much history. Maybe I'll come back and eat here when I'm 70.

Alabama is almost finished with me. Has been the most wonderful visit with the Allisons and great to see so much of the countryside where they live.
Will post a few more pics soon.

Next Stop: NYC.
Then it's back to Swissville for wee bit longer...

See you in New York!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Average Day On Your Average Sailing Boat

When your average day on your average sailing boat is spent being the average au pair to your average swiss children, it might look something like this:

6:45 AM - I wake up having been awake most of the night dreaming the craziest dreams you can imagine. This is most likely due to 1.) my new and different enviroment, and 2.) movement of the boat during the night.
Spend 5 minutes trying to clear head working out the true and the false of the previous night. Make mental note to warn 4th cousin's husband's aunt of her impending doom and to cancel dinner tonight with the Prime Minister.

6:50 - I was blessed by a friend with a silver box containing cards for every day reminding me of Jesus. She'd also talked about starting the day with 1song+1prayer, a project I'm currently working on. And she'd included a Lindt chocolate for each day, which made this time actually 1song+1prayer+1card+1chocolate. I'm really glad for this time I had to start each day fresh and new and grounded, regardless of where I was actually waking up.

7:10 - Straighten my bed - which included positioning the bike, bag and strange unidentified sail like thing that lived on the other half of my bed. Funny, I spent approx 315 hours lying next to this thing and I really have no idea what it looked like or what it did.
Straighten myself. This did NOT include showering, unless it was one of the 2 out of 35 days I showered. Don't despise me.

7:15 - Prepare breakfast. This included first cleaning the table of the inch of salty goodness it had acquired throughout the night. This also included toting a whole bunch of cereals and spreads to the table that we didn't ever seem to consume.
See, I told you I worked.

7:59 - Hurridly try to clean up all breakfast dishes before school starts promptly at 8. This involved washing in salt water and then rinsing in a centimer of fresh water. This is a lot more fun than it sounds. After a few days of so much salt water, your fingers actually start to literally disappear. Layer by layer.

8:00 - I am really fast at washing up. MLF2 and I start an hour of English. Over the course of my time there we learnt about food pyramids, the journey of milk, and how to make pancakes. Also about the difference between earphones/headphones and rollerskating/rollerblading. All very important stuff. Her English improved so dramatically over the boat time. I think it was the study content. She loves pancakes.

9:00 - Another hour of English Power. We read through The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton and Romona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary while I was there. I selfishly chose some of my favourite stories and I can't express how much they loved them. And we learnt 99 new English vocabularly words whilst learning about pixies and brownies and magical trees.

10:00 - Time for a quick swim to insert some more salt into the hair before MLF1's turn for her hour of English. Her English also wonderfully improved during the boat time. We studied amazing animals, volcanoes and learnt how to organize and run a Sports Day. She wanted to include a competition of holding your breath underwater. Little did she know I am the world champion of this.

11:20 - Last but not least, MLF3's turn to shine. I tried to think of arty and crafty things for this time, and so we ended up painting and drawing and sewing. She is master of embroidery and I am the master of Butterfly Blot paintings. So.Much.Respect.

12:30 PM - We ate. The French Skipper would usually make lunch for us and our menu was good and new and varied after a year of Kylie's cooking. So.Much.Fish.

13:30 - The afternoons varied. Sometimes we would go into the town, or sail to a new one.
If I was lucky, they might decide to take a nap and I would be most obliging and take one too.
Or perhaps we would go snorkelling or explore a tiny island. Or perhaps a big one.
We might go on a hike or take a tour with some rather-focused bird watchers.
Swimming was also a popular choice and most afternoons I lived in my swimmers. FYI, I am a master of all things sandcastle.
The afternoon might also include grocery shopping, swimming with turtles or make bread. Or perhaps cake. Cake is better.

Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it was hard. Sometimes it was hard but good. It was a different dynamic because, although I'd lived with them for a year, I'd had my own space, my own time and then, for this trip, a lot of that disappeared. Which wasn't altogether a bad thing, just different. After all, we were sharing Caribbean space.

17:30 - Time to start dinner. Sometimes it was me, sometimes the French Skipper, sometimes M or P. It's a good thing to make dinner watching the sun set over the ocean.
I've had my food options expanded to include a lot of then-rather strange vegetables and unknown fish. I didn't die from any of them though. And I even half-like fish lasagne. And fish pasta. And baked fish with fish patties. Even fish nuggets and fish salad. And of course bbq'd fish.

19:00 - Eat fish.

20:00 - Of course no meal would be complete without the washing up. My fingers are now half their size due to the fact that skin does a funny thing when met with a lot of salt water.

21:00 - We tidy up the boat and the girls go to bed, followed closely by me. I found it sometimes rather tiring being your average au pair to your average swiss children on your average sailing boat. Why, you ask?
Persistant boat-salesmen, French/German-speaking children, mountain guides who ran expecting me to follow, angry fish, snorkeling through strong currents, flesh-eating salt water... Sheesh. It just plain wears you out!

And so, time for bed.
Ah, hello strange unidentified sail-like thing. How I've missed you.

PS: MLF1, 2, 3? M & P? I miss you!

A 3,000-Word Blog

It's a bit hard to finalize, wrap-up, and square away the Caribbean trip. It's also the end of my time with the Swiss Family, who have been a rather large part of life for the last 12 months. I love those girls very much and I miss them.

But I'm not home yet and I think some obstinate part of my brain thinks I'm going back to Switzerland to continue au-pairing. I'm not, and I wish my head would get with the program.

A wise man (or woman? probably a woman) said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a photo of the girls and I somewhere in the Grenadines.

We're pretty happy: MLF2, MLF3, MLF1 & Me!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

And you thought I'd dropped off the Face of the Earth...

So, in case you have had your head under a rock for the last few weeks, or been away from civilization on a sailing boat, I just wanted to share a few of my highlights from the last 5 weeks...

Important facts you should know before you read any further:

I've been on a sailing boat with the Swiss Family.
I survived.
I went to Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Martinique.
Everyday I pretended to be a school teacher and taught the little 'uns some English lessons.
It was HOT.
I love chocolate.
I am all finished with my profession as an Au Pair (but the story is not quite finished, yet).

9 Things I Want To Remember (or perhaps Forget):

1.) On about Day 2, we caught two very large fish: a Tuna & a Wahoo. The Wahoo was VERY big and repaid our evil act of killing it by being so large that we had to eat nothing else for about 5 days. I am deeply sorrowful for my actions. I now know that the size of the fish is directly proportional to the crazier the meal ideas. It was about day 3: Fish Lasagne, that this equation cleared itself in my mind.

2.) My Cabin. I was indeed very lucky to have my own closet aka my cabin on the boat. Actually, it wasn't too bad. I only had to share my bed with a very large sailing bag (still not quite sure what was in it, some sort of sail perhaps???), my own suitcase, and a foldable bike. I got half, and my bed mates got the other.
I also had my own bathroom. This was a very special bathroom. When you used the toilet you were also sitting in the shower. You also could use the sink and do your hair in the mirror at the same time. Very practical. But - the best (or worst part, depending on your disposition) about this bathroom was the window...right above...always open, when I am on. People walking over, looking in, my little round bathroom window in the roof....oh how I won't miss you...

3.) On the first day we washed the boat. I got to practice the commands I learnt in Primary School: Captains Coming, Scrub the Deck etc. However, unfortunately, when we were scrubbing the said deck, some said water leaked onto my said bed. Hours later, I could be found with a tiny 12 volt hairdryer trying to dry my said sheets.
Mission Impossible.
Mission Unaccomplished.

4.) During the course of the trip, we were visited many times by locals trying to sell their wares via their boat. From the useful: Fruits, Vegetables, Bread, to the unwanted: Fish, T-shirts (they read: Live to Sail, Forced to Work), to the ridiculous: Dolphin Cruises, Water Taxis, Special Deals *wink wink*, we had many offers. No, I do not want to buy a cruise...I'm living on a boat!

5.) I had serious fears my hair would never be the same. It was about the second day that I gave up on it. Salt water....everyday....no brushing, no combing, no showering...I did suspect I'd be visiting a Barber by the end of it all...however, good news, I think I saved it just in time.

6.) Upon arrival in St Lucia, we were informed with many a shaking of heads and clucks that I, the evil Australian, would need a VISA. I knew this, and had tried to pre-organize it, but had been told to 'look after it once I got there.' The police at Customs and Immigration were not so impressed but did take advantage of the opportunity to escort me with not one, but two policemen to the airport, a good hour's drive away. I am quite a robust, scary looking girl, thus the need for two law enforcement officers. I have my suspicions that they just wanted a few paid hours to catch up on their gossip.
However, it was all sorted out and I did get to have a lovely drive through the country. And, of course, a VISA that is valid for the next three months. St Lucia, anybody?
We discovered, upon return to our sailing vessel that one of the police officers worked part time as a taxi driver and would thus be charging us for the trip...2+ hours of a Taxi?! Glad my employers covered that one! 'Twas a work expense, after all.

7.) It was in the Grenadines that I experienced one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Let me explain the situation:
We entered a market. It was a Monday. Slow Day.
Upon entering the Market, we were surrounded by vultures, nipping at our heels and trying to climb into our bags. Toothless faces, drew close and used the phrase 'My Friend' no less than 1,000 times a minute.
Host Mum and I were on a mission: to get the Fruits and Vegetables for the next few days. The Fruit and Vegetable People were also on a mission: to sell as much as they could to us at the highest price they could possibly get away for. And, if they couldn't sell it to us, would put it into our bags and then try and charge us for it. Finally, if that didn't work, give it to us as a gift and then charge us for it.
Trying to combat all this, along with understanding their accented English, along with protecting the girls from a few very strange characters, along with trying to share our business with as many of the sellers as possible, and trying to escape a marriage proposal *wink wink*, proved very difficult. And we still ended up paying $10 for a small, and old pineapple.
There's definately an art to healthy living.

8.) During my last week, we came across a few REALLY big mountains. Pitons, actually. I now know these are the pride and joy of St Lucia. And, I now know that small girls will run up these mountains leaving you panting and puffing behind, wanting to die. 771 metres later (yes, I made it all the way to the top!), those same girls are ready to skip back down, and I'm promising myself unlimited, but very much unavailable cokes, chocolate, bath soaks and massages ,if I will at least stand up and look 10% alive.

9.) Also in the land of St Lucia, we moved the boat to a different location and enjoyed another side of life there. We had organized and hired a driver for a tour of the island, and got instead a strange man with a van that needed a push start every time. This may have been due to the VERY large speaker somehow inserted into the back seat. I'm not talking about any large speaker, I'm talking about the largest speaker you can ever imagine fitting into a car. I foolishly decided to sit in the seat in front of it. I still can't hear out of one ear.
Our *cough* tour guide took us to some sites, apparently the big ones: the oil refinery and the closed fish market (still smells, fish or not) and then took us to his favourite place, an empty market place and a bar filled with the ever-endearing sound of Karaoke. I will never forget the screeching I heard in this place, but I hope one day I will able to sleep at night again.

It's been such a wonderful adventure. I can't believe the places I've been. I only wish I'd beat Dr Suess to the writing of 'Oh the Places You'll Go.'
And, the Au Pair adventure is over...I survived the year.
I'm not home yet...am currently visiting some wonderful friends in the States and will return to Switzerland for a last Hurrah in a few weeks for a couple of months.
And then...home? I think I've decided to go to Uni.

**I have much more to write, and many many photos to post as well....but thought it best to start with something....so that I can start to share current events. (Little bit obsessive compulsive, I know...this need to have everything in the right order....)**

And so, from the deep South, somewhere in Alabama, hidden under at least an inch of snow - Fare Thee Well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day, 2010

Who would have thought on Australia Day 2010, I'd be here. Union Island, St Vincent.

We woke up in Clifton this morning and tonight we're going to sleep at Chatam Bay - perhaps one of the most perfect bays yet.

And, in between, we managed to do some school, sail, swim, go on a wonderful hike and eat a Caribbean BBQ. (I even had a lovely little nap this afternoon - very much an Aussie tradition!)

The view during the hike was magnificent. I'm thinking it would be quite easy to look at this every day. Building a house on this hill is being added to my list of future aspirations.

After the hike, we waited on the beach for the BBQ to be cooked. The chef tonight went by the name 'Shark Attack.' Not sure of any connotations.

To celebrate Australia Day, of course, there were beers on the beach and a game or two of Tag with the girls. No cricket, though. I can't play a one-man, one-team game, and, as the only Australian, this was looking to be the likely scenario.

Finally, after quite a few, "Only a few more minutes,' 'In a little Whiles,' and 'Not too much longers,' we had a BBQ feast of Tuna and Lobster. Well done, Shark Attack.
(Yes Dad, I'm quite enjoying Lobster - you should be proud).

But, the best was yet to come. After dinner came a heartfelt song from the Swiss fam in support of Australia and her birthday today. "Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree.'
I'm thinking of writing to the Australian Government to ask them to change our National Anthem.

So, here's to a wonderful Australia Day - spent at the beach with a BBQ - just as it should have been. Except, I also got to add some non-Australians - an adventurous Swiss family and French skipper (who was introduced to the Kookaburra Song tonight) and some Caribbean sunshine and the boat, Libellule.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hello, Sunshine!

A brief hello from Grenada!
The country still living somewhere back in the 60's or 70's and I'm loving it.

I'm currently blogging in my secret black real-notebook-not-online but wanted to post a few photos anyway.

I'm currently somewhere under here:

I can watch children, and swim/lie in the sun at the same time. See, I can multi-task!

And, then, when the watching/swimming/lying is done, we take this boat back "home."

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Last Chapter on Dry Land

It's almost time to leave.
A million Thoughts are running around in my head. And the Thoughts are leaving their toys and books everywhere. Such a mess.
We leave in approx 36 hours. 2 sleeps. A day and a half.
Then many hours on a plane. And many many more on a boat.
I hope I don't get seasick. I probably should have bought medicine for that.
My room is the cleanest it's ever been. Too bad I'm moving out tomorrow.
Funny how you can spend days scrubbing the toilet for the inspection and then it not even be inspected during the inspection.
Actually, it's not funny. It's horrible. Inspect my toilet!!

I'm missing 2 parcels in the mail.
-----------> United States Postal Service, I don't have time to wait on hold for 45 minutes. I ended up giving up anyway and I didn't even get to speak to a real person. And I had to fake an American accent to get your voice recognition service to understand the number I was giving you. And, please stop insisting for a 5 digit postal code. The rest of the world doesn't use 5 digit postal codes!
And I'm no closer to tracking down my missing parcels!

I had a wonderful break over Christmas. I felt especially lucky because it was actually my 6th and 7th weeks of holidays in a year where I was only supposed to get 4. I got to eat Chinese Fondue 3 times in a week and Cheese Fondue once. Something strange has happened: I love Cheese Fondue. Where did that come from?

I went tobogganing twice. Also known as sledging here. And skiing once. I totally lost any scrap of dignity as foretold in previous post. I even took down an elderly gentleman. He was okay. But I couldn't apologize properly in French. (I told you, I've been learning the wrong language).

Tobogganing was awesome. The first time I went, I got through. I was too scared to enjoy it properly. It was a mean track and I feared for my life. And, as a result I was tense and mostly nervous the whole time. Fun, but fearful fun.
The second time was ah.mazing. The track was just as mean, 3.5 kms long and sometimes on the edge of really steep drops. I was scared. I'd bought a day ticket, which was the same price as 5 lift rides. So I had to ride at least 5 times to make it worth it. (I nearly died when I did that mental calculation).
After the first ride I was wiped. Ready to finish and soak my aches and pains in a hot tub. Did I mention it's 3.5 kms on a crazy track? Where you're sitting on a flimsy plastic thing with steel runners?
But - I had to make the ticket worthwhile (stupid mental calculations). And so we continued. And it got better. So much better. Something about letting fears and inhibitions go and just trying to go as fast as I could and keeping up with the boys. (Boys: always faster on the tobogganing track).
By the end of 5 rides I was soaked through my many many (waterproof: pfft!) layers but I was so satisfied. All tobogganing I'd done before: summer tracks, water tubing - paled in comparison. 17.5 kms going full speed with only a few inches between my behind and a whole lot of sludgy snow - did I mention I couldn't move the next day?

I could go on - but I need to sleep. New Year's Eve was a wonderful time spent with wonderful friends. Friends who feel like a gift.
We danced to juke boxes and set off our own fireworks. And I got to play a white grand piano.

My anniversary buddy left me for home this week and I feel sad about this. But - here's to 10 months and 10 days Nicole. Cheers!

I wish my IPod was bigger. I am loving far too many songs at the moment.

I've got one more day of being an au pair on dry land. One day. Of the routine that's been mine for the last 10 months and 10 days.
MLF3 laughed her head off today when she realized the pair from au pair sounded the same as the fruit pear. Most likely visions of me as a pear.

I must go - I need to finish packing and to sleep. It's so cold here....but I console myself with the fact that in only a few days I'll be sitting in sunshine. Probably getting burnt.

I don't think I'll have much internet for the next 5-6 weeks, so I shall see you then. I'm going to try keep a non-virtual blog (a la notebook) instead.

Trinidad, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent & Martinique - here I come! Please be kind. Rewind.

Ps. You wouldn't believe how many cheeseburgers I've eaten in the last week or two.
Pps. Happy New Year! Joyeux Anni!